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Nine people, five locations, twenty three days - what do you think?

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Nine people, five locations, twenty three days - what do you think?

Old Nov 13th, 2005, 05:14 PM
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Nine people, five locations, twenty three days - what do you think?

I would be interested in any feedback or suggestions about our Costa Rica Itinerary.

My husband and 13-year-old daughter and I were there for the month of April 2004 – we spent two weeks in language school, living with a host family, then spent two weeks traveling to Monteverde, Arenal, and Manuel Antonio.

This trip will be for 23 days, and my parents will be with us for the whole trip. For the final week, our two adult sons and their girlfriends will be joining us as well. This will be a very different trip for us, and it will be everyone else’s first trip to Costa Rica.

Group #1 (myself, my husband and daughter, and my parents) arrives at SJO at 1pm on Sunday, February 12. We have two nights’ reservations at Hotel Villa Bonita. On Monday, we hope to hire a driver for the day and take a drive to some nearby sights – we’ve thought about Poas, Sarchi, Grecia. Any suggestions? (When the three of us went in 2004, we took the Costa Rica Highlights tour for the day, which was a great orientation, but it’s a bit pricey for five of us to do it. Hiring a driver allows us to see some of the area at our own pace and at a better price.)

On Tuesday, February 14, we leave SJO at 6am to fly to Puerto Jimenez. We have reserved Casa Blanca at Bosque del Cabo for three nights. We haven’t decided whether to make a stop for food in Puerto Jimenez or just pay for the meal plan at Bosque. None of us mind cooking, but we might just save ourselves the hassle of shopping for food and go with the meal plan so we can appreciate every single second of our time at Bosque without having to wash dishes! Any feedback about this choice? We look forward to just soaking in the experience of the Osa…I just worry that we will be starting our trip with the highlight and other places will pale by comparison.

We return to SJO on Friday, February 17 at 4pm, and stay another night at Hotel Villa Bonita. The next morning, we will be picked up by Costa Rica Shuttle for a 4-5-hour drive to Punta Uva on the Caribbean coast. Here we have reserved the Costa Rica Treehouse for four nights. We have never been to the Caribbean coast, so this area will be brand new for all of us. We look forward to beach time and exploring in general. If anyone has any suggestions about activities we ought to consider, please post your ideas!

On Wednesday, February 22, we have a loooong drive to Monteverde – again with Costa Rica Shuttle, unless anyone has any reason why we should think about other options. We will leave early and be sure to get to Monteverde before dark so we can enjoy the views all the way! I think that having our own van and river will make even this long travel day enjoyable – no stress of navigating or driving, we can stop whenever we like, and the scenery will keep us all entertained. While in Monteverde, we are scrimping on accommodations and staying at the Tree House Hotel in the center of Santa Elena – we will all be sharing one large room with six beds, but at less than $60/night, we’ll make do for three nights. Being in the center of town may have its drawbacks (noise) but should have benefits too – easy access to food, shops, and activities. (There is also TV in the room, which my daughter will be missing by this point.) I’d love to hear from anyone who has stayed there.

After three nights, we will return to Alajuela in time to meet Group #2 (the sons and their girlfriends) who arrive 1:30 pm. The nine of us (!) will stay another night at Hotel Villa Bonita before our shuttle to Playa Grande the following day. We will be renting a house on Playa Grande for the week, so we will need to stock up on groceries along the way. We wouldn’t mind a sight-seeing stop somewhere too – since the kids will be seeing so much less of the country, we’d like to give them a glimpse of something along the way. Any suggestions for an interesting stop somewhere on the route between Alajuela and Playa Grande?

We will be in our house rental from Sunday, February 26 until Saturday, March 5. We will not have a rental car – we would have to rent a large van in order to fit everyone, so we will be walking to Tamarindo, and hiring taxis to go elsewhere or to return from Tamarindo at night. I thought the day-long Rincon de la Vieja tour might be fun for everyone to do together – ziplines, horseback riding, mud baths, etc. Otherwise, we will be enjoying the beach, the rental house, and being together.

When we leave on the 5th, we will have the driver pick us up very early so that Group #1 can be at the airport by 11:30 for a 1:50 flight home. (I assume that if we’ve paid the exit tax on arrival, we will not be cutting it too close, though I realize that anything unexpected causing traffic or mechanical problems could throw this whole plan into a shambles!) Group #2 will have one more night at Hotel Villa Bonita before leaving the next day on the same 1:50 flight.

If this trip is even half as good as our first trip to Costa Rica, we will be delighted! Whatever happens, we will be flexible and welcome even the unexpected misadventures – that’s half the fun. I am very interested in anyone’s feedback or suggestions. I certainly have already learned a great deal by reading thousands of previous posts and words of wisdom from everyone on this board. Thanks to all of you who have contributed.

- Jessica
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Old Nov 13th, 2005, 09:17 PM
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Jess, I have, regretfully, not been to Costa Rica yet, but in answer to yor question "....23 days--what do you think?".... I think you are very, very lucky!!!
Have a fantastic time! Looking forward to reading about it, and reading others' feedback.
I especially like the multigenerational aspect of your plans. It's been great fun, and sometimes a challenge, for me to travel with my daughter, my son and his wife, and my grandchildren. Hoping to learn more from your experience.
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 06:26 AM
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First a question, which language school did you go to on your first trip? My family and I (13 and 10) may be doing a week or two at a language school this year. We've done two weeks at Montana Linda and really liked it but I'm always open to other experiences.

I think your trip sounds great. Not too rushed.

