2013 Costa Rica Adventure

Discussion in 'Adventures By Disney' started by Gonecruisin, Jun 25, 2012.

  1. Gonecruisin

    Gonecruisin novice

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    We never made it to a traditional Soda :sad1: Never had the time. They get rave reviews though.


    Day Five

    The day dawned bright once again but the volcano was still under a cloak of clouds. It seemed like we were just not destined to get a good view of it.

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    I set about taking some pictures of the lovely grounds - this really was a pretty tranquil hotel.

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    La Chica and I were watching a large flock of white birds descend on the pond area behind our room when we spied this

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    The clouds around the volcano had dropped and formed what looked like a snow cap but those are clouds. It happened so fast - one minute cloud covered, then next this. We were grateful to get a near perfect, if unusual, view of the volcano and kept an eye on it as we headed off to breakfast.
    Breakfast today was heuvo rancheros :woohoo: spicy goodness. And of course, some rice & beans and plantains. A slice of some sort of local cheese on top. The bowl holds some watery oatmeal - they tend to put brown sugar in it which I found odd and too sweet. The pretty colored glasses held a thin type of yogurt that you drink rather than eat. It was flavored though I forget which flavors, it was good. A side of pineapple and papaya and some good strong local coffee :love: The breakfast of champions! The food so far has been very good.

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    Just as La Chica and I were settling in to feast, this appeared and had everyone buzzing.

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    A picture perfect view of the volcano! Something that hadn't been seen in weeks. That's smoke coming out of the top not clouds. We reveled in our good fortune even if the volcano had mostly been built up to be more than what we encountered. It still had the feel of one of those moments brought to you by magic - sort of like "The volcano hasn't made appearances for weeks now but because you are on a ABD, we have this special treat to eat your beans and rice by." :flower3:

    pixiedust:

    But we couldn't linger too long because today was white water rafting day! I was looking forward to being cool if even for a little while. We stopped at the headquarters before heading up to the river. This is also where we would return to eat lunch. Lunch was supposed to happen on the banks of the Tenorio River :confused3 I'm not sure why this didn't happen but lunch here was fine too.

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    It was a nice restaurant and the food was fine. They showed some pictures of our rafting trip while we ate which was entertaining and fun. My camera is not waterproof so I don't have any pictures of the actual trip yet. It was basically a mild but warm river with an occasional smallish rapid. Nothing too scary. The boats held about 4 guests and a guide. They ran out of oars so not everyone had one for example on my boat only the guide and the front two people had oars. The back two people got a free ride :p This was the case for most of the boats. Not a big deal, the guide could pretty much manage the boat on his own anyway and we took turns sitting up front but ... I don't know ... shouldn't a white water rafting outfit have enough oars for everyone? :confused3

    The rafting itself was fun though. Our guide was hilarious, capable and the best part of the excursion. I wished I had thought to bring some money (in my bathing suit? lol) to tip him but it hadn't occurred to me. We saw many animals along the way - even a cow! - and while the day was very hot once again, the water was nice and I had a great time.

    At the end, we met in a small patio area for fruit and drinks. There was a bathroom for people to change into dry clothes but there was no running water to flush toilets or wash :confused3 We then had a long l o n g hot drive back to the bus. If people weren't complaining about the change of plans for lunch, lack of oars, the lack of water by now well, they were certainly complaining about this ride. It was hot and dusty and bumpy and the kids were melting and I had never been so happy to see Jorge and our bus! :rotfl:

    We went back for lunch which as I said was pleasant and then settled in for a ride to our next destination - Villas Sol Hotel & Resort. We were running late again. We arrived at the hotel after dark. We were met by the pool with delicious fruit drinks and a lovely view but most people were too tired to enjoy either.

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    This was Kids dinner and a movie night but I was told the kids all fell asleep as soon as the movie started. ;) La Chica and I weren't even hungry. We had a cocktail by the deserted pool, a relaxing swim and then headed off to bed.

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  3. dizneekrazee

    dizneekrazee Fullfilling my bucket list, one vacation at a time

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    Oh no!! They are great little places to eat!! Another one we ate at, which was recommended to us by a cab driver on our last night, was Soda Hormiga (like ants). The staff does not speak English, but the food was very good, fast, and super cheap. The two of us ate for $11, including our drinks (non alcoholic). Lots of locals go there. It is a very small place. Easy to miss.
     
  4. tufbuf

    tufbuf Disney Addict!

