Saturday, February 13, 2010

Where in the World???

Have I Been???

Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Oklahoma and now off to Maryland!!! Crazy past few months for me.

As you know by my last post I quit my job and moved out of Chicago in January and then headed to Costa Rica with my girlfriends, Lindsey and Ashley, for 6 days. We stayed at the fabulous Four Seasons in Peninsula Papagayo, Guanacaste, Costa Rica! If you've never stayed at a FS it's incredible. You seriously feel like royalty the whole time! I'm not usually one for luxurious travels, but my bff Linds happens to work at the Four Seasons in Chicago and we were able to use her comp nights for this FABULOUS getaway! Thanks Linds!!!

And we def lived it up the whole time. Whether we were doing yoga, a sunset sea kayak, ziplining, salsa dancing, dining or lounging by the pool, it was all in style! The food was incredible and we dined to our hearts content. And if you happened to be a bit parched or scorched while lounging have no fear, the FS employees were there to spritz your face with Evian water or bring you a mini smoothie or ice water with fruit! No, i'm not kidding! It was the BEST way, haha! Ziplining was one of my favorite activities...just the thrill of flying through the rain forest was amazing. Our last night there we went to Coco Beach with our new FS beach boy buddies and had a great night of local food, souvenir shopping and dancing the night away with our Tico buds! Before we knew it the week was over and the girls were headed back to the cold Windy City.

And I was off to test my travel skills crossing the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Apparently, I lucked out and went at the deadest time possible b/c it was a breeze and I got to Rivas, Nicaragua (by bus and cab) a few hours early!!! Why Nica? Well, my world traveling bf was trekking through Nicaragua with a buddy and we were merging our journeys. Plus, it's hard to pass up a chance to get another stamp on my passport! After meeting up we stayed in Popoyo Playa, Nicaragua for about 3 days.
Nica is much poorer and less developed than Costa and it was evident from the get go. These 3 days were the most chill and relaxing of my whole trip! Popoyo is pretty much a surfer's haven. Mornings at the beach, lunch and then a siesta in a hammock until evening and then to a local bar/restaurant for the cheapest meal you can imagine (not reflected in quality or quantity). And evenings were spent just shooting the breeze with nicas and nicos.

After an enjoyable stay in Nicaragua, Dan, Ian (Dan's friend) and I headed back to the border, with less luck this time, waiting 2 hours in the hot sun to get through immigration and customs! After arriving in Costa, our first priority was picking up the rental car, a Toyota Yaris. Traveling by car through central america is not necessary, but it sure is convenient and we were thankful to be off the "chicken buses" for a while! As soon as we got her we headed to La Fortuna to spend a few days at the base of the active Arenal Volcano. This part of the country was so green and beautiful and lush. The volcano itself was an impressive sight! We stayed at a quaint little hostel affectionately called Gringo Pete's. Pete is an expat from Washington state who moved to Costa and set up shop. The place was very unique and friendly and we had a good stay, esp for the high price of $6 per night! The only complaint was the darn rooster that started crowing at 4am and never stopped! Ugh...we all pretty much wanted to go outside and kill it at that point! Now it's just comical! During our time in Arenal we went to the local swimming hole that had a sweet rope swing, soaked in the natural hot springs, saw hot lava spew from the volcano, mastered class V white water rapids with the best rafting company, Costa Rica Descents! They were awesome and made me feel comfortable even though this was my very 1st time white water rafting!!! All in all a pretty adventurous stop on our journey.

Next we were off to Manuel Antonio for some beach time. We stayed at Vista Serena Hostel which was nestled atop the hills overlooking the ocean and came with breathtaking complimentary sunsets and hammocks to relax and enjoy it from! We spent 2 days here and that was enough time. The national park was really cool, and contrary to word on the street, saw lots of animals without paying a guide! The beaches were beautiful, but a bit too commercialized and crowded for my liking. My favorite part of this destination was the sunsets. Dan and I had a romantic sunset dinner at El Avion (the airplane). I was going to try surfing here, but it just wasn't in the cards. We actually had an incident and the keys to our car were lost or stolen and we had to wait all day for Budget rental to get us a new set, haha...not that it was fun, but I can't think of a better place to be stranded!

Our last day in Manuel Antonio was also my birthday and Dan had planned a surprise getaway to the impressive Villa Caletas, near Jaco, to celebrate. This exquisite boutique hotel is in the top 1% of boutique hotels and boasts incredible views, awesome dining and sunsets and picturesque infinity pools. I was in heaven, or so I thought! We lived it up and I thoroughly enjoyed spending my birthday with my man in paradise!

Unfortunately, by this point my trip was wrapping up and we had one last night in the capitol city of San Jose. We stayed at a pretty cool hostel called Pangea, which boasted of a bar, free computers, pool, mechanical bull, pool tables,free parking, airport shuttle,city skyline views and tons of rooms and gathering spaces. It's by far the largest hostel I've ever stayed at! We went out with some of Dan and Ian's buddies that night and let's just say that it was quite a night and I only ended up getting 30 mins of sleep before I had to get up and head to the airport! Needless to say, I slept the entire trip back and was thankful!

After all the travels, I must admit it was nice to wake up in my own bed at my parents house and be treated to 2 weeks of family and home cooking. I was there long enough to catch my little sis's last basketball game, do a few family birthday dinners and attend a gala!

Then before I knew it, fate was calling me to Silver Springs, MD, to work these crazy northeast storms with Dan (he's an insurance adjuster). So here I am...the ardent adventurer is doing what she does best, enjoying the journey! Glad I could finally catch you all up! Seeing as I'm back stateside, I'll be sure to be ardent about my blog again! Thanks for sharing my experiences with me!!!

Adios! Miche