Hotel Presidente. Huge confusion by the driver since most of the city center is inaccessible. But finally he finds the hotel, and I check in at supernice room 606 for a single night.
Monday, December 29th
Early start on this day. I am being picked up by Jungle Tom Safari at 6.30. Then we spend an hour touring other hotels for pick-ups. Then it is a fast ride with a crazy driver and a fool of a guide to Tortuguero. You can’t go by bus all the way, since there are no roads at the end. The last 2 hours is by a small boat on a nice river in the jungle. We arrive at Evergreen Lodge at noon, where I get my accommodation – cabin no. 1.
Now I’m in the middle of the rainforest. And now it starts to rain – heavy. I skip the city-tour to Tortuguero. Instead I sit down in my comfy chair in front of my cabin and enjoys the sounds, the smell and the views. This is a first time for me.
Lunch and dinner is with the small group. Not my usual favorite thing – but with 3 guys from Wales along it is pretty fun.
Tuesday, December 30th
Another day in the jungle. First trip is at 5.45. To my great surprise, I have no trouble getting up for this. I wake up at 3 am and can’t sleep anymore. That’s probably due to the time difference from back home – and then the fact that some of the animals are very noisy during night. Is there anywhere you can complaint about nature being noisy?
The boat-trip this morning takes you around the canals in Tortuguero National Park hunting animals. We see a lot. Birds, Iguanas, Howler Monkeys in the treetops. The guides are good at animal spotting. The tourist have a harder time, since many animals look always invisible camouflaging themselves in nature. After a few hours we retur to the hotel.
Later it’s time for a walk in the jungle. This includes willies, because it’s very wet. The guide talkes mainly about plants, but there is some animal-spotting as well – including a snake at the end of the walk. Then it’s back to the hotel, where the rest of the day is spend on eating and relaxing. Some Howler Monkeys are enjoying themselves in the treetops just around my cabin, and some Capuchin Monkeys are hanging out at the restaurant as well.
Wednesday, December 31st
It’s been raining heavy all night, and it continues during the morning so I skip the early boat-trip that is also nearly the same as yesterday. Instead I hang out in the hotels park/rainforest/jungle. Quite a lot of animals here as well.
At 2 pm the boat back was supposed to leave. But they have moved it to 2.30. But then – there’s a part of the tourgroup that has to go for a walk in Tortuguero – and we have to pick up a few people 20 minutes up the river. At the end we are 2 hours late when leaving. This is Central America – and things like that happen.
The boat-trip is nice, but you can’t say that about the final bus-ride. The combination much traffic, rain, fog and crazy driver was not nice. The best thing I can say is that I survived.
Im back at my lovely Hotel Presidente at 8 pm. It’s time for a shower and a burger. There’s no New Years Eve for me. I’m to tired so I go to sleep at 10. Also nothing much is really going on in the city – despite the New Year.
Thursday, January 1st
New Years day is spend in San Jose – the capitol of Costa Rica. I get up at 8 am and head down for breakfast. There’s a “damn good cup of coffee” including – and a nice cake for finish.
Activity-wise there are 2 walks in the city. It’s a nice town for walks. Some fine building, though this is not London or Paris. Some Museums as well, but they are closed today.
Entertainment-wise Netflix is streaming fine at the hotel – so I have a chance to re-re-re-see Pulp Fiction.
Friday, January 2nd
Goodbye again to Presidente at 8 am. Interbus is on time, and takes me quite comfortable to La Fortuna – arriving at 11.30. Room 32 at Las Colinas is not ready yet, but that gives me time for lunch and time for deliving my laundry at a laundrette. Less than 10 $ for washing, drying and folding – and I can pick it up in 2 hours later.
Time for tour-shopping at the hotel and a little walk around La Fortuna – mainly a place for tourists.