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    The zip lining looks pretty exciting!!

    Sounds like the Arenal volcano is like the Matterhorn, hiding its peak with clouds.
     
  5. familygoboston

    familygoboston Mouseketeer

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    Yes, Tuff- mountains have a habit of catching clouds and hiding behind them! if you travel to or talk to people who live in places with large moutnains/volcanos; you will hear they often hide behind the clouds and its a rare moment when they come out.

    We lucked out in Quito- one morning all the volcanoes were out :thumbsup2. We got to see Arenal just as we hit the airfield to leave for our small plane trip. The ABD guides stopped the bus so we could all get photos! In Washington, we never got to see Ranier, but we did see Denali/Mckinley.:goodvibes So you just never know and I think that this should be advertised in travel brochures because many people just aren't educated about the eco system where they plan to visit and don't understand before they arrive what the reality of the mountains are.

    Also, from your photo it seems like the lodge was on the "bank of the river", Gonecruisin- so maybe that's what was meant?:confused3
     
  6. Gonecruisin

    Gonecruisin novice

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    A lot of gift shops etc had post cards and other souvenir type things showing the volcano in full eruption with lava flowing down the sides and rocks being tossed in the air. :rotfl2: It was cute how they built it up for promotion. La Chica and I got a big kick out of that.

    You might be right, familygoboston. We all assumed it meant a lunch on the river where we rafted. I just looked at the website and it's been changed to say "Top off your whitewater adventure with an unforgettable lunch in a restaurant overlooking the river." lol That certainly leaves no room for misinterpretation.

    Almost to the end of this! Still loads more stuff to tell you about though.
     
  7. tufbuf

    tufbuf Disney Addict!

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    Gonecruisin, will they allow a GoPro attached to a head strap on the helmet?
     
  8. Gonecruisin

    Gonecruisin novice

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    Oh! They have helmet cams you can purchase. A few people (mostly the boys but an adult or two too) got these and seemed to think it was fun. I'm not sure if they'll allow you to bring your own though.
     
  9. tufbuf

    tufbuf Disney Addict!

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    How much do they cost? Is it good quality? We will bring it anyway, it's a very small equipment, useful for rafting as well. c:
     
  10. familygoboston

    familygoboston Mouseketeer

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    We've noticed in some of these places; as long as you are willing to make the "whole" they will let you use your own equipment for the cost of their rental;) This matters to DH becasue he wants to use his cameras and gear, even if it costs him!
     
  11. Gonecruisin

    Gonecruisin novice

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    I can't remember how much it cost for their helmet cams. I honestly had little interest in it so wasn't paying attention. Afterward, we got a glimpse of one of the boy's videos and it was good quality but again I turned away to check out the gift shop so ....:laughing:

    Day Six

    The view from our balcony

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    pretty sweet. Down below was one of the pools.

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    There is another pool on the other side of the resort. Not too far away. You had to keep the doors closed because 1 it was very hot outside and the ac was not very powerful and 2 there were birds right there and someone saw a raccoon climbing from balcony to balcony.

    Today would be another busy day! Sugar Cane Plantation, horseback riding and a boat tour! So we were up early for breakfast and back on the bus! It was suggested to wear pants for the horseback riding. The Hacienda el Viejo was about an hour away and really lovely. It had been completely restored. The buildings and the grounds were one of the prettiest I had seen all week.

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    This is hot dry country and the heat and the sun quickly became oppressive. Dress cool, wear sunscreen, stay hydrated. After stopping at the main house to use the bathrooms we met a guide at an ox pulled press for a sugar cane pressing demonstration.

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    Don't let the shade fool you, it was hot. The kids thought this was fun. Sugar canes were pressed and we all got to taste a small cupful of the juice. From here we walked to period house for a hands-on tortilla making demonstration.

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    Each kid got to make a tortilla and several of them shared with the grownups ::yes:: They were very good! This was a fun activity. The commentary was sparse but I'm not sure there's much to say about flattening a tortilla? There were dogs roaming about and chickens and iguanas. We toured the home which was bare bones and simple but interesting.

    On to the horseback riding!

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    I'm not a confident rider but I think I did very well. :3dglasses Getting saddled up took a while as they matched horse to rider. My horse was a bit agitated (as a fellow Adventuerer who did know a thing or two about horses told me. His ears were facing backward which means he's either listening to me talk or he's agitated?) The horses were well trained but La Chica's insisted on being at the front and off she went. :lmao: Mine also wanted to take the lead but I was able to keep him in line.
    The ride was hot and dusty. We really didn't ride along the river - mostly on the road shown above. So the scenery was dull but I still had fun. La Chica didn't enjoy it though and 1/2 hr ride was enough for her.

