Day 1 - Arrival and begin the tour through Nicaragua

Published: March 15th 2011
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We arrived today in Managua around 11:30AM and we met Ana and Arturo with most of Arturo's family at the airport. The flight in was mainly uneventful, although we did get to see Cuba from the plane and got a picture of the coastline. We were then taen onto the bus and driven to the InterContinental Real MetroCenter in Managua. The hotel is very nice and up to the standards you would expect from the InterContinental.

After checking in and dropping off our bags we went back to the lobby to begin our tour to Masaya. Our tour guide was Christian, who is a German native living in Nicaragua for over 15 years. He is a great guy and very friendly. Highly recommend him. Our first stop on the way to Masaya was the supermarket to pick up supplies. This consisted mainly of a cooler filled with Tona and Victoria. Two great local brands of beer from Nicaragua.

As we drove through the streets of Managua we noticed it was very similar to most Caribbean island nations and other South and Central American Countries. The people are very friendly and nice, but there is a lot of poverty.

Our first official stop was at a local restaurant in the mountains near Volcan Masaya for lunch. It was a nice little place with spectacular views of the tree tops and surrounding mountains. Ana and Arturo took the lead and ordered a bunch of platters to share amongst all of us.

One of the more surprising dishes they had was fried chicken. This had to be the best fried chicken I have eaten. There was also a lot of local dishes such as yuca, chicharrones freshly made, sausages, cheeses, tortillas, morsillas (which were also amazing), and all kinds of other things like ropa vieja. To finish off the meal we had tres leches, which was so moist and delicious. If all the meals are like this we are in for one very good foodie week.

After the great lunch, which defnitely helped get us ready for the rest of the day, we went to a look out point above Lago Apoyo. The views from this little place was gorgeous as it allows you to take in the views of this great lake that once used to be one of the largest volcano's in the Americas. In the distance you can see Volcan Masaya, Granada, and Las Isletas. There was a small little maret up there where they sell all kinds of hand made goods by the locals, but the real reason to come here is for the views. It is simply stunning.

The original plan had been to go hike through Volcan Masaya for the rest of the afternoon. However, two days before we arrived a person snuck into the park after dark and jumped to his death into the active crater. They then closed down the park to investigate. The next night, the person's three brothers went into the park to search for the body during a thunderstorm and were struck by lightning. So they shut down the site down for all tourists.

Instead of going to Volcan Masaya we went into the actual town of Masaya and visited La Casa de las Hamacas. This is the place to go if you want to get a hammock as they are all hand made and very cheap by American standards. The one person hammocks were about $20 and all are handmade in this tiny little shop.

Overall this was a great start to the Nicaragua trip and very relaxing for the first day after having just arrived. We were obviously disappointed that we couldn't actually go into the Volcan Masaya to hike it, but given the circumstances we understood and it was a lot of fun to go around the city seeing the sights and especially going to that place for lunch and taking in the views of the lake.

Some of the more interesting "local" things we saw were two street fights, tire fires, smoke coming out of the top of Volcan Masaya, and so far this was just the first couple of hours in the Country.

Tonight we were taken to a restaurant that was rented out in a hotel and had a welcome dinner. The staff of the restaurant was very friendly and accommodating. We had chicken, pork, and quiche. Overall it was a lot of fun to be able to spend time with everyone during dinner and enjoy the atmosphere.

After dinner some people went out into the town to hit up the clubs, but we decided to go to bed early as tomorrow is an early start.

Notes: The hotel where we ate dinner was Contempo Hotel. It is a modern-Asian inspired hotel with only 18 rooms and is very spa like.

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