Well I’ve been meaning to write this post since I got back to the US months ago but of course I haven’t. Now that I’m teaching a class on Nicaragua in the next month I figure this is a great time to tie it up.
I spent the last week or so of my trip in Granada. It’s a beautiful city with plenty for everyone to see and do and a great location for tours and other things for people who don’t want to go it alone. The one issue with Granada is that it’s sites and more specifically it’s shopping is ignored by many guidebooks. I’m not sure why that is since it’s easily one of the better places to shop.
For those who know me the idea that I’m going to post about shopping may seem bizarre but there are a number of great artisan places to experience here and they need some publicity.
The best way to deal with this guidebook issue is to pick up one of the many tourist maps printed of the city and free almost everywhere. They are helpful and very useful if you plan on walking around Granada (and I encourage you to do exactly that… it’s a great and relatively safe place to walk around).
When looking at your map make sure to find the Lucha Libro Book store. It may come up as a bakery because it also has amazingly good donuts. That’s right, donuts and English language books! For anyone who has been to Nicaragua you now know why I simply must write about this. It’s a bit like finding Nirvana and was for me when I was at the end of my books with a week and a lot of airplane time to go before I was home. You can find them on Facebook and for those in town with crappy Granada webs (worse than other cities in Nicaragua for some reason) simply walk past Eskimo Ice Cream on the sunny side of Calzada between parquet central and el lago and you’ll find it. Have a donut for me too… they are too good to miss.
You’ll likely already be going to the Euro Cafe for sandwiches and other delicious food items (or the amazing courtyard) but it’s worth noting that they have a small book store attached as well. Not nearly as good as Lucha Libro it’s worth checking out and you’re likely here anyway.
If you’ll be in Granada for long enough (or coming back through), a free book might well be a great option for you and you’ll find it at the Garden Cafe’s lending library. This place is amazing for both food and atmosphere but you can also check out a book. It’s on the honor system and the folks who run the place are great so drop off your read books here and pick up a new one if you have the time to bring it back.
Chocolate. Seriously, stop by the chocolate museum and if you can, get their all you can eat breakfast. The chocolate crepe is so good that I’d fly back to Granada just for that. The workers there are very knowledgeable and the information about chocolate is interesting to say the least. A stop in Granada without going here would simply be wrong.
Finally make sure to check out El Parche Giftshop. Unlike most of the “artisan markets” touted in your guidebook you will actually get work made by the folks who run this shop when you shop here. Their work is simply beautiful and well worth the price. The pictures do a much better job than I ever could…
One thing to avoid in Granada is Pure. It looks awesome… go ahead, open that post, the website is beautiful. It, however, is not beautiful. It’s a gym, a dirty one at that. If you don’t mind hearing dropping weights and grunting while enjoying your “spa” experience this place might be for you. Otherwise skip this place.
A few other places I didn’t get to in Nicaragua that would be worth checking out:
Veggie Restaurant, Bar and Hostel
Jiquilillo, Los Zorros- bus from Cinandega
Treehouse Poste Rojo
Hostel, between Granada and San Juan del Sur (10km from Granada)
Spanish School, Wood burning pizza oven, internets!