After a 3 block walk down narrow streets with narrower sidewalks we arrived at Tito's restaurant. Businesses were closed along the streets. No onewas about. Loud musica emanated from the door. We walked in by the bar....and a few people...to a small dining room with a few occupied tables. Lighting was low. Gord chose a beef burrito and I chose a pollo typica dinner off the simple menu. I had grilled chicken, gallo pinto...rice and beans ....and a small salad of lettuce, tomato and a slice of cucumber. The salad was dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.....delicious.
After we went down to the big church we could see from the rooftop. In the square before it were a lighted Christmas tree of wires and lights, a lighted Nativity Scene, a sleigh with lights filled with presents, a wooden train pulling gold, red, blue and green presents, all aglow. But no people. Nervous, we went back to the hostal and settled.
We met Giovanni at 9a to do a city walking tour. He was knowledgeable with good Ingles. We walked first to the main square through crowded streets....the mercado has outgrown its quarters and now spills out onto the surrounding streets. The church...Mary de Conception...stood before us.
We talked about the surrounding buildings...neoclassic, art deco and colonial...all rebuilt after being destroyed 3 times. Restaurants occupy all 4 corners of the square.....where William from Tennessee had shot people in the 1800's.
The Church de Conception was built first in 1523, rebuilt last from 1904 to 1915 in the neoclassic style after churches in Italy. It is yellow adobe with 2 rear towers and a dome in the front. Inside is the statue of the Virgin Mary de Conception that had appeared in Nicaragua Lake....miraculously. (it had been in a fort downriver and put on a barge when the fort was attacked by pirates. With the river's current it floated downriver to the lake...a miracle!) In an attached chapel was a replica of the Lourdes grotto, another nave had a statue of the Virgin Mary. We saw heavy carved wooden floats used to carry the statue of Jesus in parades on the 7 Fridays before Easter.
A short distance away beyond the priests' pink colonial houses is an old colonial house with beautiful garden courtyards where meetings and classes are now held. At one time it was owned by a rich merchant.
Down the street is the colonial Church of San Francisco first built in 1527. It is now 5 museums and schools. We were shown through and the history of Granada explained. We saw art....some disturbing as it highlighted the torture of the natives at the hands of the Spanish. And native pottery, statues from the islands in the lake that depict both animals and humans believed to have been religious statues. Another showed the school's art.
It is said the first San Franciscan monk who came gave the natives paper and paint and taught them to draw. This school continues today.
From here we walked back through the main square, down our street and maybe 5 blocks to the Merced Church. On the outside it looks decrepit with black stained white adobe. It is the 3rd oldest church built in 1529 originally. The huge white tower beside the main entrance can be climbed. And after we saw the main simple colonial interior with its 'rock star' hollow statue of Jesus (gold was smuggled from Spain To Granada in it and then donated to the Church), we climbed the many steps of the tower and got a bird's eye view of Granada.
Granada has many low red-tiled roofs and many colored adobe bbuildings mingled with white. It is a port city on Lago Nicaragua easily accessible from the Caribbean....by both Europeans and pirates.
From here we continued outward away from the lake. We passed a 'closed today' blue and white church in Greek style. We crossed a square with pillars nick-named Lovers' Square....no lights at night. Across the street was the Church of Asuncion but today it is also closed to the public. Further along we came to the Spanish Fort.
Behind a fence...it too is closed...we could see beautiful gardens, palm trees and flowers. After the Spanish Independence, it was used as a jail by several of the different regimes.
There were 3 main capitals....Granada, Leon and Managua. Granada has been destroyed 3 times in wars....the last in the '80's.
It was well past 12 noon when we ambled back to the Oasis, said adios to Giovanni and went to the Comidia Typicos for lunch. Here we tried the native salad of yucca, casava and carrots. Delicious.
After we spent a quiet p.m., went again to the rooftop to talk, for Happy Hour. We again met Mario (Brazilian and German from Costa Rica), Raul and his family (San Salvador), another German, a couple of Aussie girls, and a very tatooed French lady in a brief bikini with a far too small towel.
The sun set, pictures were taken and we left to find Pita Pita an Israeli restaurant recommended by an Israeli we had met (a university teacher who travels 4 months of the year).
The streets were dark again but more people were about. The restaurant was crowded. We sat overlooking a garden. Gord had a tasty tomato and beef lasagne and I had a mushroom and onion sauced chicken with a typical eastern Mediterranean meze....humous and litle grated salads. Far too much food. Scrumptious....I had died and gone to heaven!
As we were close to the main square we ambled over to take pics of the soon to be gone Christmas decorations.
It was well past 8.30p when we got back to the Oasis.
Despite the fact that a beer ping pong tournament was in progress we went to our room and settled.
Today has been quietly spent. We visited the huge mercado with everything one can imagine for sale. When we asked questions they were answered with a smile. Trucks and buses inched down the crowded streets between stalls.
People bought and sold.
After we walked back to our room.
Now it is Happy Hour.