Wonderful Memories with Granddaughter

Jul 19th, 2015, 06:01 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 157
Wonderful Memories with Granddaughter

Just returned from another wonderful trip to Costa Rica. This was a trip celebrating our granddaughters graduation (Valedictorian so she deserved it). Was great fun showing her one of our favorite places to travel. Still working on photos but will begin with an overview of our trip & then write it in segments.
Itinerary looked like this:
4 Nights in Arenal
2 Nights Manuel Antonio
1 Night San Jose
2 Nights Torteguero

Our trip started a bit ragged. We flew United Boise-Denver-Houston-San Jose. When we get to Denver the plane has mechanical trouble so we are delayed by 30 minutes so get into Houston with little time to spare. Our flight attendant lets us off the plane first & tells us to let the gate personal know to call ahead to hold our plane. He tells us he's not authorized to do that so run to our gate with plane still there but the gal at the gate refused to get off the phone so about 12 of us missed our flight when it was all avoidable. We head to Customer Care & get a discount voucher along with a mile long of other stranded passengers & end up staying in a sleazy Econo Lodge since everything else was booking up. Not a nice place (broken toilet that you had to reach inside tank to flush or toilet/handwash in one). Get flight out at 10am the next morning so didn't miss too much time.

Got to San Jose & Claus at Tri Color was at airport to meet us. There isn't a better car rental company there. We rented a SUV Nissan X Trail for $515 for the week & had a great experience with that company for the second time. Wrote more details about car rental in separate article.

Our trip to Arenal provided us with our first adventure. The road coming into LaFortuna had a landslide so a bicyclist told us to follow him & showed us a cow trail that he said would take us there. We were very glad to have a SUV. There were many potholes & little road but we made it. Our first stop was for lunch. We meant to stop at La Choza de Laurel but ended up at Lava Lounge. We found out La Choza had moved down the street. But Lava Lounge had good food that we all enjoyed.

We checked into Los Lagos for our first two nights stay. I must say this place has the most impressive grounds. There must be around 20 hot springs with lots of slides, swim up bar, individual hot tubs & just delightful area. We were so happy to just relax & try out as many as we could. They also have a volcano that spews water. It's all very impressive. They also have a butterfly garden with morphos & a frog garden & crocodile. Our room was fine but not anything impressive however comfortable. The hot springs made up for it all. Also had a nice restaurant that served a very good breakfast. On a clear day you could see the volcano but not during our stay.

We drove up the terrible road to Arenal Volcano to Sky Adventure. Road is terrible so be forewarned. The kids signed up for what they called a 10 adventure program for $75. It had bits of zip lining (4 lines), hanging bridges, rappelling waterfall, Tarzan swing & a few other things. It was a great value for doing lots of things. We opted to do the Hanging Bridges & Zip Lining ($77). Hanging Bridges took us about 2 hrs but we didn't have a guide which we had last time. Missed that because you really don't see much without one. The Zip Lining was the best we have done. There were 10 lines & two of them were 1/4 & 1/2 miles long. It was much safer & better guides than others we have done so a very enjoyable experience. Good day for all.

The next night we drove to La Choza de Laurel & ate at their new place. Food was very good & topped it off with a pineapple banana split.

Weather was very pleasant with only a little rain which we enjoyed. It wasn't very humid except in the jungle it got a bit warm. We were expecting more rain during the rainy season.

The next day our granddaughter & friend did the volcano hike while we drove to Lake Arenal. They enjoyed their hike. Saw a yellow pit viper on a tree. It rained over by the lake quite a bit. We stopped & ate at a German restaurant.

Next two nights we stayed at Arenal Lodge near the lake. Since the kids love to do paddle boarding I thought that would be a good option. It probably wasn't my favorite place however. It rained like the dickens & the road getting their was not for the weak of heart (2 km up a steep, narrow road). Our first night the power went out & it was very dark. The front desk loaned us a big flashlight but didn't help a lot. We ate at their restaurant by candlelight. Lots of people there & everyone seemed unbothered by the power outage. The food was good & breakfast had lots of variety including an omelet. The reception area was very nice with a fireplace & nice sitting area. They also had a room with computers but internet was weak & only at the office area. There was an exercise room as well that we didn't use. Below the restaurant was an infinity pool & two hot tubs. The view was the volcano however we never saw it once. We had the family suite which was very roomy with two bedrooms, a living room & large bathroom. Beds were very comfy. The Junior suites however were nicer looking & would have a great view if the clouds weren't there. The property had a butterfly garden but was enclosed & also a nice hike which we did. It rained so hard while we were there that we never went to the lake. Wished we had stayed all four nights at Los Lagos.

