Leon to Granada, Nicaragua - Central America - CycleBlaze

January 6, 2023

Leon to Granada, Nicaragua

Today was just a brutal cycling day. Based on what some others had told me recently about Granada, I really wanted to spend a whole day here, but had not planned on it originally, so I had to skip a night and make it a long riding day. It has to rank up there and maybe tie for the hardest day yet. Not the longest - about 85 miles only, but my panniers were loaded more than they ever have been with six apples, an extra Gatorade, granola, and soy milk (that is so hard to find here). I researched the elevation and found the shortest route with the least amount of hills, but there was still close to 2,000 feet of elevation climb. Then, I had a really strong headwind against me all day long.  And then there were the fires.  I drive by fires every day and through the smoke (no exaggeration), usually just people burning their trash out by the street, but there were an excessive amount today. My route also meant that I went through the edge of Managua, the country capital, which I didn't want to do any country capitals.  I won't be doing that again. These drivers in the city are crazy, and there is not a lot of room for bikes. Honestly though, they are all pretty friendly to me, it's just the way they all do things here. You just have to act like a motorcycle and just drive wherever and people tolerate you, but it just feels very different. But so many smoky semi's and old trucks.  I feel like I have diesel smell in my clothes.  Then, I must have ridden through a couple dozen roundabouts today. Those are always a fun experience. Not as bad as in Spain though, where there could be five or six exits or more, three or four lanes, and no lane markers. I was just glad to have a high, viz, long sleeve shirt, and then I just use my arm signals, so then people were generally pretty considerate of me. Never have I seen anyone be impatient with me on my whole trip so far.

The trek through Managua took a long time, but eventually I made it through and back into some quieter, less-travelled country roads to Granada. For the first time of my trip, the hotel that I had planned on staying at was full. Well, it is Friday night, and it was bound to happen sooner or later probably, although I expected it more at Christmas time. So I pulled up Google and Booking and started looking around and for other nearby ratings. I found another hotel, just a little bit farther away from the prime downtown Plaza location. And I know I've said this before recently, but this is probably the nicest place I have stayed at up now. I've just been pleasantly surprised with these unexpected gems that I find. I suppose I am learning that to find a nice hotel, you need to start with a nice town, and I must say I am super impressed with Granada so far. After taking a nice, warm shower, and enjoying the air conditioning in the room, I started to walk right behind the hotel to look for some food and low and behold, there is this whole strip of bars, restaurants, ice cream shops, and hotels that is very reminiscent of Playa del Carmen. Except that Playa del Carmen tries to be to western, and Granada is totally authentic Nicaraguan.  

Walking down the street, I was looking at a few menus and started at one restaurant to have some chicken fajitas and a margarita, and believe it or not, it's started to rain a little bit. So I went inside to finish it, and then went back out to try to get some pictures of the sunset, and look for some other food. I found another place so I sat on the street to have some chicken enchiladas swizas and one of those great lemonades.  What a great place for people watching!  

I can't wait to go out tomorrow to get some more pictures of this town. It has a very colonial vibe to it, and there are just so many unique features of this town. As I am drafting this while eating, there is also a very unique smell along the plaza here as well. I can't quite identify, I'm not sure if it's coming from some food or what, but I like it a lot. It kind of smells like incense a bit maybe, but definitely in stark contrast tot the usual trashy or burnt fires smell always.  

I have another volcano activity tomorrow, but will have to see also what else to do. Maybe some kayaking in the lake, where there are hundreds of little islands around, or maybe a yoga session that I saw advertised in my hotel lobby.

Breakfast at Hotel Austria in Leon before heading out. Lots of good carbs there!
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Leon had a huge cemetery I noticed when leaving
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Leon still - another little park with lots of flowers
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Making adobe bricks
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I swear that looked like brown smoke at the top as opposed to a cloud
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I just loved these tree trunks!
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Volcan Momotombo on the left, and Isla Momotombito rising out of enormous Lago Xolotian. The lake was really white-capping it was so windy.
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Here's a new one on me: a two-stage curb and heavy-duty rumble strip.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesAt least on a bicycle you are on the protected side of things.
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3 weeks ago
I just thought the name of this hotel was funny
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First one of these I've seen in Central America
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Traffic on the outskirts of Managua
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Signs everywhere. So distracting for drivers.
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Looking back at Volcan Momotombo, leaving Managua proper
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Nice views coming into Granada in the late afternoon
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Entering Granada
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Parts of Granada now
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At my hotel - Hotel Patio Del Malenche
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I just thought this flyer in the hotel lobby was funny - limit one pass per person every ten years
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View outside my room
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Super nice room!
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Colors!
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I started outside on the street, but then a freak raincloud came over, so had to go inside
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First dinner of chicken fajitas
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I thought the streaks were some kind of cool camera effect, but then realized it was just a smudged lens!
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The rain cloud made for some awesome pictures!
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Main plaza
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Second dinner of three chicken enchilada swizas, Can you count them!
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Awesome people watching!
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Today's ride: 85 miles (137 km)
Total: 1,094 miles (1,761 km)

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