Leon... A real city, and lot's of churches

Leon Travel Blog

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Iglesia de San Juan in Leon.
Hello all,
The first thing I did today when I woke up in Leon was figuring out how I was going to move on in a few days. I figured out that I would stay in Leon for three nights. So I needed to find a way to move on to El Salvador on Monday. I was unable to find a travel agency where anybody spoke English near the hotel, but I was able to figure out that Tica Bus no longer rolls through Leon. In order to take Tica Bus I would have to find my own transportation back to Managua at about 3am. This sounded expensive because I would likely have to hire my own taxi.

I was able to find an 'Excursion Bus' that left directly from Leon on the way to Guatemala City. The bus left Leon at 11am, so it would put me in San Salvador at about 9pm.
The main Cathedral in Leon. The Parque Central is right behind me.
That's a little bit later then I like to arrive in any city, much less a potentially dangerous capital city and the second largest city in Central America. So, I did go online to book a hotel room ahead of time so I know exactly where I am headed after dark. Another interesting thing is that the first agency I went to said that this bus was full, so I could not book the bus.  The next place I went to was more then happy to sell me the ticket. So, as happy as I was to get the ticket I am a bit worried about seat availability one the bus arrives. Also, the bus has no air conditioning so I am apparently signing up for 10 hours in crowded bus, on which I may not have a seat. Wish me luck!

I then set off to check out Leon. Leon is the former capital of Nicaragua, and has always had a ideological rivalry with Granada.
The adorable restored Iglesia El Calvario in Leon.
Granada is home to the conservatives, and Leon is the traditional seat of liberal power.  The differences were so great, that it was decided that the only way to choose a capital was to compromise and select Managua. Granada and Leon are still rivals, now for the title of best colonial cities in Nicaragua.  Leon certainly has Granada beat in number of churches. My hotel was positioned on Parque San Juan about 100 meters from Iglesia de San Juan, an obviously old and a bit ugly example of colonial Spanish architecture.  It was strangely asymmectrical and very apparently in need of some restoration, but it did have a certain stoic charm to it. The main cathedral on the Parque Central is one of the largest in Latin America and has been wonderfully restored.  Also in the area are Iglesia La Recoleccion, La Merced, El Calvario, and San Francisco.
Iglesia La Recoleccion in Leon.
Leon certainly did remind me of a South American city in the beauty and quantity of churches.

Leon did not seem to be overrun by tourists either. The Parque Central was practically deserted compared to the one in Granada, and English was certainly not as prevalent. In this way Leon seemed much more like a 'typical' Nicaraguan city. There are a good number of hotels in all price ranges, and some decent tourist infrastructure in place. I could certainly see that Leon would be a great place to take one of those Spanish language immersion courses where the object is to hear as little English as possible. The trick with one of these courses is to find a place where there is less English spoken, but that you would not be bored out of your skull.

Anyhow, today was quite mellow. Leon is blazingly hot, and there was no breeze today, so I 'investigated' the few areas with air conditioning longer then other places. The grocery store was one of my favorite places, and I love to explore what a normal Leon citizen has to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Tomorrow I think I'll head to the beach.

Later, Phil
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Iglesia de San Juan in Leon.
Iglesia de San Juan in Leon.
The main Cathedral in Leon.  The P…
The main Cathedral in Leon. The …
The adorable restored Iglesia El C…
The adorable restored Iglesia El …
Iglesia La Recoleccion in Leon.
Iglesia La Recoleccion in Leon.
Cool old builing next to the Parqu…
Cool old builing next to the Parq…
Leon
photo by: Chokk