Costa Rica Journals

Experience everything Costa Rica!

An April 2001 trip to Costa Rica by Becs

Welk Resort San Diego Photo, Escondido, California More Photos
Quote: My goal was to see all climates, to touch north, south, east and west, both coasts, protected environments and animals, coffee and banana plantations, ruins, eco-tourism facilities, cities, and eat the local food. Check all, i got them!!!

Experience everything Costa Rica!

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Overview

Quote:
Tortuguero, Skytrekking in Monteverde, the chicken buses, banana and coffee plantations, surviving the Gran Hotel Imperial, El Pueblo in San Jose, Turrialba and its serpentarium, el Guayabo National Park and its ruins, Santa Helena, la Fortuna, Arenal, Tamarindo, Rincon de la Vieja... i'll never stop! Quick Tips: Always keep enough cash or travellers checks with you. Although the VISA card is widely accepted, Mastercard holders will find it difficult to get cash from ATMs, or to pay for either accomodation, meals, or tours with it, running out of colones in no time. Also, stay clear of this place in semana santa (easter) as everything shuts down, all places are crowded, and bus services halt...Read More

Club Regina Puerto Vallarta

Hotel | "Rinconcito de la Vieja"

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$10 rooms, very warm in those cold nights. You stay at this cabin with two showers and about three or four rooms, but the small ranch belongs to a family who do everything there is to be done around there. Wife will fix you anything for brekkie, lunch or dinner, son will drive you back to town if dad can''t, and they both tend to the handiman duties. Electric light comes on only 4 hours a day, from 6 pm to 10 pm. But there''s enough to do during the day to keep you busy and tire you for that 10 pm lights out. Take a hike to swim at the waterhole, go horseback riding up to the volcano and the thermal waters... enjoy the organic food they grow on their own, the fresh milk, this morning''s eggs... Ni...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 2, 2001

Club Regina Puerto Vallarta
Paseo de la Marina Sur 205
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 48321
01(322)221-11-00

Fairfield Bay

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Hotel | "Gran Hotel Imperial"

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I have mixed feelings about this place. It costs about 10 dlls a night, and it''''s packed. Worldwide travellers and backpackers roam the hallways, terrace, restaurant and bar. It''''s not incredibly clean, but it''''s got hot water. It''''s right smack in the scariest part of town, but... somehow being around so many people feels safe. It''''s got internet facilities and the guy there can also tip you on where to go next, as he doubles as a travel agency. Lonely planet website message board recommended it, so i went... i didn''''t feel bad enough to leave, but i''''m not sure i''''d repeat the adventure.

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on May 1, 2001

Fairfield Bay
Fairshare Office
Fairfield Bay, Arkansas
501-884-3333

Welk Resort San Diego

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Hotel | "Ilan Ilan"

Welk Resort San Diego Photo, Escondido, California
Quote:
Very clean and spacey rooms, has a pool and a jacuzzi, a restaurant and a bar. Great food all three days. I got there by booking a three-day tour to Tortuguero, which included all meals and beverages, hikes, wildlife-watching boat rides, turtle beach tour, you name it. Our guide was incredibly efficient and knew his job well, being a biologist he never missed to explain all about any species of plant or animal we saw. Incredible experience, brings you close to nature. Note that turtle season is October to March.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 1, 2001

Welk Resort San Diego
8860 Lawrence Welk Drive
Escondido, California 92026
(760) 749-3000

Xanadu Beach Resort and Marina

Hotel | "Hotel Guanacaste"

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$10 a night, clean enough rooms (some with private bath). Two blocks away from the bus terminals, and walking distance from downtown Liberia. YHA affiliated.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 1, 2001

Xanadu Beach Resort and Marina
SUNKEN TREASURE DRIVE
Freeport, Bahamas
242-352-6782

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$12 a night. The owner is a very distinguished lady, well-read and polite. The hotel rooms are clean, small but somehow spacey, and with good beds. Some have private bathrooms. She can cook, so you may eat there for a reasonable price, there''s internet and laundry services. Walking distance from the central park and the bus stations.

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 1, 2001

Hotel Interamericano
Avenida 1
Turrialba
2556 0142

El Pueblo

Restaurant

El Pueblo Photo, Costa Rica, Central America
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El Pueblo is a small town whose every building is either a restaurant, a bar, a nightclub, or a shop. You can find any kind of food you're craving, a series of price ranges that can accommodate your budget, all kinds of ambiance, music, crowds... souvenirs, anything! It's open until well into the morning and you are sure to have a blast in here. You're not quite enjoying the place you chose? Go next door! You'll meet locals, beautiful people... and of course, the lot of travellers who'll visit for a night or two before heading out into the National Parks, or back home...

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 1, 2001

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Asking locals which place they eat has plenty of advantages over going where guidebooks send you. The food will be good, cheap, and the real thing. Your tico food lesson: the two main dishes are gallo pinto and casado. They're basically two different ways of serving white rice and black beans. The gallo pinto will be offered for breakfast. It's rice and beans mixed up, and maybe some eggs in there somewhere. The casado will be your lunch and dinner, with choice of meat, fish, chicken or whatever, with side dish of rice, salad, and beans. You'll get these everywhere you go, be it mountain, beach or city... so... get used to it! However, eating at the local places you'll always get nice desserts and d...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 1, 2001

Ecolodge San Luis

Attraction

Eco-Lodge San Luis Photo, Costa Rica, Central America
Quote:
On my 'ecological and sustainable places' hunt, I decided this was one of the best to check out. They're not only a lodge for tourists, they're an education place complete with classrooms, laboratories, student bunkers, sample crops, forest trails focused on specific animal/plant watching, and bunk beds with common showers for budget accomodation seekers, separate from the private cabins tourists get. Your accomodation pays for meals as well... They're reaching for sustainability, attempting to recycle water, they use very little electricity, they're looking into growing the crops organically... but most of all, they educate...

