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Amongst the beautiful gardens of Antigua, Escalonia offers a particularly enchanting seating area. Tables are sheltered by umbrellas lit with strings of white lights in the evenings, or sit under a vine-filled arbor with flowers dangling overhead like living ornaments. The restaurant serves a menu focused on lovely desserts, coffee drinks, and breakfasts. The establishment is also a plant nursery, and customers can carry home a variety of floral, artisanal, and culinary souvenirs, as well as their memories of the time spent in this lush garden.
Conveniently located across the street from the Parque Central, El Mercadito (the little market) is an excellent source for high quality folk art. Shoppers can expect to find wood carving, waxworks, glass work, and ceramic pieces along with softer artesania such as clothing and textiles, or sparklier artesania such as jewelry. The entrance hall is lined with brilliantly colored examples of traditional embroidery, visually luring passerby into the pleasantly colorful store.
A pleasant, open space filled with colorful fabrics is hidden behind an unassuming painted wall on the western side of town. This business offers a nice range of cotton accessories, all hand-dyed using pigments derived from organic matter collected from around the Lago de Atitlán, such as flowers. Through this process, Organic-Lento aims to bring together the worlds of design and ecology with an elegant simplicity of aesthetic and process. The company is a collaborative project between Italian designers and indigenous women from the highlands, and ships wholesale as well as selling retail in Antigua.
Antigua is a city full of artists, and La Luna evidences the most elegant forms of this creative bent with its line of handmade paper products. These range from tiny jewelry boxes to ballooning overhead lamps, some cut so intricately that they seem like some geometrical evolution of origami. Cards, journals, picture frames, gift boxes, and photo albums are also fashioned out of the paper, some of which is pressed with fresh flowers embedded in it. Enter through the Casa del Conde, across the street from Parque Central, to access the paper shop; it is on the left before reaching Café Condesa.
The biggest supermarket in town stretches for a full block - you can enter just east of the Mercado de Antigua, across the Alameda Santa Lucia, through the doorways on either the 4a or the 5a Calles. Space is tight, but choices are plentiful, with all kinds of packaged foods, dairy products, baked goods, alcohols, cell phones, and cosmetic products offered on just the ground floor. For produce, however, most Antigueños prefer to cross the street to seek out fresher options at the open air market.
Abutting the Parque Central and set on the corner of the Catedral de Santiago itself, the Casa de la Cultura holds a wealth of cultural artifacts such as textiles and massive exemplifications of wooden marimbas, a traditional instrument of Guatemala. Tourist assistance is also offered inside, so give them a visit!