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finally booked trip to guatemala...add'l advice needed

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Oct 7th, 2010, 05:25 PM
  #1
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finally booked trip to guatemala...add'l advice needed

so, after talking about travel to guatemala for the last 3 yrs i have finally booked a vacation! i did book through adventure life travel because it is just my girlfriend and i while our husbands are on a golf trip...i know i could have saved money doing it on my own, but i like their agency as well as the "safety" aspect of having a guide part time and transport between places. soooo....any advice on our free day in antigua??? we will be doing arrival on friday, oct. 29th (antigua) w/ nothing planned...free day antigua on 30th, the lake w/ chichi on 31st and 1st (day of the dead...) return to antigua later on 1st and 2nd (probably more free time) and then tikal/flores on 3rd and 4th, guatemala city very late on 5th before flying out the 6th.
i received a link from someone on my post on europe forum when trying to decide where to go, regarding crime in guatemala.....seems to be primarily in guatemala city...think they were trying to freak me out?
steph
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Oct 7th, 2010, 07:05 PM
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Sounds good! Check out the photo blog and (more detailed) travelogue linked on the main page of the Guatemala 2009 photo collection here - lots of great Antigua ideas as well as photos around the lake and in Chichicastenango:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections
More in the other Guatemala collections, as well.

Most of the crime in Guatemala is gang related in GC or petty crimes of opportunity; I've pasted my safety notes below. Have a great trip!
_

Sometimes I travel alone, sometimes with one or more of my kids and/or my husband, sometimes with a group in tow. I don't feel overly paranoid but have never had a problem and would like to keep it that way.

Here are my concessions to safety when I travel in Central America:
:: I avoid the big cities as much as possible
:: I don't "party"
:: Where recommended I take specific transportation (Hedman Alas in Honduras, for example, or avoiding chicken buses on the mountain runs in Guatemala, taxis after dark)
:: I know where I am and where I'm headed
:: I don't wear jewelry (not even my wedding band) and try not to flash camera equipment or money around
:: Some trips I carry a “throw down wallet” with an expired card or 2 and the day’s cash in it
:: I keep important documents and cash under my clothes (except what I need for shopping, buses, etc. for that time period)
:: I ask locals about safety in an area - evenings, hiking, etc.
:: I travel really light so I don't feel vulnerable getting my bag off and on buses, shuttles, etc.
:: I continue to build skills in Spanish
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Oct 8th, 2010, 02:48 AM
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www.aroundantigua.com lots of fun

good suggestions from Hopefulist above

petty theft your biggest risk

www.insuremytrip.com cheap always wise..

Stay with your group in the main tourist areas

odds are great you will be just fine...
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Oct 8th, 2010, 05:29 AM
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I do wear my wedding ring (a plain band) and I don't carry a throw down wallet, but I am very careful when I travel. I also haven't had a problem. Exercise common sense and enjoy yourself!
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Oct 9th, 2010, 07:46 AM
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You will probably find plenty to do on your own on your free day in Antiuga but here are some ideas.
There is a cooking school El Frijol Feliz in Antigua that offers classes. I haven't taken a class yet but plan to on my next trip. It looks like a lot of fun.
Elizabeth Bell offers a great city tour that was very interesting.
You can also do a lot of shopping.. wonderful jade stores and textiles and some of the best coffee and icecream. Enjoy
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Oct 9th, 2010, 11:47 AM
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We really enjoyed Elizabeth Bell's walking tour. It was a great introduction to the city.
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Oct 9th, 2010, 07:50 PM
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My daughter is now working in Guatemala and I am visiting her next week and am delighted to do so for it is one of my favourite countries. I have been to all the places you are going to and you are sure to have a grand time. You may enjoy just wondering the streets of Antigua for it is a beautiful place and spending some time in the central park, just observing the scene around you. I have a blog on "Being a smart traveller" that I think speaks to some of your concerns. You can find it at ridingthebuses.wordpress.com.
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Oct 10th, 2010, 07:21 PM
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Elizabeth Bell's walking tour of Antigua is a must. You will see so many places that you would miss on your own and Elizabeth is so charming and interesting. Her sons do a great job too if for some reason she is not available.
Dont worry about crime, just be smart & do not walk around at night.
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Oct 13th, 2010, 03:46 PM
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We were in Guatemala in 2008 with our three kids (15, 12, 10) and felt perfectly safe. The highlight of our trip, without a doubt, was our hike up Volcan Pacaya. If you're remotely adventurous, it's a must do. It's one of the most memorable travel experiences I've ever had. Imagine roasting marshmallows on an active volcano using live lava ! incredible. You can checkl out my blog to see some cool photos.
http://travellingdad.wordpress.com/2...volcan-pacaya/
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Oct 13th, 2010, 04:35 PM
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congrats on booking! i'll probably be there just about the same time as you depending on how the rest of my planning falls out.
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Oct 14th, 2010, 03:59 AM
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On a trip to Guatemala last year we had one evening, one full day and a morning to explore Antigua. We did this on our own.

