Granada, the jewel of Nicaragua

Granada has been a godsend. My days here have saved my Nicaragua experience. I am incredibly glad that past-Erin and past-Nick had the foresight to change plans and allocate more time to this beautiful city. And it is quite beautiful. Finally, FINALLY I have found my place in Nicaragua with surroundings that make my heart sing, cheap and varied street food, and excellent company.

Granada claims to be the first European city in mainland America, founded in 1524 by Francisco Cordoba. Filled with brightly colored churches and buildings, it is a candy-colored treat of a colonial city.

The cathedral.

Rainy Parque Central during one of the brief afternoon downpours.

The main bar street that is always bustling at night.

Iglesia de Xalteva.

Iglesia de la Merced.

View from Iglesia de la Merced bell tower, looking west.

Me, up in the tower, looking east towards the cathedral.

The lobby of my gorgeous Granada hostel, the aptly named Oasis.
An awesome place to stay, they had it all, including a killer free pancake breakfast.

Time for a day trip, chicken busing it to Masaya to check out the market.
Promenade to the shore of Lake Nicaragua.

Cemetery walk! Inspired by fourth of July conversations and reminders about myself.
Strolling amongst the gravestones.

Another mark to me of a city I will love? Finding a top-notch bookstore. In Granada, the best by far is Lucha Libro, kitty-corner from the Garden Cafe. They have a shelf of mostly classics that are 3 for $10 that completely destroyed my current pack weight. Headed for some long travel days and a week on an island, I bought eight.

“Best Bookstore in Central America”
Lucho Libro from the street. Painting credit Joe Kaknes, via Lucha Libro’s facebook page.

And of course, my favorite, the food. I only ate in a restaurant once in Granada because the street food with so good, cheap, and plentiful. Lots of fried little tidbits with cheese, chicken, beans, or rice with the canonical Nicaraguan cabbage slaw on top.

These things don’t look like much but they are awesome. About fifty cents for like an empanada stuffed with rice, beans, and chicken with slaw and hot sauce. One of my faves from the street.

Hot masa and cheese pancakes for $0.20 each.

Lunch at the Masaya market. This plate–with steak–cost about $1.50, plus $0.20 for an avocado.

Nicaraguan version of an enchilada, with a side of fried cheese, $1.

Time for a little dulce… is piña really supposed to be red though?

Quesillos: thin slices of queso fresco heated in a tortilla then topped with cream and hot sauce. 

Munchin’ a quesillo. Que rico!

Looking all “travely”, lunching in Parque Central with multiple books in hand.
Ten minutes later the sky opened up and it pissed rain.

$2 lunch close up! Pork, rice and beans, slaw, pickled veg, and tortillas.
I still have no idea what type of fruit that juice is from…

My one restaurant meal: travel buddy date night. 🙂 Piña coladas and DNMs ensued.

I took a final day walk around town with two of my bestest–and also fantastically most frequent–travel buddies Nick (Lake Atitlan, Lanquin, Utila, San Pedro Sula, Leon, Ometepe, Granada) and Joanne (Xela, Antigua, Lanquin, Caye Caulker, Punta Gorda, La Ceiba, Utila, Leon, Granada). Just coming up with this list made me realize: EVERY PLACE I have been over the past three and a half months–save two combined weeks in Flores, Ambergris Caye, San Ignacio, and Roatan–I have seen one of the two of them! It is a small, small gringo trail. Luckily I’m in good company.

Picking up strays along the lakefront.

An offer of ice cream; sharing is a very important quality in a travel buddy.

*HEART.* May our paths cross another another adventure soon!

And with that, I wish Nicaragua a fond farewell. I will miss Granada and you guys! Much love! ❤

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