Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gifts for Travelers

The gift giving season is upon us again, and travelers are some of the most fun people to buy gifts for! I've compiled a short list of gift ideas for the travelers on your gift list.

Luggage Tags - Because luggage looks alike, unless it has a bright luggage tag with your name on it. 

Passport Covers - For the stylish traveler (I adore the Vera Bradley ones)

E-Reader - For the book lover and traveler, no traveler wants to carry around a bunch of heavy books!

Power Adapter - You can never have to many of these, what if one breaks!?

Laundry Bag and Mini Detergent - This makes trip to the local laundromat that much easier. Pottery Barn has cute bags in all sizes that can be monogrammed or labeled!

Travel Themed Journal - These have fun prompts that any traveler will enjoy.

Colored Pencils and Sketchbook - I'm a fan of sketchbooking while traveling, especially on nature hikes and sunset viewing

Larger Memory Card (for their camera) - We know travelers tend to take lots of pictures

Travel Towel Packs nicely and is great for trips to the beach, hot springs, rafting, or hostel travelers. I have an Eagle Creek travel towel and find it very useful on all kinds of travels.

What are your favorite gifts to give travelers?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Costa Rica - Beach Shacks

One of my favorite things about Playa Guiones is the beach shacks that are built at the border of the jungle and beach. They're mostly built with driftwood and dried palm fronts and create spectacular places for shade, stashing your stuff, or just hanging out. Here are pictures of a few of my favorites.

The one at the end of Casa Romantica's Jungle Walk

Two right next to each other!

My favorite! At the north end of Playa Guiones. This lady was having a nice nap.

It's the little quirks about a place that make it so special!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Costa Rica - Airplane Videos

Remember those tiny 20 seater Nature Air flights we took to and from Nosara? We got some awesome videos taking off but unfortunately the internet in Nosara was too slow to upload them. I've uploaded them to my youtube account so you can now view them. Enjoy!

Taking off from out stopover in Tambor heading to Nosara. The unpaved runway is perpendicular to the beach which makes for great view from take off!

Taking off from Nosara to San Jose as the first part of our return home. The coastline views are breathtaking!

Costa Rica - Septimo Dia

I'm writing this as I sit in San Jose airport waiting to board our flight back to JFK. There is no internet here though, so this will be posted after I've already returned home.

I slept poorly last night as I was awoken at 2:30am by my ankles burning. Apparently, I got attacked by mosquitoes last night, probably while at La Luna or on the walk back from La Luna. Either way, I blame La Luna. Luckily I had some Benadryl and After Bite with me which helped relieve some of the itchiness and I fell back asleep.

We slept late today, waking up at 8am. Mike ventured to the bank to get some cash, since we had run out and needed to pay our taxi drivers to the airports. We thought we had planned how much cash to bring perfectly but we did not anticipate that the zip line tour from the fourth day would be a cash only experience. That set us back a bit.

We packed, read in the shade, and generally lazed about, enjoying the last few hours of our vacation. We had lunch at Beach Dog Cafe again and I finally got that steak sandwich (for the record, it was not as good as the chicken sandwich). We stopped by Surfing Nosara to check out our surfing action shots. There were some great captures so we bought a DVD of our 202 photos. A handful of them are definitely frame worthy!

We took showers to get off all the residual sun block and dust, settled our bill, and took a taxi to Nosara airport. The flight again offered great views of the country and we were smart enough to sit in the exit row this time for extra leg room. And that brings us up to this point, as I sit in San Jose International Airport writing this.

When we get home I can finally upload some videos to youtube to share with you here. 

Until then...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Costa Rica - Sexto Dia

Today was our last full day in Costa Rica. Sad face. We woke up even earlier today for our lessons, which was awesome!

