A November 2004 trip
to Granada by Baudet
Quote: Nicaragua is the nicest country in Central America.
A five-minute walk from the bus station on the west side of Granada lays the hostel Oasis Granada. Coming from either Costa Rica or Ometepe, exit the bus, and if it's during the day, don’t get a cab; just ask anyone where the Oasis Granada is, and they will be happy to point you in the right direction. But if you arrive at night, do take a cab, because the streets are rumored to be dangerous at night. During my stay in Granada, I never felt intimidated or frightened of the streets, but the more people who are out at night, the more of a chance you have of getting messed with. And, like most places in Nicaragua, the Oasis works on an honor system when getting drinks and movies.
The Oasis has FREE Internet, coffee, DVD rentals (with over 100 selections), FREE calls to the US and Canada, cable TV, swimming pool, sun lounge, and laundry facility. All employees are friendly, and half of them speak English. A dormitory is $6 a night, and private rooms run from $10-$38, depending on how luxurious you want your room. All beds have thick comfortable mattresses and come with a pillow. The showers are nice and clean, with warm -- not hot -- water. All eight computers have flat-screen monitors and digital camera-ready ports. They also have fast network Internet and all Microsoft Office utilities. The pool and lounge areas are in outside areas within the hostel. The pool is surrounded by two stories of dorm rooms, and the spiral staircase on the 2nd floor leads to the laundry area, which has a washboard to wash your own clothes. Oasis also has two TVs to watch DVDs on, which you can rent for free by giving the front desk your passport. You also get your free call the US or Canada every day; sometimes the quality of the phone call is bad, but it is FREE.
Every morning, they serve breakfast for less than $3, including pancakes, toast, egg sandwiches, fruit, coffee, orange juice, etc. Breakfast is served from 7am to 10am, so there's no need to get up really early to try to catch the kitchen before they close. The staff is so nice that a couple times, when I tried to cook, they came into the kitchen and took over and cooked my meal for me. Even after I said "I got it", they still wanted to cook for me. I went back and forth through Granada during my stay in Nicaragua and stayed at the Oasis every time, and I wouldn’t recommend anywhere else.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 11, 2004
The hostel advertises a lot of nice-sounding things, but it doesn’t have them upon arrival. They have signs for credit cards, but don’t except them after a certain time and fail to mention what time that is. They also advertise free use of the jacuzzi, which was empty and full of dirt. You also have free use of the barbeque pit, which I never saw. You also get a security locker that does no good, because they have no locks to let you use. Your bed also has a locker under it with a missing lock. You have to pay for everything from toilet paper (3 cordobas) to water from the water cooler (8 cordobas). You also get free use of the kitchen, which includes a three-burner stovetop that only has one working burner. Around dinnertime, a line forms waiting to use the stove, so either plan on an early dinner or eating out. The two dorm rooms have six bunk beds each, made from metal frames with three-inch mattresses and pillows not included. When you check in, they give you a fitted sheet, sheet, and pillow case (for the pillow you don’t get). Also advertised is money exchange, but they don’t have enough money to exchange your money.
The positives of the hostel would have to be the location. They give you a voucher for the Internet café down the street that gives you an hour of use for 20 cordobas. The store across the street also has a problem with using credit cards after a certain time, but the owner will give you store credit if you come in too late, and you won't have to pay until the next day. My friend went into the store and tried to use a credit card, and the owner said to take $20 worth of stuff and pay me in the morning. Because there aren’t many places to stay in San Juan, this is unfortunately the best. I’ve even heard of other hostels robbing their guests while they are out. In short, this place is basically a tourist trap that I would not return to.
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on November 13, 2004
San Juan Del Sul
Located one block south and one block east, in a corner courtyard, is the nice little restaurant J3. The courtyard has a fountain in it and also has a few shops and an upstairs restaurant (not J3). The menu has lots to choose from, including hamburgers, sandwiches, tacos, fajitas, chicken, soup, fish, steak, etc. The menu is in Spanish on the front and English on the back.
I ordered fajitas for less than $2, but they were not the typical American style I expected. The plate had chicken, lettuce, refried beans, sour cream, and salsa. But the part I expected to be a flour shell was pieces of hard shell. It was really terrific. I mixed all the items together and scooped them up to eat them. My friend got the chicken in sauce and a liter of beer, all for less than $4.
