One reason for visiting Marina Puesta del Sol in Nicaragua is that it's a secure place to keep your boat while traveling inland for a bit of turismo. Nicaragua's about the size of New York state, so travel from the coast to the big city takes only a few hours, even via public transportation. We were prevented from enjoying Puesta del Sol's onshore facilities during the first several days The Fox was there (just after Semana Santa in mid-April), due to the presence at the resort of some highly-placed vacationing political dignitaries, so a road trip was definitely in order for us.
The Puesta del Sol marina/resort has a service vehicle that occasionally drives to the nearest town, Chinandega, for supplies and if the marina staff know you're headed their way you'll most likely be welcome to ride along with the driver and either return to Puesta del Sol when he does, or catch a bus or bus-van out of Chinandega if you want to travel further to places like León, Managua or Granada. We hear there's also a public bus that leaves the Puesta del Sol area once or twice in the morning and returns to the marina area once in the afternoon. And if you're really lucky, you might catch a ride with Puesta del Sol's owner and resident, Don Roberto Membreno*, when he goes in to town to run errands. We got really lucky: Don Roberto kindly gave us a ride all the way to León. What a pal.
* Don Roberto is a nice fellow with a lot of entertaining information to share, so if you meet him, buy him a drink at his own bar and listen to his stories. Ask him about geothermal power plants.
León is a Spanish Colonial city boasting a university and Central America's largest cathedral. Once we got there we stayed at Posada Doña Blanca, a B&B located a few blocks from the cathedral. Full breakfast, mini-split A/C in the room, center courtyard, and much more. Very comfortable despite the high April heat in the upper 90sF. Braving the heat to look around the centro district we saw some of the renovated Spanish Colonial structures (some well-restored, others...not so much) interspersed with more modern architecture such as the university's buildings. Narrow Colonial streets contrasted with the modern politically-oriented murals for which León is known, some of which depict León's Kent State-style shooting of students by the Nicaraguan military under Somoza back in 1959.
The cathedral in the pic directly above has unusual architecture with what we hear is an excellent rooftop view of León's many other churches and nearby volcanoes. Sadly, we didn't go up on the roof, but inside the cathedral we saw the lavish white-marble tomb of Rubén Darío, Nicaragua's favorite modernist poet and León native, with its weeping lion. Personally, I thought the lion theme ("león" in Spanish) repeated inside and outside the cathedral was pretty cool. We located the city's excellent art museum/gallery, the Ortiz Gurdian, 3 blocks west of the cathedral across from Iglesia San Francisco. The Ortiz Gurdian comprises 2 restored Colonial mansions located across the street from each other, and the buildings themselves are worth the price of admission - the actual exhibits, which include collections of traditional art and modern Central American artists' works, is a total bonus.
Speaking of bonus, the bartender at Hotel La Perla is a highly skilled professional who quickly adapts his technique to his customers' unique preferences. Like most bartenders in Latin America, he made martinis the traditional way from the 1950s, with lots of vermouth. But by our third round he was making them The Propane Chef's way: very dry, shaken-not-stirred. La Perla's chef is likewise first rate and open-minded - so if you can, have a bit of a splurge and go to La Perla for cocktail enhancement and dinner. If you order a martini, order it very dry and mention our name - it won't get you anywhere, but La Perla strikes me as the kind of place where name-dropping is expected. So you might as well start.
We didn't have much time in León - just 2 nights - and we were going to be traveling by bus for the rest of this road trip, so this was one of the few times we actually hired a tour guide to drive us several miles to the ruins of León Viejo. This was
Our tour included a quick trip to the shore of Lake Managua for a closer look at Volcan Momotombo. Here in this pic we see the choppy whitecaps of a mild Papagayo blowing across the lake and its black volcanic sand beach, headed toward the Pacific Ocean to mess with various watercraft.
Before our personal tour took us back to León, we stopped for a typical Nica lunch at a typical Nica roadside diner. Because I am an idiot I neglected to take a photo of a licky-delicious Nicaraguan quesillo - a corn tortilla in which is placed a circular slab o' homemade white cheese the same size as the tortilla. You roll it up, hold it