Arrived and found Antigua to be a fascinating place.

It is a bit on the expensive side for us old Budget Babies.

The climate is superb and rated in the top ten in the world.

There are many hotels ranging from a few dollars a night to a few hundred a night.

Restaurants are everywhere and most of them have second story terrace dining.

There are tons of specialty shops and bake shops and souvenir shops and candy shops.

Guatemalan Jade is the finest in the world and there are many shops and jewelry fabricators as well as Jade museums.

There are many old churches and edifices left from the Spanish Colonial era.

The city is a World Heritage site.

It also has an abundance of language school.

There are several parks and scenic points of interest.

Tuktuks provide cheap transportation for those who don’t wish to walk.

Beer drinkers will find an abundance of beverages ranging from about 85 cents in the big market to $3 – $4 in the bars and restaurants.

There are more beautiful women than one can spare eyeballs to look with.

Antigua has a lot to offer for all budgets but especially for the mid to upper tier.

Prices are similar to U.S. and a bit higher in some instances.

A day of walking around sampling what Antigua has to offer is very contenting but the city thrives on tourism and id geared specifically to milk that cow.

I hope to return but not for tourism. There are things here that interest me.

050Periodically  good stuff happens for no reason or, as we say in the south, “a blind hawg finds an acorn”.

I stumbled into Angeline Restaurant in Antigua, Guatemala purely by accident several days ago.

Today was my third visit and one of the owners, Scott Mateo Davies, and I have gotten along well enough to be developing a friendship.

Today the rain had me pinned down in my foxhole but in the afternoon it took a break and I hit the streets and started flipflopping around town.

Stop number four was….you guessed it….Angeline.

Yesterday when I was there Scott informed me that they would be closed today BUT if I happened by to  knock on the door and if he was there we could visit.

Sure enough, he was there and so was Albert, his partner who happens to be not only a restaurateur but a linguist AND a Sommelier.

Today they were giving a blind wine tasting to their staff and they invited me to join. I was delighted. There were four blinds, 2 whites and 2 reds. First we had some information about what we were doing passed from Alberto to us and then we began. 3.5 hours later we finished.

I would have included more photos but my uploader is having problems so I will readdress this post with more photos at a later date.

Very informative. Very entertaining. Very professional. Most of the restaurant staff I’ve been in contact with are lucky to be trained  to know the difference between red and white ! LOL

Well done Angeline ! Very impressive.

Am I touting Angeline because I like the owners ? Not at all. I take pride in telling the good and the bad so that when someone visits a place I’ve written about they know what to expect and have an honest base to draw their own conclusions.

Angeline is top shelf but…even more than that, is a concerted effort to make everyone feel at home and welcome. THAT, along with constant attention to quality and detail, is the mark of involved and dedicated ownership.

Angeline is not for the timid or budget challenged. Fine dining seldom is. The business is ensconced in a 1908 structure that mirrors the  architecture that makes Antigua a standout visit. The edifice has been in the same family since it was originally constructed.

The only thing lacking is  roof terrace seating for rooftop views  of Antigua to compliment the feeling of old sophistication that is so much a part of Angeline. However, according to Scott, it’s in the works.

Great experience!  Great for Antigua!

Waited over an hour in front of my hotel in Antigua for my transport from Atitrans to show. When it finally did it was only half full and a rattling passenger van which had seen better days driven by Fernando who tells me he owns the company. Hmmmm.

We drove around Antigua as he picked up the remaining passengers.

We set off over the mountains, which reminded me of so many other mountains in Central America, with roadsides covered in the trappings of life of people who scratch out a living while carrying the banner of their Mayan heritage like a for sale sign at a Jewish pie fair.

 

The van, loaded with 4 Brits, an old Turk, a girl from Houston now living in Austin, and myself wheezed and groaned it’s way over the heights for roughly 3 hours before descending through a thick fog onto the lake shores of Lake Atitlan. We eventually arrived at Panajachel, our destination.

 

My fist impression of Panajachel wasn’t kind. Our disembarkation point was, like so many other tourist way points, infested with those who feed on the confusion that arrivals and departures create.

 

Fortunately the Turk and I were taken to our hotel, a distance of maybe 3 kilometers, for an additional $3.70 each.

 

Upon arrival our host, originally from Hiroshima, Japan, checked us in and lugged our baggage to the third floor, where our sparse but clean and comfortable rooms were located.

It had started raining while the other van passengers offloaded and so we were slightly damp and chilled and I was feeling the onset of the crud I’d been fighting off for days.

I arranged for our host to get me a tuktuk and went into town for some dinner. I tried several places where the staff were either surly or downright rude before finally settling in for a bite at a place slightly more interested in serving me. I paid 53 Q for the meal and two rum & cokes. It was tasty even though the beef could have passed for shoe leather….and might have been ! There was rice, beans, guacamole, chips, plantains, chorizo, beef ?, and watermelon washed down with Cuba Libres.

 

Immediately after eating I returned to the hotel.

I spent a restless night, woke up still tired and proceeded into the heart of the tourist circus that is Panajachel for a decent breakfast for about $2.95, which was the first real bargain I’d seen on a plate in a day or two.

While I was waiting for my food, I spied a man approaching with a lovely Golden Retriever on a leash and went out to introduce myself and look at his dog.  He and I had several things in common, besides our love for Goldens, as he had lived in Houston for 33 years while working in the construction trades. His name temporarily escapes me but his dogs name is Rusty and reminded me of the first Golden I ever owned  which trained me in the art of waterfowl hunting. Rusty’s owner (dang old brain) owns some apartments in the towers here which he rents out for $25 a day for a one bedroom and $50 a day for a two bedroom.

After breakfast I wandered by tuk tuk to the launch wharf to spot my disembarkation point, across the lake to San Pedro, tomorrow morning. I was greeted with cat calls and ridicule coupled with sarcasm from the local pack of wharf rats who feed off the tourism spawned by the lake. Several of them responded to my frown of displeasure by snapping karate kicks at imaginary foes. Welcome to Panajachel ! The San Pedro departure point forever stamped into my brain.

 

I pushed my way past several individuals determined to separate me from anything they could get and made my way on foot back to the center of the carnival which is Panajachel. I wandered through several stalls of goods where I was mocked and sneered at upon refusal to buy                                                                                                                    before finally, at 10:45, wandering into a nicely appointed bar for a beer and some rest.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              After the beer, I decided to walk back to my hotel and see what the town consisted of besides mayhem.

 

Mayhem is what it excels at but it does have some areas of interest.

 

I walked and walked past stares, sneers, and jeers and eventually came to rest in a small restaurant owed by a kind lady whose name is Lessie.

 

                                                                                                                                                   We chatted while I drank another beer then, promising to return in an hour or so for lunch, I followed her directions through a local neighborhood to the shores of the lake.

 

I stopped along the way and bought an icecream. In another shop I perused ball caps. Not finding one that suited me, I wandered on and purchased an umbrella for $4.25.

 

I stopped by a tortilla shop where two women were making tortillas and ask to take a photo. They said I could…if I gave them 1 Q…the local currency. 7Q makes a buck American. It made me laugh so much at the desperation of the demand that I paid one of them. The other refused to be involved in the photo without more money so she was left out.

 

Arriving at the lake, I wandered the shoreline and took photos until I became bored.

 

Retracing my steps I took several more photos.

 

                                                                                                                                                  

Upon regaining Lessies little eatery, I ordered lunch (chicken, potato, brined cabbage, tortillas, two types of salsa and a bottle of water) which cost me 44 Quesales or about $6.40.

 

After eating I walked the remaining 1/4 mile to my hotel.

 

From the roof I took several shots of the surrounding area.

 

The roof gave good vantage.

 

Then, worn out and feeling sick I went to bed for a nap which lasted from 2pm until 5:30 pm.

