Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hiking and Waterfalls!

Our first stop was Arenal.  Keith and I have been here twice before and no matter how many times I see the volcano I am still just amazed at the sight of it!  Some people come here and never get to see the volcano....it is often clouded over.  When we pulled into the town of La Fortuna I felt so fortunate that the rain had stopped and we had a clear view of Volcan Arenal!  Even if my parents didn't get to see it the rest of the trip - which was a possibility - they'd get to see just how spectacular it was! 

We decided to stay at Arenal Observatory Lodge on this vacation.  This was a great choice for us.  We were in the midst of nature here!  There were spider monkeys in the trees and we had a perfect view of the volcano from our patio!

There are hiking trails and waterfalls on the property!  This was a perfect beginning for our trip!

On our first morning we decided to take the Morning Hike on the Arenal Observatory Lodge property.  It was a big group that was going, but our guide was good.  He pointed out several birds including toucans and hawks.  We saw monkeys too!  The walk even took us down to the Waterfall.

Alex and Keith had a great time climbing on the rocks and cooling off.

We also discovered how beautiful the Eucalyptus tree is!  So colorful!

It was a great first hike for everyone!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to Costa Rica - Family Style!

I have been a horrible blogger!  I'm sorry for that!  I hope to get back to posting on a much more regular basis!  We just returned from a fantastic trip to Costa Rica.  This trip was a bit different for us because not only was it my husband and I and our kids, but we also brought along my parents for the adventure!  We were gone for eleven days and had an amazing time!  This was the third time Keith and I had been to Costa Rica, the second trip for our kids, who were 9 and 11 this trip and it was the first trip there for my parents, who are in their early 60's.  It was a very active vacation, and I think that everyone had a great time!

We started our adventure by having our driver take us from San Jose to the beautiful Volcano town of La Fortuna.  That would be our first destination.  However, one of the benefits of having a driver is getting to stop at some of the more hidden gems in the country.  On past trips we've mixed it up a bit.  Keith and I have done self drive - we've rented a car and driven from location to location at our own pace and really enjoyed that.  We've also hired a driver in the past for the ease of getting from one place to another.  On this trip, with six passengers and luggage, we decided a driver with a van was the best way to go!

Our first stop was lunch in a little town on the way to our destination.  The rain had started, but we had an amazing view from our table in this tiny little restaurant!  There was no menu here, but just platters of fresh food brought out to us family style.  We had fresh fruit juices made from the fruit on the trees right outside the windows!

The women in the family who owned this lovely restaurant were at one of the three or four tables here making homemade cheese empanadas.  They were making the dough, mixing the cheese and showing the youngest of the children how to do this process.  They even went outside to pick banana leaves to lay the empanadas on to cook them.  We were happy to get a lesson ourselves on how to form and fill a perfect empanada!

Lunch was wonderful - it was a perfect introduction to the country.  We all were feeling great as we continued on our journey to Arenal.