Granada. The place I have left my heart since embarking on this adventure 3 months and 6 days ago. We loved this place so much we stayed an extra night, pushing our date with Hard Rock Cafe in Costa Rica back another day. We arrived here, at our hostel, Oasis, on Wednesday after the shuttle brought us here from León. The journey was quite quick and it picked us up from our hostel in León and dropped us at our hostel in Granada. As usual, the weather was a mix of sunny clouds with an extremely high percentage humidity.
We arrived at lunch time, dumped our bags in our room and proceeded to figure out where to go next. I'll start by describing the hostel. It was huge, covering three floors and a serious amount of depth. Why did I choose this hostel. It. Had. A. Swimming. Pool. Oh my god!!! It had a freakin' pool!!! Luxury we had not been accustomed to at any hostel thus far. Granted, it wasn't a pool to sit on a sunbed next to, or do laps in. It was more a pool to use to 'cool off' in after a few hours exploration, but I'll get to that later.
We had a private room again with a shared bathroom. Now, we have stared watching Orange is the New Black after 13 Reasons Why ended, and I must say, the prison dorms and bunks in that TV series, look a hell of a lot more comfortable than our current abode.Excuse the mess everywhere but seriously, this room was so small, I'd have rather had a bunk in Litchfield Prison. Probably cooler too. Our new best friends, the ever trustworthy desk fans that ooze a tremendous amount of hot air. Just what one needs after a hot day in the town! The room wasn't the cleanest we have stayed in, which resulted in my purchasing some flip flops on our last day. I mean, the sheets did have dirt on them which made us wonder if they actually changed them after we dumped or bags, or just turned them the other way. Either way I know there was dried blood on my pillow case. Meh, you get what you pay for. There were hammocks to chill out in, a kitchen to cook in, although why anyone would, when there are restaurants minutes away that serve food someone else prepares, to save you dying in the heat of the kitchen is beyond me, as well as movie night every night at 830pm. That is just what you want when the TV is screwed to the outside of your wall and for the following two hours you have the walls shaking as the bass booms out the TV as well as the sound that goes with it. You couldn't even hear yourself think!
Anyways, the staff were lovely, they have an honour system where you grab a beer or water or soda from the fridge and write it down to pay when you check out, and you can't fault the location. Oh and we got laundry done. So if you're looking for a cheap bed for the night, you can't really go wrong with Oasis Granada. That's enough about the hostel.
So we arrived lunchtime Wednesday and looked for somewhere to eat. Granada has like a main strip that goes from one church all the way down to Lake Nicaragua, with a cute Plaza in the middle. We wanted something not pizza, so headed to Yep, an Irish pub in the middle of Granada. A bloody good one at that!! Whilst the menu isn't massive, they did an amazing chicken burger which felt so healthy. That would be enough to keep us going for a minute or two. As we were sitting inside, the heavens opened and a storm raged through the town. As the rain was beginning to subside, we sauntered back to the hostel to shower and cool off. Feeling slightly peckish, we were naughty and headed back out for food in the evening. The weather being slightly cooler, brought out my inner woman. I mean, I actually wore a top I hadn't worn in 3 months and wore shorts that weren't adidas as well as donning my black sandals that showed just how white my feet were compared to my legs. I felt alive 😂! We walked back the same route as we did before as the sky was darker and we looked for somewhere to eat. Nowhere really took our fancy so we went back to O'Sheas and this time sat outside under the gazebo.This street was bursting with tourists and restaurants with vendors trying to entice you in as they approached you on the pavement. It was so cute. This time we had Tom's platter which was basically chicken, chips and cocktail sausages. An odd combination but it worked. We also drank beer. Yep. I am now not a 'I only drink red wine' gal, I have become rather accustomed to a Tona Nicaraguan beerwith these two becoming my new best friends. We sat taking in the atmosphere, politely refusing the violins and the people trying to sell us ceramic pots as well as the pushy little kid who tried three times to sell us a bracelet. It was time to hit the sack ready for a full days exploration on Thursday.
I say full day, more like a few hours. The humidity is slowly killing us I swear, so we have adopted a few hours out, few hours in, few hours out regime. It seems to works. I had woken up hoping the storm of Wednesday would make it like 3 degrees outside, perfect exploring temperature. Times that by ten and that's what we actually had. 😞 still I can't complain. I'll just do it silently.
Up and ready to explore. By the time we left the room we were already sweating. The worst part was there was no breeze. Still, I'm not complaining! 😊. Our aim was to explore Central Park and the abundance of churches this beautiful place was home to. Central Park was just beautiful. Cathedral Granada is the most prominent structure in the park, but it plays host to many stunning and colourful buildings. The cathedral dates back to 1583 and has had to endure several facelifts over the centuries. A fire destroyed it in 1856 and the current neoclassical bright yellow edifice that stands in front of us today was completed in 1915. The park is also home to a fountain, an obelisk, a couple of memorial, souvenir shops and restaurants as well as the usual artisan stands with bright colours that really capture the tourists' eye. As you stand looking at Central Park with the cathedral on your right, you have the main strip, Calle Real Xalteva. If you walk right, you'd head to O'Sheas and Lake Nicaragua.
We're going left. As I described, Calle Real Xalteva is the main road almost through Granada which connects four major churches and passes through Central Park.Central Park is also home to some cute little 'pop-up-esque restaurants that serve cheap local eats.The other option to a taxi in the town is a good old fashioned horse and cart ride. The horses unfortunately didn't look (not all of them) in the best of care with some having bones jutting out due to malnourishment, but they seemed happy enough to pull a local/tourist through the town.On our way along the road we also passed a hammock making shop with a shop full of them right next door to it. They had quick fingers when it came to weaving the material to make these brightly coloured, comfortable sleeping options. There were many vendors trying to sell them at $10 a pop. We continued.The first church we came across was Iglesia Merced. Dating back to 1534 and one of the oldest churches in Central America, but sadly it is a shell of its former spectacular self. The original building was destroyed and completely rebuilt in 1862 in the current colonial and baroque style. This part of the town was much less touristy. Instead it seemed to have brightly coloured homes and cute little boutiques and salons.The drivers, as with anywhere in Central America were verging on homicidal and it was always a game of chicken crossing the road. They had statues at junctions.Next up was the stunning Iglesia Xalteva. Painted orange and white it was just majestic. Sadly another church originally
ravaged by war, this church, named after the original inhabitants, ended up being fully rebuilt in 1921. It was just beautiful. Just across the road there was a little park with trees and benches to sit on.The last church we were to visit would be a magnificent structure of blue and white. Situated next to a college, La Capilla Maria Auxiliadora was unfortunately closed when we got there which was a shame as I had read the interior is breathtaking. The church at one point was blue and yellow! Our journey back to Central Park enabled us to see the cathedral from a distance peeking above the skyline.Drenched in sweat and in need of a shower we headed back to the hostel for a dip in the pool. I never thought I'd be so happy to experience the loss of breath once entering the pool. I was so excited. I showered first because I was, as usual, a hot, sweaty mess, and then I walked over to the ladder ready to finally cool off and feel that freezing water on my toes.
Sadly, that feeling never came. The pool was warm. To say we were gutted would be an understatement. With it being situated in an open setting at the back of the hostel, it probably soaked up all of the lunchtime sun before teasing us with its ice cold look. Anyway. We must move on. After ever so slightly cooling down, the overwhelming feeling of hunger kicked in again that evening. This time we found ourselves hunting down a stone baked pizza. Granada at night is just as beautiful in the day, except for the tiny strip of road from the cathedral to the restaurants where the homeless appear to think it's the toilets, it is safe, quiet, except for the chatter at the dinner tables with a mix of locals and tourists out to soak up the evening atmosphere.We treated ourselves to a cheeky ice cream from the cutest Gelateria on the corner. I had 'cafe' and Nathan had 'cookie' and they were delicious. For about $1 too. Having visited this part of town, Friday was going to involve a visit to the lake.
Another relatively ok nights sleep, and we left slightly later to avoid the midday sun. It also meant we'd eat later so wouldn't get so hungry again in the evening. The first stop of the day was a post office which we located with extreme ease. Convento San Francisco, dating back to 1524 used to be pained baby blue until the suns rays helped to drain the colour. Another building that had been burned down and then restored.Iglesia Guadeloupe and its pretty square showcases a view back to the cathedral. Built in the 1620s and again subjected to the fires that ravaged the city thanks to William Walker and his mercenaries in 1856. The civil war began in 1854 in Nicaragua and Walker attempted to implant English speaking colonies throughout Central America for his private control. He achieved the presidency of Nicaragua in 1856 only to be defeated the following year. Many of the countries original buildings were destroyed in these years.Originally I actually thought we were walking down the a beach on the lake, so I was a teeny but disappointed. But, the lake was vast, you could see volcanoes in the distance and the greenery in the middle of the road with the view all the way back to the cathedral was beautiful. There were vendors selling coconuts and crafts along the side of the road as well as the surfing donkey hostel right on the edge. We took a slow walk back to the town, typically stopped at O'Sheas for lunch before heading to the top of the bell tower in Cathedral Granada. I think that this has to be in my top 5 views.
The cathedral was free to enter and was beautiful with painted ceilings and an intricate altar.It cost $1 to go up the bell tower. It was a square spiral staircase that took us to the top and featured possibly the most narrow ladder in the world.Excuse the butt picture there's not really a photo that truly shows how narrow it felt. At the top, you have the bell, and round windows which gave you the most spectacular views over the town and afar.It was incredibly beautiful up in the bell tower. The photos really don't do it justice but I could have happily sat in one of the windows reading a book for hours. It was so tranquil. Once we had finished admiring the views, we creeped back down the stairs and made our way over to the chocolate museum. Sounds really inviting right? It was free so that was an added bonus but it appeared to be a shop selling chocolate and chocolate flavoured goods with a bit of history plastered on the walls.It did smell good as we walked in though. They do also offer 2-3 hour tours too. It was time to head back to the hostel for another dip in the pool. No sooner had we had a dip, showered and walked into our room did the storm start. Horrendously loud claps of thunder and monsoon style rain filled the sky. It went on for hours. We did eventually venture out again in the evening to get another ice cream, before packing and paying our bill ready for an early start Saturday morning…
Until next time…