Granada is Nicaragua’s oldest colonial city. Founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, it stands at the foot of Volcán Mombacho on the northwestern shore of Lago de Nicaragua. It also has access to the Caribbean Sea via the lake and soon became a rich and important trade center and remained so into the 19th century. This same Caribbean passage made Granada an easy target for English and French buccaneers, who sacked the city three times between its founding and 1685. Seeing the city it isn’t hard to see why the Spanish settled here, the lake is beautiful and the surrounding mountains make it even more picturesque. Even with the numerous ransackings and earthquakes many colonial era buildings still remain and are the most impressive in the city. A couple of stand out examples are the cathedral just off the main square and Iglesia de La Merced (church) which has a beautiful interior and you can climb up the bell tower (which I did) and you have unobstructed views over the city and Lago de Nicaragua, certainly worth the $1 fee.
Aside from exploring the city’s sights and marvelling in the multicoloured streets I also walked down to the ‘beach’ and had a swim which was very refreshing. There are a number of islands off the coast and you can pay for launches or kayaks to take you there, I decided too save myself the $7-20 fee and walk round the headland and then swim across, I got across the stretch of water fine but there was deep mud the other side so I couldn’t get out and had to turn around, I might try another route/island tomorrow if I have time. It was an adventure and certainly off the beaten track and I only got a wet T-shirt for my troubles as I was wearing swimming shorts and flip flops.
After such excitement in the morning I thought I would have a more chilled afternoon so I found a cafe, bought an americano (they didn’t ask if I wanted milk unlike in the UK) and planned my next couple of days as well as writing some postcards. I’m hoping to go to another lake tomorrow (there is a possibility of going diving there) and then head to San Jose, Costa Rica, the day after (Saturday). Tomorrow will be another hot day and I hope I don’t catch the sun as much as I did today, my nose is rather red and I have a strong tan line where my watch is as well.