My trip to Costa Rica

Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 11:08 AM
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My trip to Costa Rica

Hi there, fellow travelers. I have been back for over two weeks, but am finally ready to give a report.
Overall, my trip was great. There were no disasters, but a few close calls! In other words, we did not get arrested, did not get lost, and did not get stuck in any floods!
We arrived in San Jose and got our rental car from Thrifty with no hassle or delay. Then we were on to Cartago area, which we had to go through San Jose to get there. Not my favorite place to drive through, I must say. We did make a wrong turn near the main park, but just circled around and got back on the right path. The roads are not clearly marked, but are navigable. My husband was the driver, and I was the navigator. In San Jose a policeman seemed to motion to us to pull over, but I said aww, just keep driving. I think he saw us as tourists and wanted to give us a hard time. We were obeying the law. Anyway, that happened so fast, we forgot about that incident, til later in our trip.
Made it to our hotel, the Sanchiri Lodge before dinner. We spent a couple of relaxing days there. It is a nice place with great food and a great view of the Orosi Valley.
Our next trek was over to the Caribbean side of the country. The drive along the highway 10 was very nice. We felt like we had that road to ourselves. It got a little different once we reached Squirres and turned toward Limon. It took us over 4 hours to reach Playa Cocles and our hotel, La Costa de Papito.
This hotel is several bungalows a few hundred yards off the coast. It has a spa and a restaurant, free internet access and tours are made available thru the front desk. Our bungalow was #1, which was nice as it was close to the lobby and restaurant, etc. A nice place, but was slightly marred by constant dog barking and a lot of construction and street noise. I don't know why, but my husband and I got very bad bug bites here. We used sprays with deet and also used our mosquito netting over us when we slept. The dogs that live at the hotel were on our porch almost all the time, and they were very flea-ridden. The bites itched our entire two week trip. Other than that, the location is very nice. However, it was not for us, and we will not ever be going back there. The roads were so bad, it was not pleasant to be near them. They were pot holed, dusty, full of rocks, trucks, bikes, people, cars, dogs. Any place to eat near the road had to put up with so much dust, it made eating uncomfortable.
We did have a pretty good time, saw a lot of animals, and plants. We did learn a few things about the Bribri (native indians) on a Chocolate tour we took and a trip to an Iguana Rescue farm.
We stayed 4 nights, which may have been too long at this location for us.
After that we headed on our way to Arenal. We stopped midway at La Quinta in Sarapique. It was a very nice place, but was so off season that we and 4 other couples were the hotels only guests. They have beautiful grounds that we walked and explored during our 1 day visit there.
I will continue with part two, which includes Arenal Observatory Lodge and Jaco.
MJ
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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 11:22 AM
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Looking forward to more!!

We have mixed feelings about PV area. If we ever go back, it would only be for 2-3 days. I also got alot of tiny insect bites. No-see-ums, maybe? I think they were also hiding out in my clothing.

MY
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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 12:11 PM
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Thanks for posting back. I hope Arenal was good to you and that you got to see the volcano.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 12:57 PM
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bookmarking
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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 01:00 PM
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Welcome back. Agree that the roads can kick up some dust around Puerto Viejo. We found that riding bikes was better than walking! Last trip we stayed at Azania Bungalows, just next to La Costa, and loved it's location and proximity to things. It's certainly seems to be an area that people love or hate!

Want to comment on the bug thing though too. On our first trip to PV my daughter got a jazillion of those little bugger bites. A mystery to us as well.

We also thought La Qunita looked to be a pretty nice place.

Can't help but think another story involving police is coming up...?
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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 01:49 PM
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Me too; that sounded like some major foreshadowing!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2008, 07:28 PM
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LOL--we're on edge now!

Gotta admit we've never had trouble with no-see-ums on the Caribbean side, and it is an area we always enjoy. Interesting to get another point of view, and that is vital to this board!

We have never stayed longer than 3 nights.

