Jo's Trip Report

Old Jul 4th, 2004, 07:07 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Jo's Trip Report

We just returned from a 9-day vacation in Costa Rica and had a wonderful time, thanks primarily to all of the helpful people on Fodor?s. I?m hoping this trip report will be a help to other first-timers. One warning, though?one of my many faults is my inability to write concisely, so I know this will be long!

We had originally planned a 2-week trip, but due to a serious illness in our extended family, we cut it back to just over a week. There are five of us?dh is 53, I?m 50, dd?s are 19 and 23, and ds is 17.

I was so mad at myself because I wasn?t able to sleep at all the night before we left. The rest of the family got up at 3:45 a.m. so that we could pick up our oldest daughter and her boyfriend en route to Logan Airport in Boston. Her boyfriend dropped us off and kept our car for the week so he could pick us up when we returned.

We flew American and were not at all happy with them at the airport. We arrived at Logan at 5:30 a.m. for a 7:30 a.m. flight. The queue was unbelievably long at the counters and we got in line, praying that we?d get through the line in time to make our flight. American reps kept taking people from behind us in line who were scheduled on earlier flights and cutting them in front of us. Here we were, following the rules and arriving 2 hours ahead of our flight and all of the people who arrived at the airport with little time to spare were allowed to check in ahead of us. As time went on, it became apparent that we would miss our flight if American continued to allow all of the latecomers to check in ahead of us. Additionally, there were several groups of people whose luggage was overweight. They were spreading their suitcases all over the place in front of the counters, transferring stuff from one suitcase to another. We were extremely frustrated. Dh finally raised a stink and we made it through just in the nick of time?literally tripping over the re-packers. Then, of course, the security lines were backed up and, as is usually the case, I was pulled aside for a more thorough search. Fortunately, the security people were really nice and calmed me down as I was panicking that we wouldn?t make our flight. We did make it, but barely?they were already loading when we reached the gate. I just don?t understand the logic of letting latecomers cut in front of the people who arrive when they are supposed to. Maybe if they?d miss their flights, they?d stop arriving at the airport at the last minute!

We stopped briefly in Miami and arrived at SJO in the early afternoon, flew through customs, and found the Marriott shuttle bus guy right away. When we arrived at the Marriott, they told us it would be an hour til our room was ready?no problem, as it was still well before check-in time. We killed time by eating at their Villa Hermosa restaurant overlooking the grounds. After checking in (we had 2 rooms), we explored the grounds a bit. We thought the hotel and grounds were very attractive, if not particularly ?tropical.? We went to bed by around 9:00 p.m. as we had to be ready for a 6 a.m. pick-up Friday morning so we could go white water rafting.
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 4th, 2004, 07:44 PM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day 2?White water rafting

I?m writing this in ?Word? and copying to Fodor?s, so I keep getting those annoying question marks instead of apostrophes. I don?t understand why and I don?t know how to correct it?sorry, I know they are very distracting. I will try not to use too many contractions!

We had booked the Pacuare rafting trip with Exploradores Outdoors based on a recommendation from this board, and they were wonderful. I believe they are a relatively new company, but they are licensed and seemed to be very safety conscious. Dd #2 had gone white water rafting once before, but it was the first time for the rest of us. We were picked up at 6 a.m. sharp. Unfortunately, it was pretty overcast and, despite our hope that it would clear by the time we reached the river, it remained cloudy and drizzly all day. Actually, throughout the whole trip, we got great weather on traveling days and lousy weather on days that we had activities scheduled. That was a bit disappointing, but we just made the best of it.

In addition to the driver, we had a guide on the bus with us named Caty. Coincidentally, she ended up being our guide for the rafting as well. She was great?mid-twenties and the mother of a 3-year-old boy. After picking up some other passengers, we stopped for breakfast en route?pinto gallo (of course), scrambled eggs, and bread. Not the best breakfast we have ever had, but it was fine. When we reached the river, we were given instructions and equipment. If I have one complaint, it is only that there were a lot of rafts going out with Exploradores Outdoors that day, which made the trip feel a bit less personal than it might have otherwise. When I booked the trip, they at first told us they could not take us that day because they had a large group going. When I explained that it was the only day we could do it, they said they needed to buy more equipment anyhow, so they would be able to add us on for that day. As it turned out, there was a large group of college-age exchange students from the U.S. plus a few families rafting with us that day. Because we are a family of 5, it was just the 5 of us plus Caty on our raft.

Caty has lived in CR all of her life, but was raised by a British mother and Costa Rican father, so her English was perfect. The rafting was an absolute blast! According to Caty, we were going through Class III and IV rapids. I was a bit apprehensive about falling out of the raft. I am a pretty good swimmer, but have a ?thing? about being forced underwater, or tossed around in waves, so was afraid I would really freak out if I got thrown out of the raft in the rapids. Fortunately, none of us fell out. I think I had it the easiest of everyone in the family because I was toward the back of the raft where the paddling is easier. It was still hard work, but exhilarating! We did not see much wildlife?just a blue morpho butterfly. Caty pointed out a toucan flying by, but we missed seeing it!

We stopped for lunch on the river bank. To be honest, I didn?t think it was that great, but it was certainly edible. There was a sort of ham loaf, turkey loaf, cheese, some veggies, crackers with guava jelly and cream cheese. I wasn?t wild about the texture of CR cheese?it is kind of jelly-like?I never did get used to that.

After lunch, we kept on going down the river. At the end of the day, you arrive at a place where you can change, buy t-shirts and drinks, etc. This got a bit dragged out because there were so many rafters that day and we had to wait in line for the bathrooms, etc. The ride back to the Marriott seemed to take forever. We ended up having to drop other passengers off at hotels in San Jose during rush hour traffic?our first experience with the crazy Tico drivers and pedestrians whom we seemed to miraculously miss by inches. We weren?t getting our car til the next morning and were too exhausted to figure out a plan for dinner, so we just ate at the Marriott again. The food was not the greatest, but was okay, and we were all enjoying the frozen tropical drinks!

After dinner, dh went down to the hot tub for a while and the kids and I went to bed.

For any of you reading this who are trying to decide about white water rafting on the Pacuare, I cannot recommend it highly enough. We all absolutely loved it. Although going through some of the Class IV rapids was kind of crazy for us as first-timers, I never felt as though I was going to fall out. Whenever Caty felt the rapids were getting the better of us, she would yell, ?down,? and we?d all jump into the middle of the raft, crouch down, and ride it out. And, of course, there are kayakers there just in case anyone does need to be rescued.

