Why we Love León!

The blue hour (from La hora azul, in Spanish, or L’Heure Bleue in French) is the period of twilight early in the dawn each morning and late dusk each evening when the sun is at a significant distance below the horizon and the residual, indirect sunlight takes on a predominantly blue hue. In our beautiful Colonial city of León, colonial and baroque architecture from our fascinating Cathedrals serve as the perfect backdrop each and every day. A town that will soon celebrate 500 years of existence.

THE CULTURE 

One of the 3 most prominent cities in Nicaragua  León, is a culturally rich city. It has become an important industrial, agricultural and commercial center for the country as well as a historical colonial midpoint. There are more churches and cathedrals in León than anywhere else in Nicaragua. It is truly a didactic city with many influential artists,  and home to various museums that are worth  your visit.

THE FOOD

Nicaraguan food is a mixture of interesting dishes and unusual ingredients. In León you will find a menu for any taste. From the Fritangas located outside the Mercado central or La Estacion serving anything from Chicken to beef to pork to the fancy restaurants located all over the city offering a variety of different menus.

León night life has options for almost everyone. Dancing is an essential part of the Nicaraguan culture and there are several great clubs to choose from that offer chances for you to practice your Salsa or just groove the night away to the latest club beats. The Zona Rosa district offers a  uniquely Nicaraguan spirit to the bar scene. Every day of the week  you’ll find a different spot  for eating, drinking and dancing.

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THE OCEAN

Just 20 kilometers from León, there is the Pacific ocean rim with a beach divided into two quaint beach villages next to each other called Poneloya and Las Peñitas. Both towns offer a laid back atmosphere with a wide range of beach activities  like swimming, surfing, sunbathing or watching a truly magnificent sunset. The towns are connected by a long stretch of wide sandy beach surrounded by an array of hostels and restaurants serving fresh seafood. Both areas attract surfers and avid swimmers with their impressive small regular waves. If you love surfing or would like to learn this can be a perfect place to start.

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THE PEOPLE

The citizens are warm and welcoming. Nicaragua has been experiencing an increase in tourism in the last few years as more and more people discover this “undiscovered” gem.   More and more the Nicaraguan people are openly embracing the interest that vacationers, expats, and investors have shown in their country.

Nicaragua is evolving and  ready to embrace tourism.  León’s rich history, friendly people and  Nicaragua’s dramatic landscapes are waiting to be explored. The traveler to this quaint city and fascinating country will be rewarded with unforgettable memories and an authentic Latin American travel experience. Some have called Nicaragua the “Next Costa Rica”, but we have to say it should be called the “New Nicaragua“. Come and Meet León Nicaragua!

Thank You

As 2016 comes to a close we at the León Travel Bureau want to take this opportunity to thank you for your support of our blog. Our heartfelt gratitude for your likes. We have decided that 2017 will be the year we redesign our blog. Starting in January, each month we will be bringing you the faces and places of our awesome city. Meet special places to go, special people we would love for you to meet and lots of other fun things to see and do in our special place called León. We hope you have a wonderful Holiday season and we look forward to taking you on an amazing visual journey through our city soon!

 

Merry Christmas and Happy new Year from The León Travel bureau.WARM WISHES FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON.png

 

Top Travel tips for Holiday Travel

Travel Industry Wire

The leaves are turning, there’s a nip in the air and before long, the holidays will be upon us. For those with a less than rosy outlook, it also means time to back your bags, grit your teeth and endure the long schlep  through countless security lines and airport terminals filled with temperamental travelers.

And because holiday travel brings with it its own set of challenges, to reduce stress be prepared before booking your trip.

Following these tried and true tips can mean the difference between a miserable flight delay and the opportunity to enjoy some of the country’s best travel lounges and maybe even work in a massage or two–because spending holidays with family or visiting a a new country can be stressful enough without the added stress of travel delays.

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 Check and double check. Before you leave for the airport, check to see that your flight is on time. Make it easy on yourself and sign up to receive travel alerts from your airline, notifying you of flight status and changes to gates or flight times.

