A friend of mine just booked a trip to Granada and he emailed with a few questions about the place. It struck me after a few responses I sent that the information therein might actually be useful to other people, so I’m pasting my email responses below. I’ve cut out some conversational nonsense that’s not really relevant.
WARNING: NSFW language that I’m too lazy to edit out, and because…well…they’re just words. Stick n’ stones and all that.
Make sure you ride a chicken bus while you’re there. You can get a private driver to shuttle between towns for pretty damn cheap but a chicken bus is a cool experience for sure. Just make sure you’re not on a tight schedule because they stop for anyone on the highway waving their arms around.
Here are some links to places:
Art Hotel in Managua, should you need to stay in Managua. Amazing people and service:
Our friends Shane and Carina’s restaurant Bocadillos:
Nectar, the other restaurant they own:
Imagine Bar y Restaurante. The guy Kevin who owns this place is cool as hell. I played several acoustic shows there and he sat in. Great guitar player:
The places to shop are:
Local markets for cheap produce and staples.
La Colonia – basically their version of an H.E.B.
Pali – basically their version of a really run down H.E.B.
Super Pali – their version of a less run down H.E.B. (Pali is actually owned by Walmart, believe it or not.)
Sinsa – their version of Home Depot
I can’t believe I forgot to mention The Garden Cafe…
The food is great, they have live music on occasion and Damien and his wife are totally cool artsy folks. I seriously ate and hung out there every day. They are right across the street from the Imagine Restaurante y Bar I mentioned. They also have a very nice room to rent which was the first place we ever stayed at in Nica.
There are plenty of bars and restaurants along La Calzada (the main drag that runs between Lake Nicaragua and the Cathedral / Central Park) and within a few blocks that are awesome. It’s basically the tourist spot. Here’s a list of all the places in the area we liked to hang at, some of which I’ve mentioned already:
The Garden Cafe (the owner Damien and his wife are cool folks, although we never really hung out.)
Bocadillos (owned by friends Shane and Carina)
Nectar (owned by friends Shane and Carina)
El Camelo (indian style food.)
Kathy’s Waffle House (amazing breakfast shit)
Tip Top (this is like a chain chicken restaurant there…like a cross between Chic-fil-A and KFC. really fucking good as fast food goes actually.)
El Zaguan (a bit pricey but the best fucking steaks you’re going to get in Granada.)
Mona Lisa Pizza (fucking awesome pizza and cool staff)
Tele Pizza (another good pizza joing, but I prefer Mona Lisa)
Lots of other little places I can’t think of now. On Calle el Martirio (Martirio Street) where we lived there’s a Chinese Food restaurant in a green building that starts selling some traditional Nica food on the streets at night and around the corner from that someone always sets up a huge grill on the sidewalk and grills amazing chicken all night.
Unfortunately, I can’t really give you addresses for these places above or below because there are no addresses in Nicaragua. The “addresses” for places are literally just something like “The yellow house on Calle el Martirio 2.5 kilometers South of the Cathedral.” Amazingly we always got our mail.
There’s also a place there on La Calzada that does the Mambacho volcano tours (and other tours).That’s who we booked our volcano tour with. It was just us and a guide named Alex who was cool as shit. You can hike it like we did, or take a tour bus up. If you have the manhood to pull it off I suggest the hike…it’s fucking brutal (45 degrees up on cobblestones in the tropics for 3 miles) but it’s awesome. About 2/3 of the way up you stop at a coffee plantation. I think they also book day / weekend trips to other places like San Juan del Sur, Massaya, etc. You can also go volcano boarding, but we didn’t do this. Basically you get a snowboard and ski down the volcano…might be a different volcano, though.
Going in various directions from Central Park (where the big yellow cathedral is) you can find the big city market with all kinds of local shit, a “chicken” bus depot, a hardware store, and even a “music” store…they sell tons of shit but also guitar strings and stuff. From Central Park you can also catch a horse carriage ride around the city with the driver giving historical info, buy a bunch of touristy junk, and book a 1-2 hour boat tour of the lake,which is pretty cool because it’s a huge fucking lake with lots of little islands.
You’re phone probably won’t work there, but you can get a pre-paid SIM card or even a temporary flip phone for super cheap from one of the two major mobile companies there: Claro or Movistar. I’ve had both and while Claro is the larger company I think, Movistar was better for mobile phone service.