Friday, February 26, 2010

Happy 'Snowicane' NYC!

Personally, I prefer "Snowtorious B.I.G.".

I'm going snowboarding all weekend. Have fun in the snow!

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CR Adventure [Day Six] - Miracle blizzard flight home

They tell us it's snowing in New York but we're optimistic. On the other hand, getting stuck in Cancun is far from the worst situation you could find yourself in.

At the airport, we meet up with the Chicago crew from Tabacón and compare photos from the rest of the trip. They are vastly different -- ours include sunsets and monkeys, theirs include bikini shots of hot girls they met.

On our first flight, I am mesmerized by a woman with a lifelike baby doll wearing its seat belt in the aisle across from our row. I'm pretty sure that baby is full of drugs.

On our second flight, one of our new friends who was bound for DC but rerouted to New York gets extra beers from the stewardess by telling her it's my birthday and it feels like it is. But soon, we will find ourselves back in frigid New York where a blizzard has covered the the entire city in a blanket of whiteness.

It's been real Costa Rica. I hope to see you again real soon. Pura Vida!

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CR Adventure [Day Six] - Who's flying this small plane?

We check out of the Costa Verde and pile into a cab for the minuscule airport of Quepos. The planes are so small that we need to be weighed to get on, yet strangely not ID'ed at all. I'm fairly certain that if you came to this airport and paid the $2 entry fee to get in, you could get on any flight for free. I'm saving that story for my next visit to Costa Rica.

We take off and notice that a giant grasshopper is along for the ride. I squirm a little as the pilots empty out the envelope filled with our flight info to try to catch it. No one is looking ahead, no one is steering or, say, flying the plane. A woman in the first row caches the insect and we all breathe a sigh of relief.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

CR Adventure [Day Five] - Costa Rica = tough love

I brought 85 SPF sunscreen to Costa Rica. Still, I managed to get a raging, awkward sunburn. All the sunscreen in the world can't save you when you're five degrees from the equator. Between that and the bruises and rashes from surfing, Costa Rica is starting to feel like an abusive lover.

It's our last day though and I can't allow myself to spend it in a hotel room so I opt to sit on the beach with Yer. Waiters from the nearby bars wander over to sell us five dollar drinks with real, actual flowers in them and I say that if you're going to be in a lot of pain, you might as well do it like this. This is paradise.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

CR Adventure [Day Four] - Surfing

Three or four years ago, someone clued me into the concept of Costa Rican surf camps. These are vacations with the sole purpose of learning how to surf. You surf by day and sleep in beachside bungalows by night. It sounds incredible and is definitely something I intend to do someday.

But for now, we only have five days so we settle for a surfing lesson which lasts approximately two hours. When our instructors pick us up from the hotel I find myself wondering why they're not in school as they look about 14 years old but they turn out to be in their early 20's.

We get up on the boards numerous times and completely shred the "mar" and own the "olas" all morning. My instructor can't say my name and insists on calling me "Caroline." Meanwhile, Yer sits on the beach drinking mojitos and listens to stories about how only women take surfing lessons here and that a 60-year old was even able to get up on a surfboard recently. I start to think that anything is possible in this country.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

CR Adventure [Day Three] - Costa Verde

We finally reach our destination, Hotel Costa Verde in Manuel Antonio. The hotel is nestled in the middle of the rainforest and signs all over the property read "Still More Monkeys Than People," which is a bit of a stretch but we do see a lot of wildlife while we're there in the form of monkeys, massive iguanas and even a sloth.

We upgrade to a "partially air-conditioned" room. It's not air conditioned at all but rather completely open. Instead of walls, there are only screens. It's like sleeping in the jungle, an amazing, and loud, experience.

Costa Verde has an adult only pool area and the bartender there makes the self proclaimed best Piña Coladas in the world. (He's not kidding.) There's also a plane converted into a room that you can stay in for a cool $500 a night. It's probably not the most authentic experience you can have but well worth checking out.

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CR Adventure [Day Three] - Worst drive ever

Besides the complete lack of cell phone service and ATM's, I think my least favorite thing about Costa Rica would have to be the driving situation. The roads are all winding and hilly and all cars have manual transmissions. It can be quite nauseating.

Getting up for the five hour drive from Arenal to Manuel Antonio is an effort not to be taken lightly. We are relieved when we stop at a tiny rest area/gift shop where we can purchase some food to soak up last night's hangover and some "Viajesan," Central America's answer to "Dramamine."

Our small shuttle consist of ourselves and an older couple enjoying their retirement the way I plan to enjoy mine. I can't help but wonder what they're thinking as we recall the previous night's shenanigans and giggle throughout the drive. Sorry oldies, that's how we do!

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Lunch hour Session @ the MET

I forget sometimes about those days as an undergrad of Art History at UGA, sitting in those musty auditoriums fighting to stay awake to the sound of the slide reel. Wow, can't believe I'm of the generation of the slide reel, yeesh! I never imagined, fast fwd, that those exact slides would one day be a hop, skip and a jump away between work and my lunch hour.

Next to the most famous wing at the MET (the Impressionists) is a new exhibition devoted to the very humorous and whimsical era of, Victorian Photocollage. The show automatically led me to day dream of what kind of collage I could produce using photos of my friends and watercolors, be warned! Filled with beautifully framed pieces and album after album of skillfully crafted photocollages, the exhibition evoked dreams of Alice and Wonderland. Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage is small but so well worth the trek up town!


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CR Adventure [Night Two] - Tabacón After Dark

After a long night of dodgy driving and Imperial consuming all over La Fortuna, there is only one way to relax - hot springs. But wait -- the hot springs close at 10pm. Or do they...?

