Costa Rica trip report is ready to go!

Old Apr 4th, 2002, 11:54 AM
  #1  
Tia
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Costa Rica trip report is ready to go!

Hi everyone:

I have my trip report done! It's a long one, so I don't want to post it. If you'd like a copy, drop me an e-mail ([email protected]) or post and I'll e-mail one to you. I'll try to answer any questions that I can, so fire away!!

Tia
 
Old Apr 4th, 2002, 11:56 AM
  #2  
Gail
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I would love to read your report. I'll ask questions after I read it!
 
Old Apr 4th, 2002, 05:15 PM
  #3  
susan
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Could you please send me a copy of your trip report. Went to Costa Rica two years ago and loved it. Would like to go back and try another area.
Susan
 
Old Apr 4th, 2002, 05:54 PM
  #4  
Iza
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Tia, we would all love to read your report - I remember that a lot of people on this board were answering your questions before you went on your trip.
So don't disappoint us and post it here - if it is long just split it into several parts and post as replies to your first posting.
 
Old Apr 5th, 2002, 02:39 AM
  #5  
Tom
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Yes, Tia. Please post it here in small chunks
 
Old Apr 5th, 2002, 04:47 AM
  #6  
Ally
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Another PLEASE post it here!
At least tell us where you went in CR!
Thanks
 
Old Apr 5th, 2002, 05:38 AM
  #7  
Post it on the Forum
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I think it's unanimous, Tia.
 
Old Apr 5th, 2002, 07:06 AM
  #8  
Tia
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Ok, ok!! I can't take the pressure!!! I'll post it. I'm warning you, it's a long one!!!
 
Old Apr 5th, 2002, 07:30 AM
  #9  
Tia
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Hey!! It's not letting me post my trip report! It's like it's lost somewhere in cyberspace! What's going on?
 
Old Apr 5th, 2002, 07:52 AM
  #10  
Tia
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Part 1 of Trip Report:

Well, I thought it was about time to sit down and put my thoughts on paper (so to speak)! I’m still bumming about being back home and feeling quite sorry for myself! Oh, well, I guess it’s back to reality and time to earn more money so I can go back.

Our trip started out pretty bad. We flew on American Airlines (which was not my choice by far–as a side note, they did actually remove seats in coach so there is much more leg room now and they served a full meal on each trip) from Milwaukee, WI. We flew to Dallas, TX, but were unable to land due to the airport being closed because of a big thunderstorm. We circled the airport for nearly two hours in the worst turbulence I have ever encountered. Needless to say, the little white bag in the seat pocket in front of me almost came out a few times. Once we were able to land, we discovered that our flight to Costa Rica had been postponed until 6:30 a.m. the next morning due to a curfew in San Jose. The airline put us up at the Hyatt and gave us $60 for food. If you ever stay at the Hyatt in Dallas, don’t bother eating there. The food was $17/person and was TERRIBLE! I shouldn’t complain because there were lots of people who had to spend the night at the airport with no food at all. I was just glad we didn’t actually have to pay for it. Anyway, we got on our flight the next morning with little problem. We landed in C.R. hoping our arranged ride from the night before would be there to pick us up. We were so glad to see the driver that we nearly kissed him. We got our luggage packed up and headed for the hotel in San Jose which we were supposed to stay at the night before. That day we were actually supposed to be drive to the Arenal Lodge, but we couldn’t seem to communicate this to our driver. We were dropped off at the Barcelo Parque Del Lago in San Jose only to be told we were supposed to be there the night before and that they had no rooms left. After trying to communicate that we needed a ride to the Arenal area, we were told we’d be transported by taxi to another hotel in San Jose. At this point, we were a little nervous, not to mention all our hotels and transfers were already paid for a long time ago. We hopped in a cab and were dropped off at the Barcelo Palicio. Once there, we found a very nice woman who was originally from Turkey. She was so helpful and we were so happy for any assistance we could get at that point. She helped us to get a room with the voucher we had already paid for, plus she helped us to arrange a ride for the next day to the Arenal area using the voucher we had. We really wanted to be on our way to the Arenal Lodge that day, but we were quoted a price of $180 to have someone drive us, so we opted to stay in San Jose a night. It ended up to be a very nice hotel and we were treated extremely well. The food there was also excellent and the grounds were lovely. We enjoyed our stay and got a nice rest.
 
