It’s impossible to fully appreciate modern-day Granada without understanding something of her colorful history. The oldest city in the Americas, dating from 1524, Granada was founded by Conquistador Francisco Fernandez de Cordoba and was intended by the conquering Spanish to be a masterpiece of elegance, reflecting the perfection of her twin sister in Spain, as well as a statement of the power and grandeur of imperial Spain.
You’ll find most goods and services in Nicaragua cost significantly less than in your hometown. Regular public transportation (buses and taxis) amounts to about US$20 per month. However, eating out twice a week (and avoiding the Dom Perignon) will dent the wallet. A couple can live well on less than 45,000 Nicaraguan córdobas month.
|Rent||NIO 22,870||Furnished, two-bedroom apartment.|
|Gas||NIO 290||For cooking.|
|Transportation||NIO 100||Most residents walk as much as they can here.|
|Electricity||NIO 3,525||A/C usage.|
|Internet||N/A||Bundled with phone.|
|Cable TV||N/A||Bundled with phone.|
|Groceries||NIO 9,750||Basic items for couple.|
|Entertainment||NIO 4,900||Social outing, 600-800 pesos p/person|
The physical layout of the city follows traditional European urban planning: a central park with the avenues extending north and south. The cross streets face east and west. The numbering of the streets and avenues is a more modern invention, following the previous habit of assigning names of illustrious patrons or local heroes. The signage in Granada isn’t as difficult as most Central American cities, except at night.
Today the city is experiencing a renaissance of private and public restoration. Her once cobbled streets have been largely paved over, but her colonial splendors remain and sparkle. The “Jewel of the Americas” shines once more. Granada’s current renaissance is thanks to private and public funding. Spain has restored some of the major thoroughfares with palms and paving, with the rest of the rehabilitation being done by wealthy Nicaraguans and retiring expatriates from around the world.
The street known as La Calzada is busy, day and night—on weekends, it’s impossibly crowded. The bandstand in the park has been painted, and the park is clean again. There’s a new hospital nearby, donated by the Japanese.
Granada is a walking town. Take sturdy shoes and avoid the pitfalls and the occasional open holes in the sidewalks. There are plenty of ATMs and money-changers in the vicinity (you’ll see these guys walking the pavement, waving wads of cash—they usually offer the best exchange rate).
In the lowlands, where Granada, San Juan del Sur, and León are located, temperatures vary between 72 degrees Fahrenheit at night and 86 in the daytime. León sits in what is considered the hottest area of the country. Towards the end of the dry season, in May, temperatures can reach 100 degrees. The central part of the country is about nine degrees cooler. The mountains in the north are a further 18 degrees cooler. Are there seasons? Yes—the wet one and the dry one. The dry season (the best time to visit) runs from January to May or June, and the wet season starts around the end of May and continues through to November or December.
Daily showers, usually in the afternoons, are the norm. The heaviest rainfall is in September or October. This is a time to avoid, especially for your first visit.
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