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plmrod Jun 17th, 2005 11:54 AM

Trip report Part 1 Arrival and Arenal
Arrived from Atlanta into SJO no problems. I was amazed at the speed and efficiency of Immigration/Customs.
I was with a group of high school students and we had a wonderful guide and driver waiting for us.
Our first night we stayed at the Best Western Irazu. NOT IMPRESSED! It seems that they are doing a lot of remodeling. Unfortuately, we were placed on a side of the hotel that was under construction. The view from out window outside was of a junk pile of old sinks, toilets, etc. Our TV didn't work, one of the rooms the AC didn't work, and smelled of old wet dog in the halls. That was the worst one!
Left bright and early the next day to go to Arenal. We stopped at Sarchi on the way. We also stopped at family run finca, an organic farm and helped plant vegetables, tasted various seeds, leaves etc and had an excellent typical lunch. All this with Arenal (totally clear) in the background. Beautiful!
We stayed at Lomas del Volcan. Cute little cabins, AC (very much needed)a little "buggy". It's very funny how we started out the trip with a serious aversion to bugs. By the end, they were just part of the scenery. Not much hot water and lots of construction going on (this was a constant in all places). Had good breakfasts and one nice dinner (delicious sea bass) there. We were there during a national soccer game--many of us dressed up in team colors, jerseys, etc to watch the game. That was fun.
The next did we went to do the Cano Negro boat tour. That was nice and relaxing. Highlights (besides seeing monkeys, Jesus Christ lizards, numerous birds, caimanes) was having our guides serenade us with the CR national anthem and then we serenaded them with ours. They said they had never really heard it and listened to the words. We all decided that the CR anthem had a little more rhythm. :)
Had a nice lunch at a small restaurant about 2 blocks from the docks.
Went into La Fortuna on the way back. Had some GREAT ice cream (try "Guanabana") at a place on the backside of the plaza.
Then back to the hotel for some frisbee and relxing. The hotel is currently building a pool. That would have been really nice as it was extremely hot!
That night we went to Tabacon. Very nice, pretty but very hot! Also, we went at night, so we didn't really get to enjoy all the gardens. A little dark (and slippery) in some places. Next time, I would bring water shoes. Lots of little rocks, etc.
Also had dinner there. It was ok.
I will say that all the people we encountered there were quite nice, even the towel guys. As long as you had your card or your towel, no problem.

One point--it is VERY hot in this area. By keeping ourselves very hydrated, we were all fine. Just keep the water coming!
No problems with mosquitos, etc

Next report, off to Monteverde...

shillmac Jun 18th, 2005 07:49 PM

plmrod, what an entertaining report! Thanks, and keep 'em comin'! :)

sean420 Jun 19th, 2005 05:31 AM

Did you really expect to be impressed by a Best Western?

plmrod Jun 19th, 2005 08:37 AM

you're right--I shouldn't have used the word "impressed". Should have just said what I thought--it was nasty. Unfortunately, as this was a planned tour, we didn't have much say. Luckily it was only one night. And we were all so excited and tired (having been up since 4 am) that we collapsed and they next day went on to better places. I will say, however that the pool at the hotel was nice--even though they closed at 6. Also, they offer a happy hour (open bar--we didn't have an opportunity to partake :( nightly). Perhaps once they are done with the remodeling, it will be nicer. The lobby area was nice.
I much preferred the other hotels. More about the trip later.

sean420 Jun 19th, 2005 09:01 AM

Try Orquedias Inn for your next trip. It's in Alajuela and they can arrange transportation ($10) to/from the airport which is 15 minutes away. It's on an old coffee plantaion and the grounds are pretty nice. There is a Maralyn Monroe themed bar that is a fun place for drinks and a wonderful buffet breakfast is included and server by the pool in the mornings. We paid $59 for a roadside room when we were there last week for our first and last nights in Costa Rica

crarmy Jun 20th, 2005 08:11 AM

Nice report, I am curious about the "finca" you guys stopped by on the way to Arenal, do you remember what is was called?? and what town it was in?? That is the kind of stuff I would like my children to see.


plmrod Jun 20th, 2005 09:27 AM

crarmy, the finca was run bey a guy named don Juan. I will try to find out more info. It was about 15 minutes from our hotel (Lomas del Volcan) which is La Fortuna. It really was amazing. Some of the kids (being city kids and all) had never had an opportunity to do stuff like that. They planted, pulled, made juice from sugar cane, used achiote seeds (ground in a paste) as make up etc. I will contact our guide in CR and see if I can get more info. And the lunch was DELICIOUS!! All cooked in the huge outdoor kitchen, over looking a stream. Really nice.

misha2 Jun 20th, 2005 12:03 PM

I, too, would love more info on this finca.

crarmy Jun 20th, 2005 12:17 PM

Thanks plmrod, my children are definitely city kids. I will be looking for your post.

misha2 Jun 25th, 2005 07:06 PM


Any further finca info? I would love to go there on our trip to Arenal.

Jed Jun 26th, 2005 05:09 AM

plmrod - If you plan to post more parts to this trip, may I make a suggestion?

When posted separately, the parts become hard for your readers to find. If you post subsequent parts as replies on this thread, it would be easy to follow your report coherently. ((F))

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