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Thread: Costa Rica Vacation

  1. #1
    smason3 is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2006 Milwaukee, Wisconsin Posts: 436

    Costa Rica Vacation

    So, we've just returned from a ten-night vacation in Costa Rica. Our boys rank it in the top three (just behind Bora Bora and Asia). SBH is more like a "routine getaway," so they never rank it.

    We flew US Air ORD->CLT->SJO with no problems. Although there was a man in first class who threw a fit (and started crying) because he had to have a salad instead of a sandwich. My older son gave up his sandwich for a salad, and we laughed about it all day. I'm pretty attached to food, but really????? As you can imagine, the flight attendant was very happy with Robert.

    Arrived in SJO on time and found our transportation waiting. We'd booked most of our travel through a Costa Rican travel agent, who is actually from Wisconsin. They were just great. I wouldn't hesitate to use them again and will in the future. Our AmEx agent just wasn't able to setup the tours we wanted, and I don't like booking tours through hotels. Anyway, back to our trip.

    We went to Arenal first for three nights. We stayed at the Kioro. It was nice, but I fell twice due to very slick floors and walkways. I ended up with some lovely bruises. I was wearing Keen shoes, but the pavement and floors were just too smooth. I was more cautious the rest of the trip!! The hot springs at the hotel were really nice. Probably the highlight. The food was ok. It will be a long time before we eat rice and/or beans again!! We did see toucans from the breakfast restaurant twice.

    We took several day trips from here. The first was the volcano hike. It wasn't really up the volcano. I'm glad we did it, but will not repeat. Robert did eat termites, so for him it was great!! After that we went to the Springs Hotel. Those hot springs were much bigger, and they had a great slide for the kids. Crowded, but fun.

    Then we went on the Cano Negro tour. It was very hot, so we didn't see much, but we did see a tree full of howler monkeys, a caymen, lots of birds including snake birds (agami heron?), bats, and a basilisk, which we saw walk on water. I would go again hoping to see more.

    Matthew, our younger son, broke his arm the Wednesday before our trip. His birthday was that Friday. Not such a great week for him. The ER doctor asked what he wanted for his birthday, and he said, "Only to be able to go on vacation." It was so sad for me to hear all of his thoughts. He's normally a very quiet boy keeping his thoughts close to him, but in the ER it was an outpouring of his worries. Sad for a mom. Anyway, back to the trip.

    Because of the arm, I had to make some last minute changes to the trip. He did get a waterproof cast, but was not allowed to push or pull with that arm. So, a call to our agent to find out what he could do and what he couldn't. The waterfall rappelling trip was out, but zip-lining was in because he could go with a guide!

    Robert and Pete went on the rappelling trip. It was the scariest thing Robert's done, but he would do it again. He really enjoyed it and was always the first to go down. Matthew and I went on the hanging bridges tour, which was just awesome. The highlight of my trip. We saw a viper (I actually spotted it), a rat tiger snake (about 6 feet), 2 motmots, a great curassow, and spider monkeys. One of the spider monkeys connected two branches so that a younger one could walk across its back. Really great. We will definitely do both of these tours again.

    The drive from Arenal to Monteverde involved two vans and a boat and an unpaved road. It wasn't too bad, but not fun.

    Next stop, the El Establo hotel in Monteverde for two nights. It was ok. Our family suite was great with a king-sized bed downstairs and a twin and double upstairs. Beautiful property, but it's a tough walk up the hill. I wouldn't want to do it every day. Nice trails at the top. The hotel restaurant is a stop for tour groups, so can be very crowded. Not the best hotel, but there isn't much in the area. We ate in two excellent restaurants - Chimera and Johnny's. They were the best of the trip.

    We did Sky Tram & Sky Trek zip-lining. Not for the faint-hearted. We've zip-lined before, but this was too much for me. I actually chickened out after the first practice run. The rest of the family loved it, but it was a little too much. If you want to experience roller-coaster thrills this is for you, but if you want to experience the canopy, try zip-lining elsewhere.

    Then we headed to Punta Islita for 5 nights. The trip was very difficult. There was a problem with our van, but luckily it was changed out very quickly. We wouldn't have known that there was a problem, but our driver kept looking out the window at the back tire, then when we were stopped for construction he inspected the car very carefully. At the next major road, there was a new van waiting for us. Very nice. The end of the trip was very difficult. Car sickness. Remember dramamine for the car rides!

    Punta Islita is in an out-of-the-way area. The resort is lovely, although a bit spread out. Our room was great. Very SBH-like. We had a villa with a pool, open kitchen, and air-conditioned bedrooms. The restaurants were nice. The staff excellent. They helped so much with my Spanish. They even taught me things that made the staff laugh. One thing to note: they rent golf carts to navigate the resort. Think SHB roads, but you go much slower. I hope Pete doesn't floor our car next time we're in SBH. Seriously, these carts were great. We even drove to the little town and visited a pulperia, a local artist, and a restaurant. Oh, did I mention we ate termites again?!?

    There was only one problem here. Due to a translation error, the hotel canceled or said it was canceled our flight back to SJO. An email was sent to the hotel saying our flight was changed. They read it as canceled. I explained that it was only changed, but it was something we had to deal with for hours and hours. Finally, we ended up on a charter flight, which cost about the same amount and was much more convenient. Definitely the way to go, but a hassle. I must say that it was the smallest airport and airplane!!

    We only took one trip from Punta Islita, and that was for deep-sea fishing. Wow, what fun. Due to the roads (and carsickness), this wasn't the best trip for Matthew. He also wasn't able to fish because of his arm. Robert and I each caught a sailfish. His was more active and really fought, but he did bring it in. Mine didn't seem to mind being caught at all, but it was still a struggle to pull it in. We called it a day after about 5 hours. We also saw about a hundred porpoises. They were so close you could almost touch them.

    Notes on the SJO airport. If you have kids under 18, you are set! There's a special security line for you. The other line was out the airport door and down the sidewalk. A policeman actually pulled us out of line. He was so nice!! We talked to other people, and they said the line took 45 min. It looked a lot longer than that.

    In SJO, there is a Lounge (free for Priority Pass) that has a very good sushi bar. Yeah, I know. Do you really trust it? Well, it was great, and we survived. Plus we had the coldest beers of our trip and some of the best service.

    Again, this was a great trip that we will definitely do again. I know that there is more to see in Costa Rica, so it'll be interesting to see where our next trip will take us!

  2. #2
    ReneeRash is offline
    SBH New Member Joined: Jan 2011 Posts: 7
    It sounds like you had a really cool trip. I'd love to get away to Costa Rica for a week or two. You should post some pics. You know the expression a picture is worth a thousand words...etc.

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