Thursday, August 11, 2011

Our Costa Rican Honeymoon...cont'd.

The first few days of our honeymoon couldn't have been better.  Besides the drama of getting the rental car and the traffic getting to Guanacaste, it was EVERYTHING I pictured to start of our week, and then some.  Heading into the final days of our honeymoon, I was excited to hit Tamarindo Beach, hit the cloud forest of Monteverde and then head back to San Jose.

Day 3: Tamarindo Beach

Loved this day on the beach!

After finally getting to sleep in a little, we grabbed breakfast (I still taste the amazing buffet now...) and hit the road to Tamarindo Beach.  We heard from the locals that this was the beach to go surfing at and was supposed to be a fun little town, so we wanted to check it out.  Mr. Hess really wanted to hit the waves, and I really wanted to hit my magazines on the beach, so it turned out to the perfect little relax day for us.  When we pulled up, I found where I wanted to hang right away and starting basking in the beautiful Costa Rican sun.  After about 10 minutes, I was pleasantly surprised by a gift from Mr. Hess: cocunut water, right from the tree!  Later on the drive out, we saw exactly where it came about a hard line of work - you should have seen how tall these trees were and the strategy this men were using to get them down.

Playa Conchal

After a full day of surfing, we wanted to explore this funky little town of Tamarindo and found a lot of great spots.  Eventually, we got back on the road to heading towards our resort, but wanted to check out some of the other beaches first.  They are all lined up in a row and only a few miles from one another so we actually got to see a few.  First, we went to Playa Conchal.  This was by far the most beautiful beach we saw, and I only got 2 pictures of it & then my camera died.  I was upset that it died, but then REALLY upset when we parked and looked up.  The parking attendant pointed out a howler monkey in a tree right above us.  WOW!  We were captivated by the little guy eating, and then he told us to look over to the right to see a whole family of them.  There were at least 10 monkeys hanging out and swinging all over the place right over us!!! HOW COOL! It was just our luck that all of this was happening at the most beautiful beach, during sunset with NO camera.  Oh well, we will both  remember that moment of the trip...always.  After a few minutes of watching the monkeys, we headed towards another few beaches to check them out.  My favorite after Conchal was Playa Flamingo!  And no, this is not because I'm from Florida.  This area reminded me of a Costa Rican-Miami and was filled with TONS of HUGE mansions and resorts all up and down on the coast.  I WISH I WISH I had my camera for some of this, but ohhhhh well.  We were determined that some celebrities had to have owned some of these compounds, and then later found out from our resort staff that in fact Pink & Mel Gibson are just a few that own houses there.

Ready for another "nice" dinner voucher night!

Our dining friend, Burrito.

We then headed in to get ready for dinner and went to the pool bar, where some of the other honeymooners we met were.  We got to know some fun couples and shared stories about what to do and where to go on the trip.  At dinner, we also met a new furry friend of ours: Burrito.  Although he looked like a kitten, we later found out that he was about 4 years old and lives at the resort.  Right away when we saw him he stuck around from the beginning until the end of dinner, and (don't tell anyone) enjoyed some shrimp, scallops and sea bass! It wasn't long before some of his friends joined him and we ended up having a whole cat clan by the end of's a good thing we're cat people!

Day 4: Heading to the cloud forest in Monteverde

Our view from the Hidden Canopy lobby.

I guess it was time to say goodbye to Guanacaste.  It was bittersweet because I wanted to stay at the resort a little longer, but Mr. Hess was excited to get to the cloud forest.  I'm SO glad we decided to head that way and stay a night in Monteverde because where we stayed turned out to be one of our favorite parts of the whole trip!  Before we left, Mr. Hess googled places to stay in Costa, and we were looking for somewhere on the way back to San Jose.  The cloud forest just so happened to be on the way, but it was DEFINITELY an adventure to get up there!  Remember the driving video on the previous post? Well...picture that x 1,000 - except trade the clouds and the darkness for bumpy, muddy, rainy & uncharted roads up the mountain.  EEK!  There were a few points of the trip up there where I thought we really weren't going to make it in our little Lancer.  Everyone else had SUVs and 4-wheel drives and there we were....putting up the mountain, barely, and after an hour of it we finally made it to the Hidden Canopy Treehouse Boutique Hotel!

The Neverland Suite

SO COOL! We are literally in a tree house!

The owner of this place is from California, and then one day had the idea of coming to her favorite spot in Costa Rica and starting her own Bed & Breakfast at the top of the mountains in Monteverde.  She came up with the brilliant idea of treehouses, and ever since they have been open (a little over 2 years) there has rarely been a night without patrons in the treehouses, which amazes me!  It's a fantastic stay, but the website doesn't do the place any sort of justice.  We were absolutely WOWed by the owner, Jennifer, her staff, afternoon tea (which is really cocktails and dessert...YUM!), and her hospitality.  Already, Mr. Hess and I want to book a trip back up there and this time we want to stay more than one night.

View from the lobby of afternoon tea!