Antigua is a fascinating and beautiful colonial city in a spectacular setting. My husband, older son and I really liked it. The younger son was somewhat less enthusiastic, largely because he kept insisting we should have gone to Copán instead. (He is fascinated by the Mayan sites and is considering majoring in archeology in college.)

On our full day in the city, we had a good breakfast with good coffee at Fernando's right near the hotel We had interesting Guatemalan food at La Fonda de la Calle Real and Cafe Colonial (the latter is much simpler, cheaper).
Because we were only in Antigua for a day and a half, we did not do day trips, just wandered the city. I would have gone out to the museums of the Centro Azotea cultural center if we had had more time. These are in a village 2 km from Antigua.

We especially enjoyed touring the local and handicraft markets, the Convento de las Capuchinas and the San Francisco monastery with its shrine to Guatemala's saint, St. Pedro de San José Betancur (1626-1667). Unfortunately the Casa Popenoe was “cerrado” so we missed seeing that colonial mansion.

On our last morning, my husband and I got up early to revisit the handicraft market and the central plaza while the kids slept in. We had a good late breakfast at Dona Luisa Xicoencatl and another stroll before packing up and heading back to Guatemala City.
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Oct 18th, 2010, 04:11 PM
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Thanks so much for all the wonderful advice!!! I have been working solo the last week and a 1/2 so didn't have much free time to go on the forum. I'm going to check out some of the links tonight. It's so funny the scared looks I get from people when I say I'm going to Guatemala. I've even had the travel advisory links sent to me (which I made the mistake of reading?)...there is some freaky stuff on there...I had a brief "panic attack" today after reading one so I'm glad I checked my post tonight for responses I'm trying to break out of my comfort zone (Costa Rica).

Hipvirgochick - did you finish planning your trip? I can't believe you may be there the same time...too funny!
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Oct 18th, 2010, 05:40 PM
  #13
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qwovadis - the insuremytrip comparison site is great!!! thanks so much - the policy i bought was cheaper ($21 per person) and better coverage than the one my travel operator offered!
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Oct 22nd, 2010, 02:28 PM
  #14
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ttraveler - thanks for the cooking school! If i can fit it in and there is availability that is a definite - i love to cook and had originally wanted to go to oaxaca and take a class there...

susanintoronto - i've seen elizabeth bell's name mentioned a lot on these forums so i checked out her site. we already have a walking tour with our agency but i was thinking about a coffee tour (i've done one in CR but my girlfriend hasn't) and she is very reasonable (a lot cheaper than the one our agency offers). The tour outside of antigua sounds very interesting too...I'm going to have to do a bit more reading.

Thanks again!
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Oct 23rd, 2010, 12:32 PM
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Old Town outfitters offers a bike ride ( it's very short) to visit the music museum and a coffee farm. It was a lot of fun, we really enjoyed the music museum.
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Jan 15th, 2011, 07:59 PM
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had a great time!!! what a magical place and very safe...i am still planning to post a trip report - i appreciated all of the advice!
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Jan 16th, 2011, 09:03 AM
  #17
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ttraveler - the cooking school was great! definitely sign up for a class next time you visit...very laid back and the food was delicious, if i do say so myself thanks for the recommendation!

hipvirgochick - how was the vacation?
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Jan 29th, 2011, 06:09 AM
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Steph270
Glad to hear that you enjoyed the cooking school. I just booked a flight last night to go back! I am going to e-mail the school today.
Looking forward to reading your trip report.
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Jan 29th, 2011, 08:26 AM
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Congrats, ttraveler - when are you going?
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Jan 29th, 2011, 09:52 AM
  #20
 
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I am going on April 13th. We will be there for Palm Sunday. I haven't actually booked any rooms yet so I know I need to get going on that! Have you been for the Easter celebrations?
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