Free León City Tour

Leon is an interesting city to walk around, but it’s always better to have a guide! I happened to find a new company that offers free walking tours every morning so did the tour on Thursday. The tour lasted 90 minutes and covered the centre of the city. I learned more about the history of the city, the country and some of the murals depicting these stories. On the tour with me were a Canadian couple and 3 Germans. Germans and Canadians are the most common tourists in Nicaragua right now.

I already mentioned the enormous amount of churches here, and the guide, Sebastian, pointed out León is known as a city of churches as there are 2 Catholic churches per neighbourhood here. I don’t know why that’s necessary but the churches are pretty to look at and have some crazy icons inside. He also informed us that the main cathedral has tunnels to 5 different churches in the city. These were created to fend off pirates!

Cathedral de León
Crypt entrance in the Cathedral of León

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Volcano Boarding at Cerro Negro

Volcano Boarding Cerro NegroVolcano Boarding is one of the top things to do when visiting León, so I signed up to do it almost immediately upon arrival. Why delay?

My hostal offers a daily tour through Nicatime Nicaragua. We left the hostal at 8am on Wednesday, got to Cerro Negro Volcano by 9am, and started hiking. The uphill climb is only an hour long, but with all the sand and rocks, it’s not easy. Slippery.

Cerro Negro
Our group climbing up Cerro Negro

Cerro Negro means Black Mountain, and that describes it perfectly. This fairly young, still active volcano is a pile of black sand and rock. People have been volcano boarding there for about 17 years, according to my tour guide, Oscar (just kidding, it was Lester – or Luther, damn I am bad at this. I’ll call him Oscar). Now that is the primary reason people visit Cerro Negro, and one of the top attractions in León. Continue reading “Volcano Boarding at Cerro Negro”

León

After a day and a half in León, I like it. It’s a pretty town with some beautiful churches. A lot of pretty churches. So many, that I can’t keep track of which ones I’ve visited. There’s also a lot of museums, street art, and history here. This morning I am going on a walking tour of the city, so I should learn more about all of those things! In the meantime, I have been taking photos.

León Churches I visited some of the churches, including the fairy tale pretty Iglesia el Calvario and the more traditional Iglesia El Merced.

Iglesia El Calvario
The pretty Iglesia El Calvario

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Melyna on The Go Stories

The time has really been flying and now Lyna is on her way back to Toronto. The Melyna adventure has ended, but we did have some good times, and some interesting ones. There are a few tales I have not yet told about our adventures, so as I move on to my solo Nica travels, I’ll mention some of the good, the ridiculous and the funny of the 10 days of “Melyna on the Go.”

Meeting other Canadians

There are a lot of Canadians in Nicaragua. We’ve met many from B.C. and Toronto and even a backpacker on the Ometepe shuttle bus from College and Ossington, but the best meet cute was in our hotel in Granada. The hotel included breakfast, but no matter how few or many people they were, the cooks couldn’t keep up with the demand. Lyna was wearing her Toronto Blue Jays shirt and went up to the counter to look for her pancakes. A tall man approached her carrying a plate and as he was asking her if she was from Canada, she asked him “Are those my pancakes?” Yes, she was from Canada, as were he and his friends, and no, they weren’t her pancakes, they were his. April, Lyna said you would appreciate that story. Her pancakes did come shortly after but included the wrong ingredients. Nicaragua! Continue reading “Melyna on The Go Stories”

The Best Volcano Yet: Volcan Masaya!

Wowow wow wow wow.  Last night we went to Masaya Volcano. It’s best to go there at night because you can see the hot lava much better in the dark!!! HOT LAVA IN THE DARK. It was even better than it sounds, and I thought it sounded great.

So, it’s a big deal to go to the volcano at night. Everybody wants to see the hot lava. The cars line up on the side of the highway before the park opens for the night at 5:30pm (but, since it’s “Nica time”, it actually didn’t open until more like 5:45pm). People are standing on the side of the road too; some are vendors, others are just passengers who don’t want to sit in the cars.

Masaya Volcano
Some of the line up for Masaya

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The Natural Beauty of Laguna Apoyo, Nicaragua

Yesterday we moved from Ometepe Island to Laguna Apoyo on the mainland, and we are very happy with the change.

Leaving Ometepe

We left Ometepe Island yesterday via taxi, lancha and another taxi, and 3-4 hours later we were at Laguna Apoyo. It may only be the resort we selected, but what a difference those few hours made.

