Pools of Mud in San Jacinto, Nicaragua (May, 2008)

San Jacinto 1San Jacinto 2

While You Are There: Hang out in León for a few days, see the ruins, go to the beach, go sandboarding, and drink some rum. There’s no shortage of activities in this part of the country. León is easily my favorite place in Nicaragua (although Ometepe is pretty great too!) and this quote from Lonely Planet captures my feelings well:

Intensely political, buzzing with energy and, at times, drop-dead gorgeous (in a crumbling, colonial kind of way), León is what Managua should be – a city of awe-inspiring churches, fabulous art collections, stunning streetscapes, cosmopolitan eateries, fiery intellectualism, and all-week, walk-everywhere, happening nightlife. Many people fall in love with Granada, but most of them leave their heart in León.

Why It’s On My List: Because you feel like you are defying death when you go. You don’t know if the ground beneath your feet is suddenly going to collapse and send you plummeting into a scalding, muddy death. There aren’t exactly closed off, safe walkways like you find in such a place in the States. It’s also on my list simply because I had a great experience staying in León. I made some wonderful friends and the San Jacinto mud pools was one small day trip we took together in the car I had rented. Then we went to a little restaurant nearby and sipped cervezas in the Nicaragua heat. It was a good day.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

(Isla de) Ometepe, Nicaragua (July, 2008)

While You Are There: If you can arrange your trip while there is a festival going on in Altagracia, which we did unintentionally, stay there a night and enjoy it. Otherwise, hop on a long, slow bus ride to Merida and stay at the Hacienda Merida. They can arrange a bunch of activities for you or you can use the bicycles and explore on your own. The dinner buffet is tasty and provides an opportunity to swap stories with fellow travelers; however, food poisoning is possible. And because the rooms, including bathrooms, are open air, when a lot of people get food poisoning, the night air is filled with all sorts of special sounds that aren’t coming from wildlife or the ocean waves.

Why It’s On My List: It’s a “something for everyone” kind of place. If you are going to Nicaragua but don’t have much time to spend, you can go here to enjoy beaches, waterfalls, volcanoes, petroglyphs, and wildlife. Plus, you can take a ferry to get there.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

Ferries!

Ferry

Overnight ferry to Tasmania. This is the real deal. (2000)

Rio Dulce Hotel Perrico

The Hotel Perrico, Rio Dulce, Guatemala. You can only get there by a tiny ferry (otherwise known as a motorboat). (2004)

ometepe-ferry

On the way to Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua (2008)

valentia-island-2

Waiting for the Valentia Island ferry to take me and the car back to mainland Ireland (2014)

While You Are There: Your on-board experiences will vary widely, but whether you are living it up in a private cabin on a ship with plenty of booze and entertainment, or crammed in a cold and leaky vessel with a bunch of local fisherman, enjoy it! It’s not your everyday experience. It’s part of being wherever you are.

Why It’s On My List: Yesterday’s post was about the places you can stay and today’s post is about the ways you can get there. Ferry travel can take you places that are expensive to get to otherwise, or sometimes, that you can’t even get to at all. Some of my favorite ferry related experiences are

  • The Aran Islands in Ireland  where I rented a bicycle and rode around narrow roads lined by sheep pastures outlines with old, low stone fences and the ever-present cold, gray sea in the background. It was the quintessential image of Ireland.
  • Elephanta Island in India, which was the first place I visited in India, the day after I arrived in Mumbai and had a day to kill before my flight to Vadodara. It was overwhelming and magnificent.
  • Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica where I witnessed a sea turtle nesting in the middle of the night under the stars.
  • Pelican Bar in Jamaica, which in itself was very cool, but my favorite part was riding over with a Honduran immigrant and learning about his life experiences and being very impressed with his English, but more, with how he had picked up the Jamaican patois in just six months
  • And last but not least, the ferry ride to Tasmania because I found a $100 bill lying on the carpet in the hallway!

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.