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// MARCH 2016
We feel blessed
Havana
Panama City
Managua
Granada
Leon
Managua
Cartago
Chachagua Rain Forest Hotel
El Castillo
San Jose
Mexico City
Visitor Centre Miraflores
Panama City
Laguna d' Apoyo
San Jorge
Ometepe Island
San Jorge
Matagalpa
San Jose
Tarcoles
Atenas
Poás Volcano N.P.
Los Chiles
Tilaran

Granada


21st of March 2016
The volcano awakens!!! 

After having breakfast we started the journey towards Laguna de Apoyo, a volcanic lake which really impressed us.
 


We missed the chance, though, to visit the Masaya Volcano at the homonymous National Park (Masaya Volcano National Park), since its increased volcanic activity had resulted to its closure for visitors.

We continued towards San Jorge, situated at the shores of Nicaragua Lake, so as to take the ferry to Ometepe, Island

When we arrived at San Jorge at noon, we realized that the scheduled journeys were in fact much fewer than we had thought, based on the information given by Internet, and therefore it would be impossible to find a place in a boat for our car. So, through a local tourist agency we arranged a tour by car with a driver who would be waiting for us in the island.

When the boat arrived, eventually, we could never believe that it would be possible for so many people to fit in it.

We embarked, took our seats and kept watching more and more people boarding, until there was not even a simple corner empty in the boat.
Cabin and deck completely packed.
From the above deck we could see legs with flip flops hanging and new passengers hitting their heads on them.

But, and that we found really amusing, nobody was complaining.
As soon as they were securing a small spot to sit, they were taking out their lunch and drinks and just kept waiting patiently.
At some point, a little fuss occurred, when the people in charge of the boat gave life jackets to everyone and told us that we had to put them on, since it was obligatory by the port control authorities.
The fuss was justified, I guess, since the boat was so packed, that there was not enough space for all of us to put them on… 


Far and away from the rest of the world… like in a slave ship!!!

Now, a few months later, that I remember everything, while I am writing my experiences and see again the photos, I can even laugh at the whole situation and even make a mockery out of it…
That overcrowded little boat had something that resembled… a slave ship.
At least that was the impression that I got, when we were loaded there, all cramped on top of one another, with the life jackets on, when the officer of the port control arrived for his routine checking and after having made sure that we were all sat nicely and safely into our life jackets, he gave, eventually, the order for our sailing.

And this is where the resemblance with the slave ship stopped, because we, luckily, sailed away for a magical place, far and away from the rest of the world…

The joy, moreover, was bubbling and could be seen in all the faces.
It could be seen in the laughter, in the voices of the little kids, in the smiles and the poses that our camera was capturing… I must say though, that in our shelfie photos I observed that the… real posers were more or less the passengers sitting behind us and not us…


Τhe joy of life...

That was Central America after all and Nicaragua was a typical representative of it.

Regardless of its countless problems, it is still beautiful and friendly. And as for its inhabitants, they are the joy of life personalized.  

While we were sailing in the waters of Cocibolca, the name that the indigenous inhabitants have given to Nicaragua Lake, we could see the perfect cone of the active volcano Conception, at the north half part of the island, a really magic picture. The island consists of two volcanoes, within the large lake of Nicaragua, and this is something that makes it unique in this world. The two volcanoes, united between them with a thin, flat isthmus, give to the island a shape of an hourglass.  

The south half part is dominated by the volcano Maderas, which is permanently surrounded by a thick veil of mist.

The ferry was too old and slow, the weather against us and so we arrived later than we had expected.

The driver was waiting for us at the deck with the car and we started our journey to the National Park Charco Verde and the natural swimming pools Ojo de Agua.


When there is good will, even half an hour is more than enough…

We arrived at our destination and when he left us at the National Park Charco Verde, under the shadow of the Conception Volcano, our driver announced that we had 25 minutes for exploration, available to us. 
 


When we asked the employee at the reception center what we could possibly do within 25 minutes, he told us that we had enough time to go by bicycle around the path lake.
So we took the bicycles and started our mini trip.
We saw the lake of Charco Verde with its emerald waters, we saw beautiful beaches for swimming, luscious vegetation and in 20 minutes we were back, ready to continue our tour.
But, unfortunately, we saw our driver to take the road back to the port. The time had passed and we had to return on time, so as to catch the ferry which was leaving at four o’clock.  

