After ten amazing days in San Juan del sur, we made the tough decision to move on and continue our journey through Nicaragua. A short, 2 hr bus ride got us to the beautiful colonial town of Granada. After spending a whole month at different beach towns it was a nice change to be more inland in a different setting.
The first thing I noticed about Granada was the heat (no nice afternoon sea breeze here), the second was the beggars. After getting off the bus and finding a hostel, our first stop was Kelly’s Waffles for brunch. During our meal we had several people trying to sell us things (even children), which is nothing new as far as Latin America goes, but we also had some beggars literally asking for the food off our plates. It was horrifying and heart breaking at the same time. We hadn’t experienced this on our travels in Central America yet. It happened almost every meal we ate out in Granada.
We didn’t do a whole lot in Granada but I didn’t mind, I loved it there. There are several volcano hikes you can do but in the heat I couldn’t think of anything worse (or maybe I was just being lazy), you can also visit the Isletas (small islands) that were created when a volcano erupted but we all know how I feel about boats, so instead we wandered around and took in the beautiful architecture of the buildings and churches and walked down the ‘tourist strip’ which has no cars and is filled with bars, shops and restaurants. You can pay one dollar and climb up the windy spiral staircase to the top of a church that was built 280 years ago. The views of the town and the volcanoes are unreal!
Tom and I really are the worst backpackers sometimes. Whilst walking around we stumbled across a place called Mansion de Chocolate (chocolate mansion). I saw the pool and immediately wanted to see if we could pay to swim in it, I couldn’t stand the heat. They offered us a tour of the hotel and we decided to do it. Big mistake! After seeing how awesome the hotel was and how we could get a free massage and a buffet breakfast with the room, we couldn’t help ourselves and we booked a room the next night. It was heaven compared to the seedy hostel with suspicious stains on the sheets we had stayed in the night before. We spent our day lying by the pool, getting massages and hanging out in our amazing air conditioned room (air conditioning is hard to come by in Nicaragua). I would recommend checking it out if you are ever in Granada, even just for a swim in the pool or to participate in their chocolate bar making class.
After two days in Granada we took a $10 taxi 30 minutes away to Laguna de Apoyo. The Laguna was created when Volcano Apoyo imploded on itself creating a huge crater. Over the years it filled with rain water and now it is a beautiful Laguna claiming to be Central America’s cleanest lake (I believe that too!) We stayed at Hostel Paradiso which truly was as the name suggests- Paradise.
We spent the day drinking fruit smoothies filled with rum ( I had watermelon and passion fruit, so delicious!) and floating around in a tube on the glass-like lake. It was perfect. Later in the afternoon we used the hostels free kayaks and paddled out to the middle of the lake at sunset. It wasn’t until we were in the middle of the lake with 360 degree views that I could fully see that we were in the crater of a volcano. It was such a cool, surreal experience.
We only stayed one night here as we were too organised (for once) and had already pre booked and paid for our shuttle to Leon the next day. I really wished we could have stayed here a day or two more. It was beautiful and complete and utter relaxation.