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.
I am getting 3 square meals a day in my home stay, but sometimes a girl needs a change from Nica cuisine. There’s only so much rice and beans and chicken one can take, and I like that food!
Fortunately, San Juan del Sur has tons of options for eating and drinking. For a small beach town, there is a huge variety of bars, cafes and restaurants. Most cuisines are represented: Italian, vegetarian, sushi, Chinese, Indian etc.
Below are just a few of the dining spots I have visited in town.
One of the only craft breweries in the country, this is a nice spot to grab a beer and sit in the open air restaurant. So far, I’ve only tried one of their original beers, so I have to get back for some more! I went during happy hour and paid about $2.5o for a pint of good beer.
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.
For a small city, there are tons of eating options in Reykjavik. Even the “budget” meals are not cheap, though, so it’s worth it to choose wisely or stop worrying about costs.
Fish & Chips
Seafood is big in Iceland – you can get fish stew in many places, and fish and chips is a hot item. Near the harbour in Reykjavik, there are 2 top options right across the street from one another: Icelandic Fish and Chips and Reykjavik Fish. We headed that way on Saturday because our guide book recommended the former, but it looked too stuffy and was empty, so we went into the hipper looking Reykjavik Fish. Not cheap, but delicious.
We both went for the combo #1 – Fish and Chips with one sauce and a draft beer for $32 KR. You can also order a la carte but we went for the shebang. The fish was really lightly battered and delicate, and delicious. Viking beer is the basic Icelandic lager which tastes perfectly fine. Fries were OK.
The place is big and very Nordic looking. You order at the front and they bring it to your table when it’s ready. It’s a much nicer looking place than your typical casual dining spot back home, but you’re also paying way more! But when in Iceland… I imagine the prices were similar across the street.
Don’t listen to everything Lonely Planet writes. There is a very famous restaurant a half hour north of Bogotá called Andrés Carne de Res – Anthony Bourdain has been and they seat up to 2,000 people at a time! We had already determined that it was too far for us to go so had kind of gotten it out of our heads. Well, last night we were having a beer at a local breweryin a Bogotá barrio called Zona Rosa and noticed that Andrés DC, an outpost of this famous restaurant, was right around the corner from us. Lonely Planet said it wasn’t worth it if you couldn’t go to the original. I am glad we ignored that note!
While not big enough for 2,000 people, Andrés DC is still a big place. Four stories of food, drinks, people, lights and music, it is also a feast for the eyes, ears and palate! Zona Rosa is an upscale barrio with a lot of high end shops and restaurants and while most places were closed or just not that busy on a Sunday night, the brewery and the restaurant were both pretty crowded.
Bogotá is a big bustling city – the capital of Colombia, with the largest population of 6.7 million – and we arrived yesterday for a 3 day whirlwind tour!
Our flight and taxi rides were easy, and we are couchsurfing with a friendly, interesting and generous guy named Robin. He has a roommate who is on crutches, Anna Maria, and 3 cats. His apartment takes up the 2nd floor of a building in the heart of a great neighborhood called Chapinero. This is a barrio north of the city centre with a lot of nightlife and restaurants.
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.