A Travellerspoint blog

Granada - Nicaragua


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I came to Nicaragua to do a TESOL course & teach English.
I arrived in Granada on the 2nd September. My TESOL course started on the 11th, so I had a week to spare. After NY, I decided to use this week to relax a bit & find my feet. I stayed at the school where I did my course, which is in a great location. Paul, the director is super nice, & helpful. He also has 4 cats who are very cute & entertaining.
Granada is a beautiful city. The buildings are really colourful, & Mombocho Volcano sits sort of to the south of the city, making it quite picturesque when you look down some of the streets. It's not as crowded as I thought it'd be which is nice.
I practiced my Spanish a bit, went for some walks around town, tried some of the local food, & Paul took myself & a couple of others from the previous TESOL course up to Laguna de Apoyo, a beautiful crater lake sitting a little bit above Granada. The water was a clear turquoise and full of minerals - very refreshing. We hung out at Paradiso, a little resort by the lake..... great food too.
I met a guy who worked at one of the tour places, and although I declined his offer of one of his tours, the next time I saw him, he invited me out for one of their work outings to the Laguna. We barbecued some meat on a fire & went for a night swim in the lake.
We did a boat ride around the Isletas - 365 small islands in Lake Nicaragua which were formed by a volcanic explosion years ago. It was awesome. We saw some monkeys, houses belonging to millionaires, & we had a beer at one of the little resorts on one of the islands. People can actually buy an island as real estate.
I also went up to Volcano Masaya one night. This is an active volcano, & you can see the red hot lava churning at the bottom. If you listen carefully, it sounds like an ocean moving around. It's quite spectacular.

The pool at Encuentros - one of the popular bars owned by one of the expats
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The street outside the English school
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One of the colourful buildings
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Masaya Volcano
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Inside one of the many cathedrals around the city
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Some of the streets & building around Granada
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The view from one of the bell towers - this first one looking at Granada Cathedral
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Some more buildings & cathedrals around the city
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Granada Cathedral
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Around the Isletas - in Lake Nicaragua
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TESOL COURSE

The TESOL course was intense but rewarding, It was only myself & Kerri, an American girl, who did the September course - not a huge turn out.
There were late nights, finishing essays & completing lesson plans, we had a few French lessons, to show us what it's like to have a class in a foreign language..... very enjoyable. We also taught 6 lessons throughout the course. I was surprised that I wasn't more nervous for my first lesson..... but I definitely enjoyed it .

POST TESOL COURSE

After the course had finished, I was offered a full time job at the school. It was exciting, & I've enjoyed it a lot. I now have 5 different classes I teach, & lesson planning is very time consuming. I've gone through stages where I've felt drained & demotivated, but as the weeks pass, my experience grows, & things have become easier.
I have developed some good bonds with a lot of my students, which I really love & appreciate.

So now I live & teach here in Granada. The food here is really good, I see people I've met & now know walking down the street - including some of my students. I've been playing Frisbee with a bunch of other expats every Tuesday & Thursday. I've now become friends with Paul, the director of the school, and essentially my boss. We hang out a fair bit. I've made some other friends here too, & met a lot of other cool people here & there.
A lot of the other expats I've met through Paul, & a lot of them own some sort of business in Granada. It seems to be quite a popular destination for foreigners - particularly Americans - to come & live & set up a business. After all, it's a very cheap country to live in.
My Spanish has been getting better every so slowly, but I want it to improve faster.I haven't had time to actively learn it properly (in classes), but I think I'll try & get some private 1 on 1 lessons. I've been learning little bits & pieces from my students which has been good.

Posted by jaleslie03 10:39 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

New Haven & Washington DC - USA


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I hired a car & left Boston, & made my way to DC. On the way I stopped for the night at New Haven, and met with a friend that I had made in Boston, who lived nearby. New Haven is the home of Yale University, & I was told that the town was built around the university.
Apparently there are 2 pizza restaurants there which are meant to have the best pizza in the states. We ate at one of them & it was pretty damn good!

Apparently one of the first burger joints to open in the country
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The heavens were opening on the way to DC
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I met up with my mate Warwick's girlfriend, Lauren & one of her friends from back home. We checked out a few places together and ate some good old hearty American food.
DC was quite spectacular. Plenty of museums, good food, a lot of monuments & memorials dedicated to the great leaders & advocates of the country, & of course the white house & congress.

