Antigua, Guatemala: Beauty on the outside

Hey girl hey! I’m here to share my travel experiences with you. I grew up in a small village in the south of the Netherlands, which has always been too small for me. On my nineteenth I went to London for an internship, where I lived in a hostel. I was so fascinated by all the people I met who where traveling around the world, I wanted to be just like them. Now -10 years later- I’ve been to over 40 countries and I am looking for a new home in South America. My biggest dream is to start my own hostel. In this blog I will share my adventures from Antigua, Guatemala! – XOXO Kris

Antigua, Guatemala: Beauty on the outside 

I ended up staying in Antigua for about three weeks. I wanted to learn Spanish at the beach, but there aren’t a lot of schools there. Antigua however, has more Spanish schools  than you could ask for. From the outside, Antigua looks adorable; colorful buildings, churches and the famous El Arco de Santa Catalina. But looks aren’t everything. The reason why I don’t love Antigua, is because it is very touristic and as soon as I entered a building it didn’t feel authentic anymore. Besides, there are a lot of American fast food chains that make it feel even less authentic.

Before I started my Spanish lessons, me and my friend planned to have a layover in Antigua. We decided to stay in Tropicana, which is the perfect place if you don’t want to sleep, get drunk and fiesta! The staff there lives on tips and makes commission for every drink they sell. So they will try to get you drunk (with try I mean succeed). At the bar you can play drinking games and and is you loose you end up getting spanked or you have to buy the bartender a drink. This is not really my scene, I am not 19 anymore. What I did like about Tropicana was our hostel with a pool and friendly staff. However, my favorite hostel was The Purpose Hostel, a fairly new hostel owned by a  very friendly and helpful Germany woman. She provides trainings to locals working at her hostel to increase their opportunities in the job market. She primarily works with people with small chances of getting a good job. For example, she has a girl working at her hostel who is deaf. The hostel is clean, comfy and she gives back to the community.

I studied Spanish at Antiguena Spanish Academy. They have a really nice garden where you can study. I would definitely recommend the morning lessons where you get a coffee, a snack and you can meet other students. My lessons were scheduled in the afternoon and my teacher didn’t want a break, she just wanted to finish as soon as possible. We talked a lot to practice different conversations, but sometimes she would talk for 15 minutes and I would just listen. Learn from my mistakes: sometimes you have to be more assertive, since you are the one paying for it. So you can have it your way! Also, she kept telling me about the gifts other students gave her, that was a tat manipulating. What I did like about my teacher is that we would go on little field trips during which she’d explain the history and culture of the city. We could talk about anything; dating, relationships, sex, feminism… life basically. Guatemalan women do not shy away from a personal conversation.
Again I stayed with a family. This one had a little girl living in the house, and I can say I had my fair share of princess parties. There were about 5 other students staying with this family, so there was always someone around to hangout with.

There is one thing that almost everyone does when in Antigua: climbing the volcano. It is pretty tough, you walk up a steep mountain for two days. I did not partake on this climb, because I’m not that fit. I’m also scared that everyones will have to wait for me and will become annoyed eventually. It would have only been hard and no fun for me. The special thing about this trip is that at night you can see the other volcano spitting fire. I saw photo’s and heard stories and it’s pretty spectacular. It’s hard but worth it. The tour operators have all the gear that you need.

I was in Antigua during Semana Santa over easter. This is a holy celebration attracting a whole lot of people. Many religious people visit the city and all the non religious people leave the city. I can tell you, it is something… Every day during the holy week they hold a procession, I am not a religious person but I think the processions tell the whole Jesus story. Every day is different. I have seen knights on horses, Jesus on the cross and the kids procession, which is just is too cute. They decorate the streets with carpets made out of flowers or wood chips. They are so bright and colorful, just a delight to look at! During the easter celebration, street venders come out and sell you some great food or fresh sugary juices. Don’t be to shy around street food. If you get sick you get sick. I believe it helps to expose your body to lot’s of bacteria, so it will become strong. Just stay away from the tap water; if the locals don’t drink it neither should you!

A date took me to al little wine bar 15 minutes from Antigua, in a town called San Pedro. The wine garden is located on the main road, a little before Church Apostol (where the nuns live). You can taste as much wine as you want, but the wine here is not like regular wine. I can’t really explain what it is like. You should eave a tip or buy a bottle after the tasting. I highly recommend dating locals because they take you everywhere! You can visit the church as well. Just knock on the door and ask if you can have a look around. There is a pretty little garden inside and I saw the biggest lemon of my life!

My teacher took me to Santo Domingo Del Cerro: an art garden with different galleries. The garden is located on a hill. You could get a taxi there or go for a nice hike. Entry is free, so we just spent an afternoon walking around. I really enjoyed the art! It is funky and colorful. Some of the art-pieces are made out of trash. There is one old Beatle prancing like a horse with a lady on top. I didn’t see a lot of tourists in the garden, making it extra nice for me. If you have a couple of days in Antigua, you should definitely go and have a look.

Antigua offers so many cute bars and restaurants. Because of all the tourist, the food is very diverse. I even found a place that sells bubble tea! In front of Inglesia La Merced you can usually find some street venders for a little snack. Near the bus terminal, there is a really big market (watch your bags when you go in). You can buy almost everything there. A great place to find souvenirs, and also a great spot to score some local food!
Toko Baru is a small restaurant with amazing falafel. It is very tiny, so there is a change you won’t fit in the restaurant and have to take it to go. The rainbow cafe has open mic nights and I was pleasantly surprised with the talent entertaining us with some good music. If you like salsa, you can get some free lessons at New Sensation salsa on Monday or Tuesday night at 5 p.m.



Top 3 Activities

Study Spanish 

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Acatenango Volcano

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Santo Domingo Del Cerro

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Top 3 Restaurants

Toko Baru 

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Rainbow cafe 

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Street food

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Lucky Rabbit

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Travalas Friendly        

Travalas friendly 

Favorite travel quote

‘Never stop doing things for the first time’

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