Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Travel Tuesday: Antigua Guatemala

Seth and I love to travel. My in-laws are not originally from the United States and so my husband's family is spread out in five different countries (including the U.S.). This means that we get to travel often so I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite places with you. Let's start back at the beginning, with the first trip that Seth and I took together. In June 2008, about a year after we met, I traveled with Seth to Guatemala. That is actually where Seth spent most of his life, so we were going to visit his family.

Guatemala is not a big country, but most of the country is not very developed so it can be difficult to travel within the country. Even though I have been there several times, there are many places that I still haven't seen. There is such a wide range of environments in Guatemala - beaches, mountains, rainforests! It's really a beautiful country and the people are wonderful too.

Anyway. The first trip. Seth grew up in Guatemala City, but his mother now lives in Antigua Guatemala so that's where we spend most of our time. Antigua is amazing. It's such a beautiful town. One of my favorite things about the town is the architecture and the abundance of churches. Antigua was founded by the Spanish in the 1500's, so the streets are cobblestones and  most of the buildings are of an old colonial style. They're brightly colored with big wooden front doors, high outside walls, iron scrolling on the windows, and sunny central courtyards.

Clockwise from top left: Cobblestone street in Antigua, One of the many squares located around the town, 
the church of San Pedro, and the Cathedral in Central Park.

Another thing that I absolutely love about Antigua is the scenery. Antigua is located in a little valley in the central highlands of Guatemala, about a mile high. It's surrounded by green hills and three towering volcanoes - Agua, Actatenango, and Fuego. Only Fuego is currently still active and you can see it puffing smoke and ash on a regular basis. Sometimes you can see lava erupting as well! When it's cloudy or the air is dusty, you can forget that the volcanoes are even there but when the sky is clear, the view is amazing!

Clockwise from top left: View of Volcan Agua from Cafe Sky, Fuego and Acatenango,
Fuego erupting smoke and ash, street view of Agua.

It seems like there is a Catholic church on almost every corner. They're all very old and so beautiful with their bright colors and ornate details. Since Antigua lies along a large fault it has experienced many earthquakes throughout it's history. Many of the churches (and other buildings) have been damaged at some point or another. Some are repaired and rebuilt, but some were abandoned and you can explore many of the ruins around the town.

Top: Ruins of the Santa Clara convent
Bottom left: Wall outside the church of San Francisco
Bottom right: Ruins of Santo Domingo monastery

Antigua is such a wonderful place to visit. The local markets are full of handmade products made by people from all over Guatemala. You can visit plantations and taste the coffee made from locally grown beans (which amazing with warm milk - cafe con leche). 

And the food. Oh my God, the food. Antigua attracts people from all over the world and many love it so much that they decide to stay. This is neat because it means you can find a restaurant serving almost every type of food - typical Guatemalan, Italian, Thai, Mexican, Japanese...the list goes on and on. Dining is pretty much my favorite thing to do in Antigua because all of the food is delicious and it's super cheap compared to the United States.

If you ever get a chance to visit Antigua, I highly recommend it. It's wonderful to experience the mix of cultures, the gorgeous scenery, and the amazing food!

Seth and I in front of the famous Arch of Antigua, during our engagement photo session.

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