Colour and colonialism

by Alison, 13/04/2014

While we were in Nicaragua, we weren't really focused on seeing towns. We wanted golden sands, blue skies and waves. However it can be hard to stop being a tourist and when the surf got small we took a side trip to Granada. 

Granada is a small city with a long history. It is one of the oldest cities in the New World. It contains Central America's oldest church. It has been sacked by pirates four times, razed to the ground by an American named William Walker and rebuilt numerous times. Amazingly this does not mean that the city is dull, with little or no architectural integrity. Instead the city is alive and vibrant and while it may not be the trading hub it once was, as a tourist it is an easy, enjoyable escape. 

Accomodation wise you can spend what you like in Granada. From cheap hostels to fancy hotels the choice is yours. As we had left most of our belongings at the beach, we choose the Bearded Monkey hostel. Housed in a faded colonial building, built around a central court yard it offers clean, basic beds for $5 in a dorm. If you are organised enough to have a hammock you can also hang that up in the court-yard for even less.

As I mentioned Granada is small. I think to stay here for any length of time you would need to either have a purpose such as attending language school, working, to have a much better understanding of Nicaraguan history or to use it as a base to explore the neighbouring areas. For us,  two days and one night let us explore everywhere we wanted to in plenty of time. When it comes to transport, as far as we are concerned don't listen to the guide books. There is no need to take the horse-drawn carriages that are constantly rattling by you. In fact it seems pretty cruel to take one, as many of the horses look little more then skin and bone. Instead take shank's pony and wander the city. 

Like most cities there are cultural and historical sites to visit. We visited the Convento y Meseo San Francisco and the Iglesia de La Merced. 

However I've got to admit my favourite activities was just strolling the city, people watching and soaking up the colour.  

When you get tired of walking you can take a boat out on Lake Nicaragua and explore Las Isletes, an archipelago of about 365 islands. These beautiful island are traditional home to some of the poorest neighbourhoods in Granada. Though they are being slowly ousted by the wealthiest families in the country.

A couple of days in Granda were a perfect way to re-engergise and have you longing to get back to the golden sands and warm waters.

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