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Granada (Nicaragua)

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Granada is the oldest colonial city in Nicaragua and the entire Western Hemisphere, it is also the all-time-rival of Leon. It is located on the north west side of the Lago Cocibolca. Its colored colonial buildings, interesting history and relative safety make it an important tourism destination.

Get in

By plane

Fly to Managua (the capital of Nicaragua) and from there make your way by bus (every half hour from Mercado Huembes or the La UCA station) or taxi (around $35 from the airport depending on your bargaining skills). As an alternative, you can take an air con shuttle for $15 from the airport to Granada. In most cases, the shuttle will deliver you to any point in Granada. There is a tourist information counter as soon as you clear immigration. Ask the polite representative and she´ll point you to a reputable shuttle service. The trip by taxi or shuttle is about 40 minutes. Another option may be to fly to the Liberia Airport over the border in Costa Rica, but it would involve about 5 hours of travel and a border crossing. Rental cars are not allowed to cross the border, but agencies will arrange for car swaps and pickups on the other side of the border. Managua is by far your best option.

There is a small airport a few miles from Granada on the highway to Masaya. The airport was served only by Nature Air, which offered flights from San Jose and Liberia, Costa Rica, the flights have been suspended until further notice (due to lack of passengers).

By train

The old train that once existed was shut down during the era of Violeta Chamorro. So, no, there's no possibility to take any train to get there. Nevertheless, you can have the chance to visit the old train station, which is used as a technical school sponsored by the Spanish Cooperation.

By car

Yes you can get there by rental car, which is often really expensive to hire, since imported cars are expensive too and the risk of theft is high. Some of the principal highways are in good condition, however potholes and other obstacles can surprise you, so be alert. Secondary roads range from ok to horrendous. The roads from the airport are good, then rather bad, then good - on the most direct route.

From Costa Rica, take the Panamerican Highway, which leads from San José through Liberia, the border crossing at Penas Blancas, first bigger town in Nicaragua is Rivas, after Nandaime take a right onto the Granada-Nandaime road. Look for Granada-related signs.

By bus

Buses are available from Managua on a quarter-hour basis from 5AM to 10PM (US$1). Granada is easily reached by first-class buses from neighboring Costa Rica and Honduras.

From Costa Rica

There are two main options, either take the chicken buses which costs half the prize (10 US) and fuzz your way through, experience a lot of interesting sights and the heat or hop on one of the (often agonizingly) air conditioned coaches, which are comfortable, take you there in about 8-10 hours (bordercrossing might take a while, and you will have to deboard the bus twice for passports and customs) and cost US$20. The best options going from Costa Rica to Nicaragua are Central Line, TransNica and Ticabus [1]. Back from Granada to Costa Rica you might as well take the Tica Bus or NICABUS. Just ask any taxi driver in whatever city you are in to take you to the Nica or TICABUS-station.

From Managua, direct shuttles leave from the UCA terminal (University of Central America) for around C 18 or from Mercado Huembes. From Leon, catch a direct Leon-Managua-UCA shuttle for C 25.

From Honduras

From Tegucigalpa, you can also get the TICA bus, which leaves daily around 9AM for Managua, for around US$20. Then take another bus (at a different station), or taxi, to Granada.

By boat

There's a boat running twice a week from San Carlos via Ometepe to Granada and back. It leaves San Carlos at Tuesday and Friday at 2 pm.

Get around

Granada is a small city; everything can comfortably be reached by foot.

By taxi

Local taxis work on set prices : 7-10 Cordobas by day and at night after 9 pm 15-20 Cordobas per person, wherever you go within the towns borders.

By bus

Buses (old stylish US or Canadian schoolbuses) go just about everywhere at about every time, you see them and if you slightly look like anybody wanting to go anywhere, be sure they'll load you on their bus. Another option are the mini busses which have a bit more set time and you can book in advance, they're more comfortable but cost a bit more.

By coche

Horse-drawn carriages, known as coches, are something else, ancient and useful and found everywhere but often the horses are so worn out that you should seriously ask yourself if you want to contribute to their suffering.

