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Travel Blog | Nicaragua

June 09, 2015

Once the dreaded border crossing was over and our passports had been stamped, the usual onslaught of taxi drivers surrounded us with their "slick" sales pitches. We haggled one chap down to $25 to take us to San Juan Del Sur. He was a devious little fella, he lured us in to a false sense of security by yelling 'Viva Nicaragua' every few minutes, but he was clearly unhappy we were only paying $25 and tried anything to make us pay more.. 

Example: "You guys want air con?....ok that'll be $30" 

               "Your hostel is up a hill, you must give me $30" 

On reaching the top of the hill, we checked into Casa de Olas...for five minutes. The Australian chap on the front desk was blind drunk and checked us into a room that had no available beds - an easy mistake to make when under the influence. So we trotted off next door to their rival hostel, The Naked Tiger, where we actually had a bed and a splendid view over the mountains.

While travelling around Central America, we've kept up a healthy amount of competition with our 'Yahtzee League'. The rules are simple - first to 25 games wins dinner out on the loser. Somehow Laura managed to be victorious, so on the first night in San Juan we went for fresh fish on the beach.                                                                                                                                                                       On our way home we bumped into a group of Irish travelers from our hostel who invited us out for a bit of a knees up - we gladly accepted. Bars in San Juan aren't quite the same as England, more like little 'tiendas' that can barely fit a handful of people. We managed to stumble upon a bar with a rooftop, which no one else seemed to have found as we were the only people up there. They table served us drinks aplenty and gave us free shots and snacks, we liked it so much we took our other friends back the next day.

Another thing that's slightly different in San Juan is that Sunday hosts the biggest party of the week - Sunday Funday. Like the name suggests, it really is a fun day, especially if you like dancing and boozing in the sun. Our hostel happened to be one of the destinations of the series of pool parties which meant we wangled cheap tickets, however the aftermath on Monday was horrendous so we jumped ship asap and headed for detox.

Several means of transport later, we arrived in the beautiful Isla de Ometepe. Rife with nature, volcano's and an abubdance of flies.                     

We had heard about an eco-lodge called El Zopilote, located on an organic farm at the base of an inactive volcano with home grown food and free yoga - right up our street. When we arrived the only room left was the most expensive, top of the range private cabana overlooking the farm - so of course we had to take it.

The next few days were filled with yoga, natural pools, waterfalls and great organic food (we recommend the Zopilote breakfast and the chicken curry). On the subject of curry, we also hiked Volcano Madras, a hefty 8 hour hike through mud, jungle and tropical bugs, but we were rewarded for our efforts with views like this...

After four days of detox we were ready to get back to civilization, so we took the ferry to Granada. This wonderful colonial town was the first large Spanish settlement in the country and many of the buildings are beautifully preserved. The town also has an abundance of splendid cafés, restaurants and bars, mainly situated around Parque Central and the roads leading from here. Our favourite restaurant was El Pizzaiol, run by an Israeli couple, who were extremely friendly and gave us a free dessert for eating there two nights in a row. The service, setting and food were all fantastic. Just off the main street of cafés and restaurants, we found a lovely little hotel tucked away with a swimming pool and our own apartment for super cheap - La Posada del Sol.

From Granada we took a day trip to the Apoyo Lagoon, where we spent the day sipping cocktails, nattering about our hopes and dreams and kayaking in the crystal clear waters, the perfect place to relax and unwind.

Our last stop in Nicaragua was the city of León, where we planned to study Spanish for a week. León had been hyped up by a lot of travellers we'd met along the way but for some reason we just weren't feeling it - so we bailed and headed for the beach!

                                                                                                                          About 30 minutes west of Leon, situated on a beautiful stretch of empty beach in Isla Los Brasiles, you can find Surfing Turtle Lodge, a charming eco-lodge with activities galore.This place is the perfect mix of a relaxing beach atmosphere, with volleyball, surfing, frisbee and horseriding at your fingertips, followed by a lively bar in the evening.

Morning beach runs listening to George FitzGerald were ideal:

Surfing Turtle Loadge was a real highlight of Nicaragua for us...we're so glad we bailed from the City.




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