León is a cute little colonial town in Nicaragua. It's the second oldest city in Nicaragua as well as the second largest city in Nicaragua.
First thing's first... Matt and Jess (see Utila blog post for who they are) can probably tell you more than we can since they will be there longer than we were. Check out Matt's blog at www.matt-burns.com/ to see if he's written anything on it yet. Or read his other blog posts because he's awesome, and I love his writing style.
Also, if you've never been on a free walking tour, you must start now. Right now. Google "free walking tour" in whatever city you are in (even if it's your own), and see if there are any you can try. You typically just tip at the end of the tour. I tend to give about $5 (US) unless they blow me away with how good they are in which case I miiiiiight give up to $10 (US). I'll make up for it when I'm rich and can tip with more 0's at the end ;)
Side note on walking tours: If you are in a city that has free walking tours by Sandeman (they are mostly in Europe, but last I checked they were also in Israel and New York and a few other places), then you have to go on one. I believe they also sometimes do cheap bike tours and bar crawls, but I usually just stick to the free walking tour. I've never been on a bad Sandeman tour, and I've been on at least 8 of the free walking tours. My dad usually pays for great tour guides (I love traveling with my family), so when we were in Madrid a few years ago, I told him that I would cover our tour guide. I took him and the rest of my family on the Sandeman free walking tour in Madrid, and they all loved it. No need to pay for a fancy tour if Sandeman offers a free option in the same city! Don't be one of those people that doesn't tip though... that just gives travelers a bad name. Unless they are just awful, in which case of course don't tip :)
Okay, side note over... I was rambling on about walking tours because we took a free walking tour in León with -S- Travel & Tours. They seem to be the only free walking tour in the city, and I'd say it's worth the $5. I can't give it rave reviews, but I'm glad I did it. If you are a history buff, then you'll get more out of the tour than I did. Our tour guide spoke for the first 45 minutes about the history of Nicaragua (mostly about the people who have been the president of Nicaragua and where they went wrong... corruption, etc.). It was a lot of information thrown at me all at once, and I don't work well under those circumstances. Also, there were a lot of gnats that kept buzzing around my head. Bring bug spray. It was supposed to be a 90 minute tour, but it went over so ended up being about 2 hours long. Our guide was helpful with suggestions and was very amicable.
We stayed at Hostal El Jardin which I liked. It was quiet, and you get breakfast included! You can either have a pancake + banana or 2 eggs + toast (both come with coffee so you can start your day off right). The lady who makes breakfast makes delicious pancakes. I never tried the eggs because I got hooked on the pancakes, but they looked good too. There is no A/C, but there really isn't much A/C anywhere in León.
Two major exceptions to the no A/C thing are 2 coffee shops that we went to: La Casa del Cafe and Cafe Libelula. Both seem to be mainly for tourists (higher prices... an iced coffee is about $3 US), but I don't care because the rare times when I get A/C and an iced coffee are the only times in Central America that I don't have humidititties. Cafe Libelula has faster wifi though, so I'd definitely choose that one over La Casa del Cafe. Both make your coffee VERY sweet unless you remember to ask for it without sugar (sin azúcar).
The only other thing we really did in León was go up to the top of the Our Lady of Grace Cathedral (pictured above... more photos on the photos page). It costs $3 (US), and it's very pretty from up there. You have to take your shoes off to walk on the roof, so maybe try to wear socks so you don't have to walk barefoot around the roof. To get a ticket, there is a smaller door in the back that you go in. You give the lady $3 and get your ticket, and then you walk around to the side of the building and walk up narrow stairs to the roof. Ask around if you can't find the little door, and someone will help you.
See our Nicaragua photos here.
Hi, I'm Sara Monica Patton. I love animals, traveling, and eating. Read more about me in my first blog post here.