By boat

Granada's islets are not to be missed, and the way to see them is by boat. Boat tours leave from Puerto Asese, about 5-10 minutes from downtown by taxi.

See

Do

Learn

There are several low-budget Spanish-schools in Granada, the local Red Cross is a good option to go (The Web page of the School located there is at: http://www.granadanicaraguaspanishschool.com), since you can buy 1 on 1 Spanish lessons from them and so support them. For more options look around for flyers.

There are local guides too, that will show you around town or the area and tell you of the interesting history of Granada, one is called Gioconda, a very nice lady, that always takes her little traditional dress and umbrella around town, she sits everyday in front of the Hospedaje Central. Her office is at Cafeteria Taza Blanca - Tel 552 2876 or mobile phone 874 7822.

Work

There are volunteer-opportunities. See it at "Do".

Local hostels and foreign-owned shops are sometimes looking for English-speaking people, well underpaid normally though.

Buy

Granada is known around the world for its high quality rocking chairs which can be seen all around town. The main vendor's a bit out of town on the road to Masaya.

If you want to go cheaper, there's the option to buy local and famous Nicaraguan pottery, which you can buy in town (very nice choice: Dona Conchy's, a restaurant which also has a little sweet store in the back, where they sell very nice pottery, handmade by the owner), but the better option is to go to Masaya where there's a bigger choice and the prices are lower.

Also very typical are the hammocks, there are tons of hammock stores and factories in Masaya, but you can also get them in town for a bit more money.

Eat

There's tons of street-vendors, selling Hot-Dogs, revueltas, carne asada, or local specialties such as Gallopinto (Rice & Beans), Fried Plaintains, Nacatamales, Bajo (yuka, plantain, beef mix). You can have it all between 1 and 15 Cordobas. But keep in mind that the standard of cleanliness can vary. The local specialty is Vigoron: cabbage, tomatoes, onions, and fried pork rind (or roast pork) on mashed yuka for C 25 from the kiosks in the parque central. Great value (provided you are not a vegetarian).

Budget

Splurge

Drink

Great drinks can be purchased from local vendors at the corner in Parque Central, such as linenseed-drink, or red beet drink or anything else, completely overloaded with sugar mostly though. Nice alternative: The local "Cacao" drink, milk and powdered Chocolate beans, but not quite like hot chocolate, available in most coffees. Also "Raspados" are very delicious and usually have vendors around the Central Park. A few bars worth mentioning:

And then of course, the local coffee!! You have the biggest range, organic, shadegrown, fair trade...

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Contact

Internet -- up to 20 cord./hour.

Stay safe

Nicaragua was rated the safest country in Central America, however, minor gang violence has been filtering into Nicaragua from Honduras and El Salvador. The capital, Managua, has the largest number of inhabitants but the majority of crime there is petty theft. Granada, the second largest city, is generally safe but using common sense and always walking with someone else at night here and everywhere else in the country is recommended.

In Granada, the moneychangers are licensed and provide a terrific alternative to the banks.

Cope

Social workers in Granada strongly advice to not give money or food to begging children. In Granada the homeless situation is not nearly as severe as in other poor cities. Orphanages and charity organizations take care of homeless children, and poor people have access to charity kitchens. The kids that beg and sell items to tourists do this to make easy money, and are being exploited by adults. Anything you give to these children keeps them from the place they belong: in school. [6], [7], [8]

Power outages, if they do occur now, are generally brief, scheduled, and necessary while improvements are made to the infrastructure. Occasionally inclement weather will create an outage, as you'd expect anywhere

Do not drink the tap water as it will make you sick. Also, make sure when you buy bottled water that the top has not been opened because some people without scruples will fill the bottles with tap water. A common mistake is to forget to ask that the ice in your drink is also purified.

You must also be careful with the insects-be sure to bring repellent as Nicaragua does have malaria. This is especially a concern during the wet season.

Related Information



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A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [9].

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