That was not how I planned it! Yesterday I took the bus from Matagalpa to Esteli. The main reason I came to Esteli was to see the Somoto Canyon to the north, so I booked the tour yesterday from my hostal.
Today I had to get up early to catch a taxi to the bus station for a tour of Somoto Canyon. Instead I got money out of the ATM and left that money and my ATM card in the taxi. I realized it at the bus station but the cab was already gone. So I had to walk back to my hostel (fortunately only a 15 minute walk!) and cancel the tour and my ATM card. Do I feel like an idiot right now? YES I DO!
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!
Volcano 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 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”
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.