Plug in, and tune out. Create your own private oasis. Treat yourself to some great headphones, download your favorite tunes, movies and audio books and look at your travel time as some “me” time well spent.  If nothing else, this song has been scientifically proven to reduce stress by a whopping 65 percent.

Pack your A game. When it comes to holiday travel, it’s best to pack as light as possible and wear the bulkiest items on your flight. If you can get it all in a carry-on, all the better. If you’re traveling over the December holidays, a single carry-on bag might not be feasible. In that event, be sure to pack your essentials (medications, mini contact solution bottle, chargers and cords, etc.) in a carry-on lest your bags be lost or your flight delayed. And gifts? Leave then unwrapped in case TSA wants to take a peek or consider shipping them ahead.

Get the 3-1-1. The 3-1-1 rule for liquids still holds. Three ounces. One 1-quart bag.  The rest goes in your checked baggage.

Time is on your side. Allow plenty of time to get to  the airport, plenty of time to check your bags and plenty of time for security. Some savvy travelers allow for additional 90 minutes.

App it to me. There are some great travel apps out there that will give you the location of every eatery, bar, shopping venue and traveler lounge in the airport. Good to know. Even better, some airline apps have a rebooking feature in the event of flight delays and cancellation.

Fly direct. Direct flights, especially those early in the morning are best. Direct because you don’t risk missing or having your connection canceled. Earlier because in the event either of the former two things happen, you still have the chance of getting on a later flight.

Follow the Golden Rule. Be kind. Be generous. Be mindful that everyone else is struggling to get home as well, and in the event of delays, airport employees are also under fire and stressed.

10 Reasons you Feel Homesick in Nicaragua

Ten Reasons Why You Are Still Homesick

Ten Reasons Why You Are Still HomesickiStockphoto

Nearly everyone has been homesick at one point in their lifetime. Thankfully, homesickness does not last forever; living in a foreign country is a chance of a lifetime, and you should do your best to make the most of it! Exploring the reasons behind your homesickness can help you with that. Homesickness does not necessarily have anything to do with your home; it merely arises from suppressing change. It is a form of anxiety and depression that develops when someone is placed outside of their comfort zone. It is part of human nature to desire a familiar, comfortable, and secure environment. It is also part of human nature to form life-long bonds with loved ones. Consequently, separation from any of these aspects can cause homesickness. If you find yourself struggling with homesickness, maybe you:

1.   Need to Expose Yourself to Your New Environment

Sometimes people automatically make assumptions about a city or a culture. For instance, assuming that you will not like the food, music, or language is not an acceptable attitude for anyone moving abroad. Growing and changing is a part of life; how could we possibly grow if we are indirectly closing ourselves off from situations that are outside of our comfort zone? One way to overcome this is to dive right in: take that language class, taste the local meals, spend time in the city, meet new people, and make new friends. You will never know for sure if you are going to like something, unless you try it.

2.   Have a Bad Case of “FoMO”

FoMO, also known as the fear of missing out, is a social anxiety disorder.  As funny as it seems, people do indeed suffer from it. People suffering from FoMO develop longing and envious feelings towards friends and family if they see that their loved ones are spending time together without them; one example of this would be the ever-present pictures on Facebook or Instagram. Hence, social media can ultimately result in being too interconnected. Instead of wishing to be back home, focus on spending some time offline. This way, you will be able to explore and take your own pictures to share with your friends and family back home.

3.   Have Forgotten What You Love

Hobbies are essential for being happy and content with your life. Everyone has a hobby, whether as simple as reading, or extravagant like ballroom dancing; even if you do not, it is never too late to pick up a new interest! Hobbies are a great way to engage your mind and creativity outside of work or class.

