Travel from the Pacific to the Caribbean in Nicaragua
By Dmitry Petrounin
In 1502, Christopher Columbus set foot on this American-Indian territory for the first time, paving the way for centuries of colonisation. With all that history behind it, this nation is still as inspiring and welcoming as ever, beckoning to the impatient explorer with the Pacific ocean to the West and the Caribbean sea to the East. Two immense mountain ranges cut the country in half, from Honduras in the North, to Costa Rica in the South, whilst the many active volcanoes rumble on as a constant reminder of the volatile earth just beneath our feet. The gigantic Lake Nicaragua and Lake Managua literally punch holes in the country's map, whilst the Atlantic region remains cut off from the rest of the country and relatively inaccessible. Though venture into this central American paradise, those who do will barely feel their feet touch the ground.
As you have to land in Managua, you should stay for a few days. The country's capital city is the most convenient starting point to visit the region of the lakes Managua and Nicaragua. For the rest of your holiday, several alternatives are available. If you enjoy water sports, go to the West coast for surfing and for the numerous beaches. From Managua, driving access to this region is easy. For those of you with more time, go to Mosquito Coast and in particular on the Islas del Maiz - some Caribbean islands ideal for a beach holiday. Do not forget that the North and the mountains of the country still have not been made secure, since the end of the civil war. It is recommended not to go.
+Nicaragua has good air links so you can combine it to Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala and Honduras for your holiday.
+You can combine relaxation on the beach to cultural tours.
+Not very well-known, the colonial towns definitely deserve to be explored.
-Travelling on the ground isn't easy.
-Although the situation has improved, there still aren't many hotels.
-A beach holiday is possible but this destination is no rival to others in the Caribbeans.
In Managua, you will find Italian, as well as Chinese, Spanish and French restaurants. The local cuisine is often eaten with tortillas (corn crisps) which replace forks. Galla pinto is a blend of fried rice and beans generally served with beef. Seafood is very widespread along the coasts. On the markets, you will find a lot of grilled corn as well as tajaditas (banana crisps). As for drinks, you will have fruit juice, imported beer or rum. Remember to pay an extra 10 % to the amount of the bill, when service is not included.
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Interesting items amount to colourful hammocks, leatherware and basketry. You will also find gold jewels, some paintings and hand-made pottery. Masaya market is one of the best renown in the country. Shops are open from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 6 pm. They are also open on Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm.