Thursday, May 20, 2010

Granada: Some time as tourists

We spent the afternoon in Granada yesterday. Granada, the oldest city in Nicaragua, is really the tourist capitol of the country, with charming colonial style architecture, and is often used as a jumping off point or home base for tourists exploring other parts of Nicaragua. We didn't have a whole lot of time, so we spent most of our time in and around the central plaza, a kind of town square in Granada. I could really tell how much more it catered to North American tourists, not only by the large number of pale faces compared to Managua, but many of the prices in shops were in dollars instead of cordobas, there were many signs in English, and many of the vendors spoke a bit of English. The prices of items in shops were quite a bit more than what we could get similar things (if not the exact item) at the market here in Managua.

First we went to a cigar factory. It was within someone's home and members of the family worked there rolling the cigars. Drew enjoyed watching the people work and I was impressed by how precise their work was.

We then went to the central plaza, where one of the main attractions is the Granada Cathedral. It was originally built in 1583, but was completely destroyed by William Walker (an American who declared himself president of Nicaragua) in 1856. It was eventually rebuilt and finished around 1915.

We took a look around inside and climbed the bell tower for a great look at the city.

The San Francisco Cathedral, visible in this picture, is the oldest church in the city, built in 1529, but it also was also destroyed in the 19th century and has been rebuilt. I took this picture from the top of the bell tower in the Granada Cathedral. You can see Lake Nicaragua in the distance, beyond the church.

A view of the central plaza from inside the bell tower.

After looking around in the church and talking with a very helpful guide (who studied at Rutgers and spoke English quite well), we went in search of some food. We found a place called Kiosko el Gordo, which made me laugh. They had "platos tipicos" (typical plates - it really says that on the menu) of Nicaraguan food, so we got some gallo pinto con cerdo y ensalada (rice and beans with pork and salad). Abbey and Drew both love gallo pinto. It was served quite nicely on a banana leaf. Presentation is the key!

While wandering around the plaza, our ears lead us to a religious parade. We're not totally sure the event or holiday, if any, that was being celebrated, but it was neat to see and hear. There was a large drum corps (about one city block long), that you can listen to and see in the video below. The sound was reverberating off the concrete buildings on either side of the street, so it was quite loud!

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