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    Is This the Isthmus? Tour – Guatemala Part 2

    Saturday, September 2, 2017
    Antigua, Guatemala

    Welcome to the best hostel breakfast ever at the Yellow House in Antigua, Guatemala.
    Welcome to the best hostel breakfast ever at the Yellow House in Antigua, Guatemala.

    Let’s talk about breakfast at hostels. Usually, they’re really small and simple–maybe a pancake with a side of fruit like banana, pineapple and melon; or toast, rice and an egg. Imagine my surprise this morning by the major feast (which is served every day) at the Yellow House hostel. I’m talking a big chunk of pineapple, watermelon, a pancake, tomatoes, potatoes, beans and–as if that weren’t enough–a veggie burrito.

    The best hostel breakfast ever at the Yellow House in Antigua, Guatemala.
    The best hostel breakfast ever at the Yellow House in Antigua, Guatemala.

    All of it is freshly made every morning, and it’s included in the price of the room! I was completely blown away. I’ve never seen anything that remotely approaches the quality and quantity of food on offer at any hostel in Southeast Asia or Central America. Likewise, the presentation is unmatched–the food is served up by two ladies out of dishes covered up with colorful cloths to keep it warm.

    Iglesia La Merced in Antigua, Guatemala.
    Iglesia La Merced in Antigua, Guatemala.

    “Antigua is a city in the central highlands of Guatemala famous for its well-preserved Baroque-influenced Spanish colonial architecture, as well as a number of church ruins. From the 16th to the 18th centuries, the city was one of the grand colonial capitals of the Spanish Empire in the Americas. Under the name Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala, it was the original “Guatemala City.” A disastrous earthquake in 1773 destroyed or damaged most of the city, and the Spanish crown ordered the capital moved to a new city, which became the modern Guatemala City. In 1776, the old city was ordered abandoned.

    An effigy of a colorful cowboy in Antigua, Guatemala.
    An effigy of a colorful cowboy in Antigua, Guatemala.

    Looking north toward the Santa Catalina Arch in Antigua, Guatemala.
    Looking north toward the Santa Catalina Arch in Antigua, Guatemala.

    “Not everyone left, but Antigua turned from a bustling capital into a provincial town, filled with the ruins of its former glory. It became known as “Antigua Guatemala,” meaning “Old Guatemala.” The 20th century brought about an increasing appreciation for the large amount of preserved Spanish colonial architecture, which led to an increase in development to host visitors. Not surprisingly, the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.”–Wikipedia

    A weathered wall in Antigua, Guatemala.
    A weathered wall in Antigua, Guatemala.

    Not having anything specific planned for today, I just wandered around the center of Antigua and shot photos. My first subject was the Iglesia La Merced, a baroque Catholic church with an impressive yellow and white facade containing two bell towers that opened in 1767. Hey, that’s exactly two centuries before the Summer of Love!

    Santa Catalina Arch in Antigua, Guatemala.
    Santa Catalina Arch in Antigua, Guatemala.

    Next, I got blown away by the huge, bustling crowds of pedestrians walking in town–especially around the northwest corner of Parque Central. It seemed like I saw an even mix of both Guatemalans and foreigners, many of them patronizing myriad hip and glitzy cafes, bars, shops, hotels, etc. that are all set within attractively weathered walls amid cobblestone streets that give the whole place a charming old world feel.

    Another effigy of a colorful cowboy in Antigua, Guatemala.
    Another effigy of a colorful cowboy in Antigua, Guatemala.

    The next major site I encountered was the Arco de Santa Catalina, also known to English speakers as the Santa Catalina Arch. “Built in the 17th century, the Santa Catalina Arch is one of the most distinguished landmarks in Antigua. It originally connected the Santa Catalina convent to a school, allowing the cloistered nuns to pass from one building to the other without walking out on the street. Boasting a clock on top that was added in the 1830s, the Santa Catalina Arch influenced the design of the Guatemala Post Office in Guatemala City.”–Wikipedia

    Words and photos ©2017 Arcane Candy.

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