Welcome to my blog. I write mostly about travel and in particular my love of Disney, with a few tidbits such as musings about movies or theater thrown in for good measure. I have stories dating all the way back to 1997 so be sure to explore! I don't post regularly, so if you want updates be sure to join and follow this blog (links below). Feel free to share, and if you want you can also click the Facebook or Twitter links below. You can also follow me on twitter. And be sure to comment letting me know what you think!

Friday, July 8, 2022

Costa Rica, December 26 2014 - January 2, 2015

Editor's note
I started this blog post in 2015 and never published it and it has been languishing here unfinished. It is still unfinished, but I figured I'd go ahead and publish what I have. Since writing this I have made no new entries to this blog. I intend to rectify this and I will be making new entries from past adventures in the coming weeks. Stay posted!


This year my family - me, John - my wife Andie and our daughters Natalie (21) and Charlotte (17) decided to do something different to celebrate the holidays. Instead of the usual exchange of gifts leading to the exchange (as in going to the store returns) of gifts, we decided get a gift for the whole family - a family vacation. When deciding where to go we knew one thing for sure - we wanted it to be someplace warm to escape at least part of the New York winter. We knew that the Caribbean  would be prohibitively expensive. I suggested possibly Key West. It was Natalie who suggested Costa Rica.

We did some research and booked our trip. We decided to leave right after Christmas and stay for 7 nights - December 26 to January 2. Andie found a reasonably priced two-bedroom condo in what looked like a very nice resort in the west coast town of Tamarindo - The Diria Tamarindo Resort. I booked flights into San Jose ( more on that later). I also booked a rental car and some other activities through the booking service's concierge (more on that later as well). 

Costa Rica overview

Costa Rica is located in the southern part of Central America, nestled between Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. Unlike its neighbors, Costa Rica has a stable government. This fact, along with the breathtaking scenery and the beautiful weather, has lead to a thriving tourist industry. This is truly a beautiful country with a tropical setting that rivals anything I've seen. The area is rife with volcanic activity as evidenced by the majestic cone shaped peaks covered in tropical foliage. Even on the Pacific Ocean side (where we stayed), the water is clear and warm. And there is none of the oil tar or other unpleasant things often found in Pacific waters. 

On the downside, as you might expect, there is a lot of poverty. Even in the town where we stayed this was evident. Still, the people we met both in the resort as well as in our travels throughout the country we warm and welcoming and quick to smile. The only exception was a restaurant we stopped at on the way to our resort from the airport. The food was very good but the service was both slow (which we expected) and terse (which we did it).

Tamarindo overview

The resort we stayed in is in the resort town of Tamarindo on the west coast of costa Rica. It is a quaint little town with several shops and restaurants, and none of the skyscraper-like high rise hotels that clutter the beaches of larger resort towns. One thing we really appreciated was the complete lack of large international brand stores at are common in resort towns. Most of the businesses appear to be locally owned and run. Many of the small boutique shops sell wares made by local artisans. Of course there are the usual souvenir stores selling their cheap wares, not to mention street vendors hawking bird whistles, cigars and other knick-knacks as well. 

In keeping with that small town feel, the infrastructure in Tamarindo is not up to American standards. This was not really an issue, just something I noticed. The highways leading to the town were actually pretty good - albeit almost exclusively two-lane highways. Once you get into town the roads become quite narrow and often are gravel once you leave the main playa. in addition, the sidewalks, where they even exist, are inconsistent and leave much to be desired. It looked to me that local business owners are responisible to put in sidewalks and many don't, while those that do, do so with varying success. 

That said, don't let the small town local charm fool you. This is, after all, a resort town and the prices reflect that fact. Goods from the local vendors, groceries and especially restaurant meals are very much priced in line with what you'd expect from any resort town. If you have a meal out you should expect fairly high - though not ridiculous - prices. As an example, we went to a local pizza place called Nari. We all ordered individual pizzas, salad and drinks. The total, including tip, came to about $140. Not something that would make you drop your jaw, but far from cheap. That said, the food we had in Costa Rica in general, and Tamarindo in particular, was, on the whole, quite good.

Except the beer. There are two main brands of beer in Costa Rica - Imperial and Pilsen. I'm not a big beer guy and I honestly don't like most beers. But I still know good from bad. Imperial is swill. Pilsen is not as bad, but still far from good. 

Even a cold Imperial would taste good while sitting on the wonderful Tamarindo Beach. The beach's fine, hard-packed sand stretches for about 3 kilometers. It is bordered on the south by a natural outcropping and on the north by an inlet that separates the public beach from (name of a national park).  There is a broad shelf and bathers can venture out very far while still being able to touch bottom - especially at low tide. The water, as I indicated earlier, is warm and clear. The only issues are the abundant surfers - many of them novices taking lessons from the many local surfing schools - who you need to watch out for and the large volcanic rocks that get exposed at low tide. My suggestion is to wait for high tide to go swimming if possible, and to look for a spot with few surfers. 

Tamarindo Diria overview

The resort we stayed at was the Tamarindo Diria. I don't know anything about the development of the Development of the own of Tamarindo but I can tell you that the Diria is a dominant presence. The resort straddles the main highway through the center of town with a hotel on he beach side and a much larger condo complex across the street. 

The hotel has a restaurant (the only meal we had there was breakfast on our first day - it was a decent buffet style breakfast), a small but nice pool with pleasant landscaping, a kiddie pool, and a beach-side bar. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pictures from Hong Kong Disneyland

I wrote a blog post about my trip to Hong Kong Disneyland for The DIS, to which I will post a link once it is published. In the meantime, here are some additional pictures from my trip: