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Antigua Guatemala - Meal Prices

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We have been offered $40 per person/day at the resort we are staying. Any insight if this a "good deal" or are meals very affordable in Antigua? Many thanks!

Lisa

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    Does this mean you would have to eat all of your meals at the resort? What resort are you staying at?

    There are some fabulous places to eat in Antigua and I don't remember it being expensive at all. We were there in 2001. I think I kept good notes on our spending. If I can find the little notebook, I'll come back and post some specific restaurant suggestions and prices.
    -Sharon

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    Sharon: Thanks so much for the posting. I'm having a difficult time getting info on Antigua so this is very much appreciated! Yes, the $40/day/person is dining and drinks at the hotel only (Villa Antigua). Thankfully they offer an "optional" all inclusive, so I'm hopeful we can opt out if the variety and prices in Antigua are reasonable. Many thanks again!

    Lisa in M.Antonio, CR

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    Sit tight. I am teaching a class tonight and won't be home to go searching for my Guatemala notes. I will do so in the next couple of days and post what I know.

    Did you see this review on TripAdvisor?
    http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g295366-d307277-r2753354-Hotel_Villa_Antigua-Antigua_Guatemala.html

    and another:
    http://www.debbiescaribbeanresortreviews.com/guatemala/guatreview1.html

    Sounds like you will be a 20 minute walk into the center of town. Will the resort provide transportation? How doe you plan to spend your time in Antigua? How long will you be there? When do you need to decide on the all-inclusive portion?

    If you like textiles, you should check out Nim Pot. This shop has wonderful textiles from all over Guatemala. http://www.nimpot.com/spanish/Feedback/index.asp

    -Sharon

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    I was just in Antigua a few weeks a go and didn't think meal prices were expensive at all. Villa Antigua is away from the town though so not so handy just to pop down the road for a quick bite.

    Are you fully tied to Villa Antigua? I know some very nice small hotels in town that I could recommend.

    Otherwise see if they have a partial deal - say breakfast and lunch only and leave yourselves open for dinners.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

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    Many thanks to both of you! We have one week of timeshare which needs to be used prior to the end of January 2005. Villa Antigua is the only accommodation in Central America avail for our dates of travel. As we live in CRica fulltime, this made the best financial sense (airfare-wise); however, it is a destination we've heard wonderful travel tales. Are taxis readily available throughout Antigua to transport us to city center? Very honestly, we've booked this "by the seat of our pants" without a great deal of knowledge. No idea what we want to do, just experience an interesting land we've heard wonderful things about. Any and all information is most helpful! I've posted on many Guatemala boards w/ limited success (actually NO ONE answered!) so I'm most pleased to hear from you both! Looking for pricing of anything very honestly ... from bottle of beer to dinner entree.

    Lisa

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    Hi Lisa -

    I have searched for my notebook and just can't find it. :((

    I'll give a further search over the weekend. I did find a summary of our trip expenses. We averaged 10-11 USD per person per day for food. We tend to snack a bit rather than eat meals out; so, we had brought beef jerky from home and had some meals of jerky and maybe a snack item along the way rather than enjoy a sit-down meal. So, you might want to up my figure a bit to perhaps $15 or $18 per person per day. This was in 2001. At that time the exchange rate was 7.78 GTQ to 1USD; today the exchange rate is not that different: 7.91 GTQ to 1 USD.

    Most of our meals included no alcohol; although I'm sure Ray ordered beer occasionally and we might have had some wine with one meal during our two week's visit.

    Here are some places I remember off the top of my head. There is a terrific place where we ate breakfast: Doña Luisa's. Terrific mangos, papaya, juice, eggs, black beans, coffee, and tortillas. Yum. The restarurant is upstairs and has good service.

    We had dinner at La Fonda, not too far from the hotel where we stayed (La Posada de Don Rodrigo.) A terrific Andean band played and our son purchased one of their CDs for $12.95. This was a wonderful place. There is a typical Guatemalan dish with pumpkin seeds that are ground into a sauce and served over chicken. I ordered it here and it was delicious! Ah... pollo en pepian!

    We had some wonderful gelato at a gelato shop. (One of those little snacks.) The gelato shop served coffee and cookies as well. We sampled only the gelato and it was wonderful.

    Then, there was a whole in a wall place where this woman and her family had all these hot pots sitting on burners. You litterally walk up to this kitchen-style entrance, point to what you want and then sit at tables in the back. I know I have the address of this place in my little book. So, I hope I can find it and post back later with the specifics. Perhaps Andrew stumbled into this place and can give directions.

    Also, near our hotel was a place called Frida's that I enjoyed. I ordered the pasole and it was the very best I had ever tasted. The waitstaff was quite fun.

    You might want to look at the rough guides online. http://travel.roughguides.com/roughguides.html
    It's possible that the name of the place with the open kitchen is Café Panchoy. I'll have to find that notebook first to verify the address.

    Gotta run... Ray say's fresh blueberry muffins are ready... I'll be back after breakfast.

    -Sharon

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    I'm back. Boy, are those muffuns good! Fresh frozen blueberries from a quick trip to Arkansas for a picking fest. It's delightful to have such a wonderful reminder of summer on Saturday mornings.