My first tour is to Arenal Natura. There’s a great nightwalk in the rain-forest. The highlight is the colourfull frogs, but there are also insects, snakes, crocodiles and other strange stuff. It takes a couple of hours before returning to La Fortuna at 8 pm. Dinner is at a local Soda – a nice kind of efficient and cheap restaurant.
Saturday, January 3rd
As usual – I get up early. It’s just about 6 am. Then I have time for breakfast before my pick-up at 7.10 for the tour of the day. It’s a trip into the rainforest for a place with hanging bridges. You can choose to go by group or by yourself. I choose myself. The walk is about 3 km, covering 6 hanging bridges high about the forest. It’s pretty far down from the bridges. It’s a fun and exiting walk in the wild. It takes a couple of hours.
After the walk I finish it the bar with a pineapple-juice. They make the best fruit-drinks in this country. Then I head back for La Fortuna at noon.
The rest of the day is spend on lunch, a little walk around the town, my book, hanging out on the terrace of the hotel watching the Arenal-vulcano covered in skies, so you can’t see the top, and in the evening NFL on ESPN Mexico. A holiday is also a time for relaxing.
Sunday, January 4th
The reason why people go to La Fortuna is the Arenal-vulcano. It erupted in 1968 killing 80 people. It’s eruption ended in 2010.
Today’s tour is to the vulcano and a short walk at the bottom. We are only 5 in the group with a great guide Andrey. We leave at 8. It’s raining cats and dogs out there, but we take the walk around on the vulcano reaching the lava-limit – soaking wet. Then we head back and returns to La Fortuna to dry up.
The rest of the day is rain, rain and more rain. This is supposed to be “dry season” – I wonder how it can get anymore wet than this. So I have to spend the day with lunch at a Soda recommended by Andrey, coffee in Rainforest Café and a Burrito for dinner in a mexican place at night. The combination rain and air-condition at the hotel is bad for my throat. Medication is needed, but easy to get hold on at a local pharmacia.
Monday, January 5th
Another city – another hotel. Exit from fine Las Colinas and an Interbus to Monteverde. It’s a pretty ride on bumpy roads, taking about 4 hours. As the crows flight the distance is 20 km., but a vulcano and a lake between make the trip much longer.
In Monteverde I check in at my huge room/apartment at Hotel Ficus. There is an amazing view from my room, but the walk up there is like a stage to Alpe d’Huez.
It’s lunchtime which I take in at a strange restaurant close to the hotel. It seems there are more employees than customers, but since only one of the employees seem to actually work, things take a little time. Just next to the there’s a Terrarium with snakes, frogs, lizards and turtles. One of the doors in the “dangeruous snake” area is open – but fortunately they are just cleaning, and the inhabitant has been moved to safe quarters.
Then it’s back to amazing room 253. At 5.30 I can watch the most amazing sunset over the mountains and the Nicoya-bay. At the same time a huge thunderstorm arrives. I thought I was going to Central America for some sun and some heat – but appently not. This also means that dinner is at a coffee-shop close-by. Going into the small town of Santa Elana is out of interest. The evening is spend watching Godfather on Netflix. Nice to have on a rainy night.
Tuesday, January 6th
It’s been a terrible night. There has been rain and storm so hard, that I was worried the cabin was going to stand this morning. Bur forturnately it does.
Today’s tour is for Selvatura Park. It’s like a natures Disneyland. You pick the activities you want to do, and bye access to them. I choose “hanging bridges”, “hummingbirds” and “lunch”. During the activity “hanging bridges” I sure find out why this is called RAINforest. The walk is 4 km long, high up amont the treetops with 8 suspension-bridges en route – and no cover. The activity “hummingbirds” is a visit to a hummingbird-garden. There are lots of them, and they fly very close to your head – but chances to get pictures are good. The activity “lunch” should explain itself.
Other people – mainly young americans – choose the activity “zip-lining”. You are then sent thundering off hanging in some metal-chains high above the forest. It’s fast and furious. Most people seem to enjoy it, except the guy that is suddenly stucked unable to move forward. He doesn’t seem to enjoy it hanging out there. The chickens on the hanging bridges thinks that’s kind of fun.
