Thursday, January 21, 2016

Costa Rica 2016 - Post 4: Accommodations, Part 2


See my other posts to follow along on booking our Costa Rica Trip!    Post 1     Post 2     Post 3

We are 4 days out from our trip & the experience is... weird. 

Normally this close to a trip, I'm panicking. After all the times I have flown & traveled, I still get jitters. I've always just chalked it up to fear of flying. It's not the actual fear of flying, it's the "I can't land this plane if I want to get off" feeling. I have no control, & I'm stuck on this pencil-in-the-sky, with tiny aisles & a stranger sitting next to me, whether I like it or not.

But now that I think about it, it's not really that, either. I think I just get so overwhelmingly excited, that my mind thinks it's fear. Once I'm at the airport, I am just fine. Even boarding the plane or already being high up in the sky, I'm fine. Again, I really just think it's excitement that my body comprehends as nervousness. Knowing this, I am feeling much better going into this trip. But you can bet, my excitement is still bursting at the seams! I cannot wait to take off next week & begin our adventure. 

So in my last Costa Rica post, I showed you our first 2 places that we are staying at. We begin in Alajuela for a night (near the airport) & drive up to La Fortuna to stay 3 nights at the base of an active volcano. Whoo! To continue our Costa Rica Road Trip, we next head to Tamarindo. 

We have read many things about Tamarindo, & one thing sticks out - it used to be a very small, but very cool, town. Now, it has grown to a major tourist destination, filled with hotels & bars & shops. Now, we'd rather see smaller, more local towns, with less crowds, but we have two weeks in Costa Rica... might as well check this place out. 

For our Tamarindo stay, we used Airbnb again. Because of Tamarindo's tourism, the accommodations reflect a bit higher of a price. I mean, we started our trip in Alajuela for $25 a night, and now we are looking at places that are $69 a night (like this one). You get a little, you give a little. 

After much research, we chose this place for our 2-night Tamarindo stay:

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This one stuck out to me because of the price, but also because it looks like a tree house. It's small, but we don't plan on staying indoors much while we're there. We also wanted to be as close to the beach as possible, and this place is only a 5 minute walk, according to the reviews. It's also only a 10 minute walk to downtown, so that's a bonus. 

I didn't notice this until right now, as I type, but there aren't any pictures of the bathroom. I guess it'll be a surprise! 


After our 2 nights in Tamarindo, we head south to the town of Nosara. Months & months ago, I read a blog about a girl who traveled to Samara, Costa Rica & she said it was her favorite town. She loved it so much because of the fact that it isn't very touristy & the beaches were great. We looked at places in Samara, but they were over our budget, so we expanded our search to neighboring towns and found Hotel Playa Garza in Nosara: 

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We chose this place because 1) it offered decently-priced fishing with the owner. 2) It's also an Italian Restaurant that gets rave reviews. 3) It was one of the cheaper options in the area, at $60 a night.

We definitely want to go fishing in Costa Rica, & I read somewhere that Nosara & Samara have the best fishing. When I seen that this place offered fishing for an additional, reasonable rate, we got excited. At only $250 per tour, we could hop on a boat & catch some big ol fish. We can even (hopefully) find 2 more people to go with us & split the cost! After looking at other fishing places in Costa Rica, this is a very reasonable deal. 

When we seen that the main level is also an Italian Restaurant that gets really awesome reviews, I immediately emailed the owner to ask about fishing & he said he'd be happy to take us out. Sold. Book us for 2 nights, please! In a lot of the reviews on this place, they talk about how remote & unknown this place is, so we are looking forward to fishing, Italian food, no crowds, & pure relaxation at Hotel Playa Garza.


When you Google "Best Beach in Costa Rica," a lot of sites have Manuel Antonio at the top, if not the very first one on the list. So, of course, I need to see what all the fuss is about. I am the beach-lover of the relationship. James wouldn't deny that he also loves a good beach, but I'm definitely the beach bum. I could sit or lay or swim at the beach all day. I'd have to say, the best beach we have ever been to was either Siesta Key Beach in Florida or Sandy Point Beach in St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Soft sand, clear water, bright blues, & no crowds is the recipe for my perfect beach. 

So our next stop on the list is Manuel Antonio. According to Google, from Nosara to Manuel Antonio is a 5 hour drive. This will be our longest stretch yet, and we both already know that it will be more than 5 hours because we're going to want to stop at places along the way, & we figure everything might take a little longer than stated in Costa Rica. At times, I wonder if we overbooked ourselves. Are we trying to see too many places in the amount of time we have? I guess we won't really know until we do it, but I posted this itinerary on TripAdvisor and I got many comments saying that this itinerary looked perfect. So we'll see! 

