A Day in Granada, Nicaragua
Trip Start Feb 28, 2012
14Trip End Mar 20, 2012
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For this port stop, we booked a ship's tour "Colonial Granada and Isleta Boat Ride. The cost was $99 per person for an all day tour... in a bus with 40 other passengers and a guide that talked non-stop. The reason we booked a ship's tour was the long distance drive to Granada... 2 hours there and 2 hours back. We gathered for our tour well before 7am in the Princess Theater, along with other ship tours. Our tour was one of the last to be called. It was also the longest of all the tours. In the Princess Patter, it said "Last Tender Leaves Shoreside at 3:30pm".
The tender dock was a make-shift metal launch platform
Our first stop was the opportunity to view the Pacific Ocean from San Juan del Sur. We drove on, passed lush and green countryside. We arrived about 10:30am into colonial and historic Granada, Nicaragua's 3rd largest city. Granada is currently in the process of becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We gathered in the central Plaza, bustling with vendors selling local crafts and local food. The guide announced we had 15 minutes to explore on our own... not nearly enough time to explore the city, not exactly our kind of tour. We have been spoiled by private tours over the years. I asked the guide if we could leave the tour and meet back at the bus before driving to our next stop. The guide's "NO" was quite emphatic. So, after a speedy 15 minutes of viewing colonial buildings painted vibrant colors, taking in the local color along the streets, catching a few photos of the city's ornate cathedral, we returned to the Plaza and followed the guide, as we all walked through Independence Square and then on to nearby San Francisco Convent, where a permanent Cultural Exhibit was housed
It was 12 noon when we boarded the bus again, for the Isleta Boat Tour on Lake Nicaragua, which was a short drive outside Granada. Some passengers asked about having lunch before the boat tour since it was noon... but the guide said the boat tour came next. The hour long Isleta Boat Tour, around the lake, offered a respite from the noon-day heat and offered great views of the monkeys, the private islands and the lush vegetation. It was definitely a photographers dream as the boat-man maneuvered through the narrow channels between the islands.
From Lake Nicaragua, we drove back to Granada, for our Colonial Restaurant lunch. It was about 3pm when we boarded the bus, for the 2 hour return drive to San Juan del Sur. The last tender left shoreside at 3:30pm and by our calculations, we would return about 5pm. Not exactly a comforting thought but since we had never heard of a Princess ship leaving one of their tours behind, we settled in for the long drive... of course, with the guide talking non-stop. It was good to finally see the Star Princess anchored off San Juan del Sur... as we were the last bus to catch the tender! Local musicians entertained us while we waited to board the tender. It had been a very long day!