Day 2 - Granada
The next morning we woke up and found that the shower had no hot water - only tepid which took a little getting used to first but since it was generally so hot outside it felt kind of refreshing.
We went downstairs for breakfast (fresh fruit, juice, coffee and a huge croissant with butter and jam) and found that when paying for or beers the night before "seis" was our room number and since the beers were only $1 each the guard left our change with the owners. This was a good first impression on the honesty of the hotel employees.
Victor, the hotel owner, gave us a map of the city and pointed out some places that he thought we would enjoy along with where we were located, a quiet side street just off Calle Xalteva and 3 blocks from the central plaza and cathedral. We then set out towards the cathedral but took a wrong turn on Calle Xalteva and ended up going the opposite way. We stopped at a park across from Iglesia Xalteva to get our bearings and some school girls posed for our first photo.
We decided to keep walking and head to the Fortaleza La Polvora. According to the guide book it was built in 1748 to protect the city's gun power supply from Pirates. Later Somoza's National guard used it as a military post and jail. When we arrived the gate was locked but a man inside was doing some gardening and let us in. We walked around and climbed two of the guard towers for a great view of the city.
where they stored the gunpowder
view from the guard tower
We then made our way east towards the center of town, stopping to watch some kids play baseball in a park before going in the Inglesia de la Merced which was built in 1534. We walked around inside the church and then and paid $1 each to climb to the top of the bell tower for an even more incredible view of the city.
Kat in the Bell Tower
From there we walked to the central park where there were lots of people selling things and offering tours, horse carriage rides, etc. It was pretty hot but there was a nice breeze coming from the east over the lake - we definitely needed a beer so we made our way to the Zoom Bar that was recommended in the Lonely Planet guide. We had a few Victorias (our favorite) and met a few of the local ex-pats including Bill who was originally from Seattle by way of New York and is now living on an island in the Isletas in Lake Nicaragua. After a few beers we walked down to the lake and then back into town and got some really good Italian meat combo sandwiches at the Garden Cafe which is a pretty sweet spot for lunch. In the central park we saw La Gigantona - a Nicaraguan tradition where a giant lady is paraded down the street and dances with a big headed dwarf called El Cabezon the accompaniment of drummers. La Gigantona is supposed to be a tall Spanish lady, and El Cabezon represents the native Nicaraguan, shorter, but much more clever.
Since it was so hot out we needed some more liquid refreshments and headed back to Zoom to sample the Flor de Cana. We then met Cat and Tom from England who had been traveling the world.
After a few too many drinks we made our way back to the hotel for a short nap and shower before we headed out to find somewhere to eat dinner. The main street, Calle La Calzada, east of the park is blocked off to vehicles and restaurants set up tables in the street. We went to Nectar for a drink along with some chips and salsa. Nectar is a pretty sweet bar with some nice ambiamnce inside but we wanted to sit outside and enjoy some people watching. Lots of kids would walk by and try to sell us stuff - on past trips I would always tell them "yo ya tengo" which translates to "I already have one" and would then usually be left alone - some wouldn't take no for an answer. One kid made us a pretty neat grasshopper and a heart with an arrow going through it out of leaves - it was pretty cool so I gave him $1.
For dinner we ended up at El Zaguan, a steak house behind the cathedral, where we had some great fire grilled steaks, along with wine, bread, and salad for $40.
It was still pretty early so we went back to Zoom bar for some more beers - on the streets there was a live band and some kids break dancing which was kind of weird to see them do without any hip hop to accompany their moves. At Zoom we met one of the bartenders who used to live in the states but was enjoying his night off - he hooked us up with free beers and we had a good time watching the show outside. We finally stumbled back to our hotel at 11pm and hit the sack