The experience was great. The atmosphere was wonderful. The food was delicious. And the waitress was nice and appreciative. After the meal, we told her that the food was very good (in Spanish), paid, and gave her a tip. Being the only restaurant I ate at in Granada, I would recommend you try it at least once, but I don’t have any idea how the other restaurants are.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 12, 2004
Restaurant | "Tele's Pizza"
One block south, 14 blocks west, and one more block south, you will find Tele’s Pizza. Tele’s is the best pizza in town -- the menu even says so. They have everything a typical pizza parlor has, from calzones and breadsticks to salads and desserts. Tele’s has over 15 different kinds of pizza to choose from, with several local pizza types. You can even order by the slice at the door. If you order a personal-size pizza or a large, they both come sliced in eight pieces. They also have two different crust types to pick from: thin or thick.
When my friends and I went, we ordered a Hawaiian-style pizza and an order of breadsticks for less than $1. I thought the breadsticks were going to be a typical basket of breadsticks, but it was a pizza with cheese on top, cut into breadsticks. They were so good that we went back the next night and ordered two orders of breadsticks and a calzone for less than $2 each. The calzones were pretty big, but after the breadsticks, it was hard to eat all of it. Of course, Tele’s also has beer and sodas, all cheaper than any hostels. If you are in Granada and in the mood for pizza, you should check out Tele’s Pizza.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 16, 2004
Calle La Libertad
Take the bus from the Shell station in Granada and tell the driver to drop you off at Mombacho. This ride is about 15 minutes and will cost you 5 cordobas, which is about $.30. Once you get to the road leading to the Volcan Mombacho, walk about 10 minutes to the park entrance and pay the $9 entrance fee, which includes the ride up the 7k road to the top. The jeep ride takes 30 minutes and only goes up 4 times a day: 8:30am, 10am, 1pm, and 3pm, so make sure you get there around one of these times, or you’ll be sitting around for a while. All the information at the station and along the trails is in Spanish, so unless you speak Spanish or have a translation book, you’ll have a hard time reading about the sites. The signs really don’t say anything more than what your eyes can see.
The Mombacho consists of two craters; each has a trail that circles the perimeter. Crater One’s hike is one kilometer, and Crater Two's hike is four kilometeres. Along the 1k trail, there are breathtaking, spectacular sights, and on a clear day, you can see for miles. The trail takes about 1½ hours, only because of all the stops you will make while viewing the sites.
The Lake of Nicaragua that contains the island of Ometepe is mainly what you can see from all the overlook points. You also can see the Laguna Apoyo and the 365 islands near the edge of the lake, all of which are great photos, but you cannot capture all of it in one picture unless you have a panoramic camera, because you see so much and so far. Also, at one point of the trail, you can take a small side trail that goes through a tunnel that is damp and lush in vegetation, created by the mountainside. Another cool side area has ventilation releases for the fumes built up inside the volcano. You can’t stay for too long, or your face will burn from the sulfur. The Mombacho is still somewhat active and last erupted in 2001, but there are no signs of this now.
The $9 entrance fee is a small price to pay for all the sites you get to see. Keep in mind that it also includes your ride to the top. The receptionist at the bottom said some people walk the road and end up regretting it. I wouldn’t want to hike the trail either, as it's almost completely vertical at some points. If you ever do make it to Granada, Nicaragua, the Volcan Mombacho is a must.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 12, 2004
The Vulcan Masaya is one of the few active volcanoes in the world that you can walk right up to the edge of. The Masaya is nicknamed the Crater of Fire. To get there, take a bus from Granada to Masaya for five cordobas. From the Masaya bus station, take a cab, $10, to the top of the Masaya Volcano. You can either send the taxi back down, or they will wait on you for a total of $20 for the whole trip. When you go through the park entrance, you pay the parking fee of $4, and the attendant gives you a map of the park. You also have the option to pay $6 to camp at the volcano.
Masaya Volcano National Park has several trails, a bat cave, and three craters: Santiago, San Fernando, and San Pedro. Out of the three craters, the Santiago is the only active one; it last erupted in 2003. The others have been dormant long enough for trees and vegetation to grow in them. There are several bird species that inhabit the park. They have somehow adapted to the toxic gases coming from the Santiago Crater, such that they have no predators atop the Masaya. The bat cave measures 100 meters and was formed when lava under pressure was pushed upward from the Santiago Crater. The trails are from one to four-and-a-half kilometers, depending on how long of a hike you want. Most of the landscape around the Santiago looks barren and almost dead from the lava flows of the 2003 eruption
The Masaya National Park is a great place to spend the day or even the night. There are plenty of things to do and attractions to see. You can easily spend a whole day here and not see everything there is to see. This is definitely the one thing you can’t miss out on in Nicaragua. For more information on the volcano and the park, visit www.nps.gov/centralamerica/Nicaragua.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 16, 2004
Masaya Volcano National Park
Blue Ridge, Georgia