8-12 September – Days 48-52
Antigua smells like fresh cut grass and summer rain – and, when you walk past one of the many cafes in town, coffee. It looks like old towns in Europe, with a distinctly Spanish colonial feel, and is surrounded by volcanoes. Apparently, at night in the dry season (ie – not now!!!), you can see the red hot rivers of lava running down the side of the one currently active volcano. For us, we were able to glimpse the volcanoes first thing in the morning, before the clouds seemed to whisk them away.. sometimes as early as 8am; some days as late as noon.
The cobblestone streets made for bumpy riding – but it didn’t matter, as we didn’t ride that much. It was too easy to walk everywhere. To a café – a different one each day… truth be told… several different ones each day. To the markets, the churches, the arches. Past the rows of brightly painted houses. To my Spanish school.
I’ve really had a few lovely days off the bike!!
I had heard that Antigua is one of those places that sucks you in.. you go for a week, stay for a month; go for a month and stay for half a year. Having been there, I can understand why. It was just so easy, comfortable, safe, convenient, interesting, fun and unexpected.. I too could have stayed for longer and really settled into a routine of four hours of private Spanish classes daily, with the rest of the time spent walking/exploring/yogaing/catching up with friends/coffeeing etc.
Catching up with new friends – this was one of the highlights of Antigua for me. Earlier in the trip, a couple of fellow Aussie motorbike travellers who are doing a route similar to ours but from south to north told us about the famous Julio and Luisa in Antigua, put us in touch, and really stressed that we had to catch up with them. Readers of advrider.com (a motorbike blog) might already be familiar with Julio and Luisa, as they’ve travelled the Americas extensively by bike, and Julio blogs on the ADV forum (Guaterider).
The Aussies were right – it was so great catching up with some locals, and Julio and Luisa were incredibly hospitable including having us over for a home cooked meal (my first in over six weeks – so, so good!!), helping Adrian with route planning, showing us some of the slightly less obvious places to eat/go in Antigua and more. It was so great connecting up with some other travellers – albeit travellers currently ‘at home’… so much so that it’s motivated Adrian to be more active on the ADV and HUB forums so see if he can find some other bikers to meet up with. I’m sure this new focus is because he really enjoyed Julio and Luisa’s company and wants more of that… rather than less of what he had pre-Antigua… surely?!! Hmm…
It was also great being in the one place – a fabulous little BnB – for long enough that it was worth putting my motorbike boots away in the cupboard rather than leaving them strewn, along with my small collection of clothing, all over the room. The thing with travelling light is that every time we stop, I literally need to go through everything I have with me to find the one thing I need!
Antigua was fantastic – a great place to spend what will (fingers crossed) be our longest time off the bike until Buenos Aires in December. I definitely recommend it to anyone travelling in the area or wanting to do an intensive Spanish course. There are apparently 65 different Spanish schools in the city – and I’m pretty sure all of the classes are one-on-one. It’s affordable, and the city is lovely.