We brought a waterproof camera with us and took a few shots but, obviously, it was impossible for me to take pictures of the whole family in the raft. Exploradores Outdoors has a photographer, Arturo, who kayaks ahead and stations himself at various points near the more exciting rapids. He takes 5 pictures of each raft. We paid him $25 and he is supposed to mail us the pictures. If they came out well, I think they will be well worth the price!
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 4th, 2004, 08:54 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day 3 Driving to LaFortuna

We had arranged to rent a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado from Toyota Rental Car. With three tall kids and lots of luggage (notorious over-packers), we wanted a large car with 3rd seat in back. We received a call from Toyota first thing in the morning, trying to talk us into taking a smaller car. Dh held firm, and Toyota promptly dropped off the Prado at 7 a.m. as originally promised. I had warned dh that you all suggested he look over the car very carefully and note any imperfections. He said that the Toyota guy was so thorough, finding dings that he would never have noticed himself. This car was really expensive, but we figured it would be worth it if the kids were comfortable and each had a window to see out of during the long drives. All of the females in our family are extremely prone to motion sickness, so it is important for us to have windows that open, good shocks, etc., so we went all out on the car. Unfortunately, the third seat turned out to be basically useless. There was no leg room at all back there and we had not gone very far before it became obvious that the three kids would all have to sit in the second seat if they ever wanted to be able to walk again! Oh yeah, back to the motion sickness thing. The girls and I all wore Transderm Scop patches throughout our trip and they worked great.

By the way, we found the roads we traveled on to be far superior to our New England roads in terms of smoothness. We were primarily traveling between major tourist destinations, of course, and all of the major roads were virtually perfect. They could not have been smoother. That said, they were very narrow, with no shoulder, lots of switchbacks and steep drop-offs without guard rails, etc. If any of you have driven the road to Hana in Maui, the roads we drove on in CR were very similar, as was some of the landscape. And, yes, the Tico drivers are suicidal! Everything we had heard about passing in no-passing zones, on corners, etc. was true. Fortunately, dh has excellent depth perception and is a great driver so, although my heart was in my throat at times, dh felt as though he had the situation under control. In fact, I think he belongs to the ?if you can?t beat them, join them? school of thought, as it didn?t take him long to start passing in crazy places, as well. I am not sure that he got quite as crazy as some of the other drivers on the road, but he came pretty close.

Okay, back to Saturday?s drive. We grabbed pastries at the Marriott coffee shop and hit the road. We drove by the metal church in Grecia and then headed to Sarchi, where we stopped at Fabrica Chaverri, one of the shops that paints and sells oxcarts and other stuff. We were able to park right in front of the store, so I think the car was probably safe, but ds tired of shopping pretty quickly, so he stayed with the car. We didn?t buy anything there, but enjoyed poking around.

We then stopped in Zarcero to see the topiary shrubs at the church. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed in these. The shapes were not as recognizable as I had expected them to be, but it was still interesting. We parked the car within our sight and went across the street and ordered pizza and drinks to go. The woman at the pizza shop did not speak English and I was really glad that our kids were able to translate for us. Dd #1 minored in Spanish in college and spent a month in Spain. The other two have taken Spanish throughout high school. Dh and I know Sesame Street Spanish, and that is about it. Although most people we encountered in CR spoke at least some English, there were numerous times that we needed the kids to translate for us. The pizza shop was also our first experience with frescas, which the girls loved, and Coke Light, which is definitely sweeter than Diet Coke, but is a reasonable substitute for those of us with major Diet Coke addictions. It started to drizzle while we were waiting for the pizza, but it stopped in time for us to eat our lunch at a picnic table among the topiary.

The rest of the drive to La Fortuna seemed to take forever, but the scenery was amazing. Gorgeous, lush green countryside. We did have one very strange experience. As we were driving along, there was a guy on the right side of the road who raised his arm and initially appeared to be pointing at something across the street. As we approached him, he literally staggered directly in front of our car and we realized he was extremely drunk. Dh swerved onto the other side of the road, barely missing the guy. It was pretty scary, and we were really lucky that there was not a car coming in the opposite direction.

We had booked one night at Arenal Paraiso because of all the great things we had read about them on Fodor?s and then another night at Tabacon because we wanted to go to Tabacon?s hot springs and, with 5 of us, it made sense to pay the higher hotel rate rather than to pay the separate admission price to the springs. When we arrived at Arenal Paraiso, it was pouring really, really hard. It took them a while to get us checked in. We had two deluxe cabins with one cabin in between the kids? cabin and ours.

In general, we were really disappointed with this place. The people who worked in the office there were, by far, the least friendly or helpful we met during our entire trip. The grounds are beautifully landscaped, but the rooms were disappointing. We were not expecting luxurious accommodations, but we thought they would be nicer than they were. The bed sheets were too small for the bed and the corners kept popping off. The phones were not working, so we could not call the kids in their room. This would not have been a big deal except that it was raining so hard, so going back and forth between cabins to ask a question or make plans was a pain in the neck. They had given us a key that was tied to a block of wood with a piece of twine. During the process of unloading our luggage from the car and carrying it into the two cabins, the string came untied and the key fell off. Despite searching inside and out (in the pouring rain), we could not find the key. Dh walked through the pouring rain to the office (because we could not call them) and explained the situation. They seemed quite put-out and sent a guy up to help dh look. So, now there were two of them searching in vain in the pouring rain. Finally, they grudgingly agreed to give us a duplicate key. Now, if we had lost the whole thing somewhere, I could have understood them feeling a bit impatient with us. However, it certainly was not our fault that the key was not securely attached to the block of wood. The remote control for the television in the kids? room was wrong remote (it belonged to another room), so that necessitated another trek through the rain to the office to get that switched. Although even the kids watched minimal t.v. during this trip, it was really the only available entertainment for them on this rainy night. The lights in our room did not have on/off switches and had to be plugged and unplugged whenever we wanted to turn them on or off. The shower leaked all over the bathroom floor. The toilet was temperamental and the handle had to be held down for quite some time in order for it to flush.

Despite the rain, dh and I set out to follow one of the hotel?s trails. We invited the kids and they declined, so we started down the trail wearing our rain ponchos. We didn?t get too far as it was getting dark and we were hearing some very weird noises that we never did identify, so we decided to leave that adventure for the daylight.