    Next up was a boat tour of local wildlife. :sail:

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    I loved this! We saw an amazing array of animals. It was well guided and fascinating. The covered boat was shady and comfortable.

    white faced monkeys

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    lots of different types of iguanas. This guy's hot that's why his mouth is open.

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    lots of crocodiles. This one is hot too. Did I mention that it was hot? :smokin:

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    And best of all - a pair of motmots! National bird of Nicaragua. Sorry the picture isn't great. I was excited. :goodvibes Get a load of that beautiful tail...

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    :butterfly

    Back to the hacienda for lunch which was very good. Simple but very good. Open air out on the porch where we could catch the breeze and relax. The view was lovely and we finished by storming the gift shop. lol

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    Another really full day! We headed back to the hotel where we swam, read by the pool for about an hour and then showered and dressed for our Farewell dinner. Fico and Geraldine really did a great job with this. There was a heartwarming slideshow of all the pictures they had taken of us over the course of the week - the kids loved this. We didn't exactly learn how to make mojitos but I did watch the bartender make mine and it was very good. :rolleyes1 The music -- I have to mention the music! Two young men playing guitars and singing so beautifully :thumbsup2 I thought they were very good. We were also treated to a delicious meal at a very pretty open air room.

    All too soon people made their way back to their rooms. Some of them had very early flights home the next day. There were bags to pack, kids to put to bed and wake up calls to be arranged. It was at this moment that I treated myself to another mojito as congratulations on having planned to stay an extra day. La Chica and I would be sleeping in tomorrow!! :love: salud!
     
  12. tufbuf

    tufbuf Disney Addict!

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    Wow!! Thanks for the awesome trip report!!

    How early do you meet in the morning/get up? I am no morning person and if you were meeting at 6 every morning I have to psych myself to do so and be prepared. :)
     
  13. Gonecruisin

    Gonecruisin novice

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    Thx :goodvibes Still have one more day I want to share with everyone. I think most days we were on the bus by 8-8:30 am, sometimes earlier, and gone for the better part of everyday. It was a hectic pace at times but we saw and did so much.
     
  14. tracyz

    tracyz Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for sharing ~ I've loved reading about your trip! My big question now is, what is your opinion on pre and post nights? I'm almost ready to start looking at flights for our trip next March, and not sure what makes sense. The post night is super expensive, but it looks like we may be looking at a super-early morning either way...6am flight if we want to get home the same day...what was the situation with transportation to the airport in Liberia, and did you do your post-night through ABD? And maybe I'm asking all these questions prematurely, since you said you still have a day to discuss!!:rotfl2:
     
  15. emesmom

    emesmom Earning My Ears

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    We didn't do a pre or post day stay on this trip, but after doing the trip, if I was to choose, I would do a pre-tour day. The hotel in San Jose was very nice, and had the most comfortable beds ;) I wasn't as impressed with the last location. We did a post day on our previous trip and we actually found it rather depressing to stay when most everyone else was leaving. I will never do an end of trip extra day again, for that reason. We are doing an extra pre-day on our trip to Ireland this summer.
    I hope that is helpful.
     
  16. Gonecruisin

    Gonecruisin novice

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    Ahhh The pre-stay/post-stay debate. :cool2: I definitely have an opinion on this subject too and unfortunately a lot of it concerns the last hotel, the Villa Sol. Frankly it wasnt that great. Certainly not worth the money and I wouldn't stay there again. What was wrong with the place? Well, our room was directly across from the reception desk and we could hear every word said when we were in our bathroom - I'm being totally serious - The voices were so clear that you'd swear there was some sort of access door there. There wasn't of course but it begged the question of what can they hear? :listen:
    The ABD family next door to us had repeated problems with the lock on their door that never seemed to get resolved.
    And this was the night that our sleep was interrupted at 2 am by a man screaming at the reception desk that he wanted his ac fixed NOW! This expletive laced rant lasted for at least 20 mins. Remember I said the ac wasnt "powerful" ? I was being kind. I'm from Boston where a lot of places dont even have ac so we did ok but yeah the ac was probably not up to par if you're from, say, Texas.
    The food was just ok and both La Chica and I are convinced we got some tummy trouble from it. We had been fine all week long but I was reduced to eating just toast & jam for breakfast rather than risk eating something that I would regret later.
    And lastly we booked a sunset cruise for our last day there and were immediately subjected to an unwanted hard sell time share pitch. :rolleyes2 On top of everything else, this was simply a turn off.

