Joyce's CR Trip Report

Aug 20th, 2004, 06:19 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 293
Joyce's CR Trip Report

Since "Trevor" wanted to write our trip report, I will just try to write some highlights. "We" are a social worker/ people-oriented mom, artist/photographer husband, and a fairly typical 15 yr. old son. Overall, we had a great time, good weather with rain usually in the
Vida Tropical, Alajuela - [email protected] - Bill - 1 night
- Convenient, reasonable, clean; provided free airport transfer, breakfast, monkey viewing.

Arenal Paraiso - 2 nights
- Good experience, nice view but cloudy, foggy
- Clean, comfortable deluxe room

Villas Kalimba, Playa Samara, - 4 nights
- Great location: 5 two bedroom, 2 bath, new casitas around a small, landscaped pool.
- Across the street from the beach and next to the market
- Roberto & Mara went out of their way to make us comfortable
- Definitely would return
- Café Paraiso- restaurant around the corner from Villas-excellent, reasonable food
La Finca Que Ama, San Pablo de Turrubares, - 2 nights
- Remote setting with exquisite views, gourmet food, friendly & entertaining hosts: Neta & Arbel
- Casitas are built into the mtn. & perfectly furnished with small refridge., TV/DVD, Jacuzzi bath)
- See Trevor's report for more!

Villas Nicholas, Manuel Antonio - 3 nights
- Large studio with kitchen, big balcony, great view (3 down)
- Well-landscaped, nice pool, beautiful flowers
- MA Park: Took bus there (easy, cheap); hired guide at gate. Definitely do this to see more wildlife. Fun swimming after tour ? wore bathing suite under shorts. Had rained a lot eve before so muddy and this was the one, and only one, time I wore hiking boots.
- Walked to Biesanz Beach - nice but long walk.
- Damas Isle Mangrove Tour - hired guide day before from group at MA Park entrance. This seemed cheaper than hotel tour ($45/person) and was excellent. Picked us up at hotel in am and we were only ones with guide in our boat. Would do again!
- Enjoyed Café Milagro breakfast and snacks.
- Overall, I don't think we would return to MA but glad we went. It is special, because you have rainforest and wildlife right at a beautiful beach. Area is more built-up than others and sooo many Americans - had good dinners (Karolas, Baba Rojas) but fairly pricey?

Orquideas Inn, Alajuela, - 3 nights
- Lovely place, pretty grounds
- Room with view, motel set-up
- Good breakfast (included), good dinner (moderately priced)
- Close to airport ($8 transport)
- Corner bus to Sarchi - good experience with Ticos!
- Rafting Sarapiqui - great last day. We ended up doing Sarapiqui vs. Pacuare as we felt too tired for Pacuare. However, guide told us the day we went some of the initial rapids were class IV due to heavy rain the night before. Surprisingly, we saw a lot of wildlife then, too. Used our driver and Aguas Bravas ($45/person) very knowledgeable guide.

- I opened a bank acct. before I left to get "PLUS" ATM card and was glad I did; my CIRRUS card did not usually work, and not having a car this was a wise plan.
- Insect repellent - For some reason, Trevor did bet over 20 mosquito bites before he used it!
- Plastic Bags - great for damp/wet clothes and for food to avoid ants.
- Cool-max type shirts - we each had 1 or 2 and could rinse out at night and even in CR dried by am.
- Exit Tax cash ($26/person) ready and knowing to get on that line 1st at airport when leaving; the day we left lines were huge and would have been confusing if we didn?t know this info from Fodor's!
- Extra duffle packed to bring home coffee bought at unbelievable "MegaSupermarket" in Alajuela on last day; this store is bigger than any I go to!
- My cheat sheet in my wallet converting US dollar to Colons and vice versa
- Trevor & mom's lunch in Samara at a little Tico place-all desserts because of our limited Spanish.
- Nightly rummy games, usually outside.
- A workman at Villas Kalimba using his machete to open "pipas" (green coconuts) for us to try the juice while we stood next to the tree.
- Going door-to-door in Samara to deliver gifts from my friend to folks she met while studying there. Tico?s don?t usually have conventional addresses - they are based on landmarks (30 meters past the soccer field on the left). Our driver's address is a paragraph long! Sometimes the landmarks no longer even exist!
- Trevor's a"Superman" cable ride in Tur U Bari Park

Finally, thanks to all of you, we had fun, learned a lot, gave Trevor the desire to return to study Spanish and over 400 pictures to go with our memories!
trevorjoyce is offline  
Aug 20th, 2004, 11:55 PM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,574
Hi Joyce,
When did you return from CR? We just returned this evening. Will write trip report tomorrow. Wondering if our paths crossed? We stayed at Arenal Paraiso and Las Orquideas, also. Agree with you about Las Orquideas...beautiful grounds, great Spanish architecture but our room for 4 looked like a sparse & unappealing motel room. My sister-in-law had a cute single room with more ambience than ours.
Kwoo is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 05:41 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 293
We left on July 31, so were at Arenal Aug.1 & 2 and apparently just missed great lava sitings...we came home Aug.15, so were at Orquideus on the 12,13,14. Hope you had as much fun as we did! We both worked hard on the planning! Joyce
trevorjoyce is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 06:12 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 1,574
Hi Joyce,
We were at Arenal Paraiso on Aug 14, 15 & 16. We saw the red lava flows on Aug 14 & 15!! We were at Orquideas on Aug 18 & 19. I love Costa Rica. It is such a beautiful country and the people are warm, kind, friendly and willing to go out of their way to help.
Kwoo is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 06:56 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,072
Hi Joyce,
Thanks for the helpful ,but interestingly written report.
My daughter and I will leave Charlotte, N. C. for Costa Rica Sept. 2- 10. Our first 2 days will be at the Orquideas Inn. Bus to Arenal on the 4th for 2 days staying at the Arenal Paraiso. 1 night back to San Jose as we don't want to take the long trip in 1 day to MA. 2 days there at the Costa Verde and 1 night at the Hampton at the airport before we come home.
So glad you gave the website for the money conversion(used it before) but has been awhile so had forgotten it.
This will be my daughter and I first trip to Costa Rica so we are looking forward to it as friends of mine who lived in Costa Rica for many years visited 2 months ago with me. They were kind to share their knowledge with me so that gave us a start. This forum as been so helpful in our planning. Hopefully we will see the volcano lava flow and not too much rain.
Anyone else out there going at the same time? Maybe we will meet.
maryanne1 is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 07:42 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 163

We ended up at the MegaSuper in Alajuela too. What a place! And so out of place!

We had been visiting supermarkets and food shops all along to pick up staples. Some were clapboard-like but still very well stocked, like in Orotina, some were downright depressing, like in Sarchi or Grecia or some town nearby (don't remember).

Then, one day as we were driving along, it was as if the heavens opens and dropped this magnificent and humongous, truly super, market of food right in our path.

The neighbouring homes were all really nice, if I remember correctly. I'm sure the majority of ticos have never even seen or shopped in such a place.

Don't know what that says. But that store certainly was a sight to behold.
MonaManuel is offline  
Aug 21st, 2004, 08:49 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 293
Another unusual about that store was not only some samples of food, but we got samples of Bailey's Irish Cream Liquor! Mona, isn't Neta fun?! Maryanne, hope you have fun and watch for Trevor's next installment. We will also be posting a website with pictures which will be in Trevor's next report.
trevorjoyce is offline  
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