Old Apr 5th, 2002, 07:56 AM
  #11  
Tia
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Part 2 of Trip Report

The next morning we were off to the Arenal Lodge. I began to understand quickly what everyone was telling me about the Costa Rican roads! At first I thought the roads weren’t all that bad until we got into the mountains and the road we were on vanished in front of us. Literally, the center line disappeared into about a 1,000 foot drop. It was just gone, eroded away to nothing. Thankfully, the driver swerved to avoid falling off the side of the mountain and we all looked at each other in amazement! Wish I could’ve gotten a picture of that one! After about three hours of riding, we looked up and had our first glimpse of the Arenal Volcano. It was amazing and clear as could be. We could even see the cone! I could’ve just cried. It was so beautiful.

The road to the Arenal Lodge was literally straight up the side of a mountain and VERY curvy. It was paved with bricks for added bumpiness! Once we got to the top of the mountain, we were happy to see the sign “You Made It!” because we were happy to actually make it there after all the trouble we’d had thus far. We checked in and went up to our chalet. It was a spectacular view of the volcano. The room was ceiling to floor windows. As soon as we got unpacked, the volcano let our a roar to welcome us. It was great. Everyone had said how it was very rare to get a glimpse of the cone or even to see the volcano at all, so we felt very lucky and tried to savor every moment as we knew it may be our last. Fortunately, we had a clear view of the volcano nearly the whole time we were there. We did find out that the first night we were supposed to be there, but were stuck in San Jose, there was a major eruption that night. We were sorry we missed that. We did see lots of lava during the day, though, and lots of boulders being tossed about. It would rumble quite a bit just to let us know that it was still there.
 
Old Apr 5th, 2002, 07:58 AM
  #12  
Tia
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Part 3 of Trip Report

The lodge was quite nice. It was simple and clean, but not fancy. The food was very good, although breakfast was nothing to get up for (included with the room). It was a bit pricey, but not outrageous. The service was good, too. We took the shuttle into La Fortuna. We shopped a bit and bought a few gifts (and some things for me, too) and headed to the Christian grocery for coffee. Lots cheaper than the airport and a bigger variety. I literally bought one of each kind. We ate at Lava Rocks which was excellent and very cheap. We had dessert at the bakery which was absolutely yummy. Then we figured we’d had enough. We didn’t feel like waiting for the evening shuttle, so we flagged down a cab. We are actually still laughing about this. My hubby (of course) tells me to get in first, so I did. We hopped in and took off for the lodge. I have to mention, that neither door had door handles on the inside and all four windows were down. On the way, we saw that the volcano was having quite a large eruption which was very cool. However, after a few minutes it began to rain, pour actually. My hubby reaches over and rolls up his window and I reach over to do the same to mine. However, I come to find I have no window. Needless to say, by the time I was able to get my raincoat out of my backpack, I was soaked. The driver (who was very nice, but spoke no English) turned on the windshield wiper (ONE) only to find that it did little good and drove with his head out the window. I forgot to mention that the taxi must have been 50 years old and had at least 1 million miles on it. As he turned into the drive for the lodge I began to think that this car may not make it up this mountain and we may end up walking! The only conciliation was that if we actually had to walk, the hubby would’ve gotten as wet as I already was!!!!!! The driver kept talking to the poor old car all the way up the hill encouraging it to keep going. Once we finally reached the sign “You Made It” I almost cheered! Then, in all his wisdom, my hubby tells the cabby to take us up the giant hill to our chalet. I told him he was nuts, but off we went up the hill only to have the car die half way up. I felt so bad for the driver, especially when he got out and I saw the he was handicapped. He was very nice about the whole situation and said he’d call a mechanic to get the car started. I paid him the fare ($12) and gave him a generous trip. I made my hubby try to help get the car started again, which was basically just overheated. They went to open the hood and it literally came off! At that point, I proceeded up the hill to change out of my wet clothes. Needless to say, I was soaked through to the bone! After a few minutes the driver got the car started and off he went. I’ve had some interesting cab rides in my short life, but that takes the cake! It’s one we won’t forget for a while.