Anxious for "the rest of the story"!
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Old Dec 3rd, 2008, 07:31 AM
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Part 2
After La Quinta, we drove onto Arenal. The route was kind of a strange undertaking, looping up on the roads above San Jose. A nice drive through the countryside. I don't think the roads were ever meant to occupy both semi trucks and cars though. One close call on a hairpin turn with a very large truck, was well, a wake up call! My husband said it was inches from us. Whew...just another reason to be alert. We actually were fortunate that there were signs for the volcano all along the way. Otherwise, it would have been more difficult to find.
This was our second visit to AOL, so we were a little familiar with how to get there. Last time we got there from a different direction, but had no problems. We stopped at a Super Mega store in La Fortuna and picked up some ice and Rum and Tropicale, (something we indulged in during this trip). I do think arriving at Arenal and it's surroundings is our favorite location in Costa Rica. It is just not everyday you can get a hotel room with a view of an active volcano. We got a very nice Smithsonian room, #35, which had the best view of the volcano. No trees were blocking our view and we could see the volcano from the porch and from the beds very well.
We were there just before green season ended, so I am not sure the hotel was full, but there were a lot of people there.
The first day Arenal made lots of gaseous sounds and did not disappoint us in the throng of boulders and sounds of them cracking and breaking into the hillsides as they tumbled down.
The restaurant has really nice food and very nice waiters. SOme of the waiters live right there on site in their own housing, which I thought was good. We did venture out and enjoyed the great paths and took hikes. We used the hot tub and just plain had a great time.
The second day of our visit were were so lucky to have a couple of hours of the volcano completely unvailed by clouds. We took so many pictures and videos and sat there in awe and splendor as we watched this marvel.
After our second night, we had to pack up and were on our way to a new destination. The ever talked about..Jaco.
I kind of knew what to expect, I had been there before three years ago. But, if I had arrived there blindfolded, I would not have recognized the place. It has become a mecca for high rise condominiums that stretch north to south on the Jaco horizon. The main strip downtown, which used to be a potholed, dusty road, is now paved and lined with many more shops than before. They even had a KFC, Quizno's and a Subway shop.
We checked into a great little boutique hotel, situated up on a hill overlooking Jaco. It is the Vista Pacifico Hotel. I recommend this place to anyone who may want to stay in the area. The owners really take care of you there and the rooms were very nice. We had the place almost to ourselves the first day, and actually met some people from California (where we're from). We stayed three nights here and took day trips and just had a great time. There is plenty to do near here and a lot of places to eat nearby.
The last day, we packed up our belongings and loaded our car and headed back to the airport. Along the way we were driving and said to each other, "man this is a beautiful place, just look at the sky, everything is so green." No sooner was this said than we were getting pulled over by a roadside police speed trap. Uh oh. They had a radar gun and motioned us to pull over. The policeman came to the drivers side and asked for my husbands license, passport and car rental contract. He had to get out of the car and went back to talk to the two policemen. I had to squirm in the car alone wondering what the heck was going to happen here. After a few minutes I saw the policemen hugging my husband, shaking his hand and all of them laughing. I am thinking "that's a good sign!". Of course I had to know what happened. Well, you can pay for a ticket at your car rental agency, and get points on your license back home..about $175.00, or go to court. But if you are on your way home like we were, thats not an option. So, my husbaand asked, how much is the ticket right here and he opened his wallet revealing his last $40. Oh it is $40, of course! Whew thats a relief. We were speeding a little, no doubt about that, I think we were going 81 in a 60 km zone which was also a National Park. So, we drove off ever so careful not to speed at all and made it to the airport safely. The End
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Old Dec 3rd, 2008, 08:49 AM
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I love arriving in Arenal and seeing the volcano - one of my favorite spots. Glad things with the police worked out well. I've heard you should always carry a copy of your passport to show because they may keep the original if you have it with you. Remind me to only keep 10 bucks in my purse!
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Old Dec 3rd, 2008, 07:38 PM
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MJ - was #35 one of the Smithsonian rooms near reception & the restaurant? Did it have a balcony? Thanks for your report, sorry about the radar trap!
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Old Dec 3rd, 2008, 08:54 PM
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Fun report! Those Tico police---so loving upon accepting the contents of your hubby's wallet!
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Old Dec 4th, 2008, 06:55 AM
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tully, the room we had, #35 was one of the rooms that is across from reception and down the hill. They have a new addition there (actually a renovation)that contains hotel style rooms that kind of half way face the volcano. The room we had faces the volcano, has two queen beds and a sliding door that opens onto your own terrace with chairs and a table. Very nice room!
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Old Dec 4th, 2008, 09:01 PM
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Thank you MJ. Trying to see if I can fit AOL into my next trip and know not all of the Smith. rooms have balconies.
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Old Dec 5th, 2008, 03:31 AM
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I have room nr. 11 when I go to AOL in Jan. Can I see the lava from that room? Does anybody know?
Thanks! Rosa
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Old Dec 5th, 2008, 10:04 AM
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Rosa:

We stayed in a Smithsonian, #7?. It was in the small building right next to the lobby area. I think 11 would also be there, maybe upstairs. You do have a volcano view. We had no patio and found it to be a bit noisy due to proximity to the lobby & restaurant. Still ok if you know what to expect. Not luxury, but you are there for the view.

I believe all Smithsonian rooms come with the volcano view.

MY
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Old Dec 7th, 2008, 01:43 AM
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Thank you Michelle.
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