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Travels to Monteverde, Costa Rica

June 2nd, 2008

Karen HangingAs my regular readers know, Luisa and I enjoy mini-vacations around Costa Rica. We do these regularly, and I often like to blog about what we did, the hotels where we stayed, and general info that may be useful if you are traveling or living here and are looking for an escape.

Recently, my daughter Karen, 40 something mom of three, well actually two but we often count her husband as one of the kids, came a visitin’ from Chicago, and we all made the four hour trek to Monteverde, Costa Rica. With us was son Bill, his wifey and my granddaughter, Lucy all of whom live here.

I had the cool idea of renting a van and driver for the trip. Normally I drive, but there is a 10-15 miles stretch of nasty road and I figured I’d save wear and tear on the car and use taxis when we got there. Turned out to be a great idea. Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every so often!

If this interests you, read on!

I figured we could take a cooler of beer and some munchies and sit back and be tourists! THAT is the way to go!

The trip took about 4 hours from our home near San Antonio de Belen. We arrived at Hotel El Establo right in the center of the action. OK action may be too strong a word here as Monteverde, while it absolutely should be on any tourist’s itinerary, is a bit short of really cool things to do after the first full day. Really, it makes a great 2-3 day trip max as after the horseback riding, the canopy tour, the tarzan swing, and the (poison) frog museam, there is not a whole lot more to do. OK there IS more to do if you are one of the eco-trekkking-hiking freaks. If you are, then the list is endless! I get tired even thinking of excercise and often just rest until the thought leaves my mind.

El Establo is a very nice hotel and very inexpensive compared to many hotels of the same quality. We did the suite thing, my daughter sleeping in the loft above us and ML and I below. Great views and the construction quality was first rate. “Why so cheap?” Thinks me. Nothing is cheap here… at least not for tourists. I soon found out.

Seems El Establo has two restaurants! I forget the names, but they should have been called “Really, Really, Expensive” and “Say the hell WHAT??”. “Say the hell What??” was the deluxe gourmet restaurant and we avoided THAT completely after having our first meal in “Really, Really Expensive” .

“Really, Really Expensive” had seating for perhaps 945 people and the prices were just silly. First meal… light lunch for five adults and my granddaughter (age 3) ran to about $155.00 and I did not even get a KISS from the cute hostess!

Now I knew how they could price the rooms so cheap. Guess they have to make it somewhere. Still, a LOT of people did eat there so we let them subsidize our suite while WE ate the The Treehouse and other spots. Hotel food B- Treehouse food B. Various others not remembered… B.

As I mentioned, I am not fond or excersize, so when all the others decided to go do the canopy tour thing, zip lining, the tarzan swing and horseback riding, I elected to sit on the balcony, read, nap and unwind.

Use the break!The picture at the top of this post is daughter Karen. She was on the Tarzan swing. As you can see, she is enjoying it a lot. Brother Bill is yelling “Use the break!!!!” Bill is an instigator and so enjoys tormenting his big sister. To the right is Bill zip lining above the cloud forest. Note there IS a break on the zip line thingy. Poor Karen.

The REAL deal around Monteverde (for you outdoor types) is the horseback riding! For a stupidly cheap price, like $30.00, they were guided on a 4-5 hour tour through the mountains by truly excellent guides. Not sissy horses either. My campasina wife, who does know how to ride, said there was much trotting, galloping and sun glasses losing. Her nice guide rode back about 5 km to find them too! (The $200.00 sunglasses I mean).

All in all… great trip. It is very restful and we may well make the jaunt again. El Establo, while not expensive, is still more than many other hotels, so do your homework when choosing your place to stay.

Want more info?  Check out http://www.monteverde.org, the only web site I could find not trying to sell you anything.


One Response to “Travels to Monteverde, Costa Rica”

  1. Jaki on June 12, 2008 9:54 am

    You know-
    I still read this blog and love it and I always start an email here and don’t finish it –

    It is great to be constantly reminded of such a vibrant place with great humor,stories and appreciation.

    When I visited with my huband we were a bit worried about getting around but after getting the hang of it (with a great deal of help and kindness), we got from place to place with ease and not a little adventure. The country is beautiful. Everyone we met was helpful and friendly…There was maybe a sketchy moment at the beach but it may have just been a bad call on our part…other than that, we had an incredible time and constantly think about going back before American air travel becomes exclusively for the rich and famous.

    Interestly enough, I just saw a good movie (could have been a bit better but it was compelling- really compelling and beautifully shot) that was filmed some in Costa Rica. The film is called Sharkwater and while watching it, my husband and I both were thrilled to see the people of Costa Rica come together over an ocean issue that we had just learned about.

    I don’t have much of a point with all this rambling except to say thanks Tim- for keeping this blog going for expats and retirees .. and for people who met and were welcomed even for a short time into such a brilliant country. I’m glad that I visited and I always hope to come back.-jaki

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