I suggested that we go to El Novillo for dinner, so we trudged over to the get the kids and they were not in their room. We found them down at the pool bar. Dd #2 and ds were enjoying the ability to order alcoholic beverages that they are not old enough to do order here at home. We decided to go with the ?when in Rome? policy as long as they did not abuse the privilege and, after the first few days, the novelty wore off and they were pretty much back to ordering non-alchoholic beverages. Anyhow, after we found them, we headed out to El Novillo.

We really enjoyed sitting in this covered outdoor dining area with the rain pouring outside and an occasional rumble from the volcano. We had mixed results with the food. Dd #2 had a pasta dish that was really overcooked. Dd #1 and I had filet mignon which was very different than what we get at home, but was delicious. Dh had their specialty of the house steak. The seasoning on his was very salty and the steak was not very tender. Ds loved his hamburger. For dessert, we had flamed bananas and crepes suzette. They were okay, but not great. Although the food was not quite what we expected, it was a really enjoyable experience overall.

We were heading toward the car and dh was paying the bill when one of the waitresses said, ?Look at the lava!? We looked up and, sure enough, the clouds had dissipated just enough for us to see a few spots of bright red lava. We watched for a few minutes and Arenal clouded over again. We drove back to Arenal Paraiso. The kids went to their cabin. I headed for our bathroom and dh went out to see if he could see more lava. He did, and called me out of the bathroom. I ran out, we watched for a minute, and then ran to get the kids out of their cabin. They did not want to budge, as there was a giant moth out on their porch and they were scared of it! Eventually they got up the courage to risk an encounter with Mothra and joined us outside. Of course, by that time, Arenal was behind the clouds again and would remain obscured throughout the rest of our time in the area. We were, of course, disappointed that we never really got a full view of the volcano in all its glory, but were thrilled that we at least got to see what we did. It was visible for such a short period of time, I think very few people had the privilege of seeing it as we did that night.

Before I close here for tonight, I have to mention our experience with insects in CR. Although there are certainly a lot of insects there, we were generally less bothered by them than we are at home. I wore repellent whenever we went out in the rainforest, but the kids never wore any, despite my many offers. They each got a few small bites and I did not get any. Here at home, we are eaten alive by mosquitoes in the early morning and evening. So, although insects are a constant presence in CR, and many of them are bigger than what we have here, we did not encounter nearly as many annoying, biting insects as we would have at home.

One last note before I stop for now. It is definitely true that clothes just do not dry in some areas of CR and LaFortuna/Arenal is one of those areas. We were already accumulating quite a collection of wet clothes that were beginning to smell like mildew! Just to give you an example of the humidity, I have chin-length straight, fine hair?the kind that often dries before I get a chance to blow it dry. In CR, my hair would still be wet 3 to 4 hours after I washed it (or after getting poured upon!)
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 5th, 2004, 06:26 AM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day 4 LaFortuna

We were up early and had the buffet breakfast at Arenal Paraiso that was included in the room rate. They had, by far, the best pineapple I have ever had anywhere. It was so juicy and sweet, it was amazing. Overall, I think we all liked the food at Arenal Paraiso?s breakfast best of all the places we stayed.

After breakfast, we set off on their trail. It was another overcast, humid day, and the trail was, of course, extremely muddy from all the rain we had had the day before. I wore my Teva-type Nike sandals for several reasons. One, I am basically a sandal person. I hate being confined in shoes. Secondly, I knew that if I wore shoes, they would never dry. I was right about that, but I have to say that I think I would have been more comfortable in shoes. The mud was so slimy and slippery and would get between my feet and the soles of the sandals, so my feet were sliding all over the place inside of the sandals. Shoes would have been much more supportive. On the other hand, everyone else?s sneakers got completely wrecked on this walk.

This was a wonderful trail through the rainforest. If I have one complaint, it is that it consisted of a long, long, descent. Of course, when it comes to trails, what goes down has to come back up, and the second half of the trail was quite tiring. I have to admit that I am not in the best shape, although I was pretty consistent about exercising in the months prior to this trip. I still found the ascent in the second half of this trail to be really tough. I had to keep stopping to catch my breath and my quads were screaming.

The only wildlife we saw on this hike was a really pretty turquoise bird and one howler monkey. Near the end of the trail, the hotel had a tractor/wagon set-up to haul people on their canopy tour back up the hill. The driver had stopped to point the monkey out to them and they, in turn, pointed him out to us. Unfortunately, the kids had grown impatient with my slow ascent and they had long since gone on ahead of us, and they had the backpack with the binoculars and camera, so we could barely see the monkey and they didn?t get to see it at all.

After the walk, we all showered, checked out of the hotel and headed over to the Tabacon. I was prepared to find fault with Tabacon, based on the many negative reports I had read, but we much preferred it to Arenal Paraiso. The staff was nice, the rooms were clean and attractively decorated, they did not smell. No complaints at all. Anyhow, it was too early to check in there, so we left our luggage with them and headed into LaFortuna. We enjoyed Luigi?s pizza for lunch, though it was not cheap. Most of the shops in LaFortuna were very similar shops with typical souvenirs. However, we did find a couple of galleries that offered articles that were a step above all the other shops. Dd #1 bought a really pretty small painting and we almost bought one ourselves.

After a few hours, we headed back to Tabacon, got the keys to our room and changed into our bathing suits so we could head over to the hot springs. Well, this was definitely easier said than done! I had bought a new bathing suit from LL Bean prior to this trip and it has those adjustable metal hooks on the straps. The hooks were really slippery and had kept sliding back through the straps and coming undone. Since the straps were too long anyhow, before we left home, I had sewn the straps so that the place the hooks slide into was as narrow as possible and had tested it to make sure the hooks wouldn?t slide out as easily. Well, I guess I didn?t test it well enough because as soon as I put the suit on, one of the hooks slid out. Dh pulled out his Swiss Army Knife and used his little tiny pliers to try to crimp the metal piece together. It immediately broke into two pieces. The whole family is all ready to go to the hot springs and there is Mom with an essentially topless bathing suit. It took some time, but dh finally redeemed himself by tying my straps back together with a piece of string he cut off of a compass he had brought. We finally headed off to the hot springs.

