Friday, 22 June 2012

Days 52-53: Pool break in Granada

Our volcanic adventure summed up Leon beautifully so it was time to visit Leon’s big sister, Granada on Lake Nicaragua. Granada is very similar to Leon, but larger with more tourists and commercialisation. Although much prettier, the city lacks the dramatic volcanic landscape that makes Leon that bit more special.

South view of the  Parque Central

To get to Granada, we took a taxi to the Termina (C$20 pp) where all the buses depart for various locations. Our shuttle bus ride to the capital Managua took around 2h and cost C$46 pp ($2) where we immediately jumped on our next bus to Granada which took a further hour and cost C$22 each, plus an extra C$22 for baggage. We were dropped off in the centre and wandered around for a hostel. 

The chill-out hammock area in Hostel Oasis
We chose Hostel Oasis about 2 blocks south of the Parque Central. The hostel was extremely nice with hammocks lining the border of a colonial terrace garden. There were around 10 computers, a communal kitchen and free coffee, tea and sweet biscuit/pastry for breakfast.  There was also a pool which was definitely a bonus as Granada was hot! We paid $10 a night for a private room.

There was not a lot to do in Granada besides wandering around the streets, grand food market and the lovely crafts market in Parque Central. There were plenty  comedor food options in the park and you definitely have to have the traditional Nica meal which is served in a banana leaf! There were many restaurants to chose from, my pick was the beautiful natural Garden CafĂ© near the park. The menu specialized in healthy options such as fruit smoothies, sandwiches, wraps, salads and plenty of veggie options.
Delicious avocado and hummus sandwich

La Calzada
Granada's "strip" was a pretty, clean and well maintained pedestrian street, La Calzada, that ran east from the Parque Central to the lake edge (about a 20min walk). The lake was uneventful and dead boring but the road itself is nice, filled with restaurants and bars with outdoor seating. This was the place to be at night! Be aware of the tab system at some of these bars if you share drinks. We had communication issues with who paid for what, which is not fun to explain after a few drinks in broken Spanish.

The pier of Lake Nicaragua. We were playing with camera colours again...
Harry was not that tanned!
We were inspired from the amazing views of Leon's cathedral climb the bell tower of  Iglesia la Merced to get a view of the city; which was worth doing ($1 fee) but not nearly as nice as Leon's dramatic volcano backdrop. After a long day of walking in Granada, there was nothing better than retreating to our hostel to chill on the hammocks or better yet, cool off in the pool! We only spent two nights in Granada as the island, Ometepe, in Lake Nicaragua was waiting for us.
One of views from the bell tower of Iglesia de Merced

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