Costa Rica Trip, November 2011

Linna and I decided to spend our Thanksgiving away from the wet skies of Seattle and spend it somewhere warm and sunny. We flew on turkey day to spend four days in beautiful Costa Rica. A good friend of ours, Mike Curry gave us a ride to the airport; surprisingly there were no lines at the airport. From drop off, baggage check in and through security….it was maybe 10 minutes! The flight from Seattle to Atlanta was 4 ½ hours and only 3 ½ hours from Atlanta to San Jose, Costa Rica. Linna found our hotel through Groupon, Asclepios….a wellness and healing retreat This place only has 12 rooms, so it’s not your typical large International hotel. Our hotel guide took us to our room, well there was already a guest inside….a huge 4 inch spider on wall overlooking the bed. After contemplating we asked for another room, but it was smaller and on ground level. We put our brave hat on and asked for our original room back, the spider was still hanging on the wall.

The next morning was beautiful, started off with a small breakfast followed by a spa treatment at the hotel. After a relaxing massage, we took a taxi into San Jose for some exploring. Asclepios is a great hotel, it’s the location we had a problem with, it’s outside the city. This hotel had no bar, coffee, meat or Wi-Fi….plus there was nothing around this hotel. It was the reason we took off in the morning and came back late at night. On the other hand, if it wasn’t for the Groupon hotel deal, we would have never consider vacationing in Costa Rica. We hit a local spot in San Jose for lunch and for dinner we walked to Café Mando This is a popular dinner spot with the locals and tourists too. Even though San Jose is the largest city in Costa Rico, there really isn’t much to see compared to other capital cities.

Next day after breakfast we picked up a Hertz rental car; this is the only way to really explore a city or country. It wasn’t your typical American or European rental car, it was a beat up, rough riding Japanese Daihatsu 4 wheel drive with bald tires. We headed off to the Doka Coffee plantation for a full tour, this was very informative and enjoyable; I would definitely recommend a coffee tour in Costa Rica. Our coffee guide stated that 60% of their coffee beans are exported to Starbucks….which I thought was pretty cool. Our next tourist event was the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, at $35 per person it was a spendy tourist attraction. It turned out that Linna and I had a very entertaining time and you could easily spend 4 hours there. For dinner, we found this Tex Mex restaurant Jalapeno’s that was featured in Frommers located in Alajuela, a few miles from our hotel. The owner Norman Flores was cool and friendly, he was born in Columbia and grew up in New York.

We got up early the next day and took off early to see the Volcano Posa. If you don’t get to the top by morning, the afternoon clouds roll in and ruin any chance for a beautiful view. So….we did our job and got up early and made it to the volcano park entrance at 7:30 a.m., but the park doesn’t open up until 8:00 a.m. We had some time to kill and on the way up the windy road I noticed a place to have some breakfast. Turns out this was a very small charming hotel, Posa Restaurant & Lodge ran by two brothers, Mark & Oliver. It was almost like being in a rustic cabin and they served up a lovely breakfast. Now only a few miles away, we headed back up to the entrance gate and it wasn’t looking good, it was damn cloudy. So, it didn’t matter how early we were….the clouds were waiting for us anyway. What’s cool about the entrance at the Volcano Park, if there isn’t a view due to the clouds, the park service people will tell you not to waste your money and not buy an entrance fee.

Now that we wasn’t exploring the crater or volcano, we had time to drive to the coast. This only took 1 ½ hours from the middle of the country to Jaco, a pacific coastal city. After Jaco, we headed to Puerto Quepos to visit the Manuel Antonio National Park, this was all hype and no glory. After the hot, humid coast, we started driving back to our hotel. I wanted to hit some back country roads and drive through some small villages, but….the road I chose ended up to be a non-paved and very potted road. Ended up turning around and going back the way we came. We didn’t know but, everybody is driving back to San Jose on Sunday from the coast, so it added another hour to our drive. I look forward to coming back, but…with so many more countries to visit who knows if I will ever be back.