What follows is a stealth mission that includes scaling walls and climbing up a rocky river in slippery sandals and flip flops. For some of us, including myself, the adventure ends under a bridge as a young worker scans the river with a flashlight and we're huddled up against the banks trying as hard as we can not to make a sound. We are adults. We paid good money to stay at the resort and use the springs all day. We don't need to go to jail over this.

So we head back to the hotel, minus one flip flop for Yer, muddy and disheveled to get a little shut eye before our 7am wake up call. But those who made it to the top spoke highly of Tabacón After Dark so if you find yourself in the area and thirsty for adventure, don't rule it out.

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CR Adventure [Night Two] - Volcan Look

The quaint little town of La Fortuna boasts one place to get your groove on, Volcan Look. You literally can't miss it as three enormous spotlights from its parking lot shoot its glorious location well into the starry skies. Parking isn't free but with just the right amount of B.S. you can talk yourself into the club for free (or just go ahead and pay the steep $3 cover.)

There are at least ten males for every female in Volcan Look and it only takes about five minutes of standing awkwardly on a dance floor before the swarming begins. The enormous club has a downstairs area which is closed but could hold a few thousand people yet only a couple hundred or so are there.

The music is fun and the drinks are practically free but the sausage party proves to be a bit much for most of our party so we don't kick it there for too long.

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CR Adventure [Night Two] - Lava Lounge

On our way to dinner, we run into one of the guys that sat in the row in front of us on the flight from Cancun to San José and next thing you know, we're in a car, heading into La Fortuna once again for some group dining. During said drive, we are told that in Costa Rica, if you go to jail, you can't just get bailed out and are likely to get stuck in there for a month. Good to know!

We end up at a restaurant called Lava Lounge, a clever name for a restaurant in a town that lies at the foot of a volcano. Coincidentally, two of our new friends have lived in Atlanta and appreciate the fact, as we do, that there is also a Lava Lounge there.

The cevice is not great but the Mojitos are and the friendly staff will gladly give you to-go cups if you can't finish yours before your crew is ready to hit the road and head over to the discotheque. My kind of joint!

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

CR Adventure [Day Two] - Arenal National Park

Arenal National Park is somewhat of a letdown. You can't get very close to the volcano and while the view is nice, we don't see any lava or crazy wildlife so the excitement wears off quickly. Every so often, we get spooked when the volcano emits thunderous sounds and we jokingly videotape our last wills and testaments.

If I had it to do over again, I think a guided night tour might be more interesting. There's a restaurant at the foot of the volcano (that we never saw) which sounds like an enormous tourist trap but might also provide a picturesque setting to nosh on rice and beans to.

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CR Adventure [Day Two] - Pisote

We decide we don't need a guide and hop into a cab to the Arenal National Park. Along the way we encounter a Pisote, an adorable little creature which our cabbie, who speaks very little english, likens to a monkey. (It's not a monkey at all, more like a raccoon.)

He's kind enough to stop in the middle of the road (which seems to be a theme in this country), completely blocking traffic in both directions so we can photograph it. I am both pleased and slightly appalled but this guy's getting a good tip.

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CR Adventure [Day Two] - La Fortuna

We wake up early the next day and head into La Fortuna for a "desayuno tipico" of rice, beans, eggs and plantains. It is served on a big green leaf and accompanied with a tasty, smokey, greenish sauce which is amazing.

After breakfast, we wander around the small town trying to figure out our best bet for today's activities. It's either going to be a volcano hike or a hanging bridges tour. We settle on a hike to the volcano because it seems wrong to come to Arenal and not check out its main attraction.

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CR Adventure [Day One] - Hot Springs and pool bars

This is my first experience with volcanic hot springs, aka nature's hot tubs. We can't figure out what percentage of the small pools are natural and what percentage has been built by the resort. I manage to knock my right shin into a rock which quickly forms into my first bruise of the trip.

We spend the rest of the evening bouncing back and forth between the springs and the heated pool which dons a pool bar. Pool bars are now officially my favorite kind of bars, in fact I think Yer and I are going to write a book on them. That will be some strenuous research.

At 10pm, the springs close so we retreat to the hotel and fall fast asleep. It's been a long day.

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CR Adventure [Day one] - Do you know the way from San José?

At the airport in San José, we meet up with Yer who has been on the road since 9pm the night before. We find our driver and head towards Arenal. About a minute out of the airport, we nearly collide into a car that's inexplicably stopped in the middle of the road. The first bruise of the trip is christened onto Yer and we all fasten our seat belts.

Three hours later, we find ourselves at Tabacón, a thermal resort and spa at the bottom of the Arenal Volcano. We head to the hotel restaurant and splurge on dinner. I am disappointed that my scallop ravioli is actually shrimp ravioli but overall the meal is tasty. We head back to the room, throw on bathing suits, wrap ourselves in bath robes and hop into a shuttle to the hot springs.

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CR Adventure [Day one] - Vayamos!

We're only an hour into the trip and Jesse Hectic has already managed to drop $129 on a pair of Ray Bans at the airport sunglass boutique. We joke that she now officially owns her 11211 area code, have a laugh at ridiculous wraparound sunglasses and head towards our gate.

Mexicana Airlines is now my favorite airline. They don't mess around with mini plastic bottles of liquor but rather wheel the cart by with legitimately sized glass bottles of Tequila, Rum and Vodka sitting on top along with four different cans of Mexican beer. All of it is free as is the meal they serve on every flight.

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Monday, February 8, 2010


Whatever happened to these guys? i thought they had a resurgence in the mid 90's.

Type rest of the post here

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