Live from Costa Rica...

Old Jul 6th, 2011, 02:22 AM
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BAJJ: Again, great tips. We were thinking about Don Rufino for tonight - okay for the kids though or more of an "adult" place?

flatfoots_muse: You're going to love Nayara, the room is the nicest I've been in...ever! The Springs is worth a stop at that price - again, very artificial but still beautiful and crowd free. Make sure you check out the Perdido springs there and not just the main pools and springs.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 05:12 AM
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The menu is definitely "adult" - although the setting and atmosphere of the restaurant is not. When we were there, a lot of people were sitting at the bar and watching the Stanley Cup. My older son got the ribs and liked them. There were hamburgers on the menu and, if we ever went back, I would probably get them a burger and cut it in half. The portions are pretty big. But it's not that kid-friendly of a place in terms of menu items. That's why I might just go back for dessert only.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 09:11 AM
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http://www.donrufino.com/en/ is a link to the Don Rufino menu if you want to see if your kids would like it. It's a yummy restaurant. Glad you guys are having fun. We saw a whole herd of coatis by the side of the road in Arenal. They are so cute. Be sure to try some batidos while you're in CR - they're yummy fruit milkshakes made with the fresh local fruit.

We haven't been to The Springs yet. How easy/difficult was it to get to? It's away from the main road isn't it? Our guides described it as fake, but it seems like everyone who goes there really enjoys it.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 01:19 PM
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BAJJ: Thanks again. We may go for total dinner juxtaposition...treat the kids to Burger King (actually, me and D secretly like trying fast food in different countries to spot tiny differences) followed by dessert at Don Rufino.

volcanogirl: Thanks for the link...oh, and we've had a dozen or so batidos so far

We enjoyed The Springs Resort. It IS totally artificial, and could be anywhere in the world, but pretty and fun nonetheless. Not too bad to get to, like a 5 minute drive down a hilly, rocky gravel road.

By the way, typing right now from our porch at Nayara surrounded by beautiful plants and many stunning birds, looking out at the volcano. I mean...it's ridiculous!
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 01:49 PM
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Mmm, have one for me! We had a funny takeout experience at Don Rufino. We were pretty full, but they offered to pack up a dessert for us to go, so we just asked for a brownie. Even though it was "to go" they put a big scoop of ice cream in there! El Novillo has some good steaks if you're in the mood for that. La Choza de Laurel is another pretty good spot - known for their roasted chicken.

Has the visibility of the volcano been pretty good?

I think we'll try The Springs next time we're in town. We really enjoy their sister property The Peace Lodge.
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 02:03 PM
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Next time we have to try Peace Lodge.

The volcano has been totally visible (the crater included) at a few sporadic times throughout each day. Sometimes it is puffing smoke, sometimes none at all. I can't believe how it used to look at night with lava streaming down (we've ssen many pics) - we really missed out on that, but it is stunning anyway. I'm actually a little obsessed with it - I have a million pics and the kids now make fun every time I mention how it currently looks (like every 10 minutes or so).
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 05:26 PM
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Day 6:

Liked Nayara a whole lot more today
Wonderful breakfast buffet and many birds on property. The place really is first class.

This morning we visited the La Fortuna waterfalls, which were absolutely stunning. The only downside, although we arrived at opening (8AM,) was sharing the falls with three unruly high school classes on a bus tour. I actually mentioned to one of their teachers that part of taking the kids on a trip like this should be to teach them how to be good travelers - I was so annoyed - my kids actually asked why they were being so loud. The were loud and obnoxious all the way down to the falls and then continued in that manner while climbing over the rocks at the base of the falls - so loud we had zero shot of seeing any wildlife.

Anyway, sorry for my rant. They eventually left and the kids swam and played for quite some time - we had a nice morning.

Lunch at Nayara was terrific as was the afternoon by the pool - the kids got chocolate milk shakes served to them IN the pool...I mean, does a kid's day get better than that?

We returned to La Fortuna in the late afternoon, treated the kids to Burger King, and browsed the shops in town. We finished the evening by taking the advice of BAJJ - we had the most delicious, refined desserts at Don Rufino! Really outstanding stuff (in particular the specialty iced coffees).

We will be sad to leave the Arenal area tomorrow (and my volcano) but look forward to the next stop...one night at Cerro Lodge in Tarcoles and a visit to Carara National Park!
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Old Jul 6th, 2011, 09:05 PM
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I'm glad you liked it too! I swear I still think about the tempura strawberry ice cream ball I had there. Yum!

I look forward to hearing about Carara - I hope you see lots of scarlet macaws!
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Old Jul 7th, 2011, 04:40 PM
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Day 7:

Left Arenal Nayara for Cerro Lodge (near Tarcoles) this morning. The drive here was pretty insane! Lots of winding, narrow mountain roads - I think I should've taken a different route. I'm just glad I get to take that new highway back to the airport next week.

Great lunch at a soda in Orotina - first one we've been to where no one spoke english and no english menu. I'm kinda in love with the "casado" - it really is a perfect plate of food! You can have any kind of meat or fish and a bunch of yummy sides (and the sides vary place to place). I can have one a day, easy!

Checked in at Cerro and headed to the bridge in Tarcoles to see the crocs, which we did, but we also saw tons of Scarlet Macaws! They were all over the trees near the bridge, flying back and forth - beautiful!