We all really enjoyed the hot springs, sitting in the waterfalls, soaking in the water, etc. They have a new bar at the farthest point there, but we just missed the 2 for 1 happy hour because of my bathing suit trials. We each had one drink anyhow and spent a couple of hours trying out the various pools and waterfalls. We realized later that we had somehow missed the waterslide. I still do not know where it was. Anyhow, although we all enjoyed the hot springs, we decided a couple of hours was plenty and no one really had any desire to go back. There?s only so long that one can sit in water that hot in a tropical climate. I was really glad that we had not had to pay the separate admission fee, because we would not have gotten our money?s worth. On the other hand, we were all happy to have had had the experience.

It was just getting dark as we were leaving, and this was the only time that I had any issues with biting insects. What looked like horseflies kept landing on my legs and biting me. I was dying to run to the car, but there was a long line to turn in towels. The kids and I left the towels with poor dh and ran to the car while he waited in the return line.

Back at the resort, we decided to try out the swim-up bar in the pool. We were the only ones in the pool and we each had a drink, played around in the pool, and chatted with the bartender. There was another big moth flying around the pool, and dd #1 was not happy with his presence. It really was kind of gross. After changing, we ate at the Tucanes restaurant at the hotel. The service, though slow, was excellent. We thought the food was just okay, but it wasn?t a quality problem with the food as much as the fact that things were prepared differently than we are used to. A cute little ?gato? joined us at dinner and dd #1 (who missed her cat at home) enjoyed playing with him and sneaking him scraps. We would never have fed a wild animal, but this was obviously a domesticated cat. There were two guitarist/singers during dinner who were pretty good, too, so we had a nice evening at the restaurant.

We headed back to our rooms and the kids conked out right away. We started hearing a lot of pounding and banging and went out to see what was going on. A woman in the room next door had evidently locked her significant other out of the room and he was not happy. Dh called the front desk and they sent someone up. By the time the hotel guy arrived, the fight had escalated into a lot of drunken screaming, swearing, and yelling. I don?t know what the hotel guy did or said, but the couple quieted down.

Regarding insects at Tabacon. The rooms are along an outside hallway, so there were, of course, bugs outside the room. We were very careful to keep the room lights turned off whenever we opened the door, so the bugs stayed outside where the lights were and they really weren?t a problem for us at all.

We had ?superior standard? rooms at Tabacon and they had great views of the Arenal volcano. Unfortunately, the top of the mountain was shrouded in clouds throughout our stay at Tabacon. I had really expected to like Arenal Paraiso better than Tabacon. Actually, I think I wanted to like it better because it sounded so much more quaint and Costa Rican, but we all preferred Tabacon. We didn?t think the décor was too ?Holiday Innish? as some posters have mentioned. One other thing we liked about Tabacon was that our clothes actually dried in the rooms because of the central air conditioning. The wall air conditioners at AP had done little to rid the room of moisture, so even dry clothes felt damp.
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 5th, 2004, 07:09 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day 5 Off to Manuel Antonio

Today dawned sunny, but as the day wore on, it would become increasingly grey with intermittent rain. We started off with the breakfast buffet at the Tabacon. The kids? favorite part was the freshly made frescas. We shopped at the Tabacon gift shop, which was really quite nice, checked out of the hotel, and headed for Manuel Antonio. This was a very long drive, but the scenery was absolutely gorgeous. We made the obligatory stop at the Tarcoles bridge to see the crocodiles. They really were creepy-looking. We went to see them while the kids ?guarded? the car and then we watched the car while the kids looked at the crocs.

We drove into the Los Suenos Marriott to use their bathroom?just drove by the security guard and waved as if we belonged there and didn?t have any problem. We then stopped in Jaco. From what I had read, I had really expected Jaco to be pretty gross, but we really liked it. We live near the ocean at home and Jaco just seemed like a Costa Rican version of a seaside boardwalk-type atmosphere. Lots of surfboards, young tanned people, and souvenir shops. We found it to be kind of funky and fun. Again, we took turns staying with the car and poking around in the shops. Most of the stores were, again, typical junky souvenir shops, but there were a few nice places, including the Heliconia Gallery. There were several paintings in there that I loved and I?m still kicking myself for not having bought one.

We then headed off to the Parador to check in. About the Parador?I had some real qualms about staying there, both because of the criticisms I have read about them having ?blasted away the hillside? to build the place and the descriptions of the dark, non-tropical décor. The décor in the public areas is definitely kind of dark and castle-like and we weren?t wild about it. However, the décor in the rooms was much lighter and airier and, we thought, quite attractive. The landscaped areas are beautiful and tropical-looking. As far as the environmental impact, I?m certainly not well-educated on the subject, but I guess I?m not sure what the difference is between what they did and what other hotels in the area have done in order to build a hotel. Granted, it is a fairly large hotel, so it takes up more space, but much of the grounds appear to be natural rainforest. Judging by the population of squirrel monkeys in the trees outside our kids? room there, the monkeys are still quite happy with the environment. I am sure that many of you know more about the impact the Parador had on the environment, but to our inexperienced eyes, it didn?t seem any worse than what other hotels in the area have done.

The road to the Parador from the main road was our first real experience with bumpy, pothole-ridden CR roads. It was pretty bad.

We had one issue at the Parador that I still have to clear up and I would be interested to hear of your experiences with using Visa cards internationally. This issue was not in any way the Parador?s fault, however. We had faxed a credit card authorization to the Parador for the cost of the rooms. However, the amount that appeared on our credit card bill was higher than we had been quoted. I questioned this at check-in, and the desk clerk showed us the Visa slip they had run. The amount in colones was correct. However, it appeared that Visa must have used an incorrect exchange rate when changing the amount back into dollars. I called Visa from the check-in desk and was informed that there is a 3 percent surcharge whenever Visa is used outside of the country. I did not, of course, have the Visa pamphlet with me and had not recently read all the small print, so I had no way of knowing whether this woman knew what she was talking about. I still have to check the fine print and get this all straightened out. Have any of you run into this?

Anyhow, back to the Parador. We really loved the staff at this place. Everyone was very nice, friendly, and helpful. Actually, they were a lot of fun. The kids befriended one of the bellhops and they had fun teasing back and forth in both Spanish and English. Our one major complaint with the Parador was that the elevator was broken throughout our stay and it was a 97-stair climb to our rooms. Great exercise, but my quads were still quite stiff from our hike at Arenal Paraiso, and the stairs were killing me! The rooms themselves were great. They were spacious and spotless, as were the bathrooms. Our view was of the rainforest, the pools, and the ocean?an absolutely breathtaking view from both the balcony and the room. The kids? view was of the bay and the rainforest, complete with the monkeys.