    So having said that, let me now say this:
    1. You will not be sorry with a pre-stay. Being able to rest after the flights at the gorgeous Marriott is the perfect way to begin your vacation & adventure.
    2. And I highly recommend a post-stay too. Surprised? Well, let me finish... at another hotel. La Chica and I really enjoyed our last day in Costa Rica and it was nice to relax after the hectic pace of the tour. But there are other hotels *right on the beach!* that are affordable and pretty nice looking. Sure you forfeit the ABD transfers to the airport if you do this but we're talking the price of a taxi here. Plus, a longer vacation is never a bad thing, right? So if you can, extend your adventure on both ends. You're already there, right? Why rush home? :confused3

    So our last day in Costa Rica. We lazed in our rooms, lingered at our balcony breakfast table (eating toast lol)

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    and were still able to say goodbye to some of our fellow Adventurers as they boarded the airport shuttle van. We said our farewells as we watched this guy eat the resort's flowers :lmao:

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    Then we spent the day lounging and reading by the pool. Our van for the sunset cruise would be by to pick us up at 3:30 so we had plenty of time and it was soooo relaxing. We managed to find shady seats at both pools and made the most of this time to ourselves.

    The sunset cruise - I would absolutely recommend this if you're looking for a fun simple activity. It was pricey - I think it was $60pp (free if you went on a 2 hr tour of the time share deals! :crazy2:) but I enjoyed it. Dress casual. Wear flip flops. A small group of us boarded this little boat that took us out to that sail boat waaaaaaaay out there.

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    There she is, the Jessica Anne

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    On board we had beer, soda, fruit, dips & chips. We sailed way out. It was peaceful and really nice. The husband/wife crew were lovely, funny, informative and our fellow travelers were really interesting to talk to. (These were the people who gave us the tip of considering a beach side hotel instead. As a matter of fact, they were checking out of the Villa Sol the next day and checking into one of the beach hotels for the same reasons I listed above.)

    The sunset was really pretty. We made a circle around Monkey Head Rock (see it? lol)

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    as the sun dipped below the horizon.

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    It was the perfect way to say goodbye to Costa Rica. :wave2:
     
  17. Gonecruisin

    Gonecruisin novice

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    Wow! That's it! I've finished a trip report! :goodvibes I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you have a more informed impression of Costa Rica. I hope you found it useful. I do a ton of research before a big trip and read as many trip reports as possible and I always want more information so I hope this helps someone plan their vacation.
    Thanks to everyone who posted a comment/question - it's nice to know I'm not just talking to myself :laughing: But even if you didn't, thanks for reading. :love:
     
  18. emesmom

    emesmom Earning My Ears

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    Thanks for a great trip report! I saved some of your pics that were better than ones I took.....we don't have to tell anyone they weren't mine ;)

    I see we agree on the last hotel. The view was nice, but not the accommodations or food. To be fair the food on this trip was not a highlight. Not a trip for a true foodie, you won't go hungry though. Our dinner at the Marriott on our own, was the best formal meal we had, but I also enjoyed the Arroz con Pollo I had at 2 different small restaurants, lots of cilantro...yum.

    I'm not sure why ABD chose this last hotel, economics probably. Usually the trips end at a great location, kind of like having a great dessert; even if the meal is mediocre, if you end with a great dessert, you remember the whole meal as better than it may have been.
    In spite of that, I still remember the trip as great.....great adventure, and great people to share it with.

    My favorite place to stay was Tortuguero. The most rustic location, but because of that, I felt like we were camping in the rainforest. It was exactly the feel I wanted, coming to Costa Rica, and the staff there were incredibly warm and friendly.

    Great trip and great memories..once again, thanks to ABD!
     
  19. familygoboston

    familygoboston Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for your review! This trip has changed drastically since we did it 5 + years ago! I like that they added Torteguero and the sail looks like a great addition too!
     
  20. carpenta

    carpenta DIS Veteran

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    Thank you Gonecruisin for a great trip report. :)
     
  21. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Great Trip Report, Gonecruisin'! Please be sure and put a link to this wonderful report in the Trip Report Sticky! :thumbsup2

    Sayhello
     

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