    Ah, back to the topic at hand. By the way, it should be "hole in the wall" rather than "whole in the wall". Please pardon my poor spelling!

    Now, we had a wonderful steak dinner someplace in Antigua and over breakfast, Ray grabbed our Guatemala guidebooks. I am almost certain the place was La Sereno. I found it on the web. http://www.aroundantigua.com/dining/elsereno.htm

    Now, this is one terrific website! (If you click on many of the icons, they serve as links to more information.) I'm book-marking this site just in case we ever get around to planning that trip to Antigua for Semana Santa.

    Well, I'm looking at a map in the Lonely Planet guidebook for Guatemala and see just how far out you are staying. It's too bad you are not closer in. I'd be a bit concerned about walking back and forth to the hotel after dark. So, you might want to have a plan for how you'd get back and forth.

    There are some transportation options listed here: http://www.virtualtourist.com/f/198306/

    I don't want to scare you, and you probably know already that Guatemala can be a bit on the edge as far as safety is concerned. For instance, during the middle of the day I went as part of a group of four, walking to some of the ruins on the outskirts of town and tourist police kept an eye on us and followed us back. So, I'd be careful and not take chances.

    You can read the web sites from the English speaking countries that offer travelers advisories and reports. I read them before any trip to gain some background information, to develop a sense of the areas to avoid, and somewhat of a better understanding of the country's political climate. I find this extremely helpful. These sites provide good basic information as to neighborhoods to avoid, political stability, etc. And, by reading through all of them, I end up with a more balanced viewpoint.

    Here are some sites to check for Traveler's Advisories. If you read all of them, you will be well-informed.

    US - http://www.travel.state.gov/

    Canada - http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/menu-en.asp

    UK - http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029390554

    Australia - http://www.dfat.gov.au/

    That's all I know on food and safety. I'll post some bits on activities and other stuff, next.

    -Sharon

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    I'm going out on a limb here, since I have no clue as what you like to do or how you like to spend your time. I'll share what my family's experiences were and what I loved. (Some background... my husband and I were travelling with our 17 1/2 year old son. We were in our early forties.)

    We had great fun watching some children play soccer on a field near a large open market.

    We enjoyed the huge native market. Lots of produce, handicrafts, textiles, wonderful sites and things. (Saturdays are the busiest days.) There are several markets in town.
    The one I am referring to is a huge, sprawling outdoor market on a large dirt field. It takes up about six sqaure blocks. Next to this market is another indoor market, the Mercado de Artesania's.

    SHOPPING
    Jade... I can recommend two wonderful and reputable jade shops: La Casa del Jade (4a Calle Oriente 3)and Jades, SA (4a Calle Oriente 34). Of these two, I think La Casa del Jade is the better choice: it has an amazing collection and it's pure delight to walk through this store and see it's artifacts, ceramic reproductions and watch the jade being worked by craftsmen. I purchased pieces from both shops (including a wonderful ceramic pot at Casa del Jades and both shops packaged the items nicely.)

    There are some nice shops with leather items and our son purchased some rope-style sandals that he has worn constantly since.

    And, of course, there is Nim P'ot. I mentioned this in an earlier posting. You simply must go in and see this shop/museum. One evening when we dropped in, there was native dancing and music. And, it is a nice way to see the variety of huipiles and other textiles from all over Guatemala. Our son decided to purchase a woman's skirt out of their "Sale boat" and he asked me to make curtains out of it. Very cool idea. Many of the items have been worn and are their on consignment, so it makes the pieces extra-special. There is also a little shrine to Maximon. Since Nim P'ot was so close to where we stayed, we made more than one trip here and enjoyed poking around and shopping. This is one shop where there is no bargaining. Many other places you can bargain 10 to 20% off with no problem.

    HIKING
    I highly recommend Mike Shawcross for 4-wheel drive transportation, hiking and seeing some off the beaten path places. For more information check out "Mike's Hikes" on http://rutahsa.com/ where his e-mail address is listed. Mike is a very interesting guide. He also has a neat little bookstore in Antigua, "Casa Andinista" (4a Calle Oriente #5)which is across from the Doña Louisa restaurant. The shop carries a good selection of books in several languages.

    OTHER STUFF
    Casa Popenoe (corner of 5a Calle Oriente and 1a Avenida Sur) is a restored 17th Century mansion. You can even see the attic area where homing pigeons were kept. Very cool. Wonderful antiques, gardens, peaceful and beautiful courtyard.

    There is lots and lots of wonderful Spanish colonial architecture. And, the setting is simply amazing. You are surrounded by blue sky and volcanoes. Weather is like eternal springtime. I think that's the case even in January... check weatherbase.com to be sure.

    Ruins of churches and convents; as well as the active churches in the city. You might be particularly interested in Iglesia de San Francisco (7a Calle Oriente and 1a Avenida Sur and close to Casa Popenoe) where Hermano Pedro de San Jose Betancourt is buried. Pope John Paul II canonized him a saint recently - summer 2002. When we were there in 2001 there were many pilgrims who travelled to his casket and I can only imagine that this is even more so now that he has been canonized a Saint.

