Granada is the oldest colonial city in Nicaragua. It is located on the north west side of Lake Nicaragua. Its coloured colonial buildings, interesting history and relative safety make it a popular tourist destination.
Tourism & Poverty
Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere (Haiti being first). Granada as a city therefore, has very visable poverty. We were saddened not only by the beggars & young prostitutes, but shocked by the street kids (boys). We have contacted several of the charities here to see if we can get involved.
April 12 was Intl Day for Streetchildren. To help get this issue raised Worldwide at UN please see the following Petition
History & Places to See
Named after its namesake in Spain, the city is a wealth of history. There are at least 7 churches plus the Cathedral worth a visit. La Merced is one of the oldest. We wanted to climb the belfry to see the view at sunset. We duly paid our $1 each, however the stairs were only shoulder width & I wimped out due to vertigo in the first 5 mins, leaving Colin to go ahead with my camera for the photos below:
Places to Stay
We stayed in one of the oldest houses in Granada, built in 1824 with a rich heritage of two previous President owners. That’s the positive side, on the flip, is that old houses come with dodgy plumbing, wiring & cockroaches; which we had run over the bed at night (makes sleeping a little disturbed).
The house is on a prime spot right on the famous square, with outside cafes & horse drawn carriages (which we didn’t try, due to the poor ‘bags of bones’ which pull them).
Attractions to Visit
One of the places listed to visit is the chocolate factory. This turned out to be disappointing. It is inside the Granada Spa Hotel & is little more than info boards telling you the history & plugging a tour they do to a cocoa farm. The hotel does have a nice pool, open to the public.
Doña Elba Cigars
One place mentioned only briefly in the guides, is Dońa Elba Cigars. I really wanted to visit, despite knowing nothing about cigars. It was well worth a visit. A small family business (only 5 workers), they welcome you in at no charge to see cigars being made. We were both offered a free sample (we accepted one out of politeness) & told we could sit in their cigar lounge to enjoy. Both of us felt a little embarrassed, as non smokers, at their hospitality. For a cigar smoker, this place would be a dream come true. They are lovely people, who made us feel v welcome, despite not buying any cigars.
Cafe de las Sonrisas
Another place definitely worth a visit is the Cafe de las Sonrisas (cafe of smiles). Set up by the Tio Antonio Foundation & staffed entirely by the deaf. Menus are pictorial & there are sign language cards to help you order. Also on site is a hammock business which creates work for people with other disabilities & who previously lived on the streets. See Smiles Cafe Video The hammocks are beautiful. Shame we don’t have room in our backpacks.