After getting settled in our rooms, we headed off to Barba Roja for dinner. I don?t know what is wrong with us in that we seem to have different taste than everyone else on these boards, but we were not impressed with this place. We split their famous nachos for an appetizer. They were good, but not great. The other four had hamburgers for their meal. I couldn?t really find anything on the menu that appealed to me that night, so ordered onion rings for my meal. Yeah, strange, I know, but for some reason, they sounded good. I never did get my onion rings. We later found out that they had been delivered to (and eaten by) people at another table. Of course, if the waiter had come to check on us a few minutes after serving us, we would have told him we were missing the onion rings, but we never really saw him between getting our meals and requesting the check. The burgers were just okay. For one order of nachos, 4 hamburgers, and 4 alcoholic beverages, the bill came to $79 which we thought was pretty steep.

We headed back to the hotel. The kids went to their room while dh and I walked around the property a bit and then we went to bed, too.
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 5th, 2004, 07:18 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,541
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Great report so far! A couple questions....what type of room did you have at the Parador? How long of a walk would it be from the hotel back to the main road? I'm sorry you had such a bad time at Paraiso....it's one of the hotels I've been thinking of staying at on my next trip. Did you get any chance to see any other hotels in the area, other than the Tabacon?
tully is offline  
Old Jul 5th, 2004, 07:55 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day 6 Mangrove Tour and ATVs?sorry, this one is really, really long!

We started off the day with the Parador?s breakfast buffet. One of the plusses to their breakfast buffet was made-to-order pancakes, as well as eggs. Pancakes at the other places were of the spongy steam-table variety. Parador?s were delicious.

Prior to leaving home, I had been in e-mail contact with the Parador?s tour guy, Randall, and had booked the mangrove tour for this morning and the ATV tour for the afternoon. He had given us what seemed like a really good price since there were five of us booking two tours. The mangrove tour was booked through Iguana Tours and Jorge?s tours. We were in the lobby a few minutes early waiting for our pick up and were entertained by monkeys in the trees. This was our first time actually seeing a group of monkeys and, although they were a slight distance away, we were thrilled to know that they were there, as this was the one animal that we had all really been looking forward to seeing.

We were picked up promptly at the appointed hour by Jorge. Our guide was Barbara, a middle-aged woman who had moved to CR from her native Switzerland 6 years ago. It was another grey morning, but the rain held off until the very end of our tour.

We all really loved this tour. The kids later admitted that they had been skeptical, but all had a great time. In addition to our family and Barbara, the only other ones on this trip were the boat?s driver, Andreas, and a young veterinarian named Paul who had been scheduled to take the tour with friends the day before, but had missed it due to too much partying the night before.

We saw several Ibis, a baby kingfisher, Jesus Christ Lizard (although we never did get to see one walk on water), tons of crabs, several snakes including a really big and deadly one whose name I cannot remember, a caiman and, best of all, lots of white-faced monkeys, including a baby on its mother?s back. We stopped by the monkeys for a good half-hour to 45 minutes or so and we so enjoyed watching them. They were so close, eating fruit, staring at us, and performing various acrobatic feats! One of them did hop onto the edge of the boat. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. This tour was supposed to include a meal, but since we had eaten a big breakfast, they gave us the option of Iguana Tours t-shirts instead, and we chose that option.

We returned to the hotel with just enough time for me to take a quick nap before our 2:20 pick up for our ATV tour. This was another thing that I had worried about ahead of time in terms of the environmental impact. As it turned out, the entire took place on roads, so I can?t see how it had any more negative impact than cars would.

The driver who picked us up was a riot. We later found out that he spoke English very well, but he pretended not to, and the kids were kidding around with him in Spanish. He referred to himself as a Tico Loco and named my husband the Spanish word for ?boss,? while warning him that I was really the boss, etc. I guess you had to be there, but it really was a lot of fun. He also stopped to show us a sloth in a tree along the road from the Parador. Once we had one pointed out to us, we knew better what to look for and saw several more throughout our trip.

By the time we arrived in Quepos at Fourtrax, it was really raining quite hard and it didn?t let up for the entire trip. First we were outfitted with helmets that were a bit damp. I kept telling myself it was from water, not someone else?s sweat, but I am betting that it was actually sweat. Yuck. Anyhow, they gave us each an ATV and had us practice our driving skills right near their office until they were satisfied that we knew what we were doing. Our guide was a bit shy at first, but turned out to be a really nice guy.

Our tour lasted for several hours, again, in the pouring rain. We didn?t even bother with raingear as it would have been impossible to stay dry. This was so much fun. Once we got outside of downtown Quepos, we were driving on those famous secondary CR roads that were rough and full of potholes. No fun in a car, but a blast on an ATV. I almost met my maker when we weren?t even out of Quepos. I swerved to the left to go around a pothole, completely forgetting that Ticos think nothing of driving on the wrong side of the road. I heard a horn blast and realized that I had cut right in front of a car that was trying to pass us. From that point on, I remembered to look behind me before veering onto the other side of the road!

After about an hour of riding, we pulled over and our guide gave us each a bottle of juice and said he was taking us to see the waterfall. We walked a little ways until we came upon a small, but not too small, river. He started slogging through the river. The kids looked back at dh and me with the funniest expressions on their faces, like, ?Is he serious?? Well, he was serious, and we were already completely soaked from the rain, so we followed him through the hip-deep water and tooa beautiful waterfall. We then resumed our tour through palm plantations and the beautiful countryside until we arrived back in Quepos. This tour was supposed to include dinner, but we were soooo wet and cold, and just wanted to get back to the hotel and have warm showers, so they called our driver to bring us back to the hotel.

After showering and changing, we decided we would eat at the hotel because we were too exhausted to deal with finding a restaurant. We were also dry for the first time in hours and wanted to stay that way! Just as we were getting ready to go downstairs, the lights flickered several times and then went completely out. It was completely and totally dark. We could not see a thing! We called the front desk and were told that they cooked with gas, so the restaurants would be open. We found our flashlights by fishing around blindly in a bag and headed down to eat. There weren?t even any emergency lights on the stairs. Once we got to the lower levels, there were a few emergency lights, but it was still pretty dark, and still pouring outside.

We checked out the menus and decided to eat at the hotel pub. This was one of the best meals we had on our trip and the entree prices were extremely reasonable. Dd had mahi mahi, I had a stirfry, dh and dd#2 had pasta and ds had a hamburger again. What we didn?t realize til we got the check was that the dessert and drink prices were exorbitant. They really got us on those. The desserts were as expensive, and sometimes more expensive, than the entrees! The drink prices were ridiculous, as well.

The kids enjoyed watching the geckos on the walls of the restaurant who were eating their own dinner of insects, and especially enjoyed watching the larger moths get fried by the sconces on the walls. They had absolutely no sympathy for those big, ugly moths!

After dinner, dh went off to do some laundry because our soggy dirty clothes were beginning to smell mildewy and I went to bed!

A couple of things I forgot to mention earlier. The Parador reminded me of the Costa Rica Marriott in terms of décor. It?s funny because I?ve never read any complaints about the Marriott?s décor, but the Marriott?s furniture and accessories were just as dark and dreary as the Parador?s.

Also, we saw lots of iguanas around the Parador. They had a special one named ?Pedro? who lived in a hole next to the main circular driveway. There was a little archway in the curb labeled ?Pedro?s Residence.? We worried about Pedro getting run over whenever anyone pulled into the circle at the front door, but Pedro was very observant and would slip into his residence whenever a car came up.
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 5th, 2004, 08:20 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Tully--We had "premium" rooms at the Parador. Our room numbers were 419 and 420. We had originally booked a lower level of room, but I upgraded them when we had to cut a week off of our vacation. I am always great at rationalizing and figured we deserved the nicer rooms since we lost out on a week of vacation. We never saw any other rooms while we were there, so have nothing to compare ours to, but our rooms were wonderful and the views were incredible. One nice, but unnecessary, touch that I forgot to mention was that both rooms had a bottle of champagne and a fruit platter in them when we arrived.

From the main road to the Parador would be quite a walk. It is several miles long. The walk back would be a killer because it would be all uphill. It's also a very narrow road with little room for pedestrians. But, we did see lots of people walking up the road from the beach, so it can be done, but that walk isn't the whole length of the road either. I am wondering whether the Parador has a shuttle bus. I should know, but since we had a car, we never really asked.

So many people seem to love Arenal Paraiso, so maybe we just had really bad luck there. It certainly wasn't horrible, and maybe my expectations were too high since so many Fodorites seem to love it. Or, maybe the staff were just having a bad day and, therefore, weren't particularly helpful or cheerful. If nothing else, the whole experience might have been improved by better weather! The grounds were beautifully landscaped. The view of the volcano from both Paraiso and Tabacon would have been perfect if the weather had been clear.

On the other hand, when we got to Tabacon and my family all commented that they liked it so much better than Arenal Paraiso, I reminded them that it cost twice as much (almost exactly), so it wasn't really fair to compare them. Dh's response was that Tabacon was worth the double cost.

Although we, of course, passed other hotels in that area, we really didn't check anything out, so I can't help you with other possibilities. I always mean to check out other places when we're vacationing so that I'll have more ideas for the next time, but once we're there, we never want to give up vacation time to investigate hotel possibilities.

Sorry I'm not much help with your questions! If you have any others, I'll do my best to answer them.

JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 5th, 2004, 08:24 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 27
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the very detailed informative report. Is there more?
janeann is offline  
Old Jul 5th, 2004, 10:41 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You're welcome-I'm afraid it's probably too detailed, but sometimes I just can't help myself! Hope I'm not boring you all to death. Yes, there are a few more installments. I'll try to get to them later today.
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 5th, 2004, 02:00 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 295
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Boy, it sounds like a lot of rain...glad you still seem to have had some fun. We go in Aug...are probably booking Villa Nicolas. Did you notice them? Can you walk to these restaurants or did you drive? Great to read your report, Joyce
trevorjoyce is offline  
Old Jul 5th, 2004, 05:34 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day 7 Quepos and MA

Today was going to be our ?down? day to explore MA park and Quepos, and spend some time at the beach. However, once again, the weather didn?t cooperate. It was pretty cloudy and not a very good beach day. We had debated long and hard about whether to hire a guide for MA park. We ended up going it alone, primarily for financial reasons. We had been spending quite a bit of money on tours. Additionally, the previous tours had given us a decent idea of where to look for various wildlife and our kids had actually noticed a few animals before the guides had.

We ate breakfast and drove to the park by around 7:30. We stopped briefly at a convenience store and a uniformed park employee happened to be coming out of the store when we were. He warned us to ignore the guys in the nearby parking lot and park in the ?official? lot closest to the park, which we did. The guys at the ?unofficial? lot were quite rude when we didn?t stop to park there. There is a guy with a small boat who will take you across the water to the entrance of the park for 100 colones each. We opted to walk as the water wasn?t terribly deep.

We took the Punta Catedral trail and enjoyed the scenery. Playa Manuel Antonio was just beautiful. The only wildlife we saw was one sloth, a frog, several lizards, tons of crabs and a few big birds that we kiddingly identified as teradactyls because that is what they looked like. I kept thinking we should have used a guide after all, but the rest of the family said they were happy without one. The kids preferred having the chance to go at their own pace for a change. When we left the park, the water had risen quite a bit, but we slogged through it. Probably should have taken the boat, as it was deeper than it looked. On the other hand, it certainly cooled us off, as we were dripping in sweat from our hike!

I forgot to mention two things from yesterday. On the mangrove tour we saw sooooo many brightly colored crabs. Very cool looking. And, on our ATV tour, our guide showed us a poison frog. Absolutely beautiful, tiny, but deadly frog.

After going back to the Parador to change, we went to Si Como No?s gift shop and then poked around the stores in Quepos. Quepos was a bit more depressing and run-down looking than we had expected. We all liked Jaco better. We spent some time shopping in Quepos and then ate lunch at El Grand Escape. I had a delicious tortilla soup and fajitas. My favorite meal in CR. Ds and Dd#1 had Buffalo chicken sandwiches. Ds pronounced it to be the best sandwhich he ever had. On the way back to the Parador, some artwork on the side of the road caught our eye and Dd #1 and I yelled, ?stop.? It turned out to be the Mono Azul?s gallery where a guy (whose name I forget) sells some really cool paintings that he does on fabric. I ended up buying a large painting of stylized toucans. It is very hard to describe, but it looks like a bright repeating pattern that is actually toucans. Very fun!

Back at the Parador, dh threw in two more loads of laundry and we shopped in the gift shop for a while. Then the kids hung out at the pool while dh and I walked the Parador?s ?monkey trail.? Once again, a much longer and more strenuous trail than I was expecting. We got good and sweaty, but did not see any monkeys. We joined the kids at the pool and did see a monkey in one of the trees there. The five of us then went down to the adults-only pool. We were the only ones there for most of the time, and we had a drink and hung out until it got dark. Somewhere I had read that the Parador pool was a great place to watch the sunset. Just for the record, you cannot see the sun set from there!

We then changed for dinner. If it had been solely up to me, I would have liked to have tried another restaurant outside of the hotel, but dd #1 wanted more mahi mahi at the Parador?s pub and dh also wanted to try it. The family had not forgotten my recommendation of Barba Roja, so I didn?t push my luck. Because of the expensive drink and dessert prices at the Parador?s pub, we decided to go with soft drinks and meals only, which we did. There is a room next to the dining area with a pool table, so dh and the kids played pool for an hour or two after dinner while I sat at a table and read. We then went to bed early again because we were going on Canopy Safari early the next morning.
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 5th, 2004, 05:43 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Joyce,

We did drive by Villas Nicolas and it looked very nice. Much more convenient location than the Parador. We drove everywhere because the Parador is so far from everything. I hate to admit it, but I don't remember exactly where Villas Nicolas was. I do know, however, that it is on the main drag and closer to other hotels and restaurants than the Parador.

I would have like to have checked out some of the other area accommodations, but we just didn't want to take the time away from our vacation to do so. I have absolutely no sense of direction and didn't really pay a lot of attention to the relative locations of hotels and restaurants. Most of them are along the main drag, however.

And, yes, we did have a lot of rain. The supposedly typical pattern of a sunny day with an hour or two of late-day showers was not our experience! Ironically, the best days we had (weather-wise) were the days we were traveling in the car from one area to the next! Of course, we all wish the weather had been better, but we went into this trip knowing that it was the rainy season and we'd just have to deal with whatever came our way. If we had planned to spend hours tanning by the pool or at the beach, we'd have been terribly disappointed. As it was, we just continued along with our plans regardless of the weather. Fortunately, we live near the coast so the beaches weren't the main draw for us. In a way it was good that we didn't have great beach weather because I don't know how we'd have squeezed beach time into our limited time in CR!
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 5th, 2004, 07:02 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day 8 Canopy Safari

As some of you may remember, I had one heck of a time deciding which zip line canopy tour to do. We were going to do it at Arenal Paraiso until I read that some people thought it was pretty boring. When we went on the mangrove tour with Iguana, our guide told us about a brand new canopy tour outfit south of MA called Sky Mountain. She had already been on this tour because Iguana was trying to decide whether to offer the Sky Mountain tour through their organization. She said it was a great tour with really long zip lines. They had arranged to have one tour of clients go on it the next day, but there was not room for all 5 of us to join the tour. Back at the Parador, I asked Randall if he could hook us up with Sky Mountain. He gave me a long song and dance about not wanting to send us somewhere that was brand new, didn?t have a track record, etc. To be honest, I think he just didn?t have a relationship with them yet and/or had some exclusive arrangement with Canopy Safari. So, we just took the easy way out and had him book Canopy Safari for us. If we had more time there, I think I would have looked further into Sky Mountain. As it was, we ended up booking Canopy Safari through the hotel and they gave us a price of 5 for the price of 4.

We woke up to a sunny day for a change. It figures that we would get good weather when we were going to spend half of the day in the rainforest and the other half in the car! Canopy Safari was to pick us up at 7 a.m. and return us to the hotel at around noon, which was check-out time. We got up early and were packing when the kids called us to tell us they had lots of monkeys in the trees outside of their balcony. We went to their room and there were many squirrel monkeys cavorting in the trees. We didn?t have much time to watch them because we had to get down for a quick breakfast, but we watched the monkeys as long as we could. The Parador had agreed to let us keep one room past check-out time so that we could change after the canopy tour. So, we moved the kids? stuff into our room, checked out of their room, and had a quick breakfast at the hotel.

The Canopy Safari van picked us up right on time. In addition to the driver and one guide, we picked up two young couples at Si Como No and headed off to our destination, where we were joined by additional tourists. Breakfast was part of the deal and was served at Canopy Safari?s home base, but I have to say I was glad we had eaten at the Parador. I munched on some pineapple, but the rest of the food didn?t look particularly appealing. We were given a safety talk and outfitted with our equipment. My helmet, once again, felt pretty damp and I kept wondering whether it was wet from them having washed it or whether it was one of yesterday?s tourist?s sweat. Yuck. After the safety talk, we were off!

Overall, we had a wonderful time with Canopy Safari, but not for the reasons one would expect. In terms of the thrill of the activity itself, both dh and I were a bit disappointed. The ziplines were much shorter than I had expected. Only the last one seemed like a reasonable length to me. Additionally, there were so many of us that we did have to wait quite a bit between each zip and rappel. Despite this, we had a blast, primarily because our kids were having fun and because the guides were so much fun. I would guess that they ranged in age from around 19 through late 20?s. They were really funny and there was a lot of silly banter and teasing going on. This was one time when I think our kids? Spanish abilities really added to the experience because they were able to joke with the guides in both Spanish and English. To be perfectly honest, I don?t think it hurt that we had two attractive young ladies with us (okay, maybe I?m a bit prejudiced). Don?t get me wrong, the guides were completely professional, but I think they had fun flirting in a lighthearted manner with the girls, and the girls enjoyed it as well. We all had a lot of laughs. There were so many fun moments that can?t really be easily described?another one of those ?you had to be there? things, but it really was great.

Safety-wise, we were very impressed. They triple-checked our equipment before we started. The platforms don?t really look all that sturdy and there aren?t any railings, but as soon as you come onto the platform, the guide unhooks you from the cable and immediately hooks you to him and to the tree. So, at all times, you are hooked to either the cable or to a guide and a stationary object.

There was recently some discussion on Fodor?s about the cost of pictures. We ended up leaving the camera behind and buying their picture package. It?s $25 for the first person and $15 for each additional person, regardless of the number of people in the party. Pretty steep, but we?re hoping it will be worth it. I?ll let you know when our pictures arrive.