We drove into La Fortuna & found a cute coffee shop, The Good Earth or something like that. Great coffee & interesting owner. Did a little shopping & checking out the town. Also did a drive to the little German town by the lake. Found a fun place called Toad Hall that was a hostel & adorable, eclectic place that rents for $15 a night. Carly made note of that in case she returned someday. Ate at a small Soda next door that served good local food ($28 for 4 of us).

Tomorrow we leave for Manuel Antonio so more adventure to come!
Idahospud is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2015, 12:22 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 315
Would love to hear about the second part of your trip!
alisa23 is offline  
Sep 29th, 2015, 10:18 AM
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Posts: 23,762
Sounds like lots of fun adventures. Looking forward to reading the rest!
volcanogirl is offline  
Oct 4th, 2015, 05:52 PM
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Posts: 157
Looks like I've been delinquent in finishing my travels. It appeared no one was interested so I lost my motivation. Will catch up soon.
Idahospud is offline  
Oct 4th, 2015, 06:55 PM
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Somehow I missed it the first time, but I'd love to hear more.
volcanogirl is offline  
Oct 5th, 2015, 09:13 AM
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I'm interested and missed it the first time around too.
Patty is offline  
Oct 5th, 2015, 09:41 AM
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Posts: 315
We are very interested!
alisa23 is offline  
Nov 4th, 2015, 05:17 PM
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OK I'm finally back.
Manuel Antonio. What a drive. Made me think the road to Hana in Hawaii is nothing. It took almost 5 hrs on a very windy road up & down hills. Road is good. We took our own GPS & must say it worked great. We were told that GPS's from the states were worthless but ours did super. We stopped at a Sunday festival in a little town on the way & enjoyed being out of the car & walking around. Ate some authentic pupurias that were very good. The scenery is lush, green & unbelievably beautiful.

We were booked into Hotel Verde Mar by mistake but kept it since it had A/C & was right on the beach. We had meant to stay at Costa Verde. Verde Mar was very disappointing. The room was ok but only had a kitchenette which was poor but a very large bathroom. It had a pool which we didn't use. The beach is not all that great & without chairs, we didn't feel like hanging out there. We had a gate that we had to use a key to get back to our hotel. The good thing was we spent very little time there.

A very important fact to know is that MA National Park is not open on Mondays during the summer months. Since we only had two days there we really had to juggle things. The front desk said there was a raft trip with H2O so we booked it (if we had called them directly we would have saved $20 per person) but we were just glad that they had a trip we could go on last minute. We had tried booking ahead but most of the normal rivers were either too low or flooding. Our trip was on the Savegre river. Rafting was one of the most important things for our granddaughter to do. She is a guide on the Salmon River in Idaho so really wanted to experience a wild river. They said it was only a class 3 which wasn't what she was looking for but that proved to be some of the biggest class 3 we have been on. The drive to the river was beautiful. This time of year things are so vibrant. The put ins for the rafts are pretty rough. We had a great river guide. We rowed to a secret waterfall that we walked into & swam under the falls. Very pretty area. They served fruit & drinks before heading downstream. We hit some big rapids where Carly's friend flew out of the boat. It was all very fun & had a great time. Just perfect for the day. Our guides invited us to go to dinner at Salsapuedas that night. They had music & good food. Had a great time visiting with our river guides.

Next morning we headed to Manuel Antonio NP. Made a quick stop to have our clothes washed. We had washed things out by hand but they never dried & by morning smelled like mildew. Cost us about $16 to wash all of our clothes but well worth it.

Last trip to Manuel Antonio we saw lots of animals. This time I was very disappointed. It was crowded & hardly any animals. We had a guide but not much to see. The kids went for a swim in the ocean to cool off. The beach was very nice. Best animal sighting was outside of the park. Got great pictures of sloths & some monkeys. That made me happy.

