From my first glimpse of Antigua, I loved it right away. Physically it reminded me a lot of my favorite mexican city, San Cristobal de las Casas, only with wider streets. It is colorful and very inviting with its cobblestoned streets and friendly people who always have a greeting for you.
It is surrounded by 3 big volcanoes, Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango. During my hike of Pacaya volcano, I got a good cloudless shot of Volcan Agua:
The hike to the crater of Pacaya Volcano was a tough 4km, 1 1/2 hike (for me anyway.) I lasted about 30 minutes then I had to be rescued by a horse 🙂 The view from the horse was nice, though it was a bit embarrassing because most of the people from my group managed the climb by themselves. We went all the way to the crater past the hardened lava from when it last erupted. Some parts were hot enough to roast marshmallows.
Antigua is well-known for its spanish language schools and I have encountered many people from other countries who are here for an extended period of time taking spanish classes. But eventhough it has a lot of tourist population, Antigua still managed to remain laid-back and quiet. I’m getting lots of practice on my spanish also, as everyone is pretty serious about improving their spanish here. Even the locals play along: they will listen patiently while I try to express myself in spanish (sometimes inserting english words here and there), and they will respond back slowly. I love it here!