Let me tell you why we were so happy to leave Ometepe – the only reason was our hotel. I struggled trying to get us a room on the Island to begin with – we did have a few parameters, but it shouldn’t have been that difficult. Wanting 2 separate beds in a room in Nicaragua seems to be a challenge for the hotels here. Be forewarned. Anyway, I found this place on booking.com and it was a great location and had decent reviews and was cheap. When we arrived, they tried to hold our air conditioner hostage. Seriously. They took the air conditioner remote with them and left us in this windowless basement room and walked away. I followed. Good thing I took Spanish lessons because now I knew how to call them liars. I still don’t know Spanish for scumbag. Need to ask around. I showed them our booking. Apparently, they tried to claim that it was $20 more to get air conditioning and that I hadn’t booked it with air conditioning. They had clearly not given an option on the online listing, and the listing said it included air conditioning. I showed them. Lyna and I sat down to lunch and debated leaving right then. But then, the receptionist seemed to realize her mistake, apologized to me and gave us the cherished air conditioning remote. It was unbelievable. First time I’ve had a hotel ransom the air conditioner remote. How about you? So that left a terrible taste in our mouths about that hotel and we were happy to leave. Continue reading “The Natural Beauty of Laguna Apoyo, Nicaragua”

A Kayak Tour of Ometepe

Ometepe Kayaking
Beginning of Kayak Tour

One day of rest was enough! Yesterday Lyna and I wanted to get out and see more of the wildlife of the Ometepes. We biked our way to the town(?) of Mérida and Caballito’s Mar Kayaks.

It was not an easy bike ride or kayak but wow was it worth it. Perfect weather – sun and some wind, and tons of wildlife! Here is a partial list of what we saw: a caiman, turtles, blue herons, monkeys, ospreys, sleeping bats, egrets, ibises, tiger herons, magpie jays, and parakeets. There were more but I can’t remember them!

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And Sometimes We Relax: Ojo de Agua, Ometepe Islands

I know this blog is called Mel On the Go, and I usually am pretty active trying new things or repeating activities I love in new places. Sometimes a girl just needs a break. And Lyna is on vacation, after all, so we took a day to relax yesterday.

The Ometepe Islands is a good spot for a relaxing day. While I couldn’t find any spas, the lakefront here is similar to an ocean, with sandy beaches and waves lapping onto the shore. It’s lovely and relaxing. And the water temperature is perfect!

As you know, we were tired and sore from Wednesday’s epic hike, so we kicked back and took the day at a leisurely pace and enjoyed ourselves.

Our day began with a lakeshore breakfast, where we watched the waves and the horses walking through them. $3.50 for breakfast at our hotel and we were fuelled for the day. Maybe a dip in the lake or just a chill in the hammock. We had a very limited agenda.

Ometepe Islands
Horses on the beach – breakfast view

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The Volcano Will Not Break Us: Maderas on Ometepe Islands

We did a long hike yesterday up one of the two iconic Ometepe Volcanoes: Maderas.

Facts: 

  • Maderas Volcano is 1394 meters at the peak, making it the shorter of the two volcanoes on Ometepe Island
  • At the top is a cloud forest
  • There is a crater lagoon on the summit of the volcano
  • There is abundant animal life, including monkeys
  • And I quote “The Maderas hike is an ardous endeavour on a steep defile dug into the rock and excavated by water. The humidity transforms the trail into a muddy, slippery path and sometimes you have to really climb instead of walk”

Our hike took 9 hours, we were a little slow going. We saw lots of monkeys, lots of mud(!), great views, the crater lagoon. We did it but oh boy sore muscles (and a swollen ankle) are the aftermath! And we still have mud stuck to our feet and a lot of cuts and bruises! Continue reading “The Volcano Will Not Break Us: Maderas on Ometepe Islands”

Things to Do in Granada: Gringo Street and More

Granada is a beautiful colonial city. Most of the tourist action is within a few blocks of the central park: hotels, restaurants, shops and tourist attractions

Must Do: Climb to the top of Iglesia Merced

For the best views in the city, pay $1 to climb the circular staircase up a few flights (it’s not that high) to the top of Iglesia Merced. The exterior of the church is very pretty, but it’s the chance to peer behind the gated facades of all the buildings into (slightly) the courtyards beyond. It’s a popular tourist spot, but the climb is quick.

Iglesia Merced
Iglesia Merced

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