Leon and Grenada


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Published: February 2nd 2017
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Nicaragua
We arrived in to Leon after a horribly long day of travelling from Honduras (6am-9pm). Once we got settled in to a hostel in Leon we headed straight out for food. Luckily we hit the jackpot here and found some great street food stalls just around the corner from the hostel, near the cathedral. We also met back up with our friend Andy for the third time 😊.
Our first full day in Leon we dedicated to exploring the city and booking volcano boarding! We booked our trip through Quetzaltrekkers, as they are a non profit organisation who give their money to help local schools. They also worked out cheaper than the competition, which was a good bonus! After booking our trip we headed out to the beach for the afternoon, which is only 20mins drive out of the city. Our hostel owner kindly took us. We had to stop on the way back from the beach to pick up two of his fighting cockerels that he breeds - so he could sell them on for the night's fight. Our hostel owner offered to take Andy to the fight. I wanted to go - just to experience it, although I also know it would probably not be nice, but I think it's not a woman's environment!
Next morning we were up early to head to Cerro Negro ready for volcano boarding! Once we got there and registered it was time to put on our poorly made backpacks containing protective clothing, slip the board between the straps like buzz lightyear, and head up the volcano! It started off as a fairly easy trek, but with strong winds and a board on your back acting like a sail, it became frustrating. Add to that the slippery volcanic rock that means your steps are each only half as big, as you slide half way back down each time, and I was not particularly enjoying the hike! My spirits were definitely raised though when I looked behind me and realised I was in the lead by quite a margin walking up! I was proud to get to the top of the volcano first, and happy to take my board off to be able to relax and enjoy the view (when the wind wasn't blowing rocks in my eyes).
From the bottom of Cerro Negro the path down looked very steep and scary, and from the top it doesn't look much better! A couple of people stepped forwards to go first, then no body was moving and I took the plunge to go third. Sliding down the volcano was much more fun and much less scary than it looks! You have a surprising amount of control over your speed and the board. I was definitely very glad I took the plunge and did it, no matter how scary it looked. (I think the speed record down it is over 120kmh, but I didn't come close to that.)
The next day Jess went off to climb another volcano, so I found some new friends and went off to explore the history museum with them. The museum was all about the revolution, and very interesting. The tour was in Spanish but between the 4 of us we pieced together enough to understand! The tour involved looking at hundreds of old photos, and even getting to walk around the roof of the museum, from where we could see one of the buildings that was blown up during the revolution, and we had a great view over the main square and cathedral.
I then went to explore the cathedral, the roof of which is rather impressive. It is all painted white so you are not allowed up without sunglasses, and there are various domes covering the roof. There are also great views of the volcanoes surrounding Leon, one of which was smoking!
Next day we were off to Grenada. It is very simple to get to, just two local mini buses costing $1.50 in total. It amazes me how many people pay extortionate prices for private shuttles through the hostel when the public transport is so good.
First impressions of Grenada were that it is quite smelly! As soon as you get off the bus in the main square there is a line of horses and carriages, then walking towards our hostel there was someone peeing in the street, which lends a lovely smell to the place!
Our first night we went out to Masaya Volcano. This is one of the few volcanoes in the world where you can see the lava inside. We got a cheap tour - $8 +10entry fee. You have to get there early and queue up at the entrance, then only a certain amount of people are allowed in at once, in 15min slots. We got in to the second slot and thanks to our drivers crazy driving we were the first group there! This meant we got prime position to see the lava flowing, and the full 15mins before being called back to the bus. It was truely magical and I could have stayed much longer watching had I been allowed.
Grenada does have more going for it than Leon though, with many nice churches and old buildings. It also has more restaurants near the main square. A couple of the churches let you climb the towers for $1, giving you great views across the city.
Next up - Corn islands for more diving!



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