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.
Granada, Nicaragua is a beautiful colonial city on a lake! This week I am not travelling solo; I have a partner in adventures, Lyna, visiting from the wintry north and enjoying all that Granada has to offer: nature, wildlife, sun, hotel pools, music and outdoor bars and restaurants.
So far in Granada we have gone out on the Calzada, taken a boat tour of Las Isletas, swum at our hotel pool, kayaked around Las Isletas, walked the Malécon, enjoyed live music in the square, and more.
Las Isletas, or the Granada Islands, are a group of 360+ small islands in the lake off the shore of Granada. These islands were created by a volcanic eruption of nearby Vulcan Mombacho, which is where we are headed today! Private islands, many have only one house. Some are businesses, like pool bars or hotels, and one is entirely given over to monkeys and a big part of the panga or boat tours that go out from the Granada docks all daily long.
Another reason the layover in El Salvador was a positive surprise is one of my new friends gave me a tip on a safe place to go near my hotel in Managua. He recommended Puerto Salvador Allende so I went there for a few hours last night.
The Puerto is a new resort along Lake Managua. Lake Managua is a very polluted lake so for a long time nobody even used the lakeshore. Hence the newness of this spot. It is an extension of the malecón, the malecón, which is a walking path along the lake. Nearby are some of the landmarks of Managua, like the cathedral, the national palace, and the Teatro Ruben Dario. I had a good cab driver from the hotel, who came and picked me up at the end of my visit, and pointed out all these Managua highlights.
I walked around the malecón for a little bit first, taking photos of the sculptures – they have a lot of these big colored metal trees; my cab driver told me they are called “arboles de la vida” – trees of life. They are relatively new and very colorful. I am glad I got to see them up close at night because it was very pretty.
Munich is a wonderful place to spend New Year’s Eve, or Silvester, as they call it here, named after a Pope no less. We had a really fun and entertaining night out in this city.
They love their fireworks here! Apparently, they are readily available for sale, which is why we started hearing them going off before sunset and all the time after. This also explains the debris in every street into New Year’s Day of firework remnants. The unfortunate thing was, the city was shrouded in fog before 12 midnight so it was pretty impossible to see any of the fireworks, no matter how near.
Last night I did what they do in Cali: Salsa! A guy from the hostel, Tattoo (not his real name), took a few of us there to meet some friends of his and to dance! Tattoo is Brazilian but has been living in the hostel for a few months so he knows a lot of people in the city.
After the cancelled tour and troubles with Avianca, I’ll admit I was feeling a little down yesterday evening. I didn’t want to spend my Saturday night in Cali alone, so I did what I came to a hostel to do: went downstairs and grabbed a beer and started talking to people in the lobby. Within 10 minutes, my plans for the night were set: Petronio Music Fest with about 10 20-somethings from all over the globe who were visiting for the festival itself.
Yes, I got lucky and came to Cali during an amazing free festival called The Petronio Álvarez Afro-Colombian festival. It is held in a large sports complex across town and includes free live music and a huge food tent and today is the last night. So you see how good my timing is!?