DAY NUMERO UNO!
Maes, Ticos y Ticas
Welcome to my FIRST ever Travel Blog! Delighted to have you join me!!!
Over the next 10 days I will be taking you in my Costan Rican Journey as I embark on my wonderful FAM trip for work, (for those of you who do not know what I do, I work for company called Mr & Mrs Smith, the Luxury & Boutique hotel agency I am a high end travel consultant creating truly unique and personalized travel experiences. One of the amazing benefits of doing what I do are FAM trips, where I get to travel the globe and experience these trips first-hand, from the Hotel stays to the extras, so in effect this is a work trip!!! JOY!!! … I was going to change the names to protect the innocent, but seeing as there is nothing innocent about me, all I changed was my mind! (hehehe) so sit back, relax, and READ ON…
Upon arrival at San Jose, in the rain, I was greeted by the warm welcome from *Alfredo* from Costa Rican Trails a wonderful organization that creates amazing tours for the wandering traveler in Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador…(look them up they are AWESOME!) . 1hr later and 2534 meters above sea level, in a thick dense fog (did I mention rain?), I arrived at POAS (pronounced, PAW-ASS) VOLCANO LODGE. From the moment I arrived I knew I was going to LOVE this property, I was greeted by this wonderful lady and general Mama de las casa named Beba, who reminded me so much of my beautiful mother (in 10 year’s time) she was warm and inviting and had a very Latin flare. (Mum, I miss you!) The aroma of wood burning fires filled the air and I inhaled, 2, 3 and exhaled 4, 5. A very chilled and un-assuming vibe. The Rooms are large and very comfortable, most have views of the very active Volcano Poas, the public spaces are designed for guests to meet & greet (or not), there is a lower level game room, which is great for those traveling with little ones. Their menu changes every 2 weeks and they have a pretty good wine list…) in the 1991 earthquake, what was once a decent B&B, the property was very badly damaged, so the owner Michael Cannon (a Britt of course) and his 4 children decided to rebuild and turn the Lodge into an even better Hotel. I can safely say, they have achieved just that.
A few hours later my *compadres* arrived, Karen and Oliver, they flew in from London and work for different Tour/travel operators (If I tell you WHO… I will have to kill you!). After a lovely dinner and a bottle of wine and “getting to know you conversation”… it was time for bed. Well may I say the BEST and I mean DA BEST turn down service EVERRRRRRRRRR! Not only was there a Hershey Kiss on my pillow, but…wait for it…that’s not all… a HOT WATER BOTTLE was waiting for me… a Hot water bottle! I mean come on… name me one hotel that you know of that has this “attention to detail”. I bet you can’t… needless to say, I slept like a Mother with 2 kids and a husband who had been up for nearly 24 hours and needed sleep!!!!
7am~ MORNING!! (Raining) Breakfast my favorite meal of the day… Eggs, Bacon, home baked bread and marmalade… yes that’s right you heard me – MAR-MA-LADE! and a nice cuppa PG TIPS!! HEAVEN! .. Ok ok ok – I will admit I was expecting Marmite… but you can’t have everything in life… or if you do, then BRING YOUR OWN!
8am – Rodolfo (head of Sales and Marketing) Eduardo (Our trusted guide for the duration of our journey) and Henry (the second best driver in Costa Rica) were there to brief us (in the rain) as we embarked on our first day,
First Stop – POAS VOLCANO (in the rain) … this is when my volcanology education kicks in! Poas (phreatic) has a big caldera almost a mile in diameter with a small lagoon in the middle of the crater
Below is my AM-MAZE-ING picture of the Crater… isn’t it BEEEEEEEAUTIFUL… I mean come on – when was the last time you saw a LIVE picture of an active volcano in REAL time?
All you have to do is just SEEEEEE through the mist… ON A CLEAR DAY…
DID YOU KNOW:-
Most of Costa Rica’s land formation stems from their 12 volcanos which are located along the Continental divide 5 of them are still active, There are 2 types of Volcanos, Magmatic and Phreatic – so to sum it up Costa Rica is the glue that binds together the 2 Continents… impressed yet?
