On our fifth day in Guatemala, we explored the historic city of Antigua. It’s equal parts charmingly laid back and bustling with action. Mayan men and women are everywhere selling homemade crafts. In the main square alone we were approached by no less than 10 women selling ornate, hand-beaded trinkets and embroidered table runners.
We visited several churches and historic sights in the city before Tony set us free for the afternoon. Among those was Hotel Casa Santo Domingo. It’s a convent/monastery turned five-star resort. Most of the structures were destroyed in the 1773 earthquake, but what remains has been preserved thanks to the luxury hotel that was built around it. The original aquaduct is now a decorative fountain. The chapel is still used for weddings. And the crypt is open to tourists. They do charge for access to the historic grounds (if you’re not a hotel guest), but this was included with our Gate 1 tour.
Next door to Santo Domingo was Siete Caldos, a local Guatemalan chain restaurant that Tony recommended. We ate a delicious authentic lunch there before walking back to the town square and buying a frozen blackberry slushy and enjoying the early afternoon breeze on an otherwise very warm day.
Eventually Dad and I decided to climb up to a hillside cross overlooking the city from about a mile away. We’d seen the cross while we were walking around the city and decided to try to get there on foot. On the way we ran into Tony and our bus driver, Miguel, and they offered to give us a ride to the base of the hill. The final stretch to the top was 331 steps, and the view was totally worth it.