Joined June 2020 Message
  • Day120

    Costa Rica Day 16 - 18 Pacure River

    May 10, 2021 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    The 4am bus to San Jose was actually great for me, 3 hours asleep across all 4 back row seats was beyond first class!! We had to leave so soon in order to make the 10am check in time to White Water Raft into our next hotel!

    We made it in perfect time and seemingly before we could considering backing out were in the raft getting taught how/what to do! It was amazing fun and though the class 1/2 rapids were the lowest difficulty we could still feel the challenge and power of the water!

    Arriving so wet we might has well have swam in, we showered and rested for the rest of the day! The next morning was a hike to a beautiful waterfall, we also met some fellow travellers who were volunteer workers at the lodge and ended up spending the evening together!

    The next morning was another hike (which turned out to be a wade upstream towards a waterfall) It was harder than any of the first 4 days of Kilimanjaro and the combination of slippery rocks and running water meant progress was slow!! Our guide seemed keen to push on regardless and hilariously would react to us falling over by shouting from miles ahead 'be careful!!' yeah cheers for that Ronnie haha!

    That afternoon Gem went horse riding and I set out on another hike with the other volunteers, but this time to find the only local bar! (Which was 2 hours away)

    Gem loved her ride and luckily we found someone in the bar with a pick up truck, so after a few drinks we didn't all have to walk back! We all had a great night in camp playing cards and promised to keep in touch with the English couple this summer.

    The next morning we rafted the Class 3 & 4 rapids - the maximum is class 5! After around an hour we were both exhausted and for some reason we had no help from any of the volunteers (possibly because we sat up drinking with them all the night before and they're not supposed to) On one of the last class 4 rapids we lost control and didn't have the power to get out of trouble, we hit a rock and after I went in Gem followed and somehow the guide steadied everything before the raft flipped as well!! After around 10/15 seconds in the water we were back to safety and luckily the rest of the trip was class 1's and 2's.
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  • Day117

    Costa Rica Day 14 - 15 Manuel Antonio

    May 7, 2021 in Costa Rica ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    The next day we settled on a Kayak tour through the local Mangroves of Damas Island! This was brilliant and our guide .... was great at telling us about all 55 different types of mangrove and how much all wildlife benefits individually from each one. He also taught us about the importance of the mangroves and had some interesting insights on the comparisons of Palm Oil Plantations and Rice Fields (arguing both to be as bad as each other) Something which we had never previously considered but based on the land required alone seemed obvious!

    After this we headed back to our Jurassic Park beach, more confident this time based on advice from our mangrove guide that today would be 'the perfect day' for it... The walk seemed easier this time and with the dying element of worry no longer hanging over us we flew down! The weather again decided we weren't welcome and almost as we touched the sand a dark storm cloud appeared and the heavens opened! With some (even wetter) pictures we left again after minutes! Two trips - total walking time 3hours total beach time - 15 minutes haha!

    That evening we arranged to meet our friends from Gems birthday boat trip in Barbados that had randomly got in touch and were also in Costa Rica! They had some great recommendations for our whole trip through CR and didn't let us down with the restaurant choice of Sushi, it was delicious! We had more beers than food though and despite a great evening by 10pm the thought of our 4am bus to San Jose meant it was time for bed!
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    Risa Hoft

    Surprised you could remember your birthday in Barbados !🥴

  • Day115

    Costa Rica Day 7 - 13 Manuel Antonio

    May 5, 2021 in Costa Rica ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    After a 5 hour van/bus we made it down to Manuel Antonio/Quepos and our hotel Castillo de la rivera was sat perfectly between the two towns!

    Our first morning was a 3 hour walking tour of Manuel Antonio National Park with a perfect guide recommended by our friend called Edwin. He had x-ray like vision and luckily for me a telescope with his phone camera attached to it! Meaning I had at least a chance of seeing what he was describing.

    We saw all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures - from sloths hanging in the trees, to white faced monkeys jumping between them. We also saw an anteater crossing the road, the most deadly snake in Costa Rica and a lizard that runs on water... The Jesus Christ lizard of course!

    The following day after some long walks exploring both towns we settled on dinner at a bar with an old Cargo Aeroplane one of two involving the Reagan administration, Iranian Arms deal and some Nicaraguan Rebel Groups! The food was delicious and the restaurant itself was set on a cliffs edge with beautiful see views, making the effort to transport a Cargo Plane in pieces up there seem even more impressive! The plane even had its own bar which was unfortunately closed but we still got to have a walk around it.

    The next day we had heard about a public beach which was very private but was also 'difficult' to get to... We set out on the walk and it became immediately apparent 'difficult' was an understatement! Luckily as we walked the winding up and down path, we had been made aware that the giant red and black crabs werent poisonous, though avoiding their giant pincer was advisable. The path became narrower and steeper seemingly in unison with a rainstorm but we safely made the beach! The dark sand and rocks surrounding made it look like something from Jurassic Park - but the changing weather meant we only had a short while to soak it up before making our way back up the mountain!
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  • Day109

    Costa Rica Day 6 - Monteverde

    April 29, 2021 in Costa Rica

    We had our final traditional breakfast of eggs, rice, beans and plantain at the lovely Arenal Manoa resort and jumped in our transfer to Monteverde. On a map it looks as if it should only take about half an hour but due to the lack of roads around the volcano, it's actually a 3/4 hour drive! But lucky for us (and to our surprise) the transfer was actually a bus, then a boat, and then another bus which actually only took 2 hours in total. The scenery on the bus was amazing, and on the boat, even better - a clear view of the volcano for the second time! How lucky are we?!

    We arrived at our hotel in Monteverde, dropped the bags off and went straight to Monteverde cloud forest for la cable car through the clouds and some more zip lining (a network of 11, all through the clod forest)! The zip lines are apparently the highest in the world (although need to check this, probably just sales talk) and were much faster and scarier than the ones we did the day before. The best part was that on the last one we got to zipline in tandem which was brilliant! At the end there was the chance to do a mini bungee jump (which I politely declined) but Craig bravely attempted! They didn't tell him until the end that you have to jump backwards, which made it even scarier!

    We had a well deserved drink after with the other adventurous tourists in our group. There was a couple from Georgia on their honeymoon, a Californian and a couple from France & California.

    That evening I found a place for dinner where you eat in a treehouse. It looked a little pricey, but the reviews were great and I had some birthday money from mum and dad so we went for it! And I'm so glad we did. Probably our best dining experience ever. We were in our own little tree house, served about 6 courses of delicious food and everything represented an aspect of Costa Rica. The last course represented the cloud forest and they actually released vapor all around us so we were literally eating in a cloud! The perfect ending to a brilliant day.
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    Claire Hoft

    What an amazing day!

  • Day107

    Costa Rica Day 3-5 - La Fortuna

    April 27, 2021 in Costa Rica ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    After a jam packed Sunday we decided to have a chilled out morning at the resort. We enjoyed a breakfast at the restaurant in front of the volcano, which was amazingly clear for the first time! We also made the most of the hotel pool and hot spring pool (and the swim up bars!).

    In the afternoon we went to Mistico Hanging Bridges, a network of 20 bridges across the National Park. The views from the bridges were incredible but a little scary as the bridges were pretty rickety!! We were pretty unlucky in terms of wildlife sightings, which was expected as we didn't have a guide with us. But luckily, right at the end, we came across some spider and howler monkeys. The Spider monkey came really close to us too which was amazing!

    On Tuesday / Wednesday I had to work (😟) but with a backdrop of Arenal volcano and an hour off for a lovely breakfast at the restaurant I really couldn't complain.

    Craig booked a zipline experience for Wednesday after I'd finished work. We drove up the volcano for 10/15 minutes and zip lined down to the bottom. It was so much fun and the best way to see the forest beneath us. It felt like we were gliding over like eagles!
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  • Day105

    Costa Rica Days 1-2 - La Fortuna

    April 25, 2021 in Costa Rica ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    After an 8 hour overnight bus ride, 3 hour flight and 2 hour taxi, we finally arrived in Costa Rica!! By the time we arrived at Hotel Arenal Manoa we were exhausted so grabbed some food in the restaurant and headed straight to bed, ready for a day of activities and celebrations the next day.

    I got up early and went on a horse riding tour to Arenal waterfall. My horse was called Martha and she was brilliant - knew exactly what she was doing, I just sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the scenery! It was an hour's ride to the waterfall and we did some walking trotting and cantering if we wanted. I'm pretty glad Craig didn't come as he would have been terrified! Thanks Claire, Paul & Jo for the birthday treat!

    There was a lovely surprise in the room when I got back. Some chocolate strawberries and bottle of wine which went down far too well!

    In the afternoon we headed to Tabocan Hot springs. There were 20+ pools and waterfalls in total, all heated by the volcano! The first few we're a bit crowded but there were so many further up the hill that you could easily find a private one! There was also a fabulous swim up bar!! We got chatting to a lovely Californian girl at who had lived in London for a few years, bringing the first Beats by Dre store to London (probably lost on you guys but they're a huge headphones brand, now owned by Apple).

    We ended the night with a dinner at the hot springs which was included in the price for an entrance ticket. Can't believe I've been lucky enough to spend another birthday on such a beautiful place. Thanks to everyone who made it so special!!
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  • Day103

    Mexico Day 100 - 103 - Oaxaca City

    April 23, 2021 in Costa Rica ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    After a heavy weekend we decided to relax and enjoy the food a little more through the week!

    We went to so many amazing food spots - an Italian that served probably the nicest pizza we've had since Milan! A vegetarian spot that served Gem a mushroom lasagne that had her pretty much licking the plate! A traditional Mexican place that made your salsa at the table to taste before serving us up the nicest tacos we've had this trip! Also every morning whilst Gem worked I was on coffee and pastry duty, 3 different cafes all had twists on a crossiant with jams, chocolate and even Nutella!

    We also found an Indie bar with live bands every night, we stumbled across it after hearing one of my favourite Strokes songs being covered as we walked by! It turned out to be the owners birthday and we had a great time listening to live music that we actually know again for the first time in a long time!!

    As we walked between different amazing restaurants and bars, in a city that feels small and social but is actually big, Gem mentioned it was her favourite city yet! A tough category for sure but it's hard to not have it in the top 5!

    We finished the last evening visiting the Amptheatre based on a hill overlooking the whole city! It's mainly for a festival in early July and seats 11000 - unfortunately it was closed but we got to have a walk around and admired the view of the city from the top of the hill.
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  • Day99

    Mexico Day 97 - 99 - Oaxaca City

    April 19, 2021 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    We started the day with a lovely breakfast in a rooftop cafe called tierra del sol which we had to wait 25 minutes for a table for. We tried talayudas for the first time (basically a mexican pizza with a tortilla base and topped with refried beans and cheese).

    We spent the afternoon relaxing and catching up on some much needed sleep!

    That evening we had a booking at Casa Oaxaca - which most people we had spoken to said was the best restaurant in Oaxaca! It didn't disappoint! From the moment we sat down the service and food was brilliant, we managed to get a table on the roof terrace and as the sun was coming down had some beautiful views of the city!

    After we found a cocktail bar whilst our friend did some shopping and then decided to head on to a kareoke bar because why not!? It was pretty busy with locals dancing to Latino music and it didn't seem like the right time to butcher Sweet Caroline so we waited and chatted with some locals and other tourists! Eventually the dancing stopped and after a few locals we all had our turn, I like to think I impressed so much that they demanded an encore as the bar manager asked me to do Bohemian Rhapsody after, although what is more likely is that Los Mexicanos found me so terribly bad it was funny and they just wanted to laugh more! And with any laugh being a positive for me I was happy to oblige!

    As the night went on our friend sang a Vietnamese ballad and Gem found her new best song with Adele Someone like you going down a storm!! By this point we were having a great time and chatting with the locals and bar owner as well as some other English tourists! We finished the night in the nightclub part of the bar dancing to some Mexican classics with a group from Guadalajara!!

    On Sunday after struggling through a breakfast we decided 'hair of the dog' was the only solution and ended up stumbling across an amazing rooftop bar which was the perfect way to spend the day! Our friend flew back to CDMX that evening and after seeing her off into a cab we headed straight to the hotel for an early night!
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  • Day96

    Mexico Day 96 - Oaxaca City

    April 16, 2021 in Mexico ⋅ 🌧 27 °C

    After our longest overnight bus journey yet we made it into Oaxaca City feeling both tired and excited! Luckily our friend Thao had already arrived so we had a place to head straight to at 7am for a shower and a nap!

    That day we walked around to explore the city and Gem went with Thao in the afternoon/evening for a cooking class. The class was lead by a mexican chef who had worked all over the world. The class was in his beautiful garden which also doubles as his restaurant that is usually hired out for private parties. He also had three gorgeous dogs - a retired German Shepard guard dog, a rottweiler puppy in training to be a guard dog and a cute but dopey Andrex advert dog (can't remember the breed hah).

    The first part of the class was walking to a local market and buying all the fresh ingredients. Once we made it back we learned how to make maize tortillas, empenadas and quesadillas from scratch and a chilli sauce to go with it. Next it was onto mole, a traditional mexican stew with really rich flavours. For desert we made fried plantain balls flavoured with chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla, with a cream cheese stuffing. All so delicious!!
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    Claire Hoft

    Can’t wait for you to cook those dishes here!

  • Day95

    Mexico Day 95 - Puerto Escondido

    April 15, 2021 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    With a night bus planned for the evening we decided to make the most of our last hours so headed down to the beach for some snorkelling around the bay. The strong waves made getting close to the rocks a little difficult but we were rewarded with seeing loads of different shapes and sizes of exotic fish! Afterwards we had a great brunch beach side and relaxed reading for the morning!

    In the afternoon we decided to head back to Xcaanda our favourite beach bar in La Punta for the last time. It has the perfect setting with the huge waves constantly crashing infront of you and always seemed to be full with good people!

    Finally we headed back to the hotel to collect our bags and head for the bus station. An 11 hour overnight bus to Oaxaca City awaited, as usual Gem was perfectly tired and managed to get to sleep seemingly before we had left the station! I struggled through til the early hours but got some sleep at least before we arrived!

    Luckily our friend Thao Nguyen was staying in the city so we had a place to head straight to and shower before checking into our Airbnb that afternoon!
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