Monday, March 24, 2008

La Pura Vida in Costa Rica

While I was on my blogging hiatus, I celebrated my birthday, with the BF, in Costa Rica.

January-April is a good time to visit Costa Rica, because their rainy season ends around November. Naturally, that means the prices to the small Central American country are more during that time, but compared to what it'll cost you to go to Europe right now, it's still a deal.

We made it a cross-country trip. We flew into the capital of San Jose to spend one night (which was enough. more on that later). Then, we took a shuttle to Arenal - nearly 4 hours away on very curvy roads. We stayed in Arenal for 3 days and 2 nights, and then took a combo of a boat/shuttle to Monteverde (on the worst unpaved roads ever, for 2 hours, but some of the most beautiful countryside.) We stayed there for one night, and then took a shuttle for 3 1/2 hours to Playa Flamingo, and stayed there for three days. (Our deal included transportation to each city)

Often, people choose one "base" location, like the Western beaches, and then "day trip" to all the key locales on the island. It's an option, but your days are going to be long (you can see the one-way drive times) and your butt will be sore.

I do, however, think it's important to see the different locations within Costa Rica. Each one has it's own ecosystem, its own weather, etc. Arenal has the (live) volcano, Monteverde has the Cloud Forest, and the Western part has the beaches.

This week, I'll break down the trip report for you.

First, I'll start with San Jose. You know it's bad when, on the plane, the native Costa Rican sitting in our aisle suggested that we get out of San Jose as soon as possible. There's not really a lot to see/do in San Jose. The hotel (Hotel Britannia)as okay, but smack in the downtown area, which, to me, was a little scary and run down. It was 6 blocks from the main central square in downtown, which was the hub for the city's life. It was hard to believe that there were higher-end American stores in an area that seemed so poor, but the tourists are more important, I guess. We walked the square, saw the public buildings, took some photos, ate a mediocre dinner, and then went back to our hotel. We were thre for a total of about 5 awake hours, and that was plenty.

So fly into San Jose if you want, stay a night if you'd like to rest before you drive several hours, but I wouldn't make it a 3-day event.

Tomorrow: Arenal

Now, for some San Jose pictures.


Amy said... it about time to see a picture of BF? I mean it has been quite some time and there have been trips in between here that you must have taken a picture...comon now...

Cheysuli and gemini said...

Wow. The Woman considered going to Costa Rica for her honeymoon. We'll be looking forward to the Western beach photos to come!

Carmen said...

A picture of the BF will be forthcoming in a photo show of Monteverde. But you'll have to look through them all! :)

I don't know if I'd choose Costa Rica as a honeymoon destination. It lacks the romance of say, the Carribean. It's an adventure holiday, for sure. :)

Renee said...

I'm really enjoying all your vacation posts. They are very informative.
I'm not sure that Costa Rica will ever be on our list of places to see, but I really enjoy hearing how your trip went.

Goofy Girl said...

Costa Rica sounds like so much fun!! :)

Amy said...

Bring on Monteverde!