June 1st was our 10th Anniversary and we had been saving airline miles for awhile so that we could take a trip somewhere exciting to celebrate. Costa Rica was a place we had talked about wanting to go (especially me :-) years ago and was always up high on the list of top destinations. We had accumulated so many miles though that I started to hope we could maybe go somewhere in Africa, either back to Uganda or to visit my old roomie Caroline, or Thailand, but it takes LOTS of miles to go that far! There are just so many places in the world I would love to go so it was a big decision, but in the end Costa Rica seemed like the perfect choice. It has beaches, rain forests, and it's a short flight from Houston. I have long wanted to go zip lining through the Costa Rica rain forests and I have a special place in my heart for sloths, and they live there! The big bonus of our choice though, was that because it was so close, we had enough miles to fly first class and it was SOOO nice! I don't think I can ever fly coach again. You have so much space and there is real food that is actually super delicious! So, before even arriving in Costa Rica I was feeling good just from flying first class without any kids :-).
We flew into San Jose, where we stayed our first 2 nights. We booked a hotel near the airport and ended up loving it. We were able to use the free shuttle to get to and from the bus station at the airport when we wanted to venture anywhere else and their free breakfast was amazing! I am a breakfast person (and a food person in general :-) so this was huge for me! In addition to your typical breakfast fare (waffles, cereal, muffins, eggs) they had typical Costa Rican food as well (rice & beans, empanadas, tamales, cheese, potatoes and of course all the fresh fruit and juices made from the local pineapple, mango, papaya and passion fruit).
We arrived in the late afternoon on Tuesday, the 5th, and got settled into the hotel. We walked over to a nearby RostiPollo, a Costa Rican chain, and picked up dinner to take back to our room and eat in the peace and quiet. You forget what real quiet is like when kids are constantly running around. The food was yummy, especially the tortilla chips which were super thick, almost like a pita chip. It was the first of many meals that included rice, beans, fried plantains, and chicken.
(and just a warning...the majority of our pictures involve the food we are eating...we kind of LOVE food so it is a big part of the vacation :-)
The next day was our San Jose exploration day. We managed the public buses for our first time which felt like an accomplishment to me :-). Mike had done some research and really wanted to go check out the pre-Columbian gold exhibit at the Museos Banco Central De Costa Rica. After the museum we walked around the city a bit and headed to the Central Market. We were hungry at this point and hastily ate at the first place we walked by in the market. The food was fine, but once we finished and really ventured into the market we regretted our decision. There were some super authentic little places inside making heavenly food. Even though we weren't even hungry we had to try these cheese tortillas! They looked and smelled delicious and were AMAZING...basically a deep fried quesadilla (a thick corn tortilla topped with cheese and fried). You better believe we made sure to get another one before the trip was over :-)! We were able to find souvenirs for all the kiddos while there and then it was back to the hotel. We walked down the street a little ways from our hotel for dinner and found a cute little restaurant. That night we were able to skype with Addie in San Antonio and Ella and Preston in Katy before we headed out on our journey to our beach hotel the next day (where we weren't sure what our internet connection would be like there).
After our first full day in Costa Rica we were most amazed by the perfect weather. It was warm, but not hot, and not humid at all. We were both surprised (we later discovered it was because we were up high in elevation and that down on the coast in the rain forest was a very different story). We were also surprised by how Americanized it seemed, even for a big city. I mean, they had a Carl's Jr. and we don't even get one of those! Our meals cost more on average than they do here in the states which was crazy to us, but at least they were good! Part one of the trip was a success!
Mike was already tired of me wanting him pictures...this is him having a good attitude about it :-).
Mike took these artifact pictures. It was nice to actually be able to take pictures in a museum!
The public buses we got to know so well. It was hit or miss how nice the one you happened to get on was, but they were all pretty huge which I was surprised by.
I thought these little mini-van things were hilarious.
more of those thick chips - - don't worry, we shared that dinner :-)!