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Help with Guatemala itineary

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Jun 14th, 2008, 02:55 PM
  #1
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Help with Guatemala itineary

I will be traveling to Guatemala with two or three others in Feb. We have seven nights. We arrive in Guatemala in the afternoon and also leave in the afternoon so we have a full week.. which isn't nearly enough time for everything I want to do but I guess that is a good reason to revisit.
On this trip I want to visit Antigua, Lake Atitlan and Chichi. I would also like to arrive in Chichi the night before the market to watch them set up. We arrive and leave on a Sat. So... how many days in Antigua and how many at the lake. We want to do a lot of active things such as biking and hiking. Would it make sense to go to Chichi as soon as we arrive? I know it probably would but I dont like the thought of lugging around my purchases the whole week. We only bring carry ons so we won't have a lot of extra room. Thanks for everyones help and input.
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Jun 14th, 2008, 05:09 PM
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It would take 4+ hours, I'd guess, from the time you land till you'd get to Chichi - not sure it would be worth the hassle to hurry right up there to me; if you're not arriving before 1:30 you might not make it there before dark anyway. I think I'd head to Antigua for a night and head to the lake for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights, then hit Chichi Wednesday afternoon for the Thursday market and back to Antigua for the rest of your trip. That way you don't have long trips on flight days and have plenty of time in each place.

You may find, as many of us have, that the shopping is way better in Panajachel than in Chichi.

Happy trails and keep us posted!
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Jun 14th, 2008, 05:59 PM
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Hopeful,
The thought of heading to Chichi after our flight wasn't too appealing to me so I am glad to hear that you don't think it's the best idea.. Do you even think that I should go to Chichi and if so should I go the night before or a day trip from the lake. As I said before I am already feeling like I don't have enough time.. We want to experience the shopping but we really like to enjoy the outdoors.. Ok, I am saying that I don't like shopping but now I am going to ask you about the jade. I have read in my guide book that they are known for their jade and they recommend a few places to buy it. Have you taken a look? Thanks again
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Jun 14th, 2008, 07:06 PM
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We had 11 nights last December. We went straight to Antigua, where we spent 3 nights. Then we flew to Tikal for a night, then came back to Antigua (that was a package and it made sense to come back to Antigua). We then took a shuttle to Chichi and spent the night there. Then a shuttle to the lake for nights, then back to Antigua for the night before we flew home. If you spend 1 night in Chichi, I'd recommend you spend 3 nights in Antigua and 3 at the lake. Both are really nice places. In retrospect, we could have spent a night in Pana and just done a day trip to Chichi, but it was fun to be there the night before. The market is fun and the church is really interesting. We saw the cemetary from a distance - apparently it's not that safe to wander through it on your own, but I'd love to have gone through it. Very colourful.

I bought a couple of pieces of jade in Antigua, at a big jade store there. I got a small jaguar charm (when I travel, I collect charms for a bracelet I started years ago) and also a really nice pair of earrings. I can't remember the name of the store, but they have a few stores in Antigua and I think the exterior was painted green (makes sense!).

Shopping in Guatemala was pretty good. In Pana, I bought some woven cushion covers. There was lots of choice, but I only saw 1 or 2 stores that had what I was actually looking for. (I hadn't seen them in Chichi.) In Antigua, we bought a really beautiful woven headdress at a place called Casa del Artes (I think that was the name). It was not inexpensive, but it's gorgeous. Textiles are great to buy - they don't take up much space.

Chocolate was another good thing to buy. There's a great chocolate place called Chocotenango in Antigua - we bought powdered hot chocolate there (which is spicy hot), plus the owner makes wonderful chocolates by hand, filled with really different flavours. We bought a few boxes of those. We saw the store just after we arrived in Antigua, and then had the worst time finding it again, even though we had the address! The street numbering is definitely different. But it was worth the hunt. There was also a nice place in Pana to buy chocolate and we got bars there - interesting flavours like cardamom and chile.

