What a sad departure from Leon, a place that was an incredible surprise. What was expected to be a 2 night stint to get in the volcano boarding, turned in about 5 days of taking in the genuine Nicaragua but as with every destination on this trip, love it or loathe it, I will have to say “adios.”
I took a short taxi to the “bus station” which was basically a junk yard with a few busses waiting to shuttle people around! I threw myself into the van and paid for the seat next to me to have my bag there, instead of resting on the roof. It also doubles at my pillow and I passed out quite quickly and woke up as we were entering the capital of Managua. Rubbing sleep out of my eyes I jumped out and transferred across the road to another cramped bus to Granada. The capital of Nicaragua sprawls so far that by the time you are leaving the outskirts of the city, you are entering the outskirts of Granada and what a welcome change it is.
Where most capitals in Latin America are hectic, busy, dangerous and offer very little as far as character, Managua continue the trend. Granada on the other hand … wow! Never in my time in Central America have I witnessed a place like this. I had no idea where in the city I was, when I jumped out, but I saw such an impressive church that I felt this urge pushing me out. Maybe it was literally someone pushing me out as the bus was extremely cramped but my eyes were drawn to this cathedral so I did not look back to see. So far, so good. Leon imrpessed me with its beautiful buildings and charming grunge and I was sad to say goodbye, but Granada seems to be picking up where Leon left of. Gorgeous roads, beautiful doorways, thick old wooden window shutters, beautiful colours, little markets. I quickly forgot about Leon and bumped into a friend I had met in El Salvador. Michael, from Ireland, was leaving Granada after a few days, but mentioned he was staying in a decent hostel for very cheap called The Bearded Monkey. For 5 dollars a night, and it being just around the corner, I had to at least check it out and it appeared to be good enough for my weary bones! As usual, I did a night by night check in, and laid my things down and walked the streets of Granada.
The famous center of the town is arguably the most beautiful center of any town that I have encountered in Central America. Gorgeous yellow and white buildings of colonial Spanish architecture that are in such good condition they look like they were built a decade ago. Wandering away from the center, down the promenade, you find the street littered with patios, which myself, Matt and Dave would certainly be visiting shortly!
At the bottom of the road, is the largest lake I have ever seen, to the point that when you arrive at the short, you get confused as to your location in the world! “Is that the ocean?” Knowing that Granada was most definitely not on the coast, I realized that I was looking at the main lake in Nicaragua that takes up about 1/6th of the whole country’s surface area.
After a stroll through the market, some typical Nicaraguan grub, I headed back to the hostel, to hunkered down in a hammock, and since the hostel was very empty, and I was not feeling very social, I decided to throw on a movie and let fatigue take me over into my first full day in Granada.