Antigua, Guatemala is absolutely beautiful. From the moment we first arrived on the bus, we knew it was a very special city. The cobblestone streets, the old colorful buildings and the gigantic historic churches all around us made us feel like we had traveled overseas to Europe.
It had a wonderful vibe with tons of tourists–more tourists than even San Juan del Sur. There were many very nice restaurants throughout the streets, but all were way out of our bootstrapping start-up business budget–so we decided to hunt for some cheap street food and beer.
We headed towards the big yellow church and found several street food vendors who were selling a plethora of different foods from chile relleno to salads and sandwiches–very different from the chicken and plantains we were used to in Nicaragua. The food prices were still a bit high for us though, so after we checked out the stunning yellow church, we continued on down the main road to head towards the outskirts of town.
We finally found a great little table in the street right outside of a gas station that was making micheladas (beer with tomato juice, hot sauce, pepper and lime) and selling beer at prices we liked. There was music playing and young people chatting in the streets–this was our spot.
After we finished our liter of beer, we headed over to the local market to get a plate of cheap authentic Guatemalan food. We found a great little spot in the heart of the market that served us the perfect meal complete with beans, lots of tortillas, eggs and the best spicy chilerno we’d ever had. The sauces here were much spicier than any we had tried yet in Central America and that was a beautiful thing to us both.
After our stomachs were filled with delicious food and beer, we headed over to the artisan markets to get our first exposure to the local textiles and handicrafts made here. As we approached the main road–a picturesque scene complete with old colorful buildings in front of a large volcano–we were approached by a local woman with a large ball of fabric on her head.
She pulled out her beautiful shawls and colorful scarves that she had made at her home. We touched them and complemented her on her lovely artwork. She thanked us kindly and tried putting them on us. We all laughed and had a bit of a Guatemalan fashion show right there in the cobble stone streets of Antigua.
After a few minutes, we gave her the fabrics back and thanked her. We continued exploring the city and the other handicraft markets. We were blown away by everything we saw. We found out though that many of the items were actually made near Lake Atitlan, which was our final destination the next day. We couldn’t wait to get on another bus the following morning and see what the town and the people of Panajanchel had in store for us.