8am.. We set off for our first Hotel *inspection*… that’s hotel/tour operator talk for *walk-through*
Hotel Xandari Owned and built my native Californians, Sherril (architect) & Charlene (artist) Brody, this charming 24 Villa property is about 30/45 minutes from the airport. Its located between Heredia Alajuela. They have an amazing spa and specialize in a Chocolate Body scrub, followed by massage and ending in a Hot Tub… sounded Deeeeeeeeelicious! there are 2 pools overlooking the valley, and of course there menu is all natural and organic.
Next Stop:- Finca Rosa Blanca where we were greeted by the owner, Glen and Terri, they have been in Costa Rica for about 25 years (originating from non- other than NYC!!) Their hotel was/is the first Boutique Hotel in Costa Rica and is completely organic & self-sustainable. The rooms are very colorful and filled with local art and wall paintings, all have their own terraces or balconies and have stunning views, they have a beautiful Honeymoon Mezzanine Suite and 2 x 2 bedroom Villas.
Our first task of the day was a tour of their coffee plantation, they introduced us to *Leo* who I then re-named “Leonardo Da Vinci Di Caffe” … I mean this “uomo” knew more about coffee than Carl Sagan knew about Space!
The best part about the Coffee Tour was the “Cupping” which is tasting ritual where one has to SLURP IT, SWISH IT, SPIT IT… its a whole visual thang!
I have the Video of it, still trying to figure out how to post Videos on here! I will get back to you xx
DID YOU KNOW:_
There are over 103 Species of Coffee plants and over 6000 varieties… The 3 main ones are IBERICO, ROBUSTO (the most common) & ARABICA, Costa Rica is known for the latter. The Coffee harvest takes place from October to January, and the coffee plant blooms 3 times during that time. Coffee-pickers hand-pick the red ripe fruit and fill their baskets ensuring that they only pick the ripe berries – they then have to go back to the same plant and pick again. It is a labor of Love… Each fruit then undergoes a peeling, washing, drying period before the faithful coffee bean is extracted from the shell and sent to the oven for a good old roast. OOOOOOH I forgot to mention, that before the Coffee Plant bears its fruit, there is a beautiful white flower that blossoms and wouldn’t you know it looks and smells JUST like Jasmine!!! :))))
According to Legend… (actually, I am going to hold off on this little *gem* and use at cocktail parties…
After an amazing “tasting-Menu Lunch of:-
Agua de Sapo (Frog Water – Ginger-lime and brown sugar)
Mousse de Pejiballe (Fruit of Palm Mousse)
Ceviche de Guineo (Baby Plantaine)
Sopa de Café y Tomato
Pechuga de Polla cond salsa Café y Tamarindo con Crocketas de Yuca
( I will let you translate the above…
I went into a food coma!!
DID YOU KNOW:-
The Name Costa Rica comes from Christopher Colombus, when he arrived in Costa Rica He was greeted by all the indigenous tribes who had adorned their bodies and heads with gold ornaments and jewels and Chris C said… ” Es una COSTA RICA!!!!” “This is a Rich Coast” funnily enough there wasn’t any actual gold in the Country, the indigenous tribes would trade Cocoa to their neighbors for gold.
The name cocoa also comes from the Spanish, as they were offered a cup of pure cocoa when they landed on this beautiful stretch of Earth and claimed it tasted like “Ca-Ca” and we all know what that means!!
The three main exports from CR are Pineapple (no1) Bananas (no2) and Coffee (no3)
There are 3 varieties of Bromelia… Pineapple, Ananas as it is also called means Fruit for the King and takes about 12 to 13 months to harvest
Bananas… also known as Musa take about 9 months to harvest and there are 75 varieties!! 75!!!! Who knew!!
After our wonderful afternoon we set off back to Poas Lodge where we had a lovely dinner with Beba… soon after I retreated to my chocolate treat and my Hot Water Bottle… did I mention it was raining?
Next Stop – The Jungle…