Occasionally I find that some space between when I am in a new town or country and when I write about it lends me a different point of view. That happened for me in Antigua.
I instantly fell in love with the colorful, cobblestone street as I rode with others in on the shuttle from Guatemala City. First, it was so much more attractive than the graffiti covered walls where I stayed for a couple of days in GC, but also it seemed a happy place. GC had been an obvious busy work town, with people riding the good transportation system to and from work, then scurrying home afterwards.
In Antigua, I experienced a laidback attitude again, as I have in most of Central America. It was a comfortable place to stroll around the Central Park and the square of merchants that surrounds it. At times, the Park was sparsely populated and mostly with locals relaxing or taking a break. I thought of it as a quiet town.
It is truly a beautiful little city, with tons of eating options. I enjoyed trying several local restaurants (Café Condessa, for one) and finding the most wonderful bakery (Repositeria). But on Halloween and the Dia de la Muertos, and the days that followed, it became a party town. There was a joy and celebratory attitude in everyone – including many Guatemalans who had come into the city for the festivities.
So, it was both a city of quiet elegance and a place of rowdy celebration. It is not to be missed if you make your way into Guatemala!