Arrival in Guatemala: the immigration official barely glanced at our passports, stamped them and motioned onwards. One thing that was quite different to other countries, they scan your bags once again after you collect them- so after you are done with the passports, you are led to drop off the bags and that’s where you have to tell them that you are travelling with a live animal. An agriculture inspector came by, looked at the cat, asked for all the papers to make a photocopy of ( I was surprised to see he’d asked for not only the health certificate and the rabies, but also the note from the vet regarding additional shots administered-distemper and FVCP). I doubt he read any of them, but seemed pleased that I did have them. After this brief stop, we were free to go.
Getting from Guatemala City Airport to Antigua
As this was Sunday, shuttle buses to Antigua stop running at 7pm. The desk was closed and there were no shuttles outside. Taxi seemed like the only option, so I went ahead and started bartering. He started off at 45$, I said no way. He came down to 40$, I said too much. We agreed on 35$ as it was late and the road is long and curvy (which it was!). Zayah (my 8-yr old tabby) felt right at home on the rear-view mirror shelf and the driver was friendly.
However, it took him over 20 mins to find the hostel we were staying at. Antigua has a ton of hotels and hostels and B&B’s but none of them are well marked and none of the streets have names. It would’ve been useful to print a map with other hotels on it, to have any sort of reference points, but I relied solely on the taxi driver’s knowledge- a big mistake! Finally, he’d resorted to calling the hostel directly (who had been expecting us, as I did make them aware of our late arrival) and the owner came out to flag us down.
This was a little place I’d found on booking.com that was running a special of 20$/night, all taxes included. Best of all, because they have their own 2 dogs and 2 kittens, it was pet-friendly at an affordable 3$ per night extra. The room itself wasn’t much, but it was clean and Zayah had a choice of 5 beds to jump on-which she did, all night, every night.
On places to stay
Antigua has a number of decent places to stay, ranging from budge to 3+ stars. The best are somewhere down the middle: anything within 3-4 blocks to the central park and the market are good areas, but try not to stay on the street facing the market (calle Santa Lucia)-the stench of sewage and rotten fruit can be overwhelming. Some hotels feature wonderful courtyards and rooftop patios. there are a number of pet-friendly hotels, however the additional pet fees have to be inquired about ahead of time (they like to be quite vague about it on the websites!). Your best bet would be to book a pet-friendly home stay via Airbnb and you can use the link on the right to receive credit on your first stay equivalent to one night!) -just make sure to check off “pet friendly” in the amenities search and ask if the owners mind that your pet uses the court/backyard. Plenty of old colonial homes have many green areas inside, which are perfect for your furry friend while you’re out and about exploring (don’t worry, Antigua isn’t that big-you can limit your exploration to 2-hr stints easily).
Good options are within 30-50$USD/night, some hotels might offer weekly discounts if contacted directly, however I feel that 3-4 days is plenty in a small town like Antigua. Though full of colonial charm and pretty churches, there really isn’t that much to do- just recover from the flight, eat some good food, have a fresh juice at Pitaya (or eat there all the time, if you’re on a raw or vegan diet, it’s the place to be!-nice vibe, good prices, free wi-fi-what else would a person need?), and then move on either to Tikal, Lago de Atitlan, or wherever else you fancy.