James and Amelia's Loooooooong Holiday!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Costa Rica



Beaches and Volcanoes...

Costa Rica was amazing- there's so much to do and see... definitely go if you get a chance!!

Before arriving there we had no idea what to expect- we even booked into 2 hotels without realising that in spite of its size (on a map Costa Rica is pretty small) it takes hours to get anywhere as the roads are so bad! Luckily they were close enough.

Here are some examples of the state of the road/ drivers (all the cars are driving to avoid potholes etc)-





When we landed in San Jose we headed to the ferry- we had 2 hours to make the 2.30 ferry, or else wait until the 4.30 (according to the internet). James drove like Bond (!!) and we made it to the ferry as the door was shutting. Later we discovered that the next ferry would have been leaving 4 hours later as due to 'local politics' one of the ferries was not running. It was fortunate we didn't have to wait, as the town had nothing to see or do and the roads were so shocking on the other side it was better to arrive during daylight hours!


We drove for a couple more hours to our hotel, which was up a steep dirt track. And was gorgeous! Each bungalow was simple, but really nice with an outdoor ensuite bathroom- very cool! It was so relaxing and felt soooo remote.




While we were there (in Mal Pais) we found a deserted beach, James went for a hot Costa Rican surf and we generally kick backed!



It was all very very relaxing and after a few beers each night we found we collapsed early and woke up at the crack of dawn as there were no curtains.

ZIPLINING!.....



Overcoming a fear of heights (James) and a fear of falling from the slightly shoddy platforms (Amelia) we also went ziplining over the canopy of a forest! It was great- unfortunately the longest line (350m long) was our second so we couldn't quite enjoy it fully! We later discovered that there are ziplines all over Costa Rica...





We also saw monkeys, a huge snake crept up on James outside our room and we saw a tree frog by the volcano.





Then we drove to Arenal Volcano- a live/ active volcano not far away (on a map!!!). The roads were so crappy it took us 6 hours of bumping over potholes to get there, but we saw some beautiful parts of Costa Rica on the way and felt slightly adventurous! Thankfully we had rented a 4WD! Here we cross a brige in a 'mal estado'- notice the annoying yank who decided to join us- very safe!




The wind is so strong near the volcano all the trees bend in the same direction. Apparently Lake Arenal is a world famous wind surfing lake.
In the distance beyond the lake you can see our first glimpse of the volcano.




At the next hotel we relaxed at lava heated springs (surrounded by lots of old men with high pants!!)

There were different pools- some heated to 40 degrees, others shaped like beds, as well as a swim up bar and bar stools in the centre of one pool...






The second day there we spent quadbiking at the base of the volcano- Costa Rica is quite similar to New Zealand in the amount of activities it has to offer.







We then went back to the hot springs, where I got a swollen lip... so we went in search of a pharmacy. Unfortunately some bright spark sent us the wrong way- to a town an hour away, with a shut pharmacy. Finally 2 and a half hours later we found a Zirtec... and the allergy was gone, like a Zirtec.

Finally we had dinner overlooking the volcano- on a clear night you can see the lava flow. Dinner was on the hotel, as was an upgrade to a volcano view room as our first room was a building site.

That night James was determined to see the eruptions, so fuelled by beer stayed up till 2 standing on the legs of a chair. He saw a good one, then I had to stay up for a couple of hours to see some too!



On the other side of the volcano you can get pretty darn close to the action... possibly getting trapped by lava flow on the ropey bridge?!?! Unless you can read and interpret the seismograph.



Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Uruguay

Uruguay- Where the whitegoods are called 'James'!



and shops are called



We were unable to get rid of the pesky Kiwis (....!) until we arrived in Buenos Aires. Yes, we set foot in Argentina, but no, we (stupidly) did not plan to spend any time there sampling the steaks, nightlife or lack of bikinis. Instead we connected to Montevideo, where the city was preparing for a pre-Carnaval party, right outside our hotel...











The following day we headed to Punta del Este, yet another great suggestion by Michael. The life there seemed to revolve around the beach (great), sun (yeeeeassss) and steaks to rival Argentina (mmmmmmm).









James had a Uruguayan surf.



I bought a gorgeous leather jacket (soooo cheap) and James decided he needed one too...



It was hard adjusting to the late starts for a night out- it was very European and no-one ate before 9 and nightlife got going well after midnight.







On the Saturday we headed to a polo match in the next town, but it didn't quite live up to our expectations (I was thinking Pretty Woman!)- there was a match, but no spectators or beverages! After a long, expensive taxi ride we ended up at a bar.... which was a brilliant find, with a pool and a row of sofas... and spent the remainder of the afternoon there.





And for those of you who want to know how Maccas is faring in Punta del Este- at 11pm when James craved chippies, it was packed! Not with drunk people, but heaps of young kids having dinner with their parents!

Uruguay has a Hoyts too!



Down by the marina we ate at a great little restaurant with a whirlpool and delicious cocktails we saw the best ever Ben-a-like at the next table...



At the end of a fabulous few days we flew up to Miaim- the really long way, via Buenos Aires and Peru! (24 hours later we made it to Miami...) At Buenos Aires we had a few hours to kill- I painted my nails at the Duty Free shop, we walked s-l-o-w-l-y around the other shops, tried on clothes... then found virtual golf!