Central America has always been high on my list of must see places, and when a group of friends and I decided to travel to Mexico I decided to leave a few weeks before everyone else and see what else the region had to offer!
After a lot of research I decided to do a Best Of Guatemala & Mexico tour with Intrepid. Since I was going on my own and I didn’t speak Spanish this was the best option for me. This tour has now changed slightly – I did it back in 2013 and the Rio Dulce was not part of the itinerary. I assume that has been added to break up the long drive from Antigua to Flores which is a great move. I am really happy that I decided to do this tour, everything was well organised, I felt safe and I made friends!
So on with the journey!
I flew from Australia to Los Angeles with Virgin, where I had one night booked in an airport hotel. I stayed at the Radisson, which appears to now be rebranding as a Hyatt. It was fine. Nothing special. I picked it because it was cheap and the Gateway To LA Ocean Express shuttle stops out the front. I used this service to go to some of the local malls and shop at Sephora… to be honest this is half the reason I booked a stopover in LA! Anyway if you find yourself with a stopover in LA I highly recommend getting a ticket for this bus. There’s not a lot in walking distance to the airport hotels – I had dinner at Subway.
In the morning I caught the courtesy shuttle back to LAX, where I boarded my flight. Although there are direct flights, due to a number of reasons I booked to fly LAX – Mexico City – Guatemala City. The flight to Mexico City was straightforward, but I then had to make my way through customs, pick up my bag, check it, and then board my flight. I had a few hours to do this, but unfortunately I got stuck in a very long queue that moved incredibly slowly. You haven’t lived until you have run through Mexico City airport with your name being called over the loudspeakers. What a moment. If you’re doing this connection, allow for more time. The Aeromexico flight to Guatemala was on the nicest plane I’ve ever seen – huge leather seats with just two people to a row, and it was half empty so I had my row to myself.
I landed in Guatemala where it took mere minutes to get through the airport, and then the transfer I had arranged was waiting out the front for me. The drive from Guatemala City to Antigua took about an hour, and it was dark by the time I arrived. I was struck by the number of fast food places I saw on the way, particularly McDonalds!
I stayed at the Posada Los Bucaros, which was a cute family run hotel. The rooms were small but nice enough, it was clean, the staff were friendly and it was safe. It was walking distance to everything.
Antigua is a beautiful little city filled with colonial churches, Spanish Baroque architecture and cobblestone lined streets arranged around a big square. It’s a popular tourist destination, and most overseas visitors come here rather than nearby Guatemala City.
In Antigua the big thing to do is climb the local volcano. Did I do that? No. I was jet lagged and feeling lazy. Instead I spent two days walking around and looking at things. I didn’t even really take many photos, because I was walking around on my own most of the time. One thing to note is that there is plenty of good food and coffee in Antigua. I also met my tour group here, a mix of people from Australia and the UK. I won’t go on about my tour group too much in this blog – the most important thing is we had a great time, and I’d be happy to travel with Intrepid again.
On this trip I travelled with a little point and shoot camera and an iPhone. So while my photos were okay I wish they were better.
Next up: Flores!