Hostal El Momento

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Safety in Granada and Nicaragua, current situation.

The one question still on tourists minds is ” Is it safe to visit Granada”, this is not a straight forward answer but your safety is important to us as it always has been even before the political unrest so I will give an accurate description of what is happening and what to expect.

Granada has seen some unrest, once around the 20th April for a few hours for a couple of nights which followed with 3 weeks of normality and peace. Then we had more unrest on the 11th May and the same, a few hours for 3 nights and now another week of normality.
The business community has had a meeting with the Mayor and the police to boost safety in the city and to keep Granada a city where tourists can still visit.
What the average guest will see is less tourists in the hotels and restaurants, some guests actually prefer this. It is still possible to do tours and walk about the city during day light hours as this is normal with Granadinos going about their business. Late evenings we feel it is best to be in your hotel for the time being until things stabalize as when there has been unrest it has been in the evenings, we cannot give a time frame on this.
If you do come to Granada then ask at your hotel what is the current situation as things can change and the reception will know if thre are any protests.

There have been road blocks around the country, these have not be dangerous and more of an inconvenience for tourists as there are delays with lines of traffic, there is a Facebook page called ‘Carreteras Nicaragua’ with valuable information if you are still travelling in Nicaragua and want to get from once place to another.

If you are not in Nicaragua and are debating on whether to come then it is really up to you, you are going to get alot of different answers depending on who you speak to and things are changing day to day and week to week.
I recommend to keep away from protests, the protests have been peaceful all around the country but this is not a place for tourists as you could be mistaken for a journalist in my opinion.

Call ahead to the hotel of your choice wherever you are heading in the country as they can give more accurate information of current events in their location.

 

Current Political events in Nicaragua

We would like to take this opportunity to inform future guests/ tourists who are thinking of coming to Granada and Nicaragua what is the current situation here. As some of you may know that there has been protests over social security payments in the country , this happened from the 19th-21st April and since then there have been other marches but very peaceful.

We do not want to go into any political details as this is for the politicians but we do want to address what many guests have already been asking “is it safe”. As of now the 1st May 2018 the last 10 days have been completely normal with all businesses open, including the supermarkets, banks and restaurants, it is safe to go out in the evening, we are very close to all businesses and only a 3 min walk to the Calzada St with all the restaurants and bars. The only difference you may see is that there are not as many tourists, May/June are slower months but maybe slower due to recent events. If you are still interested in coming to Nicaragua we advise to contact your hotels and ask them how things are, if you are coming from the airport it is safe to come in the evening to Granada.

You can contact us by email here on the contact page or phone us on (505) 2552 7811 if you have more questions, we will also contact any guests if things take a bad turn.
Please be aware that although newspapers have been covering the the stories correctly they are not covering the peaceful marches as this does not sell papers.

Payments.

Making a reservation and making it easier. 

We have always tried to give the guest as many options as possible when making a reservation or paying for their room during their stay. As we move forward in a digital age these options are becoming easier with millions of mobile phones being used world wide and companies want to take advantage of this.
As well as banks and card companies having apps, Apple Pay and Paypal are also moving forward, here in Nicaragua we do not have Apple Pay and it can be difficult to set up in Paypal also for most businesses but here at Hostal El Momento we do accept Paypal as well as all major credit cards.

As can see cryptocurrencies are showing alot of interest but as of now only 1-2% of the worlds population know how to use them.
There are many new companies coming into the space many catering towards making payments easier,cheaper and quicker.
We expect to see in 2018/2019 more of these companies coming into this space and making it easier to do business.


With this in mind we still want to be at the forefront and we do offer 2 cryptocurrencies as of now. Bitcoin is the most well known for those outside of the cryptocurrency arena but for small transactions the cost and slowness does not work well.
We are offering Litecoin and Stella Lumens which are both very cheap and fast currencies to work with. Anyone that already has these 2 currencies will know how the system works.

Once you contact us for a reservation and you wish to pay this way you can ask for our Litecoin or Lumens address, we will send you the total in US dollars and you can watch the transaction on the blockchainand and we will then confirm the transaction and send you a confirmation of your booking.

 

 

Safety apps for travel and offline safety travel tips.

10 Online safety apps and tips.

When traveling through new countries safety is probably top of the list for everyone, even more so now in 2017 nearly everyone will be traveling with a device, whether it be a smartphone, tablet or laptop.
In a country that may have a bad reputation for crime whether it be street crime of internet crime you may be more on your guard and more likely to take safety serious.