Okay, getting eaten alive here on the porch at the reception area at Cerro Lodge....gotta run...
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Old Jul 8th, 2011, 05:57 AM
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Glad you are having a super trip! We, too, saw tons of scarlet macaws on the road near Carara, more than we saw in the park itself.

BTW, give yourself enough time on the way back to the airport in case the new highway is closed. Due to landslides and shoddy construction it seems to be closed more than it is open. The old road definitely takes more time, lots of traffic and curves on steep slopes.
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Old Jul 8th, 2011, 06:22 PM
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colibri: Thanks for the tip. We are actually staying at Pura Vida again the night before we leave, so no worries if it takes longer than expected.

Day 8:

Slept okay at Cerro Lodge. Lack of AC wasn't as bad as we thought it would be.

At 8AM, we took a tour of Carara National Park with Victor (http://www.victourscr.com) who I'd recommend, even though it's a bit expensive. He's not only knowledgeable, but also very personable. The trails were very wet and muddy but after some initial complaining and whining, the kids go through it okay. We saw Macaws, a baby crocodile, toucans, and a ton of capuchin monkeys.

We arrived at Tulemar in Manuel Antonio in the afternoon, swam in one of the pools for a bit, went shopping, and then watched hung out at the private beach...which is pretty amazing! I watched the sun set from a lounge chair under tree while a sloth played overhead and the kids played in the surf. Just perfect!
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Old Jul 8th, 2011, 06:43 PM
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I sat all day under a sloth at Tulemar too. I'm sure it's the same one. I named him Ernesto (Ernie). Did you see anyone completely wipe out on the kayaks? I think we only saw one person navigate the waves successfully. Are you staying in the Mot Mot unit?
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Old Jul 8th, 2011, 06:43 PM
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Still reading with rapt attention. So glad that your wish to see a coati was fulfilled! I'll be very curious to hear how you like Tulemar -- sounds like a hit so far.
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Old Jul 9th, 2011, 03:37 AM
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BAJJ: Funny you mentioned the Kayaks...I'm looking at them lying on beach thinking, "How in the world...!?!"

MoonGirl: So far, so good!
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Old Jul 9th, 2011, 05:47 AM
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This has been so helpful and fun to read-we are leaving for CR the 15th-we have lots of things planned, however I left several days free so we could be a little spontanious-so we'll try the Springs! Thanks!
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Old Jul 9th, 2011, 06:20 PM
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Sarahmcgoo: Have a great trip!!!

Day 9:

Lazy day today...beach for much of the day. I must say that the private beach here at Tulemar is its best feature by far. Not to say the bungalow isn't really nice, it is. The grounds are lovely too. But the beach...just perfection.

They have sand toys for the kids, boogie boards, kayaks (I did see a few people get out into the water without wiping out, but I'm not gonna attempt it), and they even have a little beach bar that serves lunch. Above all though, it's a picturesque meeting place of jungle and shore...so shady and peaceful! No crowds...well, except for the troops of capuchin and squirrel monkeys that parade overhead once in a while. And a sloth or two.

Swimming pool and relaxing in the bungalow rounded out the afternoon followed by a nice dinner at Agua Azul.

At dinner Ryan got very homesick (starting crying a little) for the first time. Christopher had his moment last night. They are both having so much fun during the day but seem to miss home in the evening. Funny, we've been to Europe a few times with them and that's never happened. Daniela thinks it's more of a culture shock here. It IS a long trip, and I know they are having such a good time, so I'll try not to let it bother me.

Pics here, in case anyone is interested (you don't need to have a Facebook account to see the pics):

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...14725928&saved
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Old Jul 9th, 2011, 06:42 PM
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It does sound like a long trip and it's hard to be away from home for so long-sound like they just need to sleep! We are going for two weeks as well. Our son has been in CR for 7 wks. he's 21, volunteering-building homes for the locals and I am hoping he doesn't get tired of being in CR for so long...Our trip will hopefully be pretty luxurious compared to what he has experienced so far...I think you always take a chance on a long trip-but hopefully both will be unforgetable! Have fun on the rest of your trip-a good nights sleep can heal most things-Best to you!
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Old Jul 10th, 2011, 07:36 AM
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You can keep tabs on your volcano via the webcam

http://www.ovsicori.una.ac.cr/vulcan...deoarenal.html

Doesn't look so great today, you were lucky to have such nice views!
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Old Jul 10th, 2011, 12:20 PM
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Great photos! Fellow Brooklynite here -- howdy. By the way, I think the spider photo is of a golden orb, looks like it.

I've been really jonesing for Costa Rica lately, and your photos have made it worse -- thanks The photos of the Tulemar beach took me right back, and AOL has been on my list for a long time, but the monkey sightings you had have moved it up a couple of notches... thanks for posting.
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Old Jul 10th, 2011, 04:06 PM
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Thanks for reporting both the ups and downs of your trip. Homesickness is natural -- that's why we have a word for it (at least in English) after all. Though it's important to be sensitive to how the kids are feeling, I certainly would not let it weigh on your mind too much. One of the benefits of traveling is not only the new things you see while you're away, but also learning to appreciate the things you like (and maybe don't like) about being home. I bet at some point in the not too distant future, they're going to be at home talking about what they miss about being in CR! Please continue to keep us posted, this is really informative!
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