Guatemala – Antigua to Guatemala City, 23 September 2010

Today, the main item on the agenda was to get from Antigua to Guatemala City for my flight out on 25 September.

Another instance of untrustworthy travel agencies, which left me standing in the central plaza, waiting for a minivan. I bought a ticket from one of the agencies at the central plaza (about 40-50Q, be sure to negotiate!) for a bus at a designated time. The minivan never showed up, and once again, no apologies were offered. In the end, I ended up on a minivan that was from a rival company. If you are ever getting tickets from any of the agencies south of the fountain, go for the one that is a little more to the east side. It was the one that was a little more to the west that was unreliable.

After arriving in Guatemala City in the late afternoon, I checked into Barcelo Hotel, which was in Zone Viva. After a bedbug scare in Playa Del Carmen, I decided to go with safe options that would definitely be clean, and avoid backpacker operations for this trip. Barcelo is pretty decent value for money. For about 60-80 USD, you can get a single room with a hearty breakfast thrown in. There are also plenty of facilities, including a pool, a well-equipped gym, and a futsal (!!!) court. They also offer free airport transfers both ways, and it is in the middle of the business district, and surrounding by 24-hr fastfoods, so starving or being out of money wouldn’t be one of your chief concerns. My room came with a balcony, a large array of bathroom amenities, and a pillow menu, too. I would highly recommend it for middle-of-the-road traveller.

Somewhat broke, I couldn’t afford the fare to the old district, so I simply walked around Zone Viva. It is pretty modern, with malls, and the requisite international chains like McD, and there are clubs around, but it didn’t appeal much to me. I tried some Mexican fastfood, and it was pretty offer. I think I have been spoilt by the real deal.

Large single room

Well-stocked toilet

Well-stocked room

Mall in Zone Viva, Guatemala City

Zone Viva


Guatemala – Antigua, 22 September 2010

Today was another day of wandering around. I made an attempt to scale the Hill of the Cross, but yeah, I didn’t spot the armed escort that goes up the hill.

As my last night in Antigua, I decided to try one of the ubiquitous steak houses. It was excellent! I had a sausage and steak combo. The sausage was excellent! It was full of flavour, and one of the best I had. The steak was also excellent. Eh, I ran out of adjectives to describe them, but sum it up as meaty goodness. It also didn’t break the bank. Think it cost less than 20 usd.

Ruins of a church due to the earthquake

Faded (this is a steakhouse, btw)

Excellent Dinner

Washed it down with some Gallo

Guatemala – Antigua, 21 September 2010

Another day for exploring the city of Antigua.

As the design of buildings in Antigua have to be kept in a certain way, various ‘modern’ establishments like Burger King and MacDonald’s have to fit in with the rest of Antigua. So, I made it my mission to find places like Subway and Burger King and how they blend in. On a random note, MacDonald’s was overly guarded by armed security personnel. Americans must be such predictable/easy targets.

I also went to the market at the south end of Antigua, but it didn’t really appeal to me, so I just continued walking around town, and seeing some of the churches.

After a couple of hours of walking, I settled into my usual routine of finding a local cafe, and doing some reading, while the world goes by.

Citibank blends in

Armed guards outside McD

McD sure is fancy inside

Santa Clara

Inside the Santa Clara

Cathedral de Santiago

The Arch

Guatemala – Antigua, 20 September 2010

The grand plan was to go from Flores to Guatemala City, and then on to Panajachel, so that I stay at a lakeside cabin and admire the beautiful Lake Atitlan. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out as planned. As I got to Antigua, the tour agent said that all buses to Lake Atitlan are not running, as the roads are blocked by strikes. I was told to go back and check at 11 am, but I was too lazy and tired, and decided to just stay in Antigua, which is quite a charming town.

I believe Antigua’s claim to fame is one of the earliest intact Spanish towns. Although I have never been to Spain, the architecture certainly reflects this – the town has very rich colours, alike Flores, and cobblestone streets. There are also many churches, quite a number of which lie in ruins due to the great earthquake.

I ended up staying in D’Leyenda Hotel based on recommendations on Tripadvisor. Most of the good hotels in Antigua did cost quite a bit, so I thought this was a pretty fair price (around USD 60-80). It was a small hotel with about five rooms, and excellent, personal service. My three night stay here was very enjoyable.

The rest of the day was spent randomly walking around town. It was pretty rainy, so it didn’t take much for me to decide to retire for the day. I also gave up my plans to head to Panajachel. It is a shame, but missing my flight back to the US will be no fun either.


Cool restaurant with knick knacks of all sorts

Hotel D’Leyenda

A nice touch.

Upcoming: Mexico-Belize-Guatemala, 11-25 September 2010

Tentative Itinerary:

11 September 2010: Cancun

12 September 2010: Cancun – Chichen Itza – Cancun (bus)

13 September 2010: Cancun

14 September 2010: Cancun – Playa Del Carmen (bus)

15 September 2010: Playa Del Carmen – Tulum – Playa Del Carmen (bus)

16 September 2010: Playa Del Carmen – Chetzumal – San Pedro Town (bus, ferry)

17 September 2010: San Pedro Town – Caye Caulker (ferry)

18 September 2010: Caye Caulker – Belize City – Flores (ferry, bus)

19 September 2010: Fores – Tikal – Flores (bus)

20 September 2010: Flores – Guatemala City  – Antigua (bus)

21 September 2010: Antigua

22 September 2010: Antigua

23 September 2010: Antigua – Guatemala City (shuttle)

24 September: Guatemala City

25 September: Guatemala City – Houston (plane)