Starting the coffee tour. was raining & I have shorts on!
The tree houses are all unique and built differently.  We stayed in the "Neverland" suite...which was absolutely beautiful.  The best part of all of them is the skylights on the tops, and I swear at 5am when we woke up to see the sunset the next morning I saw an animal.  She set up motion detector lights, exactly for this reason...and I saw something moving from tree to tree.  How cool!  We took some pictures and then it was time for our coffee plantation tour.  We had a great guide who is actually from this part of Costa & he took us to a plantation where they grow, pick, de-shell, grind, sift, make and sell coffee.  He went through the entire process with us and even let us partake in the business.  We learned so much on this tour, mainly that Americans don't know how to drink coffee.  Apparently, dark roast is the "burnt & leftover coffee"...and that's what espresso and cappuccinos are made out of.  Medium roast is better and light roast is the best of the best - but nearly impossible to get.  Who would ever know that?!

crushing the coffee beans out of their shells...
then grinding the coffee!

Dinner in...and don't be jealous of the sweatshirt! lol
When we got back from the tour we had a great time with the owner, Jennifer and the other patrons of the tree houses.  The only thing I wasn't feeling here was the weather.  I didn't get the memo that it gets chilly at night in some parts of Costa, ESPECIALLY at the top of the cloud forest and all I had was bathing suits, sundresses and shorts for the 62 degree weather.  Luckily, Jennifer let Mr. Hess and I borrow her sweatshirts, (and yes...I would never actually chose to wear Winnie the Pooh on my own...) and embraced them.  Our night turned into ordering dinner in, lots of conversation, and sangria with everyone staying there.  It was nice to unwind a little bit and feel like we were at home.

Day 5: Nature Tour in the Cloud Forest

Since the sun comes up about 5am and sets before 7pm, we missed a lot of the sunrises and sunsets...but we finally caught one and it was beautiful.  We were served a great breakfast and then it was time to head out for an animal tour of the forest with another great guide.  He new SO much about SO many different animals, we could tell he had been studying them for quite a while.  We headed towards the nature walk and on the way we stopped to see a 3-toed sloth!  It was sleeping (of course), but it was still cool to see.  When we arrived to the forest we were excited to see some more monkeys! Unfortunately, we didn't get to see them in this tour...but we did get to see TONS of different animals including bell birds, toucans, tarantulas, coatis, and more!  I loved exploring all of the animals with Mr. Hess, since we are both huge animal lovers and the scenery was UNREAL.  It was a great experience.

Caught the sunrise! So proud we were awake for it...
King of the Cloud Forest!

Bell Bird.

Coati.  They are SO cute!

We couldn't believe how close we got to them!

When the tour was over, we went back to our tree house and packed up to head back to San Jose.  We were sad to leave the cloud forest, but stopped by a great little Argentian restaurant on the way out.  They had the best iced tea and lemonades EVER - like half slurpee, topped with foam.  And don't even get me started on their hot chocolate!! Everything was SOOOO good and we topped our meal off with some delicious homemade chocolate.  YUM!!!

SO much chocolate...we ended up buying A LOT.

During lunch, it started pouring & we were nervous about driving down the mountain in that weather.  
Here is a little highlight about how THAT went.

After a few detours (well, us jamming out to music and not hearing the GPS) we finally got to our hotel next to the airport in San Jose.  We decided to stay in the ever so understand Hampton Inn, since we splurged on the tree house and decided to go out for a nice dinner on our last night.  Our cocierge recommended this great place on the top of a mountin called "The View" and man....was their one!  We missed sunset, but it was still beautiful and it was so crazy because by the end of the dinner, all of the lights disappeared.  The clouds had moved up the mountain and once again we were faced by driving home in the clouds....big surprise!  Oh well, the food was "okay," but I enjoyed our last night out in Costa with my new husband.

Our last dinner in Costa.
It was so hard to get this pic...but in real life, this was AMAZING!
Day 6 was unfortunately the last morning in Costa.  We woke up for breakfast and headed out to the airport.  There were a few delays, but that was okay with us because we didn't really want to come home!  I've said it before and I'll say it again...Costa Rica was one of the COOLEST places I have ever been and it couldn't have been a better pick for our honeymoon.  There was relaxation for me and adventure for the Mr. and there was always somewhere to go, something to see, or something to do.  We have already talked about coming back and we think it would also be fun to come with a group of people and share all of what we learned with them.  My brother and brother-in-law frequent Costa almost every year to go surfing...and now I see why! It was ABSOLUTELY STUNNING.

We don't want to leave!!!
And, once again...there were TOO many pictures I had to share, so I created another slideshow: 

Oh, and by the way...
I fixed the slideshow to the first part of our Honeymoon adventures to play music!

Well, I guess that wraps things up.  There's our honeymoon for you...absolute paradise.  It was just what we needed after a crazy year of wedding planning.  I'm really excited about putting together Our Honeymoon Album, I mentioned in an earlier post around Valentines Day and got the pictures printed out for it today.  But, whether there are pictures, videos, an album or not...we will have memories to last a lifetime and I am now so excited to start our new lives together.

PURA VIDA! (which means the pure - or good life)
Mrs. Hess & Mr. Hess <3

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