Can this site use your data to personalize useful ads for you?

Our advertising partners will collect data and use cookies for ad personalization and measurement. Otherwise, your data will not influence ads. This site uses cookies to deliver our services. Please see our License Agreement and Privacy Policy (Terms of Use) and Disclosure and Cookie Policy. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand these policies. You can change this setting later on the Disclosure page.

   

 
The Wordy Explorers
   

facebook share
twitter share
pinterest share
flipboard share
googleplus share

Follow


Exploring Antigua, Guatemala On Our Own

Exploring Antigua, Guatemala On Our Own


By avatar  Stacy
Posted On 06/26/2018 23:07:02
Trip Date 05/18/2018  

Destinations | Cruise | Puerto Quetzal | Antigua On Your Own | One Day in Antigua Guatemala | Antigua Guatemala Tourism



We really struggled with making a plan for the day that we docked in Puerto Quetzal. Since we have an aversion to most tours offered by cruise lines due to the high cost and large number of passengers on each tour, we searched for other options. The problem was that we didn't find much that really appealed to us. After lots of reading we decided that, for our first visit to Guatemala, we wanted to explore Antigua.

Check out this post to see how we spent our day in the colonial city. Other than the cost for travel to get to Antigua, your visit could be free (unless, of course, you can't resist making some souvenir purchases)!


Transportation to Antigua from Puerto Quetzal

We contemplated taking the "chicken bus" (a brightly painted former school bus) as it sounded like the way we usually choose to travel. Since the bus ride would have required us to take a city bus or taxi to get to the starting point (plus after reading numerous "danger alerts"), we decided against it. We ended up taking the Norwegian Cruise Line Antigua on Your Own shore excursion - with our loyalty discount the cost was $50.15, and it gave us peace of mind that we wouldn't miss our 5:30 PM all aboard time. (Antigua was a 90 minute ride in each direction and we had read that, depending on traffic and transfers between buses, it could take as long as 2 1/2 hours using public transportation.).

The full size very comfortable coach departed from the dock at 9:00 AM. Victor safely drove while Edgar, our long winded guide, shared more information than I could ever hope to remember. After transferring to two large vans when we neared Antigua (the coaches were too big for the narrow streets), we arrived at 11:00 AM. (Door to door, our return drive was a little quicker at 1 hour 45 minutes.)

Jade Maya Museum and Factory

We walked as a group to the courtyard located just outside of the Jade Maya Factory and Museum, which would also be the meeting point for our return in four hours. We were given a brief introduction to Antigua by an expatriate volunteer and were offered the option to hire one of the many private guides available for a walking tour.

We learned that Guatemala is known for being a great location for purchasing jade, so we listened to an interesting short presentation led by archaeologist Mary Lou Ridinger about how she and her late husband discovered the Guatemala jade quarries in 1975. Her business, Jade Maya, included a museum, factory and retail store. Afterwards, since we were not in the market for any jewelry, we spent a few minutes watching the factory workers and did a quick walk through of the free museum. (I had no idea that jade has a 400 million year shelf life!) At Mrs. Ridinger's encouragement, we also touched her multi-million dollar "retirement stone" (which was on display in the retail store) for good luck.


Retirement Stone

Retirement Stone


Strolling through the City of Antigua

We began our walk in Antigua by heading about four blocks south of Jade Maya where we passed through the Saint Bonaventure Gate to see Iglesia de San Francisco and the small vendor market located in the complex.


Iglesia de San Francisco

Iglesia de San Francisco

I enjoyed seeing the Spanish colonial architecture of the buildings in Antigua dating back hundreds of years.


A Sampling of the Architecture in Antigua

A Sampling of the Architecture in Antigua

We continued our walk to the Hospital de San Pedro (which today serves as a hospital, shelter and social services facility) and adjacent Chapel of San Pedro.


Hospital de San Pedro

Hospital de San Pedro

Across the street, we walked through the courtyard of the Museo de Arte Colonial.


Museo de Arte Colonial

Museo de Arte Colonial

Our next stop, Plaza Mayor (also known as Central Park), was a great place to take a break from walking for a few minutes. We found the "Mermaid Fountain" and did a little people (and pigeon) watching.


