Granada, NicaraguaMarch 12, 2017 in Nicaragua
Our first taste of Lake Nicaragua.
Granada is very similar to Léon in many ways; the culture, the architecture, the density of churches and the heat, oh the heat! It is undoubtedly one of the most well kept towns we have been to, perhaps an obvious indicator of whose dollar this town operates on. The main difference to Léon is that Granada sits right on Lake Nicaragua - the largest lake in Central America. I can't say I was too impressed, given our first impression was a continuous face full of bugs and a foreshore that resembled Orakei basin on a low tide. I still don't understand how such a huge lake is so filthy?!
It's fair to say we didn't make a huge amount of effort to embrace the culture in Granada. For a reason unbeknownst to me, Granada has developed its tourism industry much more than it's counterpart, with dining and tour prices raised to meet the market as well as the relentless hustle that accompanies it. Oh how I'd kill to delete this part of travel.
Our accommodation was just outside the tourist area, a relatively new operation called GM Granada, run by a ex-brisbanite and his partner. It had an excellent pool, clean rooms, an operable kitchen, good internet, cold beer and friendly hosts so to be honest we felt we ought to make the most of it.
We found good value in our comparitively expensive dining here. Our first meal in Granada was burgers at La Frontera; they were delicious, well proportioned and only set us back $6USD per head. Not bad. We also found good mexican at a local chain and some top notch iced coffees at a very westernised cafe. We cooked a lot at the hostel and enjoyed both the meals and getting back in the kitchen. Although omelettes were a poor choice. Everybody knows hostel frying pans have an 'extra stick' coating that put even the toughest of glues to shame.
Despite how I've made it sound we did get up to some activites in Granada. MERC got going in the flat and finally put together some faster k's...could that be some fitness? We explored town and climbed the bell tower of a church for a buena vista in the setting sun. Cat and I got behind Scotland in the Six Nations, with great hope that they would break England's wretched streak. It was not to be. One afternoon we hopped aboard a river boat for a cruise of some of the 365 isletas that lay green and foresty just inches above the lake. Unfortunately for us, 'some' was an ambiguous word and our 'two hour tour' comprised of a 40 minute tour followed by an hour and a half trapped on an island. Said island did have a pool and overpriced cold beer (as did our hostel), but we were not too pleased about the lack of tour. We confronted our operator at the time of payment and were assured that we had got a better deal than we bargained for; we got extra time on the island! Somehow we could not get across the point that they trapped us there (the boat dropped us off) and we had no say in when we could leave. I needn't explain how that one ended but we did enjoy the short trip we got, especially getting some really close up moments with the monkeys!
Lago de Apoyo was another draw card in the area so we agreed to visit it as a day trip. We were really hoping Apoyo would raise the bar on Nicaragua's cleanliness! $14US got us a return taxi and a day pass to one of the lakeside hostels. It seemed steep but the priority taxi, free coffee, free kayaks, a great beach and bar set up made it worthwhile. Mike and I got the speedos on for the first time in a while, and were pretty chuffed to get out and back with no more drama than a lung full of lake. We litterally blew a whole day chilling out, reading, eating, swimming (every half hour - it was hot!!), and kayaking. The lake wasn't as immaculate as we had imagined but somehow the ruggedness suited us just fine.
We left Granada on another chicken bus. (They're starting to stack up now!). We chose an earlier departure over a direct bus just to get out of the hustle. Midway through our trip, we were ejected from the bus in pursuit of our bags, which had made it from the roof of one bus to another in less time than Usain Bolt can cover 100 metres. We tried to hesitate but before we knew it our bags were out of reach, we chased them onto the bus and forked out an unreasonable sum of money for the ride. None of us managed to work out what happened, but we made our destination alright. I miss the air conditioned, hassle free transport of familiar car on familiar roads.Read more