Contrary to my last post, Antigua is much more than just a party town.
The Markets: The markets here are beyond incredible, stall after stall take up a fair chunk of land, spanning maybe a two or three blocks worth, although not the biggest (this title goes to Chichicastenango, I know, its a mouthful. Chichi is home to not only the biggest in Guatemala, but all of Central America).
It is ridiculously easy to get lost in the Antigua markets, trust me, I am speaking from experience. But, getting lost is all part of the fun, as long as you have a strong stomach! The locals come to do their grocery shopping here so if you are queasy around raw meats and fish its best to stick to the artisan side of things.
When shopping for some local product in Antigua, you have to go deep for the good stuff, and either a Xanax for the anxious or a strong coffee for the shopper in you is recommended prior, whatever works for you. Starting with the standard knock of Ray-Bans, or is that Roy-Ban? Right through to the local textiles, this place can fill a whole day if you have the stamina. Colourful hammocks, handmade bags, black Slate Mayan Calendars, they have it all. Its the perfect place to hone in the bartering skills and pick up a little something for pretty much everyone at home.
The Cross: This is one of the most photographed places in Antigua and for good reason. Although not making it up this time, I visited a few years ago and got my standard tourist shot of the cross over the city. If to fill in a few hours, sunset views or a bit of exercise with friends, this is something everybody should do before leaving Antigua.
Cooking School: If you ever here, take a local cooking lesson. Just do it ok. We went with La Tortilla cooking school, a five star TripAdvisor rating, great prices and local chefs, we had a great morning making Pepion and of course, tortillas. Although Cat and Mary were hung over and I had the start of what I can only describe as the mother of all flu's, we sliced, diced, boiled, grilled and squished things. All while drinking complimentary wine and joking with the chefs. A bonus, they email the recipes to you so you can make them for the family and friends when you return to the real world.
Awkward part of the day? Realising we DID in fact know the chef from somewhere, turns out one of us (yes, may or may not have been me) had pashed the head chef two days before, then run away and didn't realise until halfway through the class. Queue excessive giggling from the females in the room and an inability to make eye contact.
Moving right along.
Cerro San Cristobel: A short and cheap bus ride up one of the many mountains to this little gem of a restaurant for some of the best views of the city. Although, not that we can comment on the view as there was thick fog surrounding the mountain when we visited. However we can attest to the smooth red wine we sampled and the incredible nachos on offer. Well worth the visit, even when you can only see three metres in front of you.
Hobbitenango: Inspired by Lord of the Rings, the owner of this Bed and Breakfast/Restaurant has built his own small Shire, complete with Bilbo Baggins huge round door into the bar. Sprawling lawns, bottles of wine and our own private spot on the property, we enjoyed a fantastic sunset over the four Volcanos and each others company.
Cody, the bar manager from Roos Hostel, had organised a "shuttle" up the hill to Hobbitengango. The shuttle turned out to be a Land Cruiser, and although a large vehicle, not really sufficient for 12 adults. Solution? Why not put two on the roof.
Going up was all well and good, except for the two on the roof, until the driver got busted by his boss at the front gate and we had to split to two groups.
The ride back down to Antigua was even better than the way up, we lost the head lights due to some dodgy electrical work and even the mechanic in the car had no solution.
So, what you have now is two grown men on the passenger seat, four people in the boot, four in the back seat with Cody laying over our knees, anyone in a window seat using their phone as headlights and the driver using his hazards like he has never used them before. Not one of us didn't have stomach cramps falling out of that car from laughing so hard.
To be continued...