At 3 pm I return to the Hotel. After relaxing the weather is reasonable so I head into Santa Elena. The walk to town is 5 minuttes – and the walk back is 20. I get stopped at the entrance to the city by a very nice restaurant serving a great meal. Food in Costa Rica has been a nice surprise. The weather has been the opposite. My nose is running, and I sneeze as loud as a female tennis-player when serving.
Wednesday, January 7th
Another night with crazy weather.
Today’s trip is for Reserva Biologica Monteverde. It’s a huge piece of rain-forest, which was bought by good people and organizations many years ago, with the purpose of keeping it as rain-forest. It’s not like yesterday’s themepark – this is pure nature – nothing fancy about it. You can take a walk, look at the trees and the plants, see if you can spot some animals – and that’s it. They allow a maximum of 160 people at a time, so the place is not crowded. Suddenly a group of people is gathered. They are pointing into the forest. Obviously these are bird-spotters and they have found a special one. Honestly – I don’t see shit – but I’m not bird-spotter, so that could be the reason. I’m still having a cold, so the walk is not that long. After a few hours I return.
The rest of the day I spend taking care of myself, and dinner is at my coffee-shop – finished off with a Café Negro.
Thursday, January 8th
Time for another change. Again with comfortable Interbus. I go from Monteverde to Quepos at the nationalpark Manuel Antonio. It’s a very nice and pretty ride. First throgh the hills and valleys around Monteverde, then along the Atlantic-coast with nice beaches and blue water. I arrive in Quepos at 12.30 and check in at room 12 at cozy Hotel La Sirena.
The day is spend taking a walk around this little tourist-town, which do have a hint of Klondike-city. Of course it’s also time for lunch and dinner. The weather has changed as well. From cold, windy and rainy Monteverde to sunshine and warm nice weather in Quepos.
Friday, January 9th
Breakfast at 6.30 so I am ready for today’s tour. Breakfast this early is usually not my cup of tea, but when you can sit comfy by the pool and breakfast is melons, homemade omelet and freshly squeezed pineapple juice it’s beareble.
My tour starts at 7 am. I’m heading out for Manuel Antonio National Park with a natureguide and 10 americans. The guide is great – and he knows it. He has got a huge binocular made for animal-spotting. We see them all – nearly – this morning. Sloths, Howler Monkeys, different frogs, lizards, iguana, spiders, birds – you name it. When he spots the animal he puts his binocular in place, and we all get a chance to see. Because he is the one that find them – the tourist’s doesn’t find anything.
The trip ends at a bounty-beach with loads of Capuchin Monkeys. If you don’t take care they steal your stuff, and take it to the top of the trees to see if it’s any useful for them. Instead of heading back with my group I stay for a while on the beach, before walking back through the forest – seing no animals at all. From the park-exit I take the bus back to Quepos.
The rest of this hot afternoon I spend inside with Netflix and Godfather 2 – and dinner is at a mexican bar. That calls for a Burrito and the fine local beer Imperial.
Saturday, January 10th
I have chosen this day to celebrate one of the animals I saw yesterday – the sloth.
I take a small tour by bus to the beach at Manuel Antonio – but not inside the park. The trip out there is 6 km, and the bus runs all the time. I take a short walk along the beach, a milkshake at a café and a nice lunch at a restaurant.
Then I head back for Quepos again. This was my tourist-things for today. On the entertainment-front it’s NFL.
Sunday, January 11th
People in this country do get up exceptionelly early. Today’s tour starts at 6.15. That means no breakfast at the hotel. The trip goes into the Mangrove-forest north of Quepos, in an area called Isla Damas. The group is 8 people, that take on the tour in a small boat in the canals around this special kind of forest. Most of the trees root is on top of the ground, and the branches of the trees go into the water to suck it up.
