Granada, Masaya Market & Managua international airport
by, 03-21-2013 at 11:01 AM (786 Views)
The last time we visited Granada, Nicaragua was 10 years ago on a day trip from Costa Rica & there were very few tourists mostly of the backpacker variety, few restaurants and few shops. In the past 10 years there have been many changes! There are now vendors in the central park, new hotels & restaurants & colonial homes being renovated. Granada is becoming a vibrant city and I predict in another 10 years (or less), it well be as visited as Antigua, Guatemala & Cuzco, Peru.
There are many places to sit and people watch, dine or have a cool, refreshing drink. Restaurants are plentiful and cover all price ranges. Not many artisan shops in town you will need to go to Masaya market for handicrafts but there are a few in town there are some nice leather goods shops in Granada, however, I thought they were a bit pricey.
The city has the traditional Spanish colonial feel like Antigua & Cuzco but without the indigenous populations that make Antigua & Cuzco so much more colorful. There are quite a few hotels that could easily be Luxury Link packages we visited the Hotel Dario which is in an old renovated colonial mansion and the La Gran Francia which is also housed in a restored colonial building and bills itself as a colonial boutique hotel. Both are very nice with the La Gran Francia seeming to be the more upscale of these two. The Francia has 21 rooms decorated to preserve the original charm & style of the Spanish colonial period. The pub used to be a 19th century jail very cool with old leg irons hanging near the entrance. The Dario is similar in style but appears to be a bit less upscale. I would stay in either place.
Masaya market is about 20 minutes outside of Granada and is housed in an old Spanish colonial fort. Handicrafts abound, especially beautiful baskets and wood crafts. Lots of oil and watercolor paintings but they tend to be much more pricey than other paintings in markets around Central & South America. Vendors for the most part will bargain but not as easily as in other Latin American handicraft markets. We did purchase some baskets, wooden bowls, splurged on an oil painting and of course the hubby got lots of coffee! Both Granada and Masaya market are an easily arranged day trip from Jicaro Eco Lodge.
I thought this blog would be a good place to mention the international airport I like it! I am one of those people who like airports that have not been renovated and homogenized to look like every other airport in the USA. It reminds me of the way the international airport in Guatemala City used to be like before they modernized it. When you enter the Managua airport there are check in stations for the various airlines, numerous vendors selling, coffee, handicrafts, chocolate, etc. all before you even get to security. Security was pretty easy and the security folks are very friendly. No huge body scanners like most US airports have now just the old fashioned walk through scanner and the hand held scanners. I did not have to take my shoes off but my husband did I am not even sure if they even noticed I had shoes on ;-) Once through security, there are more vendors, little eateries, pubs and a private smoking lounge. At the gate there was another brief security check of your carryon baggage nothing at all like our experience in Costa Rica last year! I hope this airport does not change too much when tourism starts to increase. They have all the necessary modern conveniences clean bathrooms, neat little shops and friendly workers. We found it a nice airport to hang around in while waiting for our flight I think they have a VIP lounge but we did not even bother to look for it since we were having too much fun just wandering around the place.
Link to our pictures for this blog