Estelí is a big city in the northern highlands of Nicaragua. It feels smaller than León, but I think that’s mainly because the traffic is better. In León, I always felt like I was about to be hit by a car (pedestrians do NOT have the right of way here!). Estelí traffic is better because the streets are mostly one way.
There is a quite a bit of street art in town. I am not sure if it’s a direct result of the political importance of this town during the revolution (it was a Sandinista stronghold), or just lots of artists. The variety is really engaging and it made for a fun day looking for more murals.
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!
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.
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.
For a small city, Reykjavik has a lot of street art. Some of it is more commercial than others, and it is various. From murals to store decorations to statues and sculptures, there’s something new around every corner.
We’ve been exploring the northern parts of Iceland today, which included some really bizarre and interesting geologic formations and lots of sheep. Plus, April, you will be happy to know I took some heel clickers!
Guatapé is such a pretty town and I took so many photos I had to do a separate photo post. It’s not called Colombia’s most colorful town for nothing!
The decorations on all the buildings are called zocalos, and as I mentioned, every building has different ones. Some are very specific to the business inside, and some? We don’t know, but it was really fun wandering around looking at them. Another reason to visit Guatapé!
People from Medellin know where to go for their weekend breaks: Guatapé. This beautiful lakeside town is located just a short 90 minute bus ride from the city. We took the bus yesterday afternoon and it was relatively painless and on time.
Guatapé sits on a man-made reservoir built in the 1960s by the hydro-electric company, so there are a lot of water sports opportunities in the area, and the town itself is beautifully decorated with colorful art. There is also a giant rock called El Peñon which is a popular climb offering beautiful views of the water and mountains.
Today was a beautiful day in Bogotá, and a great day to experience the city on two wheels.
On Sundays, a big chunk of main streets in Bogotá are shut down for pedestrians and cyclists for Ciclovia, and we wanted to be part of it! So, we went down to the Candelaria barrio to do a bike tour with Bogota Bike Tours. For 35,000 COP (less than $16 Canadian), we got a 5 hour ride around the city with a lot of facts and fun!
Knowing we were going on a bike tour, and also not having eaten dinner last night because of our massive lunch, we made our first stop a street with lots of Colombian restaurants. We wanted an authentic breakfast, so visited La Puerta de La Tradicion, and had coffee, a milk soup called changua (which was delicious) and chorizo. The food was good, the service was good and from there it was a quick walk to the bike shop.