Saturday, February 7, 2009

Costa Rica - Manuel Antonio

So first a confession. We never actually made it into Manuel Antonio. Yes we went all the way there and didn't go to the national park. The upside is there is tons of things to do in the area so we did those instead.

The drive from Arenal to Quepos was very long. Like 6.5 hours long on some back curvy roads with lots of speed traps and stuck behind big trucks you can't get around. We stopped in Jaco and ate at Taco Bar which was great. We were staying at the Hotel Parador for 2 nights because we got a great deal through American Express travel on their rooms. We had a "jungle view" room but in reality we faced a tennis court. I didn't know animals played tennis. The pool area however was really nice. There were 2 main pools that were kind of connected to each other along with a swim-up pool bar. Then there was an adults only pool with a waterfall. All the pools looked out over the ocean.

Since we didn't get in until 2:30 pm the first day we spent the afternoon at the pool with some umbrella drinks. For dinner we hired a taxi and headed up the terrible road that our hotel was at the very end of for dinner at Aguas Azule. Excellent food and it overlooks the ocean if you're there during the day time. I had a mango daiquiri which was fabulous. We split some guacamole and salsa for an appetizer. Both were very fresh and the chips were fresh and still warm. For dinner I had a plate of nachos which was delicious. The Husband had something called a Big Ass Burger. Seriously this thing was huge. And gross. Not gross tasting, just gross because it was so big. I told him he couldn't finish or he would have a heart attack. The Husband loved the burger though.

The next day we didn't have an activity until 2:30 pm. We were visiting Damas Estuary for a boat ride and wildlife spotting and our other choice was to go at 6:30 am (aren't we on vacation?) since you have to go when the tide is right. After breakfast we walked down to the beach for me to dip my toes in the Pacific since I'd never been. The beach was nice but nothing special and we both prefer the pool so we made the long and steep trek back up to the hotel. Seriously if I'd done this midday I would have passed out. We spent our morning at the pool getting incredibly sunburnt. We are both pale pale and ghostly and we were only slightly north of the equator. It was inevitable. It was also hotter than hell. So hot that I didn't even have any fun umbrella drinks since it was too hot to drink anything but water. We ate lunch at the hotel restaurant. The Husband had guacamole which is his new obsession after refusing to eat it for years. I had a bowl of gazpacho and a plate of ceviche. Both were perfect for the hot weather although I really only should have picked one of them. The gazpacho had all the ingredients such as tiny chopped up onions and peppers and croutons on the side to add in as much as you wanted. The ceviche was made with mahi mahi which believe it or not I'd never had before.

We decided on the Damas Estuary tour because we heard monkeys were everywhere. One of the couples we'd met at the Pacuare Lodge said tours in Manuel Antonio you put bananas on your hand and monkeys come up to you and eat it off. This tour doesn't do that because apparently it's bad for the monkeys. Bummer. We learned a lot about the mangroves which was interesting. But most of the animals were difficult to see. The guide would spot something hidden under leaves or high up in the tree then it took 10 minutes for each of us in the boat to finally see it. We saw snakes (ewww), anteaters, and a baby crocodile. The highlight was the monkeys. We finally saw them towards the end of the tour. They were the only animals that were out and really visible swinging around everywhere. And they were adorable getting really close to the boat and even jumping on the roof of the boat. We managed to get a lot of pictures. Had it not been for the monkeys though the tour would have been a bust.

That night we had dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Kapi Kapi. This restaurant was pretty upscale and beautifully decorated. There was mostly fish on the menu although we both had the beef tenderloin over scalloped potatoes. Excellent all around. Hands down the best part of the meal was dessert though. It was a hot chocolate souffle with homemade vanilla bean ice cream on top. This was honestly the best dessert I've ever had in my life. I'm not really a dessert eater but I could have eaten multiple of these they were that good. Absolutely not to be missed if you're in the area.

Our last day we went ATVing. We'd gone before in Mexico but we liked this one better. We saw a lot of the local people swimming along the river that we were ATVing around and through. A big thumbs down to the lady in our group who appeared to be terrified of her ATV. We end up with one of those on nearly every excursion we go on. She was so slow. With all the bouncing up and down I ended up very sore the next day, especially in my back and my hands felt bruised from gripping the handles so hard. We also got a meal after the ATVing which was really good. Typical chicken, rice, and beans.

I grabbed one last daiquiri at the pool bar and swam for a little bit. Then we loaded ourselves into the car for one last trip down the terrible road. We weren't that hungry after our late lunch but didn't want to stop along the way so we grabbed some more food from Aguas Azule. This time we had guacamole, salsa, and bacon and cheese fries. I can't say enough about fresh cut french fries covered in two of my favorite foods - cheese and bacon. We were spending the night at the Holiday Inn next to the airport. The whole next day was long and uneventful with a lot of time spent in airports and adding a lot of layers from our carry-ons to be ready when we got to Chicago. We loved Costa Rica. So relaxing even though we were so active and so many things to do there.

A palm tree plantation on the way into Quepos

Our hotel

Pool area

Sunset

Waterfall in the adults only pool

Main building

At the pool deck

The huge lizard we saw at the hotel twice

One the Damas Estuary tour

Mangroves

Finally the monkeys!

They are adorable

I wanted to take it home with me

Sunset from where the estuary meets the Pacific

ATVing

Don't I look rugged?

Heading through the river. At one point I got stuck and started sinking. Yes I had to be rescued and The Husband was laughing at me.


1 comment:

WeezerMonkey said...

I totally need to pick your brain for our imaginary, yet-to-be-planned Costa Rica trip!