I really believe that the next several days will be rather hard on me but I will do as I must. Maybe the sun will shine and I’ll feel better.

BTW….Panajachel is not a good place but it has some decent people if you look hard. Fact is….I’m not a big fan so far !

I really hate to start a blog out negative on my travel site.

One of the things about traveling as much as I have in Latin America is that what other folks find acceptable, I find to be very….so, so.. Monterrico, Guatemala is one of those places I couldn’t get away from soon enough. Not because it’s a horrible place but because it is so mediocre when it comes to vacation spots. The trip started out poorly.

Monterrico

Monterrico

Firstly, I booked a van ride, roundtrip, for 160 Quesalas. As of this writing it takes about 7.5 Q to make a buck so that was about $22 in a van that the company said was a good one but was in essence a refurbished wreck with flapping doors and worn out shocks and rear springs. We huffed and puffed and flapped all the way but, in fairness, we made it…. with a few bruises and sore spots. That was thanks to OnVisa Travel 1 Travel Agency/ Tour Operator.

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The volcano sent us a farewell kiss as we departed from the cool mountains of Antigua.

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The landscape changed, very pleasantly at first.

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The clunker we were in  managed to rattle it’s way the two and a half hours from Antigua to Monterrico.

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We arrived and I will say this…..for the $16 a night I spent for my room, it was an ok deal.

No hot water but ensuite bathroom, ceiling fan and mosquito netting,

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both EXTREMELY important,

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nice pool ,

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good bars, cold beers, competitive prices for onsite liquor and food and really nice and accommodating operators (Juan and his American wife Becky).

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The place has some charm.

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It also has a parrot who is chatty.

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It has ugly, burn your feet HOT, black sand beaches which aren’t well kept outside of the hotel areas which front them.

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The Pacific hits the beach like a sledge hammer.

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The ocean must shelve very quickly here because the waves start breaking very big and VERY close to shore.

A regular visitor and her daughter were sitting in the sand after having a few cocktails and the ocean jumped up and took them. The daughter saved her mom who was carried from the water and resuscitated.

The currents are deadly and the wave action unpredictable.

The place is humid and hot as are most beach locations but the black sand makes this one worse than a white sand location.

The town is ….ok.  It’s small.

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It’s a tourist trap kinda place with some good points.

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Lots of shops for geegaws.

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Breakfast can be had for $25 Q.

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A fried chicken place will sell you a breast …11 Q and fries…5 Q and it’s pretty good or you can buy other combos for very little.

There is a marina area where you can get launches to take you into the mangrove swamp sightseeing or transport you to another small town not too far away.

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You can get 3 hours of fishing offshore in a launch for 90 Q.

There are stores with cold beer…the cheapest…5 Q and flipflops and crocs and junk.

There is this weird place where Len bought a hamburger which turned out to be a fishburger and my nachos were yuk !

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On the other hand, for what it is, where it is, it serves a purpose to those who find pleasure in just having a different place to go.

I did meet a beautiful Belgium by the name of Sophie and her son William but spelled with a G. I enjoyed their company a lot and hated to see them go a day ahead  of myself.

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083                                                                                                                                                  Sophie was a bright , attractive and worldly woman who has a great personality and a dynamite smile. She also has a great look in a bikini and a son who is a credit to his culture.

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118                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               There was a lady named Anna who was kind of cordial and was from Finland and who Len found attractive.

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There was a nice couple from Panajachel at Lake Atitlan who own a para-sailing business.

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Len and I walked and looked and drank and ate and did whatever we could on the time and funds we had and were absolutely thrilled to leave Monterrico behind and return to the cool air of Antigua even though it’s raining here.

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We saw and did and sweated and now…if I never see Monterrico again it will be fine with me BUT….that is simply my opinion based on where I’ve been, what I’ve done and what I’ve seen on a Wing and a Prayer budget.

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For those who don’t need much to feel like the top pup at the dog show….check it out. You may find it right up your anal alley !

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