You and your furry friend have arrived in Antigua, settled into your room, found the currency exchange, now what?
Hit up the produce market (big days are mon, wed, thurs until early afternoon) for a large variety of fresh and affordable vegetables, fruit (rambutans, strawberries, grapes, pineapple, jocote, citrus). Basic counting in Spanish and “cuantos por una libra”-“how much for a pound”-will get you quite far. You can bargain a bit, but at 80c/lb for strawberries or cherry tomatoes, is it really necessary?
Consider grabbing a pastry at the “La Antigua Posada”, located along the same main market street- their cream horns are to die for! Once again, simply pointing to what you like will get you by. If you’re travelling onwards, or even if need a few staples for snacks and breakfast, La Bodegona offers the best selection and prices. A supermarket of sorts, you will find anything from pet food to mexican tequila and chilean wine at reasonable prices.
After stocking up on food, why not go on and explore the archeological sites, such as the once pictured below for only 1.50$ (10 Q) entrance fee? Located just at the corner from the central square.
There are plenty of travel agencies that can arrange a shuttle to the famous archeological sites, or even buses for onward travel to Mexico, Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua and most of them speak English. Shuttles to Lake Atitlan go a few times a day and cost 10-12$ per person in a shared van. No need to pre-book further than 24 hours in advance, ask your hotel if they can book it for you, otherwise there’s a sign on each corner and you typically make a reservation and pre-pay with the agency, in exchange for a little paper ticket.\
We lucked out that our hostel (La Dolce Vita) run their own transportation business on the side and the shuttle picked us up in front of our hotel, and we were one of the first to get on. It was a full ride and the driver didn’t believe in wasting precious air conditioning (or perhaps he simply didn’t have any), but he made good time and we were in San Pablo in 4 hours rather than the expected 5, with one 15-min pee/smoke break in between.
FYI, regardless of the fact that we each paid 10$ whether we were going to San Marcos, San Pablo or San Pedro, based on the fact that the majority of the van was going to San Pedro, he driver felt justified in dropping us off at the San Pablo main intersection (including the poor San Marcos guy, who had no idea he wasn’t going all the way to the village) from where we had to take a tuc-tuc to get to the actual destination. Not really a big deal, but we did feel a bit disoriented about getting dropped off at cross roads, being told “this is it”.