Granada is a beautiful city in the west of Nicaragua, situated on the coast of Lake Nicaragua. According to the owner of the hostel I was staying at, it is the rival of Léon, a city I would be hitting in a few days. The rivalry goes far back. Granada was the stronghold of the conservatives while Léon was the place for Liberals. After much fighting between the two cities, a compromise was met and Managua was chosen as the capital city.
The houses are brightly-colored and its door are often wide open. The owner told me that it this is a social invitation; when the doors are open, people congregate in front of them, neighbours stopping by to say hello and sit in beautiful wooden rocking chairs and chat long into the evening. It was a custom I did on most nights, sitting outside and reading by starlight. The city was founded in 1524 by Hernandez de Cordoba (of which the national currency is named after), named after the city in Spain. It is Nicaragua’s sixth largest city.
A few things about Granada. It was lovely. Horse-drawn carriages were everywhere in the city. People rode on bikes with their whole families on top. However, I didn’t have the best time. I spent most of my days walking around the city, stopping for gelato, trying out new restaurants and on my last day, having the most amazing breakfast at Café Garden, where the tables were in a gardened courtyard. I strolled through an art gallery that reminded me of Italy, and when I spoke to the owner, a Nicaraguan by way of Toronto, he told me he had designed the garden in remembrance of his trips to Italy.
I purchased two bags of coffee (a new tradition, bringing a bag of coffee to my grandfather from every place I go to) and a painting, a habit I keep trying to break.
I went on a boat tour through the islands, stopping to look through an old fortress and to have lunch. I did a hiking tour up to Volcano Mombacho.
I had delicious street food. I visited churches. I strolled through the market to buy a SIM card for my camera after realizing that my camera’s card would only hold five pictures. I walked and I walked. I sat and people-watched in the park.
I made my way to the waterfront every day and sat on the benches, eating my gelato.
I went to a huge beach party to ring in New Year’s Eve. I had dinner by myself. I stopped for wine. In essence, I walked through the city as though I had lived there for years, never once fearing for my safety. So why didn’t I have more fun?
Truth be told, the hostel was quite lovely, but for most of my stay, I was the only one there. I met one person who there who had organized a volcano tour after I said I might be interested in it. While I prefer to hike up the whole distance, using local buses, he had booked it through the hotel where we got the most sexist and rude tour guide, who made a lot of uncomfortable jokes about women. The fellow I was with was equally irritating, making comments about how America was the best place on Earth, and that New York City was the greatest city in the world. He admitted later that this 8 day trip to Nicaragua and Costa Rica was the first time he had been out of the country. He commented on how he had relatives in London, Ontario and I said that I worked in the same province but in the capital Ottawa; he responded by saying, are you sure Ottawa is the capital? I don’t think it is. HELLO? I literally go by the Parliament buildings everyday on my way to work. I’m astounded by comments like this. Thank you for explaining things to me? This may seem like such a simple mistake but his attitude while he was there was nothing short of ignorant.
I wish I had known that most hostels in Nicaragua aren’t online. I didn’t think that I could find a place so I booked quickly on the internet at the only room that was still available, not realizing that I could have walked half a block and found tons of dorms at hostels with a lot more people.
The New Year’s Eve party on the beach was spectacular; a world-class deejay, dancing in the sand, drinking brightly colored concoctions and feeling the breeze through my hair. The crowd was considerably younger than I was and after a few short hours, we decided to leave.
Still, it was a great city, I would certainly go back. But after three days, I was beyond stoked to catch a bus to Managua, where surprisingly, I had the time of my life and it really kicked off my trip to the Land of Volcanos and Lakes.
I got to Granada from taking a bus from Liberia. I stayed at La Casablanca Hostel, which is two blocks from the main interesection – Calle el Tamarindo and Calle Real Xalteva. It was clean, very nice and the owner was lovely. The wi-fi worked everywhere and the bathroom was super nice. No air-conditioning, but the fan worked. I think I paid 10$ a night.