Our chosen city for three days.
And what a good choice.
I would thoroughly recommend anyone passing this side of the world to make a pit-stop in this gloriously decaying, yet aristocratic, city.
Located along the coast of Lake Nicaragua, Granada was founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba and is supposedly the first European city in mainland America. It is a city with a rich colonial heritage as seen in its architecture: the renovations of buildings today have to follow colonial methods and materials wherever possible. Historically, Granada is important both economically and politically: for example, it was here that William Walker attempted to take control of Central America as a ruling president.
It is the fifth most populated city in Nicaragua, with approximately 120,000 residents; that is roughly half the population of Southampton. Restaurants are plentiful and cheap; our meals came in at roughly $40 which included 2 or 3 beers and fizzy drinks for the kids. In fact one day, DH took pity on one of the many child beggars that patrol the streets, and bought him lunch while we were eating ours. He was thankful and polite, but to be honest, he was more interested in ES, whom he believed to play for Chelsea!
|Our Lunch Date.|
Food is good, not unlike Mexican in its spiciness; hard for YS though, who often finds a sprinkling of black pepper a bit on the fiery side.
Tourism is high on the agenda, with a number of Europeans, especially French, choosing to have holiday homes here. In fact we spotted an international superstar taking a quick holiday before his busy season started. No sign of his Red-Nosed colleague though!
|Santa Claus Spotted Outside an Irish Pub in Granada!|
Like all good tourists, we secured a pony and trap ride around the city. It cost us $20 for nearly 2 hours - money well spent, unlike the 80 Euros for a 20 minute trip around Palma de Mallorca a few years back. Our guide was very proud of his city and its heritage and appeared to be very honoured to show us around.
|Our Transport for the Afternoon.|
There are a number of large, major churches in Granada, but a great many more can be found along the brightly coloured streets. One of the oldest in Central America itself is Iglesia Merced, known to the Nica's (Nicaraguans) as La Merced. It was founded in 1534. You can pay $1 to climb the bell tower and get amazing views of the city and beyond.
|Rooftops from La Merced|
|View of the Cathedral from La Merced|
|I want these tiles!!|
We declined a tour of the factory although we did inquire about purchasing some tiles at a later date: Ernestina, the sales woman, frowned, sniffed and turned her nose up at us, displaying some of the much-heard about raciscm between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Apparently, the Tico's look down upon the Nica's because they see them as poor and of lower class; to be tagged a Nica is quite a derogatory insult in CR. In contrast, the Nica's dislike the Tico's, stating that they are snobby and snooty. Seems all around the world there are North/South divisions!
Anyway, it is all very amusing to DH and I as foreigners, because from what we have seen so far of these two countries, Granada is far superior to any of the urban areas that we have visited in CR. Even the people, in general, look like they take better care of themselves than they do in CR: not so many fat little bellies caused by too much of the beloved fried chicken!! I found the women to be more attractive, better dressed and well presented; DH called them 'Gringo Grabbers', which may or may not be true. A certain sort of grace can be found within the vicinity and its people.
Of course, Granada is an exception to the rule: Nicaragua is among the poorest countries in the Americas and nearly 48% of its 6 million people live below the poverty line, many surviving on just $2 a day. No wonder so many Nica's travel to CR and will undertake hard labour for just $20 a day, a wage that most Tico's won't get out of bed for. And as for the politics ... I think I will leave that issue well alone!
But politics and economics aside, Granada really is a very alluring and enchanting locality, one we would all be happy to visit again.
|The Dario Hotel set in an old Colonial Mansion.|
|Entrance to the Dario|
|Most of the Colonial Buildings contain enticing courtyards, like this one at the Dario Hotel.|
|Streets are lined with rainbow-coloured buildings.|
|San Francisco Church|
|The Courtyard within the San Francisco Church|
|The Cathedral Dome from the pedestrian-only tree-lined boulevard in Granada.|
|The Cathedral dominates the Granada's Main Square.|
|A more subdued church.|