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...

Costa Rica - Tercer Dia

Another lovely day in Costa Rica! Day Three was pretty identical to Day Two, gotta love vacation!

We started the morning with breakfast at the hotel and then walked to Coconut Harry's for our second surf lesson with Oscar!

Surfers Log - Segundo Dia
Today we learned how to turn! There are right hand waves and left hand waves so you need to know how to turn on the wave so you can ride it as far as possible. Mike and I are both regular footed, which means that our left foot is in front while riding. Typically, for regular footed riders, right turns are easier because you can see the wave whereas left turns are more difficult. Of course, I decided that I preferred left turns, hah! This lesson was really tiring and we ended 10 minutes early. Like in skiing, all accidents happen when you are tired! Better safe than sorry.

After the surf lesson we returned to Casa Romantica and sat by the pool until lunch time. For lunch we went to Rosi's Soda Tico for some good casados. This is by far the most economical lunch we have had with two casados and two bottles of water for only $16! The fish I ordered was amazing!

On the way back to the hotel we stopped by a mini super to get some bottles of water and snacks for the hotel room. Then we went to the beach for a couple of hours in the afternoon and lazed about before getting ready for dinner.

For dinner we went to Cafe de Paris. The food here was excellent! We ordered a large green salad, chiptole shrimp, and tagliatelle with shrimp which was by far the best. The menu was a little pricey, but at least the quality of food was reflected in the price. Another bonus to this restaurant was that they served bread with garlic aioli. This is the first restaurant we have been to that offers some sort of bread for the table to start with, and it was much appreciated. By the time we left the restaurant was really busy.

Once again we came back to the hotel and went to sleep to prepare for our next day in paradise.

Until then...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Costa Rica - Segundo Dia

On our second day in Costa Rica we surfed, ate, lazed about, ate some more, and went to sleep.

We woke up bright and early on Easter Sunday, ate breakfast at our hotel (included in the price), then headed down the beach to Coconut Harry's by the beach to meet our surf instructor for the next week, Oscar. 

Surfers Log - Dia Uno
Oscar took us and our soft top beginner boards down to the beach for the start of our lesson. The first 20 minutes or so of the lesson was the three of us sitting in the sand discussing safety rules, waves, and winds. Then we practiced some "pop-ups" on our beached boards before heading out into the water. Once we were in the water all that theory gets put to practice. We were catching the white water and practicing our pop-ups with assists from Oscar just fine. Then we moved onto catching our own white water and listening to Oscar's coaching about when to stop paddling and stand up. This didn't go so well at first, but we did get better as the lesson went on. By the end of the 90 minute lesson we were both catching our own white water and standing up with the coaching of Oscar to tell us when.

After the lesson we went back to Casa Romantica and ate cold leftover pizza because we were starving after all that surfing. We got dressed and headed up to Coconut Harry's main shop to talk to Steve, whom I have been having an email correspondence with for the weeks before we arrived, to set up some other activities like zip lining and snorkeling. Then we walked back down to Coconut Harry's by the beach to get some beach chairs to rent for the week. We stopped by our room and then walked down the jungle pathway to the beach with our chairs, towels, and books in hand where we relaxed for a few hours enjoying the sun and surf. 

Playa Guiones is one of the most gorgeous beaches I've ever visited, and I've been to many beaches! The beach is a 5km long crescent with no houses or hotels directly on the beach. 170 acres of land in Nosara is considered a Green Zone and cannot be built on, i.e. is preserve. This makes for a lovely beach environment and awesome jungle trails to the beach and between sections of the town. Our hotel is the closest you can get to the beach and has an awesome jungle pathway leading directly to the beach lined with hibiscus and cacti where butterflies and lizards can often be seen.

People on Nosara Beach
After our relaxing late morning on the beach we walked to KayaSol for lunch. I was jonesing for a salad and theirs hit the spot. Mike ordered the fish tacos and I got the grilled chimichanga, both of which were excellent. So far this is our favorite lunch stop.

For the rest of the afternoon we lazed around the hotel pool reading and drifted in and out of sleep determined to be the best beach vacationers ever. Soon we started to feel like a couple of lazy lugs so we ventured to the beach for a sunset walk (I like long walks on the beach at sunset). We worked our glutes and admired the high tide surfers wondering why we weren't as good as they were yet.

Nosara Beach at Sunset

Before we knew it we were hungry for dinner. We showered and walked to Beach Dog Cafe only to find that it was closed for the Easter holiday. Venturing up the road in search of something open, we heard live music and came upon Casa Tucan. The food was nothing spectacular and we were definitely ripped off by the bar ($5 for a local beer on tap!) but the live music was nice, there were lots of other people around, and we were grateful to have found some place open.

The "hippie ex-pat" two man band

Back to the hotel we went and collapsed into bed, sleepy as anything from all that sun and surf, to rest up for our morning surf lesson.

Until then...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Costa Rica - Dia Uno Continued

I guess I should start from where I left off.

After our nearly five hour wait in San Jose for our flight to Nosara, we were finally underway! After all that waiting, our plane was literally in the air 10 minutes after having our tickets checked to board, definitely not an experience you have on a large commercial airline!

"Puddle Jumpers" as these short flights are called, provide spectacular views of the Costa Rica landscape. Words can't really describe the gorgeousness so I will show you some pictures.

Gulf of Nicoya coastline

Archipelago and the airplane wing

This was a boat party island! If you look closely, you can see a bunch of boats off the coast on the far side of the bigger island.

Pacific Coastline

Look at those wave sets!

Pacific Coastline

The most "fun" part of the plane ride was take-off and landing. We had a stop in Tambor so we had the pleasure of taking off and landing twice in an hour. The Tambor runway was awesome! It literally started at the beach and went inland, and wasn't even paved. Love it. 

Our pilot getting ready for take-off

The San Jose runway

From the cockpit, in flight

A picture of the Tambor runway, ready to take off over the water!

When we arrived we were mucha hambre! JC at our hotel, Casa Romantica, (more on the hotel later) was very helpful and lead us in the direction of food. We dined at The Gilded Iguana which was excellent at the time since we were mucha hambre, but in retrospect was not that fantastic as we have since found better dining options.

With full bellies we wandered the town a little bit before heading back to the hotel. We took a dip in the pool which is heated all day by the blaring sun, showered, and then headed out for more food (really we can't get enough food) to the pizza place at Giardino Tropicale up the road, the hotel I stayed in last time I was in Nosara. The food was not as good as I remembered it. The salads were soggy and the pizza was overcheesed. We did take some of the pizza back to our room to keep in the mini fridge to have after our surf lessons.

After a long day of traveling we fell into a deep slumber in our wonderfully air conditioned room. We needed our beauty sleep for our first day of surf lessons!

Until then...