    The statuary in the churches is phenomenal. (Human hair wigs, elaborate fabric clothing, elegant painting, and gold gilt.) Many of these pieces are used during the Semana Santa processions. (Be sure to check out the four-ton statue of the Black Christ at La Merced - it's one of the centerpieces of Antigua's Semana Santa processions.)

    In fact, many of the high Catholic holidays are celebrated with processions and alfombras (if I remember right, that's what they are called.)... they are carpets of flowers, made into religious images that cover the streets and then when the processions start they are walked over so you see the petals scattered everywhere along with confetti. (We were there for Pentecost and Corpus Christi.) So, perhaps there is something for the feast of the Holy Family or for Epiphany... the Feast of the Three Kings. (I wouldn't be surprised.) Many times these festivities start with bombas (firecrackers) being set off and then the procession.

    The folks in Guatemala certainly love their bombas. (Market days start at 6:00 am with bombas going off. I guess this is to ensure no one misses market day!) As for church services, the main services are on Sundays rather than Saturday nights. We saw the end of a wedding at La Merced on a Saturday evening.

    I just love touring churches and attending mass during my travels. I think we poked into every single church and ruin in Antigua. What a time I had! Some highlights - La Merced and San Francisco (already mentioned.) Add to that The Convent of Las Capuchinas - very interesting and a good insight into convent life during Colonial days.

    We found a textile museum and the folks there conducted excellent tours in Spanish.

    You can go salsa dancing... and there are even salsa classes.

    Or climb a volcano... Volcán Pacaya. If you do this hike you will have an amazing view and life experience as reward.

    There are some wonderful gardens at Posada Belén, an old convent near the San Francisco church I mentioned. You might have to ring the bell at the convent and inquire; but please do so. They are just lovely!

    No doubt you'll hear a marimba band playing somewhere along the plaza or from one of the hotels. La Posada de Don Rodrigo has daily concerts... and, if you love gardens, you should walk through the courtyards at this lovely hotel. They also have a restaruant.

    In the smaller cities it is fun to see how many shops have brightly painted exterior walls advertising Coca Cola or Pepsi. Next trip, I think I will do a photo shoot of all of these amazing murals. Some of the artists are quite good with the Coca Cola bubbles. (I found the Coca Cola murals to be much finer than the Pepsi ones.)

    Another fun thing to do is to check out all the designs on the brightly painted chicken buses. If you make it to the large fruit and vegetable market I mentioned you will see countless buses all with amazing decoration. I saw one that said "Hot Latin Lover" on the back of the bus and on the driver's door it said "Humility". (Sorry I can't recall the exact Spanish wording.) In any case, the buses are quite fun as living artwork. These buses are often have a religious theme on a portion of them. By the way, go early in the day. Many of the folks and buses leave early to mid-afternoon.

    Coffee - There is a great place to purchase coffee beans and I can't find it in my guidebook. If I do find my little notebook from this trip I'll come back and give you the name.

    One more note on the markets, look for the little religious shrines within the markets. I found them to be quite interesting.

    For some more links...http://www.artguat.org/resource.html

    Have a terrific trip and post back all the details after your return.

    -Sharon

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    Hi Lisa,
    Where in CR do you guys live? I'm in Panama City and will be visiting CR a lot over the next year for business...

    I saw a lot of 3-wheel tuk-tuks (if you've been in Asia you'll know what I mean) taxis. I am sure it will be easy to get from Villa Antigua into town and back. Once in town it's really a great place to walk.

    I have a 4 page list of restaurants, cafe's and delis that one of my member hotels gave me with descriptions but no prices. Beers were about Q20 - Q35 depending on where you were if I remember rightly. I found prices similar to what we find here in Panama and what I found in CR a few months ago when I was there.
    Having worked in AI's and visited AI's (talk about a busman's holiday)... I prefer to maybe have breakfast sorted and then fend for ourselves for the rest of the day. Otherwise you are tied to the resort and Antigua is a place to explore not a place to lay by the pool at the resort.

    I was only there for one night and ate at a little place just off the main square called Cafe Masala - they have an Asian fusion type menu - not authentic Vietnamese or Thai but very tasty - I splurged and also bought a couple of extra beers for a fellow traveler and my bill was about $20.
    Cheers,
    Andrew

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    Many many thanks to you both for the wonderful information! When I booked this trip, I wondered if one week would be too long in Guatemala ... now it looks like it won't be enough! I've printed all your suggestions and will peruse them time and time again prior to January. We will definitely keep our reservation for Antigua.

    Lisa in Manuel Antonio, CR

    PS: If I can advise you on CR, please let me know!

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    Lisa - you are very welcome. I was glad to help. I find Fodor's to be a fantastic source of information. Although, like you, it seems like there is just not much information about some places. (Bolivia is another of "those" places.)

    I have searched for my notebook a bit more. No doubt it is in a place it shouldn't be. If I trip upon it before your trip, I'll post some other details.

    Regards and happy travel planning,
    Sharon

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