Granada is tourist home-base for most visitors to Nicaragua. With three days we decided to spend our time wandering the streets of the old colonial city, kayaking, and eating. Mostly, of course, eating. And while Nicaragua is isn’t known for its culinary scene, and there aren’t many places to get good local food, we found what is available to be absolutely delicious. Granada is also relatively compact, making walking the best option for seeing all the city has to offer.
On our first day we hit the pavement to explore, and orient ourselves. We had the best intentions to leave early to avoid the heat. We were, as usual, unsuccessful. I’m not sure why, after all of our trips we still think we’re immune to heat. But, just as we did in Bagan and Bangkok we wandered dusty streets in the peak heat of the day. At least this time, we were spared heat sickness.
Our wanderings took us to the old defunct train-yard, which having not been used for a few decades has been repurposed into a private events catering site. Teenagers, evidently, also like to mill around the outside, as they tend to do. If there’s any grand over generalizations about the similarities of this world, I believe teenagers, for the most part, world over to be evidence of our global likeness. The train station “hooligans” we’re no exception.
From there we found our way to Inglesia la Merced to look out over the brightly covered rooftops of the city.
By this time, the weather had bested us. The heat, dehydration, and generally not being used to being in the sun caused us to seek shelter. Amongst our other skills, besides being unable to explore a city at a more reasonable hour to avoid extreme heat, is having the foresight to locate the cities best expat cafes. For those days where you just want a proper cappuccino, salad, or confection. And so we headed directly for Expresionista across from Inglesia Xalteva. Complete with high ceilings, boutique coffee and ice cream, and free ice water, this place seemed a sort of delicious heaven. We sipped cappuccinos and iced earl grey tea, we ate flatbread and chili-chocolate ice cream. Alex caught up on the most recent addition of Monocle.
We used to feel guilt about this sort of extravagant venture, as if we ought to exclusively visit establishments serving up local fare. But, then we got over it. On a hot day, when low blood sugar threatens to lash out, expat cafes prove the perfect respite.
After recovering we visited the central market, where we dined on vigorón-a local dish made of slaw atop cassava. Whatever they’re putting in the slaw here, I want to know-because I could easily, and happily, eat my weight in the stuff.
The last stop on the walking tour was the cemetery. I normally hate visiting cemeteries, for obvious reasons. But the guide book suggested this one was not to be missed, and indeed, it was something. Never have I seen such grandiose graves, truly, some of them were as large as homes. I realize that the locks on some of them are to prevent theft, but all I could imagine s what they were trying to keep in. And with that, we headed back to the hotel for a much needed siesta.
On our second day we paddled ourselves around the Isletas outside of Granada. Though the clouds above Mombacho threatened to release their contents, our morning was spent pleasantly dry meandering about the small islands and talking with our guide, much about the new canal. Of course, it is wrought with a history of corruption, war, and general disagreement. Years later, it is finally being built, heather or not this is a good thing, of course, is yet to be determined.
Other than these two active ventures we didn’t accomplish much else, other than indulging in siesta, evening glasses of white wine with sweating glasses slick with the evening humidity, and of course, eating as much as possible. We ate carne asaday y gallo pinto at Platos Typicos, churrasco at Zaguan, and whole fish at Las Colinas Del Sur. The last of which is a dirt floor restaurant just outside of city center. Luckily for us, they are willing to come pick up diners at their hotel. The fish, is frightening. I asked Alex to keep the face away from me until after we ate. But it was, incredible. For all my foodie adventurousness I’ve generally shied away from whole fish, which is, I’ve realized, totally absurd.
Our time in Granada, though short was an excellent introduction to the country. It was also our only time we’d be entirely independent as the next two stops are out of the way resorts where you tend to not leave, or if you do, it’s on a guided excursion. So Granada was a much needed part of our trip, before we handed control of our vacation over to other (capable) hands.