"Mermaid Fountain"

"Mermaid Fountain"

The Arco de Santa Catalina, an icon in Antigua, was our next stop. It was interesting to learn that it was actually built with a purpose - the cloistered nuns living in the convent on one side could walk through a passageway inside the arch to the school at which they taught on the other side without being seen.


Santa Catalina Arch

Santa Catalina Arch

Just one block further was Iglesia La Merced, painted in a pastel yellow with intricate white reliefs on the facade.


Iglesia La Merced

Iglesia La Merced

On our way back, we saw the site of Catedral de Santiago located directly across the street from Central Park. The building was badly damaged in an earthquake in 1773; today, the repaired entrance hall serves as San Jose Cathedral.


Catedral de San Jose

Catedral de San Jose

We spent a little more time in the park watching the many Guatemalan ladies peddling their wares. As we were thirsty and also running a little low on time, we did some final shopping at Nim Po't Centro de Textiles Tradicionales, a large retail store with fixed prices (no bargaining), and then stopped for a drink.


Nim Po't (top) and several Street Peddlers (bottom)

Nim Po't (top) and several Street Peddlers (bottom)

Although we didn't have time to see the many ruins in Antigua, we certainly enjoyed our day in the colonial city. Four hours was just enough time to get a taste of the city - and we have plenty of ideas for our next visit!


Tips for Visiting Antigua, Guatemala

Here's a few tips to help make sure that you enjoy your day and get the most out of your visit:
  • The city of Antigua sits about 5,000 feet above sea level. If you typically experience any ill effects at higher altitudes, you should take precautions.
  • Many of the streets in Antigua are cobblestone, so comfortable walking shoes are important. As with any outing in a tropical climate, sun protection is a must - wearing sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are highly recommended.
  • If you plan to make any purchases, bring some cash. While some places did accept credit cards, there were often minimum purchase amounts required.
  • If you would like a little assistance with walking some of the longer distances while in Antigua, there were both taxis and tuk-tuks available.

Create a User Account

We welcome you to create a user account and opt in for an e-mail subscription. In addition to ideas for ports of calls for your upcoming cruises, you'll have access to thought starters for traveling within the US as well inland international destinations. We also travel by RV, so if that interests you, you can follow along on our RV journeys in the US. Our commitment to you is that we will send no more than one e-mail per week!

Bargaining with Vendors

What are your best suggestions for bargaining in markets when making souvenir purchases?




Total FitBit steps today: 8,120
Weather:77F Mostly Cloudy


Exploring Antigua, Guatemala On Our Own



Related Posts  

   7 Must See Sights in Antigua, Guatemala   7 Must See Sights in Antigua, Guatemala

   Norwegian Bliss Review: Activities, Events, Entertainment & Ports of Call   Norwegian Bliss Review: Activities, Events, Entertainment & Ports of Call

   Norwegian Bliss: Review of Public Areas, Our Stateroom & Dining   Norwegian Bliss: Review of Public Areas, Our Stateroom & Dining


Other Recent Posts  

   A DIY Day Trip from Puerto Montt to Chile's Lake District   A DIY Day Trip from Puerto Montt to Chile's Lake District

   Review:  Sun Valley RV Resort   Review: Sun Valley RV Resort

   Touring the Chilean Countryside with "The German Pirates"   Touring the Chilean Countryside with "The German Pirates"

   Review:  Southgate RV Park   Review: Southgate RV Park

   "Mardi Gras World" plus 14 New Orleans Sights   "Mardi Gras World" plus 14 New Orleans Sights





Created On 06/26/2018 20:28:23  
Updated On 06/29/2018 11:04:46
Scheduled On 06/26/2018 05:07:02
Posted On 06/26/2018 23:07:02
Last Editor Stacy
Location  Antigua Guatemala, Antigua Guatemala, Sacatep~quez, Guatemala
LinkId  NCLBusAntigua
StoryId  1530059303138





Comments    





  blog theme  
About WE
Contact WE
Follow WE
License
Privacy Policy
Disclosure Policy
facebook share
twitter share
pinterest share
flipboard share
googleplus share
 

(C) Copyright, SNS Web Ventures, LLC, DBA Are We There Yet, 2018
The Wordy Explorers