We used Airbnb for our stay in Manuel Antonio &, for $80 a night, here is what our place looks like:

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It looks simple, but it is directly across the street from the beach & gets AWESOME reviews. We wanted to be as close to the beach as possible on this one, especially, because it's supposed to be such a great beach. It's always better to just walk back to your place after a day on the beach, than to jump in a car with wet clothes & sandy feet. The owner emailed me recently (which reminds me, I should email him back!) to check in with us & to tell us he won't be there, but his friend Norma will be there to greet us. A lot of his reviews talk about Norma & how sweet she is, so I can't wait to meet her. I'm hoping for 2 relaxing days on Manuel Antonio Beach, as well as time to explore the National Park right next to our apartment. 


Well, that wraps up our Pacific side of the trip, now it's time to head on over to the Caribbean side. Yup, that's right, we are literally going all over the country on this trip. One town on my wish list was Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. I read Camille's blog This American Girl religiously, and this is where she lives. Actually, when it comes down to it, her blog is probably the main reason we are going to Costa Rica. I mean, James' friend talks about his times in Costa Rica, but I never really brought it up until I found her blog. Her pictures just make me want to go there that much more. 

We didn't want to cross the country in one drive, so we are going to stop for a night in the middle, in Cartago. Again, we found this place using Airbnb & we are excited to be a part of this:

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I mean, a pool overlooking the mountains for $73 a night?! JAW. DROPPED. Duh. That is the main reason for choosing this place, but this one also carried the most worry when booking, as it had NO reviews. I just checked it, and now has a good review! 

You can bet I gave that reviewer a "helpful" tip! Thank you to that guy! I feel so much better about this place now. "Excuse me while I go swim in my pool, overlooking the mountains." Bahahaha. I cannot wait to say that. I can see James' eye rolls already, but he hasn't even looked into this place. He has no idea just how spectacular it could end up being. I mean, that VIEW! Whoo! 


Finding "the place" for us in Puerto Viejo was NOT easy. The places can be spendy, & again, we wanted to be close to the beach. We actually found a place in Punta Uva that was perfect... 

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But the owner and his wife weren't available to host those days, which made us super sad. This place was right on the beach & so very peaceful & private... I just loved it. I put it on my Bucket List for next time, if we ever get back down to CR. 

After much searching, this place became available:
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It's a little more than we wanted to spend... $95 a night. We are really trying to get around Costa Rica pinching pennies as best as we can. But this place looks just gorgeous. It's also in Punta Uva, which is said to be the best beach in the area and just a short drive to Puerto Viejo. That last picture really sold me. I love the fact that I can see the water from our porch. And the home looks stunning. What an amazing way to wrap up the beach portion of our trip. This place was actually competitive in it's pricing for the area, & I figured "it's one of our last places on the trip, splurge a bit." So we did. 

I think, in this area, we might end up having a few drinks, dancing a bit, & just letting loose. Puerto Viejo has a good party crowd, so that's what I envision us doing, anyway. Who knows, we could just be old & go to bed at 10, too. 


Well, it's time for our last stop on the Costa Rica tour. I can't believe I've already gone through all the places we're staying! When we leave Punta Uva, I will probably cry, as it's our last beach spot. Ask James - I cried when our plane left St. Croix. I think a piece of me stayed there, & I'm sure Costa Rica will have a similar impact. 
Or.... I can get bit by snakes, spiders, scorpions, bed bugs, break an ankle, & get food poisoning & never want to return. But, let's be real, Costa Rica looks so beautiful, that all that stuff could happen, & I'd still have a place for it in my heart. 

Yak, yak, yak... let's get to the last place on the list. For our final night in CR, we need to stay somewhat close to the airport. By "somewhat close", I mean, within an hours drive. I booked this place a whole month after all the other places, but it was only for 1 night & we just needed simple. Well, we got much better than just simple: 

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 Guess how much we paid for this place in San Joaquin? Just, think of a number, then scroll.....
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$60 a night. Whoop! Pool. Breakfast. Gorgeous-ness. 10 minutes from the airport. Hot tub. Wifi. And, some super-friendly Swiss hosts. I've never met a Swiss person, so I am excited to say I have! They have been living in CR for 20 some years, & just love it. They've already emailed me and asked me if we'd like a "typical" Costa Rican breakfast. Ummm... YAH! And, a night-time swim in that pool would be one hell of a way to end our trip. Look out, San Joaquin, here we come.


That's it! That's the trip! Those are all of the places we are staying. Oofta. That was the longest post I think I've ever written. I need daylight now. I need sun & fresh air. Good thing Costa Rica is next week ;)

To send you off, here's a blurry picture of us on last years trip to the Florida Keys:

At our last hotel in the keys where we kayaked out to some mangroves & sang the Gilligan's Island theme song the whole time.
Warm Wishes,
Ash

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