What I did-
San Juan del Sur is located on the west (Pacific) coast of Nicaragua. It offers many surfing opportunities. Although I am far from an expert surfer, I really enjoy it. The beaches around San Juan offered waves for multiple different ability levels.
Relax on the beach-
In addition to having some nice waves, San Juan del Sur has many beaches that provide a nice place to relax and read a book.
Hike to the Christ of the Mercy statue-
There is a large (134 meters) statue of Jesus at the top of a hill in the bay of San Juan. After taking the short hike to the top you are rewarded with great views of the city and an up close view of the Christ of the Mercy statue.
Relax by the pool-
The hostel I stayed at had a pool overlooking San Juan del Sur. It was a nice place to relax chat with new friends.
Where I ate-
Dale Pues House of Sandwiches-
Nice little sandwich place in town. They also have a nice selection of non-sandwich items.
Simon Says Smoothie Bar-
Nice smoothie place with a great breakfast.
San Juan del Sur Cerveceria-
Nice brewery in San Juan. They even have a nitro stout!
La Vecchia Signora-
A slice of Italy in San Juan. Started and run by an Italian couple, they offer authentic Italian food.
Nice place for a good, quick, cheap meal.
El Gato Negro-
This was my favorite cafe in San Juan. To maximize the things I can see, I normally try not to visit a place more than once on a trip. However, I had to come back to El Gato Negro multiple times. The "Dharma Love" drink was one of the best things I have ever tasted. Unfortunately, I heard El Gato Negro has since closed. I am hoping it will reopen again.
Where I stayed-
The Naked Tiger Hostel-
This hostel offers great views of San Juan del Sur. It is awesome to watch the sun set from the pool. While it is just outside of the city center, they run free shuttles into town. It is also the third of the four popular "Sunday Funday" stops.
How I got around-
I got to the hostel by taking the "chicken bus" from Managua. There are also taxis and shuttles that run to the surrounding beaches for surfers. The Naked Tiger hostel also offered a free shuttle into town.
My Favorite Thing-
I really enjoyed the laid back vibe in Nicaragua. Also, even though I am not a great surfer, it was a lot of fun to get out on the water and improve my surfing. And the Dharma Love drink from El Gato Negro is one of the best things I have ever tasted.
My Least Favorite Thing-
There wasn't much to dislike about San Juan del Sur. However, because it is slightly more developed than other cities in Nicaragua, it is also slightly more expensive (but still cheap compared to many parts of the world). Also, the town is slightly party-heavy for my tastes.
For Next Time-
Next time in San Juan del Sur I would like to spend more time surfing, and it would be fun to explore more of the beaches in the area around San Juan. Also, I hope El Gato Negro reopens because I would love to go there again.
My favorite thing:
Sungate One Hostel is one of the best hostels I've stayed in. The atmosphere was awesome.
My least favorite thing:
Madrid had many great things to offer, but because it is located in the center of Spain, a beach is not one of those things. Also, due to the distance from the coast, the temperature can fluctuate higher and lower than Spain's coastal regions.
For next time:
Next time I am in Madrid I would like to dive farther into the food scene. The few places I was able to try were good, and I would enjoy trying some more. I would like to get the chance to spend some time in Madrid's markets such as the Mercado de San Miguel.
Many people I talk to are hesitant to stay in a hostel. They may have had a bad experience in a hostel or they may have learned all they know about hostels from horror movies. I have stayed in a variety of different hostels, and I have had some great experiences. Hostels can be a great resource to use when traveling for a number of different reasons, such as:
Hostels are a great way to save money while traveling. If you are willing to share a room with others you can stay for a fraction of the price you would pay for a comparable hotel.
Good hostels have a great, communal feel. I have met all kinds of interesting people from all kinds of different places in hostels. While I love seeing new places, one of my favorite parts of traveling is the people I meet in the hostels I stay at.
In my experience, hotels tend to recommend "touristy" restaurants and activities, while hostels tend to recommend more "local" places. When I travel, I prefer to see the real place and avoid most of the tourist area. Also, hostel staff realize that people staying in hostels tend to be on a tighter budget, so they will recommend things that are more inexpensive (but still awesome).
Many hostels are located in amazing places. They might be on beach front property or right in the middle of a city. There are locations I couldn't afford if staying in a hotel, but with a hostel they are well within my reach.
Although there are many benefits to staying in hostels, there are also many bad hostels out there. Prior to booking a hostel, you should do your research. Sites such as Hostelworld.com and Booking.com have ratings and reviews of various hostels. You can use these to find a hostel that would be a good fit for you.
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