Time to pack up & head back to San Jose. It took us 3-4 hrs to get back into San Jose. The traffic was horrendous. Must have taken us 1 hr to move 6 blocks. So glad to have the GPS. We were staying at Don Carlos in downtown & questioned that choice as we hit the industrial area & traffic but finally found it. Pulled into the parking lot across from hotel but found that wasn't where we could park. There is little parking in SJ. The gentleman in front of the hotel told us he would show us where we could park. Trust me, after driving in that traffic I was about to leave my car in the middle of the street & head into the hotel. So here's another plug for TriColor. I called Claus & told him I was at the hotel & said I was never leaving. He laughed & said he would come get the car in the morning. I would have hugged him if he was there. Didn't charge a dime more for such service.

Don Carlos hotel was so lovely. It's an older historic hotel catering to writers, artist, etc. It has so many nooks & crannies for just sitting, reading, playing games or whatever. There is a nice restaurant attached that we ate at & were very pleased. The room was very comfy, clean & welcoming. I would definitely stay there again. Loved the atmosphere.
Next stop-Torteguero
Idahospud is offline  
Nov 6th, 2015, 06:05 PM
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Tortuguero-Final Destination

Woke up very early (5:30am) to meet Fran Watson to take us to Tortuguero. It was great seeing Fran again. We have kept in touch since last visit. She let us know that a landslide took out the road so she was waiting to get word we could leave. A couple hours later we found out that we would have to go around the long way through Turrialba. That delighted my granddaughter since her parents spent a month there 20 years ago. It was a beautiful drive. The area is more prosperous than some areas with lots of cattle, banana fields & nice looking homes. After a nice lunch at a local cafe we finally made it to the Moin dock 5hrs later. It was so good to see Modesto waiting to take us to Tortuguero. The boat ride is about 3 hrs. We spotted howler monkeys, sloths,caymans & crocodiles, turtles, snakes, birds, etc. Good intro into the wildlife. The water is huge & overflowing its banks. At one point the canal was covered with grass which jammed the motor. Modesto used his machete to clear the debris.

Got to the lodge, Laguna Lodge, which was the same place we stayed before. Love the rocking chairs on the deck. Rooms aren't fancy but comfortable. We enjoyed time at the pool before we went to the Frog garden around 5pm. It's really fascinating to listen to the frogs & then to see them change colors as they call for their mates. We were fortunate that there were people from Columbus zoo where Jack Hanna is. They taught us alot. On our way to dinner, they showed us a Mexican porcupine in a tree. It was adorable & evidently a rare find.

Food was very good there. They had a pasta bar along with fresh fish or whatever the main dish was. Always lots of fruit & veggies. The best moment was Modesto sharing his life as a Nicaragua freedom fighter with my granddaughter. It is one of the most exciting & interesting stories you will ever hear. It was a special time for the kids hearing that part of history.

We had great time exploring the canals & seeing a bunch of wildlife. Lots of monkeys, birds, turtles, etc. It rained on us hard one day but we had very nice weather for most of it.

We went into the National Park, watched a movie & wandered through until we reached the town. It's small but fun to look around.

One of the reasons we went to Tortuguero was to see the turtles nesting. I was very excited to experience that. Well have to tell you that was my biggest disappointment of the trip. We did see a turtle which was great but the whole process is just not right. You put in to see the turtles through a lottery. They only take so many. We were in a group of about 12. There must have been at least 6 groups out on the old airstrip waiting in the rain for someone to let us know if there was a turtle on the shore. It was raining so we were drenched. The lottery lets you know if you are the first group to see the turtles. We were second. After standing on concrete for over an hour they yelled that there was a turtle. Everyone hustles in the pitch black darkness (with no flashlights) tripping over who knows what. The first turtle was overwhelmed with a herd of people heading at it so returned to the ocean. The second one stayed but our time was up so we never saw it lay eggs. I just really felt like I had invaded their space & it didn't seem right.

In all we had a great adventure & so happy to show our granddaughter a place that we dearly love. It was a great memory maker.

If I can remember how to add pictures, I will share some good moments.
Idahospud is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2015, 01:53 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 315
Thank you for finishing the report! I really enjoyed it. Too bad about the turtles. I would love to see them nest as well but not in a herd of people.
alisa23 is offline  

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