Surfers Log: Quinto Dia
We arrived for our last lesson with Oscar at 7:30am (bad vacationers, up so early). We had new surfboards again today, smaller ones. I'm now on a 7'10" board. We paddled out right away. Ugh, paddling is tiring! But completely necessary (unless your getting towed by a jet ski like that girl in Blue Crush). Mike did not do so well today. He didn't have any great rides, quite a bit of wipe outs, and got stuck in the impact zone quick a few times for quite a while (ouch). I on the other hand, did really well. I caught one gorgeous wave early on. I paddled out, dropped in, and turned left (because I like to be difficult) and rode the wave halfway to the beach before I realized I'd have to paddle all the way out again. I caught two more waves and wiped out on both pretty quickly, but I am definitely improving which is the important thing. I'm sad that our lessons are over. I don't usually enjoy waking up early... OK let's be real, I am not a nice person in the morning, but for this vacation waking up early was a lot easier because I had something completely awesome to look forwards to.. SURFING. The next time we are in Nosara we will definitely be calling Coconut Harry's and Oscar!

Getting up...

Dropping in...

Riding the wave...

The other highlight of our day today was getting massages, much needed massages. We went to SpaCio down the road from Casa Romantica. I don't know if it was because I was so sore from all the surfing or that the masseuse was really fabulous, but this was one of the top four massages of my life. The downside was that there were some really loud kids playing the pool right outside the window of my massage room. Oh well. I still feel a lot better after the rub down.

Then we headed to dinner at La Luna in neighboring Playa Palada. We walked there via the beach and arrived just in time for sunset which was gorgeous. The food was OK, but I must say that the best dinner we've had has been at the hotel! Because we were right on the beach and sitting outside on the yard, it got buggy very quickly. Mosquitoes love me but it's definitely a one sided relationship. We started the walk home but now it was dark, and even with our flashlights we were turned around and lost. After trying to find out way back on the beach and stumbling across tons of creepy crawly hermit crabs, we then found ourselves in an abandoned hotel being attacked by no less than four guard dogs. Luckily the caretaker rescued us and we conversed in broken Spanish until we figured out how to get back to Playa Guiones. Ahhhh adventure. 

On the way to Playa Palada on Playa Guiones

The end of Playa Guiones

The beginning of Playa Palada

Our bed/table at La Luna

The view from La Luna

Adios Sol!


And now here we are, enjoying an Imperial by the pool on our last night in Costa Rica. Tomorrow it's back to NYC.

Until then...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Costa Rica - Quinto Dia

Our Qinto Dia in Costa Rica and our schedule remains the same. Eat, surf, sun, eat some more, sun some more, eat some more, sleep. Nice. I'll spare you the boring details from today, as it's more of the same. But, I did take a lot of nice pictures of the beach and of our hotel. I also have some awesome surf pictures that I stole from Nosara Shack and Surfing Nosara on facebook. 

Ok I lied, there will be some details. Last night's dinner at Harbor Reef was pretty good. We got a salad that had hearts of palm in it, mi favorito, and got a half Hawaiian half meat lover's pizza. The food was good and somehow our bill ended up being only $25, which was a welcome surprise. There were a couple of starving stray cats lurking in the restaurant and I felt incredibly sorry for them as I was missing my own sweet Whsitler Kitten so I fed them some meat off the meat lover's pizza. That made them very happy.

Surfers Log: Cuarto Dia
Today, Oscar took us out to catch REAL WAVES! Yup, no more white water for us intermediate surfers! Of course, it took us 45 minutes just to paddle past the breaking waves (we are scared wimps I tell ya) and then another 15 minutes for Oscar to convince us to catch waves, that we wouldn't fall, and that we wouldn't break any bones like I was convinced we were going to. I usually hate when I am wrong but this time I am so happy that I was! Oscar told me to paddle for a wave. I did. I felt it catch the board. I felt the drop. I stood up. I rode the wave! I RODE THE WAVE! OMG I RODE THE WAVE! Words cannot adequately describe that feeling, when you know you've caught the wave all by yourself and you managed not to fall and break any bones. I eventually did fall (inevitable) but when I came up I saw Mike had caught a wave too! The look on his face was priceless. I was so glad to see him having such a fantastic time. We were ready to paddle out for more but we had been such nervous ninnies for so long that we were out of time! Tomorrow my friends, tomorrow. Tomorrow I will catch multiple awesome waves and I will not be a big baby about it.

Oscar at the shop this morning, getting the boards ready. He looks so cool in his shades.

For lunch we went to Rosi's Soda Tica again and it was still delicious and cheap. We stopped by Cafe de Paris for breakfast tomorrow, since we are having a supermegaearly lesson tomorrow that starts before the hotel breakfast is served. We spent the rest of the afternoon on the beach soaking up the sun and reading books. We are good vacationers. 