Nice view of DC
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The famous 'Hope Diamond' - apparently worth about $250 million.
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The White House
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The Washington Monument
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Martin Luther King
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Congress
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Posted by jaleslie03 13:34 Archived in USA Comments (0)

NYC - USA


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It was very disappointing to lose all my NY photos before I got a chance to upload them to my computer. Although I've managed to grab couple here & there from friends.
I stayed with my friend Aisha, who lives in the lower East side of Manhattan, a very busy, vibrant, cool place. Although most of NY is busy. We went out a lot, & it's probably the part of my trip where I spent the most money, but nonetheless it was still a great experience.

On my first night there, we went to Brooklyn to meet Aisha's friend (another Aussie) who worked in a pub. I met this guy who owed a restaurant / bar, & he was saying how the next night they were going to be busy because of the 'summer stroll' (one of the few nights in Summer where restaurants can set up their tables on the street, which is blocked off). So I offered my help & landed a shift for the night - for cash of course.

I managed to check out the sites:

- Ground zero (9/11 memorials)
- Central Park
- Wall street
- Went into Trump Tower
- a night cruise down the Hudson River - past the Statue of Liberty - up the East River (under all the bridges) and back.
- the high walk - this is an elevated walk way that weaves through the tops of the buildings above street level. Heads north to south and ends in the old meat packing district in Chelsea. Very cool
- Rode a lot of city bikes around. In fact it was my main mode of transport.
- Had lunch in 'The Restaurant' - the one they use in Seinfeld (only the outside). Really busy inside & good food too.
- Rode city bikes through Harlem.
- Saw a Yankees game at Yankee stadium in the Bronx. I thought I'd be a bit board, but it's actually all quite entertaining. (Yankees lost that game)
- Went to Time Square. Pretty cool - plenty of tourists & plenty of lights.
- Checked out some really cool some suburbs around Brooklyn, Queens, & Manhattan
- Went down to Coney Island - Brighton beach. Had a 'Nathan's Hot dog' - not as good as everyone raves about. Had a nice swim at the beach...
- Saw some comedy at this little underground comedy club - Louis C K headlined.

I became friends with one of Aisha's friends. Being a musician, he showed me some really cool live music places, & even played at some of the venues himself.

Posted by jaleslie03 10:51 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Vancouver - final visit


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My brother Jack & I headed back to Vancouver for a few days before parting ways. Me heading to the states & Jack heading back to Australia.
We hired bikes again, went back to the beautiful Stanley Park, did a decent bike ride up to North Vancouver which is an absolutely beautiful part of Vancouver. I had a feeling it's where a lot of the rich people live.
We also rode our bikes around the south side of the river to 'Wreck Beach' a well known nudist beach. But there were also tents set up, people selling things....... it was like a hippie / naturalist / nudist colony. The beach itself was also pretty cool. We found a little area, had bit of a swim & chilled out for most of the day.

Wreck beach
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A random little basket hanging from a tree on the way to Wreck Beach
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Some guys in North Vancouver playing on a high wire between 2 cliffs, above the water.
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Bit of the coast line in North Vancouver
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Posted by jaleslie03 03:50 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Squamish

sunny
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After back to Vancouver from Montreal, we caught a bus up to Squamish. We stayed at the Adventure Inn, one of the best hostels we've experienced. People were friendly and there were plenty of things to do there. We did 2 big (steep) hikes. The Chief & the Sea to Sky trails. The views at the top were amazing, and the scenery along the way was really spectacular.
They had a couple of guitars at the hostel, so together with our ukuleles, we had some cool jam sessions. There appeared to be a few talented musicians there too.
We did some mountain biking there as well. The well known 'Half Nelson' run was unbelievable. One the most exciting mountain bike runs I've done. We went with a few guys from the hostel.
We hung out at the "beach" the lake. It's a very popular place for wind surfers & kite surfers too, because Squamish is known for it's winds. It sits at the end of a long lake which runs between mountains, so acts as bit of a wind funnel.
A lot of relaxing was done too which was definitely enjoyable.

A bit of rock climbing
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Top of the Sea to Sky hike
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The Seat to Sky trail
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After a day of mountain biking
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In town
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Down by the "beach"
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Hiking the Chief
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Required a chain to pull ourselves up
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On top of the Chief
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Posted by jaleslie03 02:52 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Boston - USA


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I arrived in Boston after departing Vancouver. I stayed with a guy named Dimitri. A host I found through couch surfing. It was an awesome experience. He told me about really cool things to do & see, and even took me to a couple of good places to eat & a really cool little Jazz bar, where some very talented students & ex students from Berklee - college of music.
I also met up with some other couch surfing people & we hung out for a night. I went for a walk around the beautiful Harvard University, which was packed with tourists.
The freedom trail was awesome & very interesting. Boston is an amazing place for history.

