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”
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”
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.
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.
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”
Yesterday we went for a visit to Mombacho Volcano, a close drive from Granada and a beautiful protected Nicaraguan park.
We booked a tour for $35 through Tierra Tours. After a little research, $35 seemed standard unless you book through our hotel which charges $50. We went with the standard price 🙂 The Tierra Tours van picked us up at around 9:30am and we were off. There was already a man from Belgium in the car, and then we picked up a couple from Toronto (actual Toronto, not people from hours away telling people they live in Toronto) and we headed for my first volcano of the trip!
Mombacho is a “dormant” or sleeping volcano. It hasn’t erupted since the 1500s but it is definitely alive. We saw steam coming from the earth and smelled sulfur more than once, especially near the crater. It is closely monitored for activity.
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.
This morning was amazing! We woke up at the campsite to find that we were not alone. Brian got to talking to a man who we think was the owner of the place. Very Northern, and very understated, he suggested we drive up the hill and see the geothermals. Wow! Are we glad we did. It was impressive, surprising, amazing, and many other adjectives. Brian said it was in his Top 5s of Iceland (not sure what the other 4 are: probably hot pots) and it definitely made my day. After that, it is going to be hard to top.