The trip is nice and comfortable, and of course there’s also wildlife out here. We see some lizards and the whiteface Capuchin monkeys turn out as well – and loads of beautiful birds. A nice trip, that ends with breakfast at a restaurant – so that is taken care of as well.
Sunday is a quiet time in this klondyke-city. All others days has been full of life and people, but not today. Dinner is taken in, at one of the few restaurants that are open and caters for the tourists. A very nice Pizza, while watching Indiana and Denver play their NFL-thing.
Monday, January 12th
And now it’s time for another change. Interbus at 8.30 and 5 hours later I arrive at good old Hotel Presidente. I will spend the last days of my vacation here. It will be in room 721.
I head out to see a museum. Museo del Jade is located in a brand new building, much different from the old buildings in San Jose. The museum exhibits different things made of Jade-stones in the pre-columbian time – that is before Columbus (the famous detective) discovered America, and the spaniards took over Central America. There are lots of fine things. There are jewelry, different figures, offerings and much more found around Costa Rica. On top of that is the fine building and the nice presentation. A nice way to spend a few hours.
A couple of hours is also spend in the evening at a Casino. My hotel runs a Casino Las Vegas style with slot-machines (not sloth-machines). I make my offerings there, before it’s goodnight at the hotel.
Tuesday, January 13th
And now it’s time for another tour. This one starts at 10.30 – and that’s nice. We have 3 themes on this tour. First one is Doka Estate, a huge coffee-plantation. We are explained how it works, and of course also have a chance to taste. It’s so good that coffee from here is brought home as a souvenir.
Second stop is Grecia. A neat little town with a special church build in metal. The visit is short, since a funeral is under way, and we don’t want to disturb.
Finally it’s Sarchi. It’s a city renowned for furniture-production. Among others they make some of the finest rocking-chairs I have ever seen. Then there are factories making a Costa Rica specialty – oxcarts. They are very colourful. They are not used for real any more, but only for decorative purposes. There are 2 at my hotel. We see how they are made and painted. They also make and paint souvenirs, available in the shop – this is a tourist-thing after all.
Then we head back into San Jose again. We were supposed to be back at 4.30, but due to Central American laissez-faire and heavy traffic we are 2 ½ hour late. That’s impressive on a 6 hour tour. But it was great fun.
Wednesday, January 14th
Last day in underrated San Jose. It’s spend with a guided walk with Barrio Bird Walk. I have tried that other places, and it’s often great fun. And it’s no exception here. Only 2 on the tour and the guide Carla. It’s a kind of art-tour, so we see some of the statues, fine old buildings, but also graffiti and murals. It’s a 2 hour tour, which suits me fine.
Then on to another small museum. Museum of Gold. The show – ta da – gold-findings from pre-columbian times. Very nice and educative. That’s also a part of vacation – to learn a little bit about the place you visit.
It’s my last day in San Jose, so I have to spend my last Colones. That’s easy with a Casino in the Hotel. I save a little for dinner, that is taken on the other side of the side of the street. The money-thing in this country is easy. They don’t care if they get Colones og US-Dollars – just as long as they get something.
Thursday, January 15th
Taxi from the hotel in the morning to the airport. It’s pretty small and easy to navigate. Even security are friedly people. At 2 pm American Airlines take me to Miami. It’s a 3 hour stint.
In Miami it’s chaos. I have never seen anything like it. I have 3 hours to change flight, and I’m close to missing it. It takes 2 hours to clear immigration eventhough I’m just in transit. That’s ridiculous.
But I do reach me British Airways flight at 9 pm local time.
Friday, January 16th
BA arrives in Heathrow at 9 am. The flight during night was terrible, but the views from my place was amazing as the sun rise above the skies. There is 1½ hour until my flight to Copenhagen. I arrive in Copenhagen at 2.15, and my luggage is the first to show. That makes it possible to get a train at 3 – and I’m back home at 6.