It is the safer countries that you may be less cautious and probably feel more comfortable but there are bad people everywhere looking to take advantage.

For example here in Nicaragua it is known for being one of the safest countries in Central America but it is also one of the poorest and an emergency can happen at any time.

Many of the Central Parks you will see throughout Nicaragua have free WIFI as do many of the hotels, these apps will help in these situations.

Below is a list with some apps for Android or Apple you may want to check out before you leave or for those that are already on the road.

CLOAK- Mac/IOS/Android.
This is a VPN product- Virtual Private Network. You can pay for this once and works on all devices. It works like a network of private tunnels meaning you can use insecure public WIFI. $10 a month.

Find my Iphone
It comes automatic with Apple and built in but is best to make sure it is enabled before you go on your trip.
(Settings-iCloud- Find My iPhone)
You can also add other close friends and family members.

TripMode -(Mac)
Changes your computer’s settings based on your location. For each location you can sort through your apps and amount of data they use then choose which to turn on or off.

1 Password Travel Mode
This password manager works by deleting your passwords from your device when you cross borders then reloading them once you are safely in.
This is for anyone who has 1Password membership subscription.

Ghostery- (Mac)
Blocks trackers in your browser and can block tracking code being downloaded and helps reduce bandwidth.

Tripit- (Android,iPhone,Windows Phone 7
Trip planner and all details for flights, hotels,maos and directions etc.
You can sync with your calendar and post travel plans on social media. Free

ICE-(Android)
For emergencies this app keeps details about your medical conditions and your Dr’s contact even if your phone is locked.- $3.99

SaferVPN- (IOS, Windows, Android)
Thefts can occur online and this app connects to a remote server, directing traffic through a secure network allowing you to surf the web with a high level encrypted connection. $5.99-$8.99/month

Sitata-(IOS,Android)
A warning app, tells you what other travelers are saying about the local area and how to avoid scams.
Gives you information about local hospitals and currently working in 200 countries.

bSafe-(IOS,Android)
Allows you to set up a network of friends and family to share your location and with the ‘Follow me’ feature they can trace the person walking in real time.
‘Guardian Alert’ button informs them if you are in trouble. Free

8 Offline tips for travelling.

This is just a few of the many apps out there and whilst many travelers go on vacation and arrive back home without any hiccups these apps can help you become more aware and to reduce the chances of anything happening.These tips below are for any country you may be travelling in, for the season pro they are normal but for some of you it may be your first time travelling.

1 Apart from apps remember good advice from locals first hand is free and probably as good if not better than want you can find on the online world.
Here at Hostal El Momento we give out free maps of Granada at reception letting our guests know where to go and not to go and what to do if coming back late at night and how much a taxi should cost.

2 Like all cities around the world it is best not to be walking with your head down looking at your phone, not just because someone could take it out of your hand but because many cities have a lot of traffic or side walks with holes in them which could cause an accident.

3 When taking local buses keep your day bag preferably on your lap and not on the floor between your legs.

4 I like to have money in different pockets so I am not pulling out a lot of large bills at the same time, you may need some small bills for a bus, bottle of water or some fruit whilst on the road.

5 I also prefer to travel with cards and money and just draw out enough money to last me a few days.

6 At our hostel we do have safes and lockers and we do not allow non guests into the hostel after a certain time, always ask at your hotel before you make a booking if they have a secure safe or lockers with padlocks.
Some hostels will advertise as  ‘The best hostel in Granada’ or ‘The cheapest hostel in Nicaragua’, they may have many good options but safety has to be at the top of the list for many.

7 Once of the reasons many travel is to meet other like minded individuals especially if traveling alone but do not put all your trust in someone you may have just met 2 days before whilst dancing on a beach somewhere. You can still make friends and keep safe at the same time.

8 One last bit of advice is to look for some travel insurance before your trip, many insurance companies will cover you for lost or late luggage , accidents, hospital or Doctor visits and even if your need to be sent home for an emergency.

And remember to ask, receptionist at most hotels around the world will be more than happy to help you, like us we want your stay to be enjoyable and we want you or your friends to come to Nicaragua more than once.

Upgrade of the hostel and wesbite.

Update for 2017, tourism and Zika.

