After being chased away from Isla de Ometepe by the threat of hurricane Otto (a threat that never manifested, for us a least) we were back in Granada but for more than a night this time. The hostel we wanted to stay in was now open but as it is actually a bit outside Granada we had part of our first day to hang around the city until the free shuttle arrived. We found a place to leave our bags and off we went to explore León’s sister city!
After being a bit let down by León, I had high hopes for Granada. We spent that first afternoon wandering around the Central Park and taking in the stalls and the impressive cathedral on one side. Eventually it was time for the shuttle to our treehouse hostel on the side of Volcán Mombacho!
I’d heard many things about Treehouse, one that it knows how to throw a party and another that by the end of your stay the staff feels like family. By the end of my stay I’d seen both of these to be true. We spent a whole day just chilling in treehouse and three nights partying away and when it came time to say goodbye to all the people who had looked after us, it was hugs and Facebook requests all round.
Despite not actually staying in Granada versus being right in the centre of León I felt like I got a better feel for Granada. It is definitely the more touristy of the two and you can tell – cleaner streets, a fresher facade, and gringos everywhere. Saying this, there is a surprising lack of tourist activities in the city. You can of course visit the gorgeous mustard yellow and burnt red cathedral or climb the tower at Iglesias de la Merced to get incredible views over the city but otherwise you mostly have to look to the surrounding area – Las Isletas in Lago de Nicaragua, Volcán Mombacho or Laguna de Apoyo. Overall I enjoyed my visit to Granada more than to León.
However, if asked which city I would prefer to live in my answer would be León. For me it has a more lived in feel and was made for the people rather than the tourists. As tourism has increased in Nicaragua León has stayed true to its roots as a political hub, full of pride and energy and has a lot more to it than meets the eye.
We did León in a bit of a rush, with only one morning to actually just wander around the city with the rest of our time taken up by going to the beach or volcano boarding. Our plan now is to go back for a few days on our way to Utila in Honduras for Christmas and I’m excited to have another chance to dig through the surface and see more of León, something I think is part of the city’s charm.
After Granada we headed to near by Laguna de Apoyo, a crater lake where we planned to stay just one night. However in our usual flexible style we ended up staying four nights, partly because we loved it there so much and partly because Lucy managed to get her volcano boarding wound infected and needed an extra day to recover.
Our hostel at Apoyo was called Paradiso and that basically sums up my feelings about it. Lazy days of swimming, kayaking, watching incredible sunrises and sunsets and enjoying good food at their restaurant – I’m actually surprised we left at all!
One night we ventured over to Volcán Masaya, the only place in the world where you can get as close to actual lava. Yep, actual lava. You can’t see too much because of the angle of the crater and the pictures definitely don’t do it justice but it’s one of those experience you don’t need pictures for. It was incredible.
When we could finally drag ourselves away from Laguna de Apoyo and Hotel Paradiso I couldn’t be sad for long because our next stop was… COSTA RICA!!! I feel like we definitely ended our time in Nicaragua on a high, with one of our favourite places so far. Nicaragua has treated us (and our bank accounts) very well and we will definitely be back – Sunday Funday in San Juan del Sur and León round 2 await us!