Crossing From Granada (NI) To San Jose (CR)

Crossing From Granada (NI) To San Jose (CR)

Team of Monsooning Badasses

 

Today we shrugged off the comforts of a direct international coach bus (that would’ve taken care of everything for us at a hefty price) and opted for independently navigating our way from Granada, Nicaragua to San Jose, Costa Rica by way of the cheap and local chicken buses.

Starting from Granada: Walked south to the chicken bus parking lot and boarded the second-to-last 1:30pm bus to Rivas (the last bus of the day to Rivas is at 3:30pm).

 

Walking south in Granada

Towards the Chicken buses

 

The ride cost us about 30 cordobas (a little more than a $1 USD) per person, and lasted for about an hour and 40 minutes.

 

On the way from Granada to Rivas

 

From Rivas we boarded another bus to Pena Blancas (you can ask for that bus by saying ‘Frontera’ for ‘the border’) within the same bus station, which cost us about $1 USD per person and was about a 55 minute ride (we left at 3:30pm and got there around 4:25pm).

 

The Bus Station in Rivas to get on the bus for the border

 

Once arriving at Pena Blancas, you’re almost at the border between Nicaragua and San Jose. Get off the bus and walk past all the vehicles towards the border guards and show them your passports.

 

Walking towards the edge of Nicaragua

 

Keep walking past the guards and ask for where you can get your passports stamped at the Nicaraguan border office:

 

Turn left here

The immigration/emigration office is up ahead

 

Make sure in this building you’re on the correct side (one side is to get a stamp into Nicaragua, the other is to get a stamp into Costa Rica).

 

 

After getting your stamps, head out and walk about 1km through what I affectionately always call “no man’s land/Purgatory” to the Costa Rica’s border post. Ignore any touts who offer to guide, drive or carry your luggage for you; you won’t really need them.

 

Officially exiting Nicaragua at this point

About to enter Costa Rica

"Bienvenidos a Nicaragua"

Almost there! Enter the white building on the left to get your passports inspected...again.

 

Easy as pie: you’re now in Costa Rica!

 

"Bienvenido a Costa Rica"

 

Go get your passport stamped for Costa Rica at what looks like a bus station.

 

 

FYI it’s important that you have some kind of onward ticket that shows you’re exiting Costa Rica (whether it’s a flight out or a bus crossing into Nicaragua or Panama) within 30 days. If you don’t have this, they will either force you to buy these exit tickets at an adjacent bus ticket or make you show all the cash that you have on you to prove you’re not going to get stuck in Costa Rica (over-lingering tourists tend to ruin the environment!). Since we had already bought onward tickets to Panama, we didn’t have a problem.

After getting stamped in, ask for the next bus to Liberia or San Jose, Costa Rica. If you are as efficient as we were, you’ll make it just in time for the 5pm Transportes Deldu Bus to San Jose (other option is the Transnica Bus, which costs about the same but has different departure times). Otherwise you’ll be stuck waiting awhile for the last 6:30pm bus to San Jose. The bus ride costs about $10 USD per person and lasts for 5-6 hours with a rest stop about 2/3 way in.

 

A rest stop about 2/3 of the way to San Jose

Approaching the lights of San Jose

 

Once arriving into San Jose, take a cab to your hotel/hostel from the bus terminals if you’re coming in at night as the neighborhoods around these terminals are reportedly to be quite dodgy.

 

Disembarking

The Parque Nacional of San Jose

  

In a few hours we move onwards to one of the many jewels of Costa Rica and one of Forbes’ Magazine Top 12 National Parks in the World: Manuel Antonio!

 

- At time of posting in San Jose, Costa Rica, it was 24 °C - Humidity: 73% | Wind Speed: 8km/hr | Cloud Cover: scattered clouds

 

Our Little Slice of Granada

Our Little Slice of Granada

 

We’ve had our fair share of colonial town experiences from Cartagena to Antigua to Santo Domingo, but Granada is something else of a find in Nicaragua. It may be not as well manicured as the aforementioned three, but that’s what makes it feel so much more real-life and less touristy.

 

 

Forget the cobblestone roads, this is a real town with real people and a genuine vibe.

 

Dinner at Camello's

 

Last night we stumbled upon paradise thanks to the hospitality of Gerry at Casa del Agua (where we stayed); it’s a fantastic place to decompress if you need advice on where to crash in Granada. 

 

 

 

 

After freshening up we enjoyed a memorable Mediterranean dinner at Camello’s, and had a few drinks along Calle la Calzada, playing music and generally having a grand old time. We tried our best not to be obnoxious Americans…I swear.

 

 

Look how kosher we look!

We then walked around town, soaking in the colonial vibe.

 

 

The next morning a few of us took bikes to the lakeside:

 

 

Don’t dip in! Not as clean as you think:

 

 

We all then met up at The Garden Cafe for breakfast and walked around:

 

 

 

Yes, what a lovely little getaway of a place.

 

 

- At time of posting in Granada, it was 26 °C - Humidity: 83% | Wind Speed: n/a | Cloud Cover: few clouds

 

Crossing From Granada (NI) To San Jose (CR)

Managing Managua

 

After spending 1.5 hours at the border between Honduras and Nicaragua (most of it waiting around as they processed our passports), we arrived into Managua via Transnica Bus at around 1pm in the afternoon.  From there we did a bit of sightseeing, starting with Loma de Tiscipa; a hill overlooking Managua and a crater lake:

 

The silhouette statue of former President Sandino; Taken by Angela Chen

Managua's crater lake; Taken by Angela Chen

Overseeing Managua from Loma de Tiscapa

 

We then walked about Barrio Martha Quezada:

 

 

From there we walked up north through the “Peace Park” (Parque de la Paz), which we found out afterwards that it has been a hotzone for frequent muggings. I guess we got lucky, because we thought it was a pretty nice place to stroll through.

 

Parque de la Paz

 

Walking a bit further north we ended upon Area Monumental, a once central location of Managua that was destroyed by the 1972 Earthquake. Ever since then the place has been relatively abandoned, so it felt like walking about a miniature ghost town.

The cathedral of the main “Plaza de la Revolucion” is an awesome sight: the ruins remain standing and the architecture is quite beautiful to behold. The south clock tower still designate the exact hour and minute the earthquake struck back in 1972.

 

Plaza de la Revolucion

Palacio Nacional

 

We also walked around the Parque Central in the area, where tombs of prominent Nicaraguan heroes are on display for the public:

 

 

We then walked up north and found an abandoned amusement park:

 

 

Afterwards we hailed a cab to the Museum of Archaeology, Huellas de Acahualinca, which is known to be one of Managua’s most fascinating attractions: a preservation of 6,000-year-old footsteps of the earliest humans in Nicaragua.

Unfortunately for us, the place closes early at 4pm, and we got there at 4:30pm:

 

 

The surrounding area of the museum is also known to be pretty dodgy as we had been warned several times to avoid the neighborhood. Apparently this place is a hotbed of drug trafficking and gang warfare:

 

 

After checking out the block, we took a cab to the University of Central America, where buses across the street take you anywhere in Nicaragua for just $1 USD. We chose the bus to Granada, which takes off every 20 minutes from here:

 

 

Take care of your belongings while on the bus as it can get EXTREMELY crowded. They pack you in like sardines, to the point of absolutely ludicrousness. Imaging standing without being able to breathe for the 1 hour ride.

 

 

And here we are, in Granada, soaking up its colonial charms:

 

 

Looking forward to exploring more of Granada in the morning.

 

- At time of posting in Managua A. C. Sandino, it was 26 °C - Humidity: 83% | Wind Speed: n/a | Cloud Cover: few clouds