 4.   Have Ignored Your Own Culture

In adapting to a new environment, sometimes people forget to stay in touch with their own culture. Take the time to plan parties and get-togethers with friends to celebrate occasions that you normally would back home. This could be anything from gathering for a sporting event to celebrating a holiday. For an example, a US American abroad could set time aside to celebrate festivities such as Thanksgiving or the Super Bowl. Even if your new friends are not from the same culture as you, they will definitely enjoy experiencing something new.

 5.   Have Not Swapped Cultures

With our world filled with so many diverse and interesting countries, sometimes it is hard to find something in common. If your neighbors are from different places as well, it is always fun to learn more about other cultures! One way to do this is to organize weekly dinner parties where everyone brings a dish from their home country. Even if some of your friends are not foreigners themselves, they can always bring a favorite local dish. This is a great way to see that others are also dealing with the challenges of being away from home.

 6.   Have Not Made Plans

Planning trips in advance with a friend or family member creates something to look forward to.  That being said, it is crucial not to go back home during the first few months after moving abroad. Since it is hardest for you to adjust in the beginning, it is important to become acclimated to life in your new environment. Hence, accompanying a friend or family member to a new destination is a perfect compromise to take a bit of home with you on your journey.

 7.   Have Not Created a Bucket List

Remember that you are living in a new country! This is a new frontier that most people are unable to experience in their lifetime. Therefore, you should be grateful and make use of it. Make plans: What cities do you want to see? What adventures do you want to have? What accomplishments do you want to achieve? Make a list of all of these goals, and challenge yourself to achieve them before you leave. This will keep your mind active and give you something to look forward to throughout your stay.

 8.   Are Bored

If you are among those expats who do not have work, the more free time you have on your hands, the more time you spend daydreaming and pondering what you are missing. To stay sane, it is best to fill your schedule with daily and weekly routines. This can include anything from exercising to shopping and meeting up with friends. Anything done regularly will help you feel more at home!

If you are an expat with a full-time job, this can apply to you as well. If you need a break from work, make sure that your weekends are booked with tasks to do! This way you will feel more satisfied that you are fulfilled outside of the office, too.

 9.   Have Forgotten to Reflect

We only remember so much about the events that happen in our life, never mind how we feel from day to day. Writing down your thoughts can help you stay in touch with your emotions. Whether or not you have kept a journal before, reflecting on the events that took place during your day is a therapeutic and calming activity.

When you write in your journal, it is best to focus on the positive aspects in your new schedule. If you are feeling down, try to think of something that was entertaining that day and compare it to a scenario that may have occurred back home. If something truly terrible happened, write about how it made you feel and why. Analyzing past events may help you prepare for future reactions to similar scenarios.

10.   Have Forgotten to Stay Hopeful

Have confidence that no matter how homesick you are feeling, it does not last forever.  Homesickness occurs because there are people who we love in this world; this mixture of anxiety and depression is not a sign of weakness, but a consequence of stability and attachment. It is a natural feeling that nearly everyone has experienced at least once in their lifetime. This is why it is so important to stay strong and embrace your time abroad! After all, experiencing a new culture is an adventure in itself!

How to Avoid Travel Scams When Traveling Solo

Solo travel is one of the biggest trends in the travel industry right now and it’s not surprising because delving deep into foreign cultures and flying off to far-flung places is an amazing feeling. But traveling alone can also make you vulnerable in many places and being aware of travel scams is a good way to protect yourself, says the Huffington Post.

“With a record number of people immersing themselves into different cultures and countries, it’s not surprising that a number of travel scams have become common practice throughout the world,” writes Danielle Nelson.

Thankfully, Nelson notes, these scams seem to be fairly similar around the world.

One of the most common scams is the “bump and grab” which is most common in large crowds.

“This is a favorite time for the bump and grab, as thieves know you are occupied and surrounded, so they can bump you and grab your stuff, then dart away. The surrounding crowd then makes it hard to notice you’ve been bumped, and even harder to catch the thief who nabbed your stuff. It is so simple, yet so effective,” notes Nelson.

To avoid it, she recommends keeping valuables zipped up and safe.