The high season in Granada and Nicaragua has come to a close but many tourists are not aware that July and August are 2 months that usually sees another surge for tourism in the country and they can usually miss out staying at their favorite or best hostel in Granada as they could be booked out.
There has been a small drop in tourism the last year due to elections both in the USA and in Nicaragua plus the Zika scare has also put off some tourists coming to this part of the world.
Central and South America plus the Caribbean did see a drop with tourists starting in 2016 and has continued into 2017 with a more noticeable drop of American tourists, whether it was the media or CDC  having an affect we are not sure but this has been discussed amongst some hotel owners with the country.
Zika just like Dengue and Chikungunya  is spread by the same type of mosquito, the symptoms can be all very similar with headaches, nausea and muscle pain although I have heard from some that have had Zika that the symptoms are not as bad and can disappear within a few days, this can depend on the persons age and health at the time. The exception of Zika is that it can affect pregnant women and their babies which is understandable for this particular group to not want to travel but we have found in the last year that Zika has not gotten out of control and Nicaragua has not had that many cases, in fact Dengue is still the disease locals prefer not to get.

Nicaraguan health departments do keep on top of controlling mosquitoes by spraying different areas within each city and department and repeating the process throughout rainy season. Businesses also have to have a 3 month check and get all areas sprayed and this is by law, with these in place Nicaragua does its very best as they know the health of tourists is important and it is a shame the CDC are not aware of this as they can scare tourists from traveling.

As there are many new hotels/hostels opening up in the city of Granada we have made changes and as always we try to upgrade the rooms and bathrooms either re-tiling or painting and adding new artwork, we still want to be one of the best hostels in Granada and Nicaragua.  New hotels/hostels is more competition for businesses and good as long as tourism numbers keep going up but is always good for the tourist as they have more options and possibly cheaper prices because of it.

Granada is one of the cities you can spend a few days, Las Isletas, Mombacho and Masaya volcanoes, Masaya market, Zip Lining are just a few attractions you can see, click here for more information for all the attractions we can help you with in Granada.

Outside view

Local Nicaraguan Food.

Local Food.

Quesillo

A medium sized tortilla topped with molten cheese, pickled sliced onions, sour cream, rolled into the shape of a burrito. Very convenient for eating on the run. It has become a staple of the Nicaraguan cuisine (although it may have its roots elsewhere).

Nacatamales 

The local take on the traditional Latin America Tamale. It’s big. It’s tasty! It’s made of corn flour, and filled up with as many as 20 ingredients, which may include: pork, chicken, peas, carrots, onions, peppermint, sour orange, peppers, and many others. This is one of the meals that is cooked in banana leaves. An average  may have 1000 calories. It is a very popular dish in Nicaraguan cuisine.

Click here for the rest of the post from the Leon Travel Bureau.

Making Reservations or Taking a Chance…in Granada !!

2014 seemed a Churchbusy year in Granada, I don’t take much notice of Government figures and look at our own bookings and from what I hear of other businesses in the city. We did have a good year and I felt we were turning more guests away when we were full than we did in 2013 which leads me on to this topic which I have covered before but would like to cover it again for those tourists who may be thinking of visiting the city.

With my own travel experience in the past I would always arrive in a city and find somewhere once I was there, only three times have I ever had real trouble finding a bed, once on an island in Thailand and the other time in a city in India,both times when there was a festival on….oh and the other time,yes here in Granada when there was not a festival on and it wasn’t even peak season, why ??

My theory is this and maybe times have changed but the two times I had trouble in Thailand and India was back in 1999, no cell phones, no Wifi,no laptops , no Trip Advisor, a few websites but everyone had a guide book, backpackers in particular just arrived at a destination, some phoned ahead.

We have noticed that when we are full many of the other hostels we phone to help the guest are also full, this happens alot throughout the year except maybe for June,September and October. Granada is located only an our from the airport and many guests want to have a booking for their first 2 or 3 nights in a new country until they have become accustomed , many do not want to stay in Managua and come straight here. Also with its location Granada is centrally located for guests to return from Leon or SJDS then head north or south again. This plus the ease of now being able to get free wifi, going on your cell phone and sending an email and getting your information from Trip Advisor and other websites.

We get many guests arriving and in complete shock that ourselves and other hostels are full, recently we had some Ticos arrive and commented “People make reservations in Nicaragua” !!!  My guess is that because the country is relatively new on the tourist scene many travellers think it is still untouched which it is in many parts but Granada is different and it’s location does have an advantage.