I wouldn't cook in the Osa (partially because I'm always trying to get out of cooking). We found that after we spent a day out exploring there, we were tired and hungry. My kids also liked meeting the other kids at meals.

We spent a day with a driver visiting Zoo Ave and Poas - it was a day well spent. Poas has an interpretive display that we enjoyed.

We spent 5 nights in Monteverde which our crew (4 kids that trip) didn't think was long enough. We stayed at Los Pinos which was great for a group - 3 bedrooms and full kitchen/living room. It was within walking distance of town but we would like to have been closer somedays.

We were scheduled to go to the east coast last year but were flooded out.

I look forward to hearing about your trip when you return.
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 08:34 AM
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I forgot to mention - we did a great river trip near Palo Verde Park. It was perfect for multi-age/ability group.
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 09:50 AM
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As far as cooking at BdC, my dos colones....One of the great things at BdC was gathering at the bar at 6 every night and then moving onto dinner at 7 and chatting with everyone. Maybe cause I was solo but I really enjoyed the interaction; I especially enjoyed a couple nights spent chatting with many members of FOO (Friends of the Osa) who were there taking surveys and such. It was really nice meeting all the different people from all around the world & discussing what we'd done/seen that day.
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 02:12 PM
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dos colones mas. . . .Humberto at Hotel Villa Bonita will be a great source for you as well. He can help you with any arrangements, plans, or reservations that you need to make. Great guy--extremely personable. You'll love Humberto and his lovely wife Carmen as well. Tell them Jill and family say hello!

Also, please do post a report when you return. I'm very anxious to hear particularly about the treehouse--I almost rented it last October, but decided no at the last minute. It sounds like so much fun and got a nice review in the Tico Times recently.

I think you hit the nail on the head. You've done some very good planning, and your ability to be flexible and "go with the flow" is sure to make for a great time for everyone in your group. Buen suerte!
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 02:13 PM
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I guess I'd better brush up on mi espanol--think that's buena suerte!
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 03:07 PM
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Thanks to all who have responded!

CaliNurse - You are absolutely right - we are extraordinarily lucky to be able to take this trip, and we try very hard not to take it for granted. Thank you for the reminder about that, and for the good wishes.

Heather - The language school we attended last year was Wayra in Tamarindo. (http://spanish-wayra.co.cr) My husband and I were the oldest students, and our daughter was the youngest; the rest of the 20 or so students were mostly in their early to mid-twenties - quite a few Europeans, an Australian, and a handful of American medical students. My daughter had an individual tutor because there were no other children there at the time. My husband and I were in small groups with other students, four hours a day. The language instruction was fine - I wasn't hugely impressed, but I have no specific complaints either. The teachers and staff were all very helpful and friendly. The most valuable part of the whole experience was the homestay in the neighboring town of Villareal.

Tully - Thanks for your thoughts about meals at Bosque del Cabo. You make an excellent point about the social aspect of sharing meals. I guess that decides it for me!

Shillmac - You're right about Humberto. We stayed at Vida Tropical on our last trip, which is where we met him. He was so helpful as we got our bearings those first couple of days, and we look forward to seeing him again.
By the way, do you have a link to the Tree House review in the Tico Times? I couldn't find it online, but would be curious to read it.

More feedback and suggestions are welcome!

Muchas gracias - Jessica
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Old Nov 14th, 2005, 06:18 PM
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Hi Jessica! We, too, met Humberto when he was running Vida Tropical summer of 2004. He'll have a ball hosting the whole bunch of you!

I'll check and see what I can find on the TreeHouse. The article told about how it got started and the guy who owns it. There are actually 3 properties. TreeHouse and BeachHouse (as you know), but one other one that I wasn't aware of. I think it was about 2 weeks ago--could've seen it elsewhere, but I think it was TT.
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Old Nov 15th, 2005, 02:08 PM
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I'm wondering if anyone here has any experience with Costa Rica Shuttle services? I know that many Fodorites have had good experiences with private drivers. So far, Leonel at Costa Rica Shuttle has been very quick to respond to email with prices and driving times, and even emailed me again this week just to check that our plans hadn't changed, so I feel like he is easy to communicate with. Anyone care to share their experience with this company?

Thanks again - Jessica
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Old Nov 15th, 2005, 04:04 PM
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I'll give it a go with this link, hopefully it will work: http://64.233.187.104/search?q=cache...reehouse&hl=en
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Old Nov 15th, 2005, 05:18 PM
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Thanks, Tully! I couldn't find it last night.
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Old Nov 15th, 2005, 05:53 PM
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Thanks, Tully! I'll be sure to write my own review of the Tree House when we return, in case anyone wants more details...
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Old Dec 16th, 2005, 06:06 AM
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Im curious what house you are renting in Playa Grande-we are renting Costa Palmera from Feb 18-25 2006 with twn people-interested in hearing from people who have stayed at this house
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Old Dec 16th, 2005, 12:02 PM
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jessw, also the bakery (panaderia)across from the banko, (1 min walk from the treehouse) makes excellent baked goodies. we were there at 5:30am along with all the locals and enjoyed it so much, taking goodies for hikes and eating breakfast there. very yummy, also for a good, inexpensive dinner take a walk over to kako's pizza. nice ambiance, all local handicrafts, head guy, freddy is a doll, pizza was the best pizza we have tasted and the price was right. it is approximately 10-15 min walk from your hotel. ask directions everyone at the treehouse is very helpful and their internet is inexpensive too. the tree was originally on a farm located there and was planted i believe 40 years ago. anyways, enjoy the area. cheers.
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