She also recommends watching out for the ATMs you use.

“While ATM fraud happens more often in the United States than it does in other countries, it is always good to be aware. Always try to use ATMs at banks, as thieves shy away from surveillance cameras. And watch out for common ATM scams like card skimming and money grabbers (sort of like the Bump and Grab),” Nelson points out.

Ticket scams are another way travelers can be taken advantage of.

“Beware of cheap tickets and refundable schemes. If it doesn’t seem like the right price (aka a significant discount from what you would pay the window of the event or attraction), I highly recommend not purchasing,” says Nelson.

To avoid it, she recommends always buying tickets from accredited ticket offices.

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The Bump and Grab

In many cities, if you see a large group of people congregating around a landmark or market, try to pay special attention to your pockets, backpack, or purse. This is a favorite time for the bump and grab, as thieves know you are occupied and surrounded, so they can bump you and grab your stuff, then dart away. The surrounding crowd then makes it hard to notice you’ve been bumped, and even harder to catch the thief who nabbed your stuff. It is so simple, yet so effective.

How to avoid it: Keep all valuables zipped up in safe pockets and, if you feel like a distraction ploy is happening, don’t be scared to turn around and check for the guilty party. Hold your wallet or purse tight when you can, and keep your eyes peeled.

The Conversion Rate/Charge You More Scam

“Would you like to pay in (local currency) or U.S. dollars today?”

This is a phrase you will hear often when traveling abroad. From your hotel to local vendors. You only have so much cash, so you want to make sure it goes as far as possible, right? Well sometimes these savvy dealers know that you only have so much US cash and/or foreign currency, and either want you to pay with your credit card or with the US dollar you do have… and then use an absurd conversion rate to jack up the price from the local currency price.

How to avoid it: This is an issue from Hertz to Hilton to local vendors, so know the conversion rate, and try your damnedest  to get enough local currency before you go and only pay with that. If they say you can pay with your credit card or US Dollars, make sure you know the conversion rate beforehan

How To Stay Safe While Travelling

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And your vacation is calling you to Nicaragua!

You may dream of sipping Piña Coladas on the beach while watching azure waves. You may fantasize about dancing the night away in a cool salsa club. Or you might long for adventure gliding down a volcano or rappelling in beautiful waterfalls.

But no matter where you go, you can expose yourself to danger. However, common crime appears not to be the central issue for those considering a visit to Nicaragua. What seems to worry most potential travelers to Nicaragua is not crime, but war. Incredibly some seem to believe Nicaragua is still at war, a bit surprising, since the Contra conflict ended over 26 years ago. After achieving peace, Nicaragua vanished completely from the world news radar. Common sense precautions and decent language skills are a must for independent travelers coming to Nicaragua for the first time. Since hostels and many budget lodgings  are located in sketchier parts of town, one  should avoid night walks alone and keep your valuables in your room or safe whenever available.

So let’s start our discussion by addressing pre-departure planning. First, you need to understand any risks associated with your  trip to Nicaragua. International travelers are often surprised to learn that the United Nations ranks Nicaragua as one of the safest countries in Latin America. These days, it’s easy to research your destination via the Internet. You can learn local customs and gain valuable insight into the region’s political, social and health issues.

Some of the most useful sites are provided by the U.S. State Department, the U.S . Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as well as the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

Homicide statistics are listed for U.S. cities and countries with a population of 250,000 or greater. Rates are based on cases per 100,000 people for all of calendar year 2014.

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Use these sites to get the latest updates on travel warnings, health risks, visa requirements, and crime statistics in Nicaragua. They can also provide contact information for  foreign embassies and consulates.

Next, accept that different cultures often have different customs and beliefs. And remember that travel involves a good deal of unpredictability. So it’s vital for you to learn everything you can about Nicaragua — including its history, traditions, rituals and institutions — even if you are staying in only one place. Keep in mind that what you consider normal, everyday behavior in America might be interpreted quite differently in various places around the planet. Seemingly harmless conduct might offend or even incite people in other countries.

