Saturday, March 26, 2016

Guatemala Christmas Holiday 2015

Duncan and I spent Christmas and New Years 2015 in Guatemala.

We began in Antigua where we stayed at Finca Filadelfia, an old coffee plantation.  The coffee plantation is still functioning and we were able to take a tour of the plants and the factory.  All I am drinking these days is Guatemalan coffee.  When we ran out of the Finca Filadelfia beans we brought back I luckily found a Guatemalan bean from Batdorf & Bronson.

Driving up to the hotel

The beautiful grounds

The top left balcony was where we stayed.

We walked past this beautiful wood carving and poinsettia every time we went to our room.

All of the plants in Guatemala were so old and established and larger than any I've ever seen here in the US. We were with my mother in law who knows the name of practically every plant so she was able to identify them for me.

This one did have her stumped.

Haciendas on the plantation grounds.

We were surrounded by volcanos in Guatemala, this was our view from our room at Finca Fildelfia.

We went to Chichicastenango one day which is a small town known for its market.  I fell in love with the colors and textiles of Guatemala.  I couldn't get enough of their embroidered tapestries and woven fabrics.  We were able to visit a co-op that gave us a demonstration of how they take a cotton boll, turn it into yarn, dye it, then weave it.  I bought a beautiful ikat scarf from the women there.

One of the halls of goods being sold at the Chichicastenango Market


Typical mother baby/scene, I had this image blown up and framed for my living room.

Flowers for sale in addition to woven goods, live chickens, leather goods, you name it.

We spent several nights in Santiago at a resort called Pasada de Santiago.  Right on Lake Atitlan, Pasada de Santiago was actually a compound of Casitas (small huts), a main dining building and a thatched roof pavilion with a bar that overlooked the pool and the lake.

Lake Atitlan is surrounded by several volcanos, some still active.

Our view every afternoon at cocktail hour.

Air plants are popular here in the US but are considered a parasite in Guatemala.  They were huge and could be seen in a lot of the trees.

Our casita, rustic but adorable.

At night when we went to bed we lit a fire and read by candlelight.  There was electricity but it was so peaceful to have a fire with the windows open, something we never get to do at home.

The landscape is full of beautiful flowering plants and trees.

One of my favorite pictures of the fishermen at dusk.

We went village hopping by boat each day.

Back in Antigua, there were plenty of ruins to explore.  Most of the buildings in this colonial city had a Spanish Baroque influenced architecture.  Antigua was once the capital of Guatemala until an earthquake devastated the city's structures and inhabitants.  The city never recovered and the capital was moved to Guatemala City.  Most of the buildings were never restored so you will see simply the facades of churches with rubble behind them. 

There are some buildings like this old convent that did survive.  Bougainvillea grows on just about every structure.


Details of one of the churches in Antigua

Beautiful ironwork.

I fell in love with this country and its people and can't wait to go back.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

May 31, 2015, Granada

Today we traveled by train from Madrid to Granada where we will stay for two days.  The hotel is small and picturesque and our room has a lovely terrace with a beautiful view of the Alhambra.

After checking in to our hotel we decided to start exploring.

It seemed every street had a beautiful church or monastery.

There were lots of shops with tapestries, jewelry and clothing.

After dinner we returned to our hotel to take in the view of the Alhambra.

June 1, 2015, Monday morning

After coffee we walked the rambling, hilly streets of Granada before visiting the cathedral.  Our destination was this recommended lookout point, San Nicolas Viewpoint.  There were mountains as far as you could see.

There was plenty of entertainment in the streets, watch the video below.

These narrow walled streets were completely accessible to cars and there were plenty of great terraces with beautiful plantings and old growth.  I would love to have seen the courtyards behind some of these walls.

This monastery now functions as a school.

Here is another convent if I remember correctly.

The bell tower was open so we were able to see more great views of Granada and surrounding areas.

Another monastery or convent.  

This particular monastery had a beautiful courtyard with orange and lemon trees.  Citrus trees were ubiquitous in Spain.

Mixed use building: apartments above and a cafe and ice cream shop on the ground floor.

One of Granada's original walls from the 1100s.

Most of the buildings and walls had plants growing out of them, rosemary in some cases.

All of the old stone streets and sidewalks had some sort of pattern or design.

On to the Cathedral, the altarpiece was the highlight.

Here is the entrance to the Alhambra.

If you don't know much about the Alhambra, it is made up of the original fortress and a few newer palaces. Click here to learn more about the history of the Alhambra.

A view of the ruins from one of the lookouts.

A small window on the way up to the top of the original fort.

The bell tower at the top of the original fortress.

Another view of ruins from the top of the original fort.

I loved the stone pattern of this wall.

The blooms on this tree looked just like wisteria.  Some of the trees and vines in Spain are so old that they are massive so we believed this could actually be a wisteria vine turned tree.

More stone walkway details.

These next images are of Charles V's Palace and the Alhambra Museum.

Roof detail and building design of a neighboring building.

Here are the Generalife palace and gardens.

Stunning, carved, stonework covered the walls and columns throughout.

View to the original Alhambra fortress from the Generalife.  I had no idea the amount of land the Alhambra and Generalife covered but it felt like it was its own tiny town.

Here are some detail shots of the streets and sidewalks in Granada.

Here are some close-ups of entryways and door hardware. 

Next stop Sevilla!!!