 
Old Apr 5th, 2002, 08:00 AM
  #13  
Tia
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Part 5 of Trip Report

The next day, we took a raft ride down a river. We booked the trip through Jacamar Tours in la Fortuna. Our guide, Hugo, and his wife were very informative. Hugo pointed out a lot of animals we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It was a fun trip.

While in La Fortuna, we made arrangements with Sunset Tours for a private driver to take us to the Papagayo. We were told several times at the front desk at the Arenal Lodge that there were no buses that would take us from that area to the Papagayo area, so we booked the driver for $130. The day after we made arrangements for a driver, the person at the front desk at the lodge told us we could get a bus to the Papagayo! We could’ve saved ourselves almost $100!! Boy, the hubby was mad! We ended up having an excellent driver though, who took the time to point out things on the way and even pulled over for us to take pictures. I believe his name was Oscar. I’d highly recommend him. He was actually a school teacher during the work week and a driver on the weekends. He was very informative and spoke some English.
 
Old Apr 5th, 2002, 08:02 AM
  #14  
Tia
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Part 6 of Trip Report (I TOLD YOU GUYS IT WAS LONG!!)

Upon our arrival at the Allegro Papagayo resort on the northern Pacific coast, we were greeted by 100 degree heat!! Wow was it hot! The thing I didn’t like about the resort is that upon checking in we had to wait two hours for our room to be cleaned. After three hours driving, we wanted to freshen up and check the place out! The resort was very nice. A little too “resorty” for me. The hubby wanted to check it out, so we decided to tack that portion on to our trip. Like I said, it was very nice and the food was excellent. I was a bit worried due to it being all inclusive. I didn’t think we’d get a taste of the local foods, but we actually had a big variety to choose from. Every day they had something different to try. I especially enjoyed the heart of palm soup. Yum! The drinks were also good and not watered down. The buildings were actually on top of a rather large hill. In the heat, it was a long walk. They did have shuttles to take you up and down the hill. The entertainment was excellent and there always seemed to be things to do. You could also arrange day trips to other parts of C.R. through a desk in the reception area. I felt that if I went back to C.R. I would not choose to stay in this type of a resort. It didn’t even seem like we were in C.R. I could’ve been Mexico or Jamaica for all I knew. On our last night at the resort, while the hubby was waiting for me to get ready to go to dinner, he stepped out on to the patio where he thought he heard howler monkeys. To this point, we saw no wild life besides some birds. We grabbed the camera and raced out the door. We walked into some trees towards the noise. After making our way through what appeared to be a maintenance type area where the resort was growing foliage for the landscaping, we found the entrance to a trail. We looked up into the trees and there were ten howler monkeys looking down at us. There were even little babies! Needless to say, we spent the next hour taking pictures! The hubby even got the male to howl back at him. It was so cool! The next morning before we had to check out, we took a walk on the trail and saw more monkeys and plenty of cool birds. We even saw a lizard that must have been at least three feet l long if not longer, plus lots of other smaller ones. It was pretty cool. We’d wished the front desk would’ve told us about the trail when we first got there. Apparently, that area is considered a dry rain forest. The ground was literally cracked it was so dry. Most of the trees had no leaves. It was like walking in the woods on a REALLY HOT fall day. It was a pretty neat experience to see two vastly different types of rain forests so close together.