Don’t wear T- shirts with social or political messages, including raunchy rock or rap references. National pride aside, avoid wearing flags or flag-inspired insignias because they may attract unwanted attention, especially during an election year.

Packing and Carrying

Always pack your own bags when traveling. This holds great importance if you are traveling outside of your respective country. One of the first questions you will be asked by customs officials is: “Did you pack your own bags?”

The idea is you are responsible for whatever is contained within those suitcases. If you packed them, you can be sure about what customs officers will and won’t find.

For example, some food or personal items items could be considered prohibited. So when a customs officer finds the “contraband” in your bag, you could face delays or fines.

And when you’re packing, you should always make sure that you place the most essential items on top where they can be retrieved easily. In an emergency, you don’t want to have to dig down to the bottom of your bag. This will become especially important if you ever have to ditch your bags and carry only your essentials.

Mark Your Luggage

We are all familiar with traditional luggage tags. They’re very important when you are standing in line at baggage claim or when you’re trying to discern your luggage at a hotel.

In any case and in any way that you choose to expose your creativity, be sure to mark your luggage to make it easily identifiable to you.

 

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I.D. Carriers

An I.D. carrier is an excellent way to carry your important papers, licenses and other documents. Everyone from soldiers, law enforcement personnel and civilians should carry everyday ID cards, licenses, visas, passports and credit cards.

An ID carrier is a piece of gear that every traveler should not leave home without. It’s a small pouch that’s usually worn around the neck as a convenient way to protect these items during the numerous times you will need quick access to your personal information.
Make sure you have copies of any and all important documents such as your passport. Keep the copies in a safe place and do not carry them with you. Also write down all your credit card information such as bank, type of card, VISA , MC, AMEX, etc., card numbers, expiration dates and security codes. Put these in a safe location as well.

Avoid ID carriers with cord or string lanyards. If possible use carriers with a ball-and -chain type neck cord similar to those used on dog tags. Ball -and-chain cords can save your life because they easily break away if pulled or tugged.

Homicide statistics are listed for U.S. cities and countries with a population of 250,000 or greater. Rates are based on cases per 100,000 people for all of calendar year 2014.

 

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Mitigate the Risk of Street Crime

To avoid being a target, always dress to blend into the environment. In other words, keep a low profile. Don’t draw attention to yourself with flashy jewelry and designer clothing unless you’re surrounded with people who dress the same way.

Another cardinal rule while traveling is: Do not flash cash. Keep as little money on your person as possible when you’re on the move. Use small bills to pay for things.

Additionally, separate your cash and your credit cards. In this way, if you happen to get jacked, then just reach into your front pocket and give…them the 20 dollars or 40 dollars to satisfy them.

Practice good situational awareness as you move about at your destination. Keen eyes and sharp wits are always readily available and they make the best weapons against street crime.

Lastly, be aware of people around you. Be smart and limit the information you reveal while talking in your hotel or restaurant or a local watering hole.

Travel Happy and stay safe!

 

 

 

 

 Excerpts from

13 Reasons Expat Children Thrive

Growing up abroad can be one of the most beneficial gifts a child can receive. It’s amazing how much children thrive when they realize their horizons are wider than a TV or game console screen.

Entering a new culture, learning a new language, and living a different lifestyle provide boundless opportunities for growth. The Latin Tropics offer many locations where families with youngsters can truly partake of the potential such a move can provide.

13 Reasons Why Expat Children Thrive

When speaking about expats, the first image that often comes to mind is that of retirees or investors looking to find paradise beyond the boundaries of the U.S. However, with the growth of global markets, many young families with offspring are moving beyond borders to explore new vistas and opportunities.

One of the surprises of such a move is that these expat children not only adapt, but thrive, in their new surroundings. Below are 13 reasons why a move to paradise may be the most potent positive force in a child’s upbringing.

13. More Educational Choices

Expat children have a number of different schooling choices that can compete with (or surpass) a traditional U.S. upbringing. In this sense, education goes far beyond mere book learning.