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 2, 2001

Tortuguero

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Attraction

Turtle nest Photo, Costa Rica, Central America
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This is the national reserve where turtles come to nest year after year. Tropical rain forest surrounded by fresh water canals and a salt water lagoon make a spectacular place to visit... by boat or small plane. You must drive up paved road, then dirt path, and then a boat ride. Our guide stopped wherever he spotted an animal or plant worth a look. This was to learn and compare the characteristics of the forests on either sides of the mountain range... pacific and atlantic. We got to a banana plantation to learn about the tree, harvesting and planting, picking of the fruit, and the chemical processes that take place at the empacadora, to ship them away. Some are sent to nestlé and ger...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 1, 2001

Sky Trek

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Attraction

The Cables Photo, Costa Rica, Central America
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Off i go, deep into the forest, up huge stairways to tall platforms and suspension bridges. These take you across the treetops for bird, monkey, and plant watching, on to the trails you hike higher up, to reach the cable platforms above the canopy among the clouds. That's where they join your harness to the handle that glides on the steel cable, and the guides push you off the platform into the voidness, the tree branches, the mist, and the sounds of the howling monkeys... incredible! 9 cables and 2 suspension bridges in all, making it a 2 hour trip that you never forget... the exhilaration and the sense offulfillment at the end of it... oh man! Heights and lengths of the cables varied, but the...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 1, 2001

Rincon de la Vieja National Park

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Attraction | "Rincon de la Vieja"

Rincon de la Vieja National Park Photo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
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Horseback riding trip to the Rincon de la Vieja volcano. Four hours of trotting, and then a two hour bushwalk in the National Reserve. The trail is well-marked, and leads to see a waterfall, the sulfur lake and steam vents, the small crater, and the boiling mud piles... we didn't hike up to the big crater because it was scorching hot, and that’s a bit more strenuous... so we decided to head for the thermal pools and the river for a swim. So, back on the horses for another couple of hours. These natural pools were a sight to remember: on the one side you had two round gray-green water pools with steam coming off them, and the identifiable stench of sulfur... good to soak in for sore muscles and ach...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 1, 2001

Rincon de la Vieja National Park
Guanacaste
Liberia, Costa Rica

Cinema Paradiso

Attraction

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After staying a while in Santa Helena, I ventured into Monteverde and Cerro Plano, which are even smaller so there wasn't much to see... but i found Cafe Paradiso. An american couple own this small cafe that's a good restaurant, a bakery, and a souvenir shop... which at sunset turns into a movie house! They face every chair forward, pull down a white sheet over the wall, and show a movie, sound enhanced with a stereo for a crisp experience in every corner. Your ticket's cost is about 2 dollars, and it includes a bowl of fresh pop corn.

They show a wide variety of films daily, and up to three movies per evening... Hurry and go visit, because they'll go back to the States soon!

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 1, 2001

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They were built 1000 b.c. and reached their peak by 1000 a.d., being abandoned just before the arrival of the conquistadors. It was a city for the dead, flowing with magic, and rich in rituals. Only the highest priests were allowed to live there, and there's a tomb whithin the main mound, which probably belonged to an extremely important religious/political figure. They're no mexican pyramids, but then... we've got so many, so huge, gorgeous, magical ones, that i'm not easily impressed in this department. It's basically a series of circles and avenues leading from the entrance to the most important mounds, all built with river stones. They have a series of aqueducts and sewers that work to this date, ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 1, 2001

Turrialba

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Attraction

Quote:
This is a town in a rich agricultural valley between central Costa Rica and the caribbean lowlands. It's complete with every plantation you can think of (coffee, banana, sugar cane), an archeological site, a volcano, and extreme fun galore with choices of rapelling, canyoning, kayaking, or white water rafting. I visited the Santa Rosa coffee beneficio (plantation), and got a guided walking tour. They showed me the fields, got to see the plant, flower, grain, the machines that take care of the processing, storage... you name it. Relax on a local cafe to savour the gourmet coffee and APPLE TART! Named Cafe Gourmet, it's right across from the Wagelia Hotel. Go inside to talk with the owner and the wa...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 1, 2001

Souvenir?

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Story/Tip

Quote:
Buying souvenirs can become a tricky thing... although most hand-made or natural fiber papers (banana, tobacco or coffee) are beautiful, cheap, and a great way to save the rain forest and promote recyclable goods, the other ubiquitous items for sale are all forms of wooden carvings, objects (salad bowls, tableware, puzzles) and jewelery (anklets, bracelets, necklaces...). Rare woods are gorgeous, there´s no denying that... but they´re also protected and it´s a crime both to sell them and to buy some to take out of the country. Now, most of the shop-keepers still do sell them and think nothing of it, but it´s up to the tourist to do the right thing and refuse to take some... for those still thinking ´...Read More
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-Costa Rica abolished its army in 1949 -32% of Costa Rica´s National Territory is set aside as National Parks, Reserves, and Protected Areas. About half of the protected primary forests are privately owned... the government cannot economically afford to protect them. -Costa Rican adage: It´s better to have a bad agreement than a good fight. -Spanish conquistadors did not fret over Costa Rica because it had no mineral richness (ie, gold and tons of it!), but instead had heaps of indigenous tribes to fight off their land. So far removed was impoverished costa rica from the center of colonial power, that local leaders did not find out about the nation´s sept 15, 1821 independence fro...Read More