So for future tourists,backpackers,travellers etc remember the country has about 5 main locations, Granada,Leon,SJDS,Ometepe and Corn Islands and other smaller locations and towns, they will be busy from December until Easter but May, July and August can also be busy in some of the main locations also. Don’t make the mistake I made and be aware of the festivals also but for those who are fancy free and prefer a

 

 

Reservations and our Policies !

patio hdrWhen we opened the Hostel in 2011 we decided to take reservations both here on our website and with Hostel World as this would help the hostel generate business and get the name on the ‘World Wide Web’ which it did. The problem with reservations is we had to have policies to protect  both the hostel and to protect those guests that wanted to make reservations, otherwise we would have guests making bookings then canceling at the last minute. This meant the hostel losing business and a potential guest losing out on staying with us when they had their heart on staying here.

In the last 17 months we have kept the hostel running at 90% occupancy using a booking system and with Granada being so close to the airport and a better option than staying in Managua many guests want somewhere for when they arrive in the country, this does not happen with Hostels/Hotels in Leon/Ometepe or San Juan but possibly with Corn Islands. So there is a market here in Granada for reservations and with us using Hostel World also it makes sense for us to do that.

With this in mind we need to remind the guest that we are only a small- medium size hostel so our policies are important in that we do not lose reservations, there is a small hotel in town with only 1 room so they have a weeks cancellation policy, there is another very popular and very large hostel in town with many dorm and private rooms, they do not take reservations at all.

Every business works a little different and they have to incorporate what they have and how well it works for both the customer and the business but it is has to work for both, having reservations without polices can mean a business losing money and shutting down or having policies with the guest not receiving all the informations is not fair on the guest.

 

Trips to Laguna de Apoyo

 

After being open for just over 1 year we have decided to start working with the San Simian Resort in Laguna de Apoyo. We are offering trips 3 days a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays when there are 3 or more people, The cost will be $6 for the transportation and $5 entrance fee, the bus will leave Hostal El Momento at 10am and return at 4pm.

Laguna de Apoyo is the cleanest lake in the country and is surprisingly warm for a lake, at San Simians you can kayak, swim or hang out in the lake in a large inner-tube. They have a beautiful restaurant, their menu we have printed at our hostel or you can simply hang out in their hammocks and enjoy the view.

They also have a website which gives other information on the hotel if you wish to return- www.sansimian.com.

How long in Granada.

So how long are you planning to spend in Granada, it may just may be possible that it will not be long enough for some and you may also end up returning, it will all depend on your research and where you end up staying.
 One of the reasons we opened up a hostel in the city was because we could see that the area has alot to offer and it is one of the places where many feel comfortable especially after coming from El Salvador, Honduras etc were travel can be a little more stressful. So where to visist is a question we obviously get asked many times, ‘The City itself is joy to walk around,especially for those that like Colonial cities and for those that enjoy photography with the brightly painted buildings and the old churches. You can view the city from the bell tower at Guadalope Church or visit the Isletas from between 1-3 hours,the costs depending on how many people in the boat, there is also a new tour in town which involves a boat,bus and walking tour.
 
Out of town you can visit Mombacho either with a tour or head out on your own and get transport to the top once you get over there, there are a few different treks can you can do also depending on your experiance.
Lago de Apoyo is day or a whole day visit worth doing as it is the cleanest lake in the country and surprisingly warm, you can take a transfer from either Monkey or Oasis hostels which leave in the morning and come back about 4pm.
When Volcan de Masaya is not blowing off some steam then the park can visited again either independently or with a tour, the tour would include Masaya market which is also another day out if you are spending more time in Granada. Masaya has 2 markets the old and the new, one more touristy but it has plenty of things to offer but you may need to visit the post office after.
 
Another great area is Catarina which also has a market and will show you how Nicas live in a smaller town, there is also fantastic views over looking Lago de Apoyo with Mombacho to the left and then in the distance Granada and Lake Nicaragua,bring a camera.
 
We have many guests that go to either Ometepe or to San Juan Del Sur then return to us before heading out to another country like Honduras or Costa Rica as they would rather spend their last days with us than in Managua waiting for Ticabus or Transnica.
 
So there it is and with Granada also offering swimming pools,good food and bars to party until you drop there is no reason for you not to want to spend extra time here and with the extra incentive of staying at Hostal El Momento with comfortable accommodation at a reasonable price !
 
One extra note,Granada is not for everyone as some backpackers are looking for a different experience and at lower coasts, as with most cities around the world it does have beggars and as I have posted another blog mentioning that Granada hopes to get World Heritage Site in a few years which has led to the government being stricter here on taxes than other parts of the country. 
 
Hope the majority of you get to enjoy ‘Beautiful Granada’.