One of the best things about our travel experience to and from Nicaragua is the ease of getting in and out of the country. From our home city of Pittsburgh, itÂs a two-part trip Â first a direct flight to Houston, or Miami, with a medium-length layover, and then an easy, direct flight to ManaguaÂs modern, clean Augusto C. Sandino International Airport. We typically breeze through customs and baggage claim, and then find our shuttle to our hotel, typically the Hilton, Intercontinental or Seminole. ItÂs amazingly easy and trouble-free.
Among the features we like about the Sandino Airport is that it is small and compact enough that we never feel overwhelmed. Upon departure, the waiting areas are comfortable, the duty-free shops selling liquors and cigars provide a rich variety, the restrooms are clean, and sound system easy to understand. We were pleasantly surprised to find that English is spoken throughout Managua, including at the airport where sometimes the devil is in the details, and clarity of understandable language needs to be precise.
Our favorite rum to bring back home is Flor de CaÃ±a, which translated into English means "flower of the sugarcane." The Nicaraguan rums are well aged, smooth to the palate and mix well with cola or ginger ale as well as served straight on the rocks.
One of the best features is the walk-in humidors selling a variety of Joya de Nicaragua cigars, considered one of the oldest brands in the country. These were recommended to me by my friend Tommy on my first visit to Nicaragua in 2004, and theyÂve never let me down in terms of quality or price.
Among the Joya brands IÂve regularly enjoyed are the spicy and robust AntaÃ±o as well as the more mild but equally tasty CelebraciÃ³n. Of course the granddaddy cigar maker of them all, PadrÃ³n, has a permanent booth in the departure area for those wanting to secure a box or two of the worldÂs consistently top-rated cigars to take aboard the airplane bound for home.
In top trade publications such as Cigar Aficionado, PadrÃ³n brands such as the 1926 Series and 1964 Aniversario consistently garner almost unachievable high rankings. PadrÃ³n never, ever has disappointed.
When returning to Pittsburgh, we try to schedule the earliest flight back. Fortunately for us, the airport restaurants are open early so we can grab a quick breakfast before our return flight leaves for Houston or Miami.