We decided on dinner at Casa Romantica tonight since the forecast called for rain, and we didn't want to get stuck in it walking to or from a restaurant. The food was excellent! I don't know why we waited so long to eat here. We stayed at our table for almost two hours enjoying each others company over good food and a glass of wine. Mary Lou and JC, our courteous hosts took good care of us, as always.

Tomorrow is our last day of surfing lessons. To reward ourselves afterwards we are getting massages and going out for a nice dinner in Playa Palada.

Until then... 

Catching a baby wave on my beginner foam board

"Styling" according to Oscar... "Concentrating" according to me

Mike catching a baby wave on his foam board

Heading out for some waves on real surfboards! We are gnarly.

We found a scorpion in our shower! It was dead, but still...

The gorgeous jungle path from the hotel to the beach.

The water from the jungle path.

Playa Guiones in the morning.

A really awesome tree on Playa Guiones

The cemetery at Playa Guiones, not a bad place to spend eternity.

A photographer catching the surfers.

Casa Romantica!

See the iguana?

Surfboards at the entrance to the jungle walk at the hotel.

Lounging at the beach, covered in sunscreen, with our rented chairs from Coconut Harry's.

Ahhhh sun and surf. This is the life!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Costa Rica - Cuarto Dia

Finally I am caught up with the blog!

Today we started the day in our typical way, breakfast at the hotel and our surf lesson.

Surfers Log - Tercer Dia
When we were arriving at Coconut Harry's from the jungle path we heard and saw a howler monkey! He was hanging on a tree branch over the road. We were literally only ten feet away from him. It was totally awesome. Today we got real surfboards! And by real, I mean the kind that don't have a foam top. Score! Double score that I could actually carry the board all by myself (those foam boards are HEAVY). Oscar took us out into some rough water so that we could get comfortable in various conditions. He taught us how to turtle roll, which is my new favorite maneuver. You grab the board with your feet and forearms and roll over so the bottom of the board faces up, perpendicular to the wave so it washes right over you. This is much easier for me than pushing up on the board, but that's my weak upper body strength at work (or not). We practiced everything we've been working on; popping up, catching our own white water, and turning with the "real" surfboard which was so fun. At the end of the lesson Oscar told us we were good students. I told him he was a good teacher. We agreed to compromise that we were both good in our respective roles. Only two more surf lessons left. :(

After the surf lesson we came back to the hotel and went to the beach via the jungle path for an hour of relaxing. Then it was off to lunch at Beach Dog Cafe, right next to Coconut Harry's. The prices here were a bit high for lunch ($30 for two sandwiches and two smoothies) but their location is right off a beach path and the food is really ridiculously delicious. I ordered the chili lime steak sandwich and Mike ordered the sweet chili chicken sandwich with slaw, so that we could both have a half of each sandwich. Unfortunately, our waitress got the order wrong and brought two chicken sandwiches. Though they were delicious, we were disappointed that we didn't get to the the steak sandwich.

To vary up our routine, we decided to do an adventure activity today! We signed up for the the afternoon zip line with Miss Sky. We did a zip line last year in Monteverde which was super fun, but it was raining when we went so we got very muddy and lots of rain pelts in the face, no so pleasant. This time our zip line was sunny and hot. The participants and guides ride in the back of a truck (like a hayride) up to the location of the first zip line from the office. We then took 13 zip lines over valleys and a river. The guides were jokesters and pranksters but they did make sure we were safe and having a good time. On the drive back down to the office we saw two howler monkey families! SO COOL! This would be the third time we saw monkeys on our trip (the first was on our first day walking to Coconut Harry's). 

All Geared Up!

The view from the drop off point, a little overcast but you can see the water.

Me getting ready to go!

Two of our hilarious guides.

One of the howlers.

A family of howlers.

When we got back to the hotel we had a snack of chips and salsa and enjoyed a refreshing dip by the pool. Now we are showered and clean and ready to go to dinner at Harbor Reef. I will let you know how it is!

Before we head to dinner, in matching and very trendy cobalt blue.

Until then...