Homeschooling is one option that also can strengthen family unity while providing learning. In areas with growing expat populations, local schools often will teach classes in English or provide opportunities to non-native speakers.

In many locations, international schools exist that instruct pupils in their first (or native) language. These institutions, while somewhat more expensive, offer wider curriculum choices and the chance to interact with other expat children both socially and during the learning process.

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12. Learning Adaptability 

Older expat children quickly discover that life in their new country is not the same as back in the States.  Learning how to adapt and take advantage of the opportunities their new country provides is an important life skill that will make the transition to adulthood less stressful.

11. Self-Reliance 

Being the “new kid” is a challenging task, whether in the U.S. or abroad. By learning to establish themselves in their new home, expat children build a sense of self-reliance that they can fit in anywhere in the world.

10. Growing Social Skills 

Children enjoy interactions and mastering new skills. Getting involved in local sports (Hint: Football is actually soccer!), attending local festivals and going on play dates with other expat children will all contribute to the growth of social skills that are so necessary in the modern day world.

9. Checking Their Materialism at the Door 

Being exposed to cultures that do not emphasize materialism can have a profound impact on expat children. Learning to appreciate what they have, and realizing that material goods are not the measure of happiness, can be a powerful lesson as they grow into adulthood.

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8. Learning a New Language 

Expat children have the advantage of being able to learn and use a second language on a daily basis. In the tropics, this second language is, most often, Spanish.

Communicating with locals in their own language makes immersing in local culture that much easier. With the number of Spanish speakers increasing in the U.S., this is a skill that will be in increasing demand in years to come.

7. Gaining an International Awareness 

One of the most important lessons that expat children learn, and which helps them thrive in the future, is that there is a world beyond the U.S. borders. It can be far too easy for those who never travel abroad to ignore the uniqueness of other parts of the globe.

Living in a foreign country adds an awareness of just how diverse societies are. For youngsters growing up in a foreign country, they become “world citizens” whose view of life is not limited by a single national identity. 

6. Stronger Family Ties 

As everyone adapts to their new life abroad, reliance on the family and appreciation of mutual support tends to strengthen the bonds between parents and children. This, after all, is a shared adventure, and knowing that they are not alone can make the transition to an expat child that much easier.expat kids

5. Immersing in a New Culture

Instead of just reading about a new culture, expat children can actually become part of it firsthand. Participating in local events, celebrating local holidays, and sampling local foods are just some of the ways that young expats can immerse themselves in their new world.

Being part of a different culture is a profound experience that can provide a broader perspective on life in general that can carry on through adulthood. 

4. Seeing “Home” Through a Different Lens

One of the most important lessons that expat children can receive is the ability to see their native country from a different point of view. Being able to see “home” as others see it can offer a unique understanding of how we are viewed and, more importantly, how our actions can influence the perception that the rest of the world may have of expats.

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3. Living in a Special Place

Expat children quickly learn that their new country is truly special in its own way. The overall essence of their location can captivate their imaginations and bring them to an awareness of how unique this opportunity is and how fortunate they are to have it as a life lesson.

2. New Hobbies

Expat children living in the tropics have a whole range of new hobbies that they can experience. Surfing, snorkeling, and boating, are just some of the activities that are more readily available in the Latin Tropics than in most of the U.S.

Importantly, children will have the opportunity to get up off the couch and enjoy the beauty and the wonder of the natural world that is now part of their day-to-day life. 

1. And the Number One Reason Expat Children Thrive Is…Becoming an Expat Is an Adventure!

Children are naturally curious and enjoy exploring and experiencing new and exciting places and things. This sense of adventure, with the security of sharing it with the whole family, makes the move abroad something to be embraced and treasured.

Doing your “homework” as a parent (and potential expat) can provide the kind of insight needed to ensure that your children’s expat experience is a positive one. The potential for learning life skills and self-awareness that expat children have can open many doors for them in the future.