The deal that the agent had made with us, when he was pocketing quickly our money was not so fair, after all.

«Your money is now in my pocket, even if I had to give you all sort of empty promises. Now, what you will be able to see, it is your problem and not mine»,
he must have thought obviously…


How much more inventive???

Sure, but he had no idea how inventive we could become…
We asked our driver when was the next ferry coming and then we decided to stay and return with the one that was leaving at 17:30. 

So, we visited the natural swimming pools Ojo de Agua with their crystal, continuously renewed water, which comes from an underground river, straight from the Maderas Volcano.
During the last years the natural swimming pools have become extremely popular for tourists and locals too.

So, we had some lovely leisure hour, laying back on the wooden sun beds that were spread around the pools, we enjoyed the sun, we had our beers and then returned to the port, taking our time on the way back.



During our return journey, I slept in the boat, since it was quite late.
Night had fallen by the time we were back. 

 


Although an amazing full moon had risen in the sky, our return was a freaky thriller, on a road completely dark, full of pedestrians, motorbikes and bicycles, without lights, moving in complete anarchy around us…


Τhe cherry on the cake!!!

Eventually, we reached our hotel in Granada, the Hotel La Gran Francia, which is situated at the central square, at around 8 o’clock in the late evening.

When I reached the reception, the employee there informed me that there were not available rooms in the central building and therefore we would have to go to another hotel, to the next quarter.
I refused, insisting that my reservation was for this particular hotel, which was situated at the central square of the city and its advertised pride was precisely the fact that its own history was connected to the history of Granada’s establishment.
If I had wanted to stay at another hotel, I could have done it by myself and not through them, or through booking.com, which had, actually, decided for me. 

I was adamant to my point of view that I was having no intention of going to another building, although it was getting late and they had me waiting till 22:00, hoping probably that I would feel obliged to leave.

At some point, I had to find all by myself a room at another hotel. And then they told me that they had not charged anything on my card, so therefore I could leave and pay the slightly higher price at the hotel Alhambra which I had chosen to spend the nigh at. 

But that was… the cherry on the cake, after two hours of useless waiting there!
I announced them that _in case they were not aware of it_ it was their obligation to find me an alternative accommodation and I was not prepared to pay even a cent more than the initial price of my booking.
Obviously, since they were trying to avoid the embroilment of booking.com into the whole messy matter, they eventually arranged my staying at the Alhambra Hotel.


We just claim the obvious…

I don’t know if it was worthy the delay and the irritation, but the new hotel was really beautiful and the whole story also resulted to an upgrade of our twin room to a junior suite, within a fantastic garden.

Moreover, our experience, after all these years that we have been travelling, has shown us that any time that we claim the obvious, meaning what our booking  and our agreement provides, we always come out of any mess as winners.
And to say even more, we don’t feel that we were cheated like fools. In any case, we know what to expect, because we are always aware of the standards on which we make each reservation. 

So, we left our luggage in our room and went out for a walk to the central square and to the pedestrians’ road, which was within a breath’s distance away from our hotel. At the Cathedral there was vespers underway and the pedestrians’ road was packed.

The Holy Week of the Catholic Easter had just started…

 

Country: Panama
Date: 2016
Route: Panama - Nicaragua - Costarica
Cities: Havana, Panama City, Managua, Granada, Leon, Managua, Cartago, Chachagua Rain Forest Hotel, El Castillo, San Jose, Mexico City, Thessaloniki
Duration: 10
Difficulty:
Population: 4.032.135
Rating:
comments
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comments
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Country: Panama
Date: 2016
Route: Panama - Nicaragua - Costarica
Cities: Havana, Panama City, Managua, Granada, Leon, Managua, Cartago, Chachagua Rain Forest Hotel, El Castillo, San Jose, Mexico City, Thessaloniki
Duration: 10
Difficulty:
Population: 4.032.135
Rating:
comments
VIEW
Country: Panama
Date: 2016
Route: Panama - Nicaragua - Costarica
Cities: Havana, Panama City, Managua, Granada, Leon, Managua, Cartago, Chachagua Rain Forest Hotel, El Castillo, San Jose, Mexico City, Thessaloniki
Duration: 10 days
Difficulty:
Population: 4.032.135
Rating:
comments
VIEW