After returning to Granada I spent about a day in bed trying to fully recover from my bout with food poisoning. After the second night back all the friends from my tour had left, leaving me on my own in Granada for a few more days.
It was nice to be back in a place I was familiar with. I already knew the cheapest place to get my laundry done, the greatest place for coffee, and the best spots for wifi. Being back felt comfortable.
I did a few things I had not been able to do before. One of those things was finally going to the top of La Merced Cathedral, which had the best views of the city. I can’t believe I almost didn’t do this!
I also did another walk down the streets, following a similar path as I did the first day with The Giving Lens. I focused a lot of energy on doors and windows this time. They are all so interesting and different here, not to mention colorful. Granada is the oldest city in North America and the colonial architecture is stunning.
Although I really grew to love Matagalpa, which I will discuss in future posts, I’m pretty sure Granada was my favorite city I visited through the entire trip.
Was it touristy? Yes. But I was okay with that. I also got to go outside the tourist bubble. In blogs I’ve read, a lot of people didn’t really like Granada. They thought it was too polished and too clean. One even said it was”a Disney World version of Nicaragua. They felt it catered too much to the tourists and lacked character and heart. They preferred the grittier, less touristy, more backpacker friendly city of Leon. While I enjoyed Leon and wished I could have seen more, the heat was just too much for me to take. As Disney-like as Granada may be, it was the city to win my heart.
I was okay with the fact that the Cathedral had a nice bright new yellow coat of paint and the buildings are being restored. While I didn’t always want to eat my meals on Calle Calzada, “the tourist street,” I enjoyed walking down it, seeing all the life going on. There were always street performers, people enjoying meals outside, and it just seemed to have a pulse. Maybe not an all local pulse, but a pulse none the less. Plus it had the best gelato place ever. On a hot night you just could not beat it!
Our hotel for my G tour was about a 20 minute walk from the main tourist area. When we’d go back to it at night, we would experience all the locals rocking in their chairs, deep in conversation with friends or family, out on their porches. They do this every night. It is a great way of life.
The market in Granada was one of the most exciting markets I’ve ever been to. I think it was even more interesting than Chichicastenango in Guatemala, which is know for its market. I can’t compare to the market in Leon because I didn’t make it there, but I can’t picture a place more chaotic, hectic, and fascinating.
I also felt lucky to get out of the tourist areas and go to the barrios. Spending time there was for sure some of the greatest moments of my whole trip. And it for sure was NOT Disney.
In my two visits, I spent a combined two full weeks in this city. It’s the place I spent the longest on my whole trip, and don’t regret any of my time there. Not only is the city beautiful, but there are so many great day trips to take in the area including Masaya, San Juan del Oriete, Mombacho, and Laguna de Apoyo.
Antigua, Guatemala may still be my favorite city in Central America, but Granada, which reminders me a lot of Antigua, doesn’t fall too far behind. Granada, my heart is yours and I hope to return to you again someday.
“Chasing the Sun” – Sara Bareilles