 
Old Apr 5th, 2002, 08:04 AM
  #15  
Tia
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LAST Part of Trip Report!!

After we checked out of the resort, we were picked up by our driver to make the long drive back to San Jose. He spoke no English, but there were others in the van who were bilingual and could translate for us. The ride took forever. Right before it got dark, we stopped at a little soda along the road, I have no idea where we were. We were there for about 15 minutes and then we all jumped back in the van. Of course the van wouldn’t start!! At this point, I began to get worried! After about ten minutes and a friendly push from three men who were eating at the soda, we were on our way. I thought we were so close to San Jose, but boy was I wrong! Turns out the last two hours were straight up hill......I shouldn’t say straight. I mean curvy and right up a mountain. It was about the longest ride I’ve even taken! Lots and lots of cars overheated on the side of the road, too. I was just hoping we’d make it! We did and were dropped off at the Barcelo Parque Del Lago hotel in downtown San Jose. What a great place. The building must have been well over 100 years old. It was a very nice, quaint hotel. I was so happy to see a nice warm robe and slippers ready for me when I walked into the room. By that time we were starving and decided it was safer to eat right at the hotel. The food was excellent and fairly reasonable. Needless to say, we had a nice stay. The next morning it was off to the airport for our flight back to the U.S. Our luggage was searched, but other than that, the whole experience was pretty flawless.

Overall, our trip was great. It really only rained a couple nights and once in the morning for maybe an hour, so the weather was great. The Ticos were wonderful, friendly people. I’m hoping we’ll go back again and check out the places we missed. There is just so much to see and such little time. However, I would concentrate more on the rain forest and less on the beach scene. The beach was nice, but it just didn’t seem like you got the flavor of the country there.

If I can be of any help to anyone planning a trip to C.R., please post me a message and I’ll be glad to help any way I can (or send me an e-mail if you prefer). Also, thanks to everyone who gave me advice while I was planning my trip!! What would I have done without you guys!

Tia
 
Old Apr 5th, 2002, 08:50 AM
  #16  
Ally
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Great Report Tia, thanks for posting.
Question...
You mentioned the road to Arenal
'vanished'..and 'the center line disappeared'. Do you mean to say that the road was only one lane at that point? I've traveled that road several times. It's bad enough when there are two lanes! We'll be going back in June or July and if it looks like what I imagine, it will take at least that long to get it 'fixed'.
 
Old Apr 5th, 2002, 10:15 AM
  #17  
Tia
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Alley:

It looked like there was some sort of erosion problem there. Maybe a heavy rainfall or something? I don't know how close we actually were to the Arenal area, maybe half way between there and San Jose maybe. The road literally was GONE! There was a sliver left of the left lane and enough of the shoulder to swerve on to. If it was in the black of night, you may not see it. There was no warning at all. Kind of scarey. I don't know how they would even fix that without bulldozing into the hill to make another lane. The road and the side of the mountain that was supporting it was gone!

Tia
 
Old Apr 5th, 2002, 10:37 AM
  #18  
Iza
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Tia, thanks for a great report. It's great that you were able to see the Arenal volcano. We were there last year and the clouds and fog were so thick that we didn't see it at all in 2 days we spent there.
 
Old Apr 5th, 2002, 03:15 PM
  #19  
jessica
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Tia
Thanks so much for posting all that info. My fiancee and I are going to CR for our honeymoon next month and we are going to be driving up to Arenal and staying at the Arenal Lodge. Do you know which route your driver took you on with the vanishing road. I know there are 2 different routes that are recommended when you drive up there from San Jose. If you could email me that would be so great. Thanks again for that extremely informative report.

peace
Jessica
 
Old Apr 19th, 2002, 07:46 AM
  #20  
Mikey
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Topping this trip report as I found it helpful and others may as well.
 

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