The ride back to the hotel was fun, as well. By that time, the kids were being completely silly and were joking in Spanish with the driver and the guide who accompanied us in the bus.

We went up to our room to change, checked out, and sadly left the Parador. We stopped at the Mono Azul?s gallery again because dd wanted to buy a painting and then we spent about an hour in Jaco so the girls could finish their gift buying. We ordered a pizza to go and ate it in the car and then headed for the CR Marriott. We didn?t really know exactly how to get to the Marriott, and had to stop to ask directions. We had one funny experience when we stopped in a restaurant parking lot and our oldest daughter asked a gentleman in Spanish how to get to the Marriott. His response was to tell us that he didn?t speak English. Very strange! The girls finally got directions inside a Supermercado.

Actually, this brings me to a question. At the Supermercado, there were two guards who were giving out slips of paper to people entering the lot. When we explained that we were just trying to get directions, they let us in and did not give us a paper. We actually saw them turn a car away and not allow it to enter the lot. Do any of you know what that was all about?

At the Marriott, we told the concierge that we would like to eat in a restaurant up in the hills that would have a view of the lights of San Jose. However, we were dressed pretty casually and did not want to change. He recommended several places in Escazu and gave us directions. Well, I don?t know whether it was us or him, but we could not for the life of us follow his directions. We were tired and frustrated, so finally ended up at a place near the hotel that he had recommended. It is called the Rodeo. Very, very strange place. It was quite new looking and looked like it belonged in the frontier section of Disney World. Lots of wood paneling and railings with saddles draped over them. Despite this American ?old West? look, the staff spoke minimal English. Other than the guy in the parking lot, this was the first place we went where we had a really hard time communicating even when the kids spoke to the waiters in Spanish. Our first waiter got really frustrated with us and turned our table over to another guy who spoke a bit of English. When we tried to order drinks, they weren?t familiar with any of the drinks we asked for. The food wasn?t all that great either, but at least it kept us from going hungry! And, it was an interesting experience, to say the least.

After dinner, we returned to the Marriott and went to bed.


Day 9 Sad to leave

Our final morning in CR was absolutely perfect weather-wise. It must have been in the high 70?s and there was a gentle breeze. I had suggested that we go to Zoo Ave en route to the airport, but was overruled by the kids who had no interest in seeing animals in captivity. When I explained that they would be injured animals that were being helped to return to the wild, they said that would be even sadder. So, we poked around in the gift shop, got pastries from the coffee shop for breakfast, and just hung around the pool for a bit. En route to the airport, we stopped at the supermercado for coffee. We then dropped off the car and took Toyota?s shuttle bus to the airport.

Paying the departure tax at the airport went very smoothly but, once again, the American Airlines lines were really long. Once we finally got through that line, the security lines were all backed up, as well. Like a complete idiot, when I was packing our bags for the trip home, I had emptied out a duffel bag and filled it with a garbage bag full of dirty clothes. One of the items that had originally been in the duffel bag was a large Swiss Army knife which I had unthinkingly thrown into a back pack that we later decided to carry on. Of course, security found this (duh!). They were actually really nice about it. They let my husband make arrangements to get it transferred to our checked-in luggage while the kids and I continued down to the gate. Still, we had very little time to spare, despite having arrived at the airport more than 2 hours ahead. We were all starving and knew that there wouldn?t be any food on the flight. Dh had all of our money with him, so I borrowed $20 from ds and ran to grab 5 pizzas at Papa Johns and we had just enough time to scarf them down before boarding.

Miami was a complete nightmare. We had an hour and twenty minutes to get off the plane, go through immigration, collect our luggage, go through customs, recheck the luggage, and make the connecting flight. The lines were awful. To make a long story short, one of the AA people told us the wrong gate letter and number and we ended up way at the end of the ?D? gates when we were supposed to be at the end of the ?E? gates. In the end, they held the plane for an extra 20 minutes and we made it on at the last minute. A very frantic, frustrating end to an otherwise absolutely wonderful vacation.

I really hope that we can make another trip to CR to see some of the areas we weren?t able to visit this time. You all were so right. It is an absolutely gorgeous country, the people are so welcoming, and there is so much to see and do. Our trip wouldn?t have been nearly as great as it was without all of your hints and help. Thank you! And, thanks to all of you who have made it to the end of this very lengthy report. I didn?t realize how long this was until dh asked me how many pages?wow! Sorry about that!
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 5th, 2004, 07:47 PM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just a quick note to apologize for the numerous typos in my report. I really do know how to spell! As I was just re-reading it, I noticed that I had added an extra "h" to sandwich, among other typos--guess I should have done a better job of proofreading!
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 5th, 2004, 11:33 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
What a great report Jo!! Don't worry about the typos, we all make them on these boards. I really appreciate all the detailed information. We'll be staying at Arenal Paraiso for three nights later this month. At least now I know what to expect! It sounds like you guys had an awesome trip, even with all the rain.
LA_FadeAway is offline  
Old Jul 6th, 2004, 12:05 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 1,183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Jo,
I forgot to ask, but how long did it take to drive from Arenal to MA? We're doing the opposite drive later this month.
LA_FadeAway is offline  
Old Jul 6th, 2004, 01:08 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 68
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Jo, your experience at Miami really make me worry. I'll be flying AA from Toronto at 7am and then get a connecting flight in Miami. I have only 1.5 hours to do the transfer. Do I need to check in the luggage for the connecting flight again? For the return trip, I'll again have only 1.5 hours in Miami to get into the connecting flight back to Toronto. I'm really worry about missing both flgihts.
lachat is offline  
Old Jul 6th, 2004, 04:21 AM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 144
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
LA--We really didn't keep very good track of the driving time, especially because we stopped at the Tarcoles bridge, Los Suenos, and Jaco. I believe the actual drive took about 5 hours, but that's just an estimate.

Hope you have a wonderful trip and that Arenal Paraiso works out as well for you as it seems to for most people. Even though it wasn't the best experience for us, it certainly wasn't terrible. Although it wouldn't be my first choice, if someone gave me a trip to CR and told me that I had to stay there again, I'd do it in a heartbeat.
JoBurritt is offline  
Old Jul 6th, 2004, 04:36 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,066
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
lachat, I don't think you'll have to go through either immigration or customs in Miami. There's an international lounge for people who have a plane change, but aren't spending any time in the US. You'll be doing customs in San Jose on the way down and Toronto upon your return.
JeanH is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -