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Discovering Antigua, Guatemala: 5 Places To See

 

Last week, my friends and I travelled to Guatemala for a week. This country located in Central America is beautiful and to start our journey there, we did a stop at Antigua, Guatemala. This small city is surrounded by volcanoes. Renowned for its Spanish colonial buildings, Antigua is a city with beautiful architecture that got restored following an earthquake in 1773. If you plan to go to Antigua, Guatemala, here’s a list of 5 things that you should go see!

Santa Catalina Arch, Free

 

Santa Catalina Arch, Antigua

The Santa Catalina Arch in Antigua, Guatemala

Located in the middle of the city, the Santa Catalina Arch is one of the main landmark that you should go see once in Antigua. Built in 1964, this arch used to be a tunnel between two convents: the Covent of the Virgin and the Covent of Santa Catalina. Few years later, one side remained a convent while the other side became a school. The nuns living in the convents had taken vows to remain secluded and to avoid all contact with the outside world, the tunnel became their only way to cross one side to the other. Personally, the arch is beautiful to see in person and when there’s no cloud in the sky, you can capture the perfect shot of looking down the street and capture the arch and the Volcàn de Agua.

In the picture I took, I was not lucky because there was some clouds on the volcano which kinda ruined the perfect shot. Nevertheless, the Santa Catalina Arch is BEAUTIFUL and must be visited when in Antigua.

 

The Plaza Central Park, Free

The name says it, the Plaza is located in the center of the city and this park is beautiful. However, this town square is the place where you will get approach by locals trying to sell you different things such as flutes, necklaces, tam-tams and more! NEVER ACCEPT THE FIRST PRICE THEY OFFER. One thing I’ve learned in Antigua, Guatemala (and you will see it in the vlog above) is that they are open for negotiations and you can easily reduce the price by 70%. What I enjoyed from the Central Park is that it is surrounded by municipal buildings, cafes, cathedral and more. One of the historic sites surrounding the Central Park is the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales.

Acatenango Volcano, 120$

Named the #1 thing to do in Antigua, the hike of the Acatenango Volcano was something that we did not had time to do when we were in Guatemala. This hike takes about 5-6 hours and it is not an easy one! Most travellers decide to do this hike over two days so that they can enjoy the sunset and the sunrise. If you are planning to go to Antigua, Guatemala and would love to do this hike, here’s 5 quick tips that you need to take into consideration for this hike (as well any other hike that you are planning to do there)

  • Wear proper hiking shoes. Don’t be a fool and try to hike with converse or Air Forces, having the proper hiking shoes will make the difference on the hike, and also, you won’t ruin your favorite shoes!
  • Bring water, lots of water! Other blogs recommend to bring at least 4 litres of water per person, I would listen to them. It is better to bring more than not enough.
  • Only bring what you need. Do not bring your laptop, or the extra pair of shoes you think you might need. Try to pack light because you will regret every extra grams that was not necessary during the hike.
  • Stay in your lane! While you are going up, there will be other Guatemalan walking past you and you need to understand that it is not a race. Take your time and take breaks if you need to!
  • Sunscreen and aspirin! It is not because you are higher and it is colder than you will not get sun burnt. Bring sunscreen and aspirin will be needed once you get this high since you may suffer from altitude sickness.
View from the top of the restaurant Sky Bar located in Antigua, Guatemala

View from the top of the restaurant Sky Bar located in Antigua, Guatemala

 

Iglesia de la Merced, Free

Less than 10 minutes walk away from Central Park, there’s the Iglesia de la Merced which means  The Church of the Mercy. This church got destroyed twice by earthquakes and was rebuilt several times to be able to stay strong if another earthquake occurs. In addition, it has a lovely yellow façade and a huge stone fountain, known to be the largest in Central America.

 

The Street Market, that is up to you!

The street market was one of my favorite place to visit during our time in Antigua. (maybe because a tourist called me Lil Wayne?) You can find everything on the market, food, clothes, watches and more. I didn’t see lots of tourist there but I loved the energy that was present. This place is HUGE (as you can notice in my Antigua Vlog) and this is where you can put your negotiation skills to test.

 

While there’s other things to visit and see when you in Antigua, Guatemala, I would love for you to send me a message about what is your favorite attraction there. I am planning to go back and stay a bit longer this time ( I think I fell in love with Antigua) and be sure to not miss my Vlog Series in Guatemala that is available on my Youtube Channel by clicking here.

 

 

Lifestyle Travel

Road trip: Moncton to Halifax in the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse

Last month, I had the chance to fly to Moncton, New Brunswick to go on an adventure with my friend Richard.

We started the road trip at Moncton International Airport, where we had all the new models of the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse and Equinox. Right away, Rich and I looked at the white one with the red line on the rims, needless to say, this one was one of their new model, the Chevrolet Traverse Redline. If you are familiar with Chevrolet and you are wondering what is the difference with the Redline,  it’s an aesthetic package only. This package has black rims with red accents, blacked chrome grill and the black bowtie.

2018 Chevrolet Traverse

2018 Chevrolet Traverse Redline Photo by Scarfonephoto

Sackville,  New Brunswick

The first location that we had to go to was Cranewood on Main bakery. This organic bakery coffee shop was quite special since it was in a mansion, that was previously the residence of Mount Allison University’s President. Our adventure really begun at this location where we got to meet Chevrolet’s Team, other influencers, bloggers as well as Garry Sowerby, the brain behind our road trip route! Garry Sowerby is a world record holder for long-distance driving and grew studied in New Brunswick, so it was safe to say that he planned the best for us.

Quick Fact: Mount Allison University was recognized as the top Canadian undergraduate university 18 times- a record unmatched by any other university (Maclean’s Magazine University Report).

2018 Chevrolet Traverse Redline Photo by Scarfonephoto

In front of the Cranewood on Main, Sackville, NB – Photo by Scarfonephoto

 

As soon as we were done eating, the Chevrolet team told us that we have to meet at our glamping site in 3 hours, and they gave us a map with different sight seeing locations for us to stop by before. We drove away from New Brunswick to cross the border and discover Nova Scotia, Canada’s Ocean Playground.

Nova Scotia , I love you!

Driving in Nova Scotia was beautiful. As we were driving during the low-tide, we couldn’t see much water but the views were amazing. We drove by the ocean and we caught the sunset at the lighthouse on Cape D’Or. Needless to say, this was the most stunning sunset I saw in my life! Listen, if you are doing a road trip in Nova Scotia, you need to stop by the Lighthouse on Cape d’Or, not only because of the beautiful view but also because of their restaurant, they serve fresh lobster at a reasonable price. After the dinner, we went back to our glamping site.

Another fact: Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world! The tides are five to ten times higher than in the rest of the world, going over 6 feet at times!

Road Trip Picture Shot from the Chevrolet Traverse

Views from the road trip during low tide

Chevrolet Traverse during the sunset

Sunset at the lighthouse on cape d’or. Photo by ScarfonePhoto

What is Glamping?

If you are currently asking yourself what is glamping, rest assured that I did not ask myself the same thing before going into this press trip. Glamping is a luxurier version of camping. For this trip, we had bigger tents, we had comfy beds and chairs. You can see by yourself in the pictures below that it is not your traditional camping.

 

Inside Picture of the Glamping Tent Photo by Scarfonephoto

My new friend Alison walking to her tent Photo by Scarfonephoto

 

Spending the night there was an experience. First of all, we were able to look at the stars and point out the different constellations with the help of a professional astronomer. The sky was beautiful and for the first time, I was able to get a shot of the stars with my Canon G7X. The sleep was not as sweet. The Chevrolet team gave us 4 covers and 2 sleeping bags and more covers for us to stay warm but being myself, I still decided to sleep in boxers and was FREEZING. During the night I would wake up and tell Rich ”I think tonight is our last night” . I really thought that I was about to die, but I survived and this was a life lesson for me. Note to self, never underestimate the cold.

Shot of the sky with my Canon G7X Mark II

Exploring Cape Chignecto

We started the day early with a nice breakfast and we were split into groups. For us, we went to hiking at Cape Chignecto Provincial Park while others went on a boat tour. Rich and I hiked for a bit but then we decided to explore the beach during his low tide where we did our own photoshoot.

Me acting as an adventurer

 

Going back to the Airport

After the hike, we head toward a nice restaurant that you must visit if you are in the area, the Wild Caraway Restaurant and Cafe. This restaurant had a nice view on the shore and the food was great. They serve food from ”their own backyard such as lobsters, scallops, goose-tongue greens, humanely raised pork as well as garden vegetables ”said chefs/owners Sarah Griebel and Andrew Aitkens. As we were done eating, we had to head back to the airport. The organisation had different stops for us for such as Spencer’s Island, the Five Islands Lighthouse Park and Masstown Market to finally end the trip at the Halifax International Airport. See pictures below.

Rich and I with the Chevolet Traverse in front of a lighthouse

Rich and I with the Chevolet Traverse in front of a lighthouse

View of the Shore during low tide at Five Island Lighthouse Park

 

As I am currently working on the vlog for this adventure, be on the look out for the version I did for Narcity Canada. This trip was an experience I won’t forget (definitely because I thought I would die of Hyperthermia overnight) but that just me being non prepared to sleep in a tent. Thank you Chevrolet and Odyssey International for this great experience, not only I loved it but I plan to go back to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick really soon. Note to self, always bring more layers when camping during autumn. While I am ending this blog with more pictures of the Chevrolet Traverse, I would like to know more about your most memorable road trip?

P.S. If you have more questions about this route, I do have extra notes about this amazing experience!

 

Inside shot of The Chevrolet Traverse

Inside view of the Chevrolet Traverse with Apple CarPlay Photo by Scarfonephoto

 

Chevrolet Traverse in front of lighthouse Photo by Scarfonephoto

Chevrolet Traverse in front of lighthouse Photo by Scarfonephoto

Lifestyle Travel Youtube

Oktoberfest, the biggest beer festival is an Eurotrip Must

Let’s be honest, we all have ”Eurotrip” part of our bucket list! I was able to scratch that one off last September when my friends and I went 8 days to Europe. We started our trip in Paris, France, to catch the train to go to Munich, Germany where I can proudly say that I survived Oktoberfest 2017 to head over Munich, Germany for a couple of days. Now, I understand that your first question is:

Why is Oktoberfest in September?

Oktoberfest was initially during October. The first edition was held in 1810 in honor of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. At that time the festivities only lasted one week, from October 12, 1810 to October 17. Now it is all different, this year (2017) Oktoberfest was from September 16th to October 3rd. Oktoberfest starts in September because of the weather, you can enjoy it more without feeling too cold and they kept the tradition of having the last Oktoberfest weekend in October.

But Why Should I Include Oktoberfest in My Eurotrip?

It is not only about Oktoberfest, but it has to do with Munich.. (and Berlin) ! From the amazing landscapes to the different bars, Munich is a city that won’t hurt your wallet. In average, I was able to get a good meal and a beer for less than 6€ every time.

This festival is super safe and all you see is happy drunk people, fun right! During that time, the whole city releases good energy, from gentlemen in their lederhosen and ladies in their dirndl, everyone just want to grab a beer and have fun.

Ready or not, PROST!

Prost means cheers! Going to Oktoberfest will definitely change the relation you have with beers. Beer is an important part of the German culture and you can taste it right away. Unlike beer from all over the world, in Germany, the beer only has water, hops and malt as ingredients! Personally, I do not drink beer; I rather drink hard liquor. I was going there knowing that I won’t drink as much as my friend but I was really surprised to drink one liter of beer, one after the other, to eventually drink 5 liter in ONE DAY!

5 Quick Tips

  1. Show up early if you want to be seated in the tent of your choice. See the list of tent here
  2. When you order water, ask for tap water or else, you will get sparkling water for 5€
  3. Bring cash, breakfast sandwichs are 5-10€ and meals such as Schnitzel and Chicken are between 15-28€
  4. If you have a limited budget, go on Tuesdays, it is their Family day with discount on rides and food vendors.
  5. Do not get on your table to chug your beer if you are not 100% sure that you can chug it all… I don’t want you to get booed (and get food thrown at you)!

Now you understand why you should include Oktoberfest in your next Eurotrip. However, if you still want to live the experience without going to Germany, here’s some alternative place that you will get to live the Oktoberfest experience.

  • Blumenau, Brazil.
  • Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada.
  • Cincinnati, USA.
  • Hong Kong.
  • Okinawa, Japan.
  • La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA.

P.S. You can live the Oktoberfest Experience in Montreal for a limited time at Bier Markt. See more here!

*please note that I don’t have picture of my Oktoberfest experience, I only recorded videos and you can see more about it in the Youtube video above.