Antigua Guatemala is strikingly beautiful and a tonic for the soul, but deadly on your feet. Charming as this colonial town is, the first-time visitor would do well to prepare for the hazards of the cobblestone streets. The cobblestone avenidas and calles will shock your feet like a clapboard buggy ride. This is a Yolkobsen warning for fellow tourists.
When Yolkobsens first visited Antigua, Mrs. Yolkobsen thought she was going to Antigua in the Caribbean and naturally had packed sandals. A bit off course as usual, but she managed to get there. Her sister warned her that the cobblestones were hard on the eager walker, but I brushed her admonishes off. After all, I had made my way across cobblestones from Copenhagen to Budapest without incident. Boy, was I wrong.
Antigua cobblestones are the Mount Everest of paving. Anxious to get going with sightseeing of the centuries-old Spanish colonial tourist mecca, with its awesome views of mist-veiled volcanoes, I leapt from my hotel in my beach sandals.
Five minutes in my thin shoes and I were scurrying back to the hotel for my boots. The rutted stones erupt from the road, and without notice, can send your ankle into angle only geometrists think about. Even if you avoid mistepping into the crevices between the stones, your tender tootsies will thank you for a heavy sole and some good socks.
I should note that it is not unusual to see young and youngish Latinas braving the streets in nose-bleed heels. And they do it with panache. This is an acquired skill, of course, and only for those who put fashion above the limits of their travel insurance.
As for the rest of us: Walk softly but carry a big pair of extra socks.