We also bought a small painting in San Juan, a village at Lake Atitlan. Lots of galleries in that town and it's a nice little souvenir.

One thing we enjoyed in Antigua was Elizabeth Bell's walking tour. We arrived on Friday afternoon and took her tour on Saturday. Good introduction to Antigua.

We loved Guatemala, really wonderful destination. Have fun planning!
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Jun 15th, 2008, 08:32 AM
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I enjoy shopping in Santiago de Atitlan as well. Prices were better than in Pana. An interesting place to visit in its own right. Maximon is interesting and the church has quite a story. You will most likely need a guide to visit Maximon because he moves and the guides know where he is at any given time. They meet the boats. Wiki Maximon to learn more about him. We get in around 1pm and head right for Atitlan. There is a nice place to stop halfway for some coffee and a snack before heading on. We then go to Antigua. From there we go to Tikal and from Tikal back to GC for our afternoon flight home.

For your trip, if you just go to Atitlan and Antigua you won't be hauling stuff around too much.

There is a big jade factory/store with a lot of really interesting information about the jade. I like amber as well and bought some nice pieces at a shop that sells nothing but amber. Check out Fridas if you like mexican food and right next door is a huge store with stuff from all over the country. Decent prices on most of the stuff. We bought some pottery in Santa Catarina de Atitlan and found it in Antigua as well at that store. If you like steaks I highly recommend Nifu Nifa. The Poyoso (sp) is wonderful and the restaurant is in a beautiful garden with fountains. Doesn't look like much from the outside like most things in Antigua.

If you like hiking definitely hit Pacaya volcano while in Antigua.

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Jun 15th, 2008, 09:29 AM
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Can't help with the jade shopping, though I enjoyed the jade museum in Antigua. Remember to travel really light - makes the transition days more carefree. Happy trails!
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Jun 15th, 2008, 04:20 PM
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Wow.. You all gave me such interesting and useful information. Thanks so much. It sounds like we are going to be doing some shopping.I do always like to bring some things home to decorate with. My friend loves chocolate so I know we will be visiting Chocotenango for sure. Another friend loves art, she purchased a beautiful painting while we were in Honduras. I myself love pottery and textiles so it sounds like we will all be very happy shopppers.
I have a guide book which I have been going over.. and over as I have been trying to plan this trip for a while. I want to see Maximom and visit churches ect.
I also had been planning on taking Elizabeth Bell's walking tour and hopefully a cooking class. We also want to hike Pacaya, take a bike trip, kayak and possibly horseback ride. I hope that we can fit everything in.
I definetly want to check out the jade even if I don't end up buying anything. I also love amber. I bought some beautiful amber on a trip to Lithauania years ago.
Thanks for all of the restaraunt tips. I think I am going to print out all of your tips and highlight everything and places that I need to visit. You guys are great.
We always pack light on our trips. I am the trip planning and that is one rule I have.. Carry On's only! Now if I can just follow my own rules for my flight home.
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Jun 15th, 2008, 05:04 PM
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Unless you have a short connection on the way home (like we did in Houston last summer), carry-on only for home isn't as a big of a deal. I always pack my new treasures and gifts in a carry-on, but sometimes check my dirty clothes, etc.

The tourist office in Antigua has moved fairly recently (last summer maybe?) so isn't always marked correctly on the city maps, but is a fabulous resource. We received a wonderful walking map of Antigua and a worker there marked the places he recommended most. It listed the hours and costs so we could really plan our days there.

Looking forward to your travelogue!
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Jun 16th, 2008, 05:43 PM
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We are lucky enough to have direct flights both ways. It's going to be so nice to have such a short flight. Yes, if I have to check in my bag I will.. I usually bring a lot of clothes that I am just planning on leaving so my suitcase is always much lighter when leaving. Thanks for the information about the tourist office. I think it would be good for us to make a stop there.
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