Antigua, Guatemala – Part 2 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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Getting to town from the airport will depend on how you arrange your travel. Package deals usually arrange minibuses or taxis from the airport to Antigua which is around two hours. There are also regular shuttle bus transfers from US$20. Budget watchers can take one of the refurbished US school buses, called camionetas, which translates to ‘chicken buses’, waiting outside the airport. These are frighteningly fast given their age and charge as little as US$2 for the transfer.
If you do not want to fly in directly there are other ways to get here. Arriving in Antigua overland from other parts of Guatemala or El Salvador, Mexico or Belize is easy to organise. The city is a major transport hub and an established stop on the ‘gringo trail’. Some chicken buses drop off outside the historic centre, in which case you will have a short walk.
The town has a normal population of around 35, 000 people whose main language is Spanish although many people also speak the Mayan language. If you want to get a good look at the overall area then there are two options for a good viewpoint. If you are feeling energetic then climb the 3,670m Volcán de Agua for a great view, if not then catch a tuk-tuk to Cerro de la Cruz which is just north of the city.
Health and the weather are not really problems here. There are no mosquitos and few bugs in the Guatemalan Highlands. As always don’t drink the tap water, also be aware of the signs of altitude sickness which can creep up on you if you plan to do a lot of climbing. The climate from late Nov to May is dry and it is also the peak tourist time. June to Nov there is rainfall most days but downpours are usually short if somewhat intense.
The first thing to do when you get into town is to head for the plaza which has always been both the historic and social heart of Antigua. There are some excellent café and bars on the west side of the plaza, if I had to choose one then I would say go to El Portal which to me has the best coffee in the area. On the east side is the San José cathedral which is a must visit place. Then on the north side is Museo del Libro Antiguo, this is a small museum which is dedicated to the arrival of printing in colonial Guatemala.
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