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Granada

March 15, 2012

Granada is an old colonial city with a distinctly Nicaraguan twist. It hasn’t got the polished feeling of Antigua in Guatemala and feels fairly shabby in comparison but this is its charm.

A stone’s throw from the centre of town is the fire station which welcomes travellers to park inside the station and provides 24hr security. The firemen were very welcoming and it made a great place to stay.

We did a walking tour of the city taking in many of the churches including the cathedral. We climbed the bell tower of the Iglesia de La Merced which gave great views of the city and also Volcan Mombacho which is the highest volcano in Nicaragaua (1345m).

One of the stops on our walk was the Antiguo Hospital which was abandoned in the 80’s and has been derelict since. Refurbishment work has started on this to become a tourist destination but it is early days yet. The extent of the deterioration in such a short period is surprising.

We also visited a cigar shop which creates its own cigars and watched one of the workers deftly rolling the cigars taking only a few seconds for each one.

The cemetery in Granada is also worth visiting. There is a tomb where 9 former presidents of Nicaragua are buried. What was striking about the graves was that all of them were a stark white whereas most other places in central America there has been a lot of colour In the cemetaries.

On the lake there is an old park which has a number of clubs and bars in it. This is the local nightlife centre of Granada at the weekend but quite dangerous and very shabby. There is certainly not much to recommend it.  The lake itself is surprisingly rough.

Near the cathedral there is a street with 500m or so of bars and restaurants aimed at tourists. There is a great variety and the area has a real buzz at night.  We had a nice dinner out here at a steak restaurant (El Zaguan) where Sarah had the best steak she’s had on the whole trip – mine was a bit disappointing though.

We also managed to try Quesillos which are one of the most popular meals in Nicaragua. It’s melted mozarrella cheese wrapped in a corn tortilla with spicy onion chutney inserted in a plastic bag. It was pretty horrible and the first local dish on our trip that we haven’t liked.

We also managed to find a laundry in Granada after having searched high and low in El Salvador. We were relieved at this as we were down to our last clean clothes.

It is very understandable why Granada is a popular tourist stop and it definitely made an engaging stop for a couple of days.

 

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