Harvard University
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A cool little jazz bar with students from Berklee
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The house where JFK was born - just around the corner from where I was staying in Brookline
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Some pictures during the freedom trail walk
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A classic Boston street
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Posted by jaleslie03 17:02 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Quebec City & Montreal

sunny
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Arrived in Quebec City - 17.7.17
Such an interesting city. Being in a French-Canadian city the majority of people spoke better French than they did English. In fact it felt like we were in France as opposed to Canada. All the signs, shops, people etc....... completely different culture to British Columbia. The Old Town of the city was awesome... plenty of nice places to eat too.
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Rode bikes up to 'Montmorency Falls' just north of the city.
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Arrived in Montreal - 19.7.17
Montreal is such a cool party town. So much going on and so much good food. Apparently it has the 2nd highest number of restaurants & bars per ca pita after New York City. Met some cool, interesting people and had a lot of fun in this city. There is a lot of really cool street art on the side of buildings.
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Posted by jaleslie03 05:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Road trip

Nelson - Fernie - Waterton Lakes National park - Brooks & Wayne (The Badlands)

sunny
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We left for Nelson from Kelowna on Tuesday 4.7.17.
Nelson was a beautiful, quirky little town with some really awesome mountain biking and great cafes and restaurants. It sat on a glacial lake and the water was so cold. Only there for 2 nights.... but definitely could of made it 3 or 4 nights. Some parts of it reminded me a lot of the Blue Mountains back home. Only did 1 day of mountain biking . The first part of the day we had to climb up such a steep hill for a fair while to get to the tracks and it was the hardest slog I've ever done on a bike. In the late arvo we got a shuttle up the mountain for a good run which was bit more of a relief.
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Arrived at Fernie on 6.7.17.
I don't think it was as nice as Nelson, but up in the mountains it was spectacular and the walks we did up there were awesome.
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Arrived at Waterton Lakes on 8.7.17
This place was absolutely breathtaking. It was inside an area of the national park, so one way in one way out..... and things were a bit pricier, but nonetheless one of my favourite places. The village sat on Waterton Lake surrounded by mountains. We did a few day hikes here with the biggest being the 'Crypt Lake Hike'. This was one of the most amazing hikes I've done.
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CRYPT LAKE HIKE
This was approximately an 18km return hike. The scenery was absolutely stunning, and we ended up at a beautiful lake up in the mountains (with a bit of snow still around it). The water was so clear and we ended up going for bit of a dip..... it was the coldest water I've ever been in in my entire life. You could only last 20 seconds max in there before the pain started kicking in.
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Posted by jaleslie03 11:40 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Kelowna

sunny 28 °C
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Apparently one of the warmest places in Canada. Huge lake (around 100km long) with some cool little swimming spots. Saturday 1st July was Canada day, celebrating their 150th birthday. There was heaps of cool stuff going on downtown on the waterfront. There are also a lot of cool wineries around the area too.
I also bought a ukulele in Kelowna to take travelling with me.
We did some nice little hikes & trail runs up on Knox Mountain just behind where Mum lives..... quite dry and dusty but nonetheless beautiful spot.
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28.6.17
Went for a ride up in Myra Canyon in West Kelowna. Rode along the old Kettle Valley rail way. Truly spectacular, amazing views... it's part of the Trans Canada trail which is the longest recreational trail in the world, basically going East to West - around 2200 km long.
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30.6.17
Did a short hike in Fintry not far NW of Kelowna. Awesome waterfalls and some really cool old barns down the bottom.
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3.7.17
Had lunch at Mission Hill Winery in West Kelowna - one of the best burgers I've had. Spectacular place :)
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Such an awesome country and so far, has not disappointed!

Posted by jaleslie03 20:05 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Vancouver

sunny 27 °C
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Beautiful city with really nice water views. Top weather too..... quite warm
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Stanley Park - beautiful huge park... a bit overcast though. About 10km loop around the outside.
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Granville Island - quirky, artisan island, a lot of nice food and cool markets..... and huge sea gulls.20170620_162623.jpg
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Climbed Grouse Mountain up past North Vancouver - quite a steep, hard slog, but well worth the views. Still bit of snow up top in the middle of Summer.
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Posted by jaleslie03 07:30 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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