I arrived into Granada from León in the afternoon and had booked a couple of nights in Hostel Entre Amigos, very near the main central park. The hostel was lovely and very chilled out, a small place with just one dorm room for up to 8 people and a number of private rooms, a kitchen and TV area. The guys that run the hostel are really friendly and there’s a gift shop attached to the front of the hostel where they can be found most of the day, busy making jewellery and different bits and pieces.
My first impressions of Granada were that it was a beautiful colonial town, with striking architecture and green spaces, as well as lots of horses and carriages dotted about the place. My camera barely ever left my hands! I explored the city for a few hours, taking in the mirador view of the rooftops and Mombacho volcano from the viewing tower of La Merced church ($1).
I walked through the cobbled streets towards the Central Park, which was filled with locals resting on benches in the shade of the trees and by the fountains, as well as plenty of places to buy snacks, drinks and ice cream to help cool off. The Cathedral is located right on the park with lots of market stalls selling jewellery and other artisanal crafts. The street alongside the Cathedral is pedestrianised and is the strip with all of the mains bars and restaurants. It also runs all the way down to the dock of Lake Nicaragua, the 10th largest freshwater lake in the world and by far the largest lake in Central America.
After a day of sightseeing around the city, when I got back to the hostel there was another huge Lenten procession going through the streets, even bigger than that which I had seen in León. It seems like the closer to Easter Sunday it got, the bigger and busier the processions!
I had dinner in Casa Bohemia that evening, which was just around the corner from the hostel. It’s a really lovely, dimly-lit restaurant in an old building with a good menu and the house special of chili con carne was absolutely delicious. Probably not the best choice when you are already absolutely boiling hot from the Granada temperature (even at night!), but nevertheless it was very tasty!
I met my friend Emily the next day who I had got to know in the Surfing Turtle Lodge, and we went to The Garden Cafe for some brunch before she took a shuttle to San Juan del Sur (where I was also going to next and knew I’d meet her again there!). That evening I met some lovely people at the hostel and went for a few drinks down on the main strip, two for one mojitos for about $3, not bad! We got back to the hostel early enough and watched the Life of Pi (they had a great TV and lots of DVDs to choose from), I was delighted to get to watch the movie as I had just read the book when I was in Mexico and was really excited to see how Ang Lee adapted it for the big screen. I wasn’t disappointed!
I planned to make my way to San Juan del Sur the following day, which also happened to be Good Friday. Because of Semana Santa, I was told it would be really tough to get a bus and sure enough the night before when I had checked the bus station at about 4.30pm, there were no buses to be seen as they had all knocked off early! Same for the supermarket, located right beside the mercado, it closed at 4.30pm on Holy Thursday. My friend Emily had told me that she booked the shuttle from her hostel (El Momento) directly to San Juan del Sur for $12, so I decided that this would be my best option to get there safely and quickly! I breakfasted at a really nice cafe just opposite Casa Bohemia, run by a Nicaraguan lady, and got a great view of another huge procession making its way through the streets. I spent my final few hours in Granada relaxing before my bus picked me up at my hostel around 1pm…onward to the beach!