Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some great resource websites

Dori and I have been doing some research for places to stay in Costa Rica. we are
leaning towards Manuel Antonio again as we didn't get to do a lot of exploring.

The website is www.vrbo.com/vacation-rentals/central-america/costa-rica

So I am hoping everyone that wants to go will come along.. check out these photos.

A playful three toe'd sloth..

Places to Stay!!!

Hotel Parador.. So beautiful. website is http://www.hotelparador.com/

Hotel Costa Verde.. LOVE IT! Stayed there a week and there was ZERO issues. Loved it. The people were wonderful. The food at the Anaconda was great! We watched monkeys play all day! While hanging in the lower pool a troupe of Mono Titi came through and played a spirituous round of tackle the monkey. IT was funny. There is nothing like being awaken at 6:00 Am by a troupe of Kapuchen Monkeys jumping off the roof onto palm fronds.

Also, this hotel is known as one of the top 10 "weirdest" hotels in the world. There is an actual 727 plane that is the "penthouse." http://www.costaverde.com/727.html

Using some of the Costa Verde's photos here, just have to share!

Where to Eat while in Manuel Antonio/Quepos area

Agua Azul: Home of the Big Ass Burger. Freaking incredible. The owner is an American and the place has a feel of being back home, but with amazing vistas. I was impressed with the view of the Manuel Antonio area. The food is very inexpensive, Our bill for 2 beers a piece and entrĂ©e for both was $26.00 American. NOT bad. The area is getting smarter to Americans coming down and having a “cheap” vacation, however, it is still nothing like it would be in the States.
The weather was perfect, music amazing, beer cold, and food phenomenal. Recommendations to try, the Big Ass Burger of course, and the Fresh Fish Tacos. Incredible place

Byblos Pizzeria: Another quality restaurant we visited was the . Wow, incredible pizza two times!! you will be sitting around the pool of the hotel, and it is very quaint. There is an American Bar Tender there that is very knowledgeable of the area. We were able to watch the Mono Titi play in the trees. The second time we went there the Howlers were going at it. Very awesome experience, and great food.

Barba Roja: GREAT SUSHI!! The service is not “great” but still, wonderful food. The sunset there was moving! Be sure to get there early as it fills up right before sunset (which if you don’t know is at 6pm on the equator).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

so here we go again

well, we have decided to go back to Costa Rica. Year 3 I guess. I am really super excited as it will be a larger group this time. The people who are going are all great people, and I think it will make the trip that more enjoyable. I am starting my own website about the trip. Similar to this name, Beaches and Branches. We will hopefully one day be an one stop shop for everything Costa Rica with advertisers, etc.

So anyway, enjoy the Christmas Season.. Looking forward to the beginning of the New Year and our trip in March


here are some videos from earlier this year.. Photos will come as we progress towards the BIG DAY (March 4th!!)

Spider monkey (A.K.A Mono Titi Monkey) playing

Howler monkeys...

Kapuchen Monkeys playing

Monday, December 7, 2009

Website bought

so we said screw it and bought the URL for Beaches and Branches. So our trip in March will not only be a vacation it will also be a research/business trip. So we are going to do it!!!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Costa Rica.. the third

thinking of going back this time. Should be fun. I have a few people interested. I am thinking of renting a house this time, back in Tamarindo. should be fun hopefully.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

wow wow wow

We are almost at critical mass here! Its unbelievable the excitement that is flowing through my veins (maybe that is still the bourbon from the mint julips, but I digress)

two more days of work, of dealing with the arse holes, and then I am on a plane for my paradise. I get to see my wonderful niece and nephew last night, and I am bringing back my nephew a monkey. Wonder how I can smuggle that one in.

We will update more and more as we get closer (can we be any closer now????)

Friday, April 24, 2009


I am completely worthless at work.. I mean.. slovenly worthless. Its ok though. I am in vacation mode in my mind. I am anticipating getting about 4 hrs worth of work done next week and maybe 2 the week after that. I cannot believe it is almost here. I don't think vacation has looked this good in so long.

Lush Green rainforest followed by sandy white beaches. Cold beer, monkies, and of course.. ME.. jk.

So, anyway, COSTA RICA here we come!

look, its Britney Spears climbing across the wire!! (seriously so many flashes were going off you would have thought it was her) A three toe'd sloth!

and for the record. .I am sick of thunderstorms, hail, wind etc. Its horrible

Thursday, April 23, 2009

2 weeks.. woohoo

2 weeks from today.. we can blow off this place!! 2 weeks from today we'll be in Costa Rica.. I am so ready!!!!!

its going to be incredible!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Looks like we made it

Day 18:

well quoting the great one (Barry Manilow) "looks like we made it..................." to the teens. We are at day 18 before the trip. Cannot wait. I haven't been this excited for mondays in my life!
we are going today to Bass Pro shop and buying more "wear" for the jungle and such. Working on our daily trips. I am hoping a few days I will get to snorkel.

Well that its for day 18!

another very well done video of the area.. This is actually put together by the Manuel Antonio travel group..

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

a little preview...

It's video Day. Grab the popcorn and get jealous:

getting close to THAT day

so, here we are, day 22, almost at the three week mark, and let me tell you, I am so excited. I have bought my TEVA's and My snorkel gear. Dicks sporting goods, (that just sounds bad doesn't it??) had a sweet deal for $40.00 for snorkel, fins, and mask. Pretty cool stuff.

As for the trip itself, spoke with our agent today, we should be getting our tickets, reservation info, and other assorted things this weekend. Pretty awesome!

I have been youtubing Manuel Antonio, and Quepos. There was one that absolutely amazing watching the waves hit the beach at the jungle. I can't wait.

a Monkey trying to open a trash can.. TOO funny

a really cool video on "welcome to Quepos and Manuel antonio"

I will post the video sometime tonight. In the meantime, enjoy the wonderful whale noises.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Day 29

WE made it.. over the 30 day mark. Which, mind you was difficult. Right now we are trying to find rides to the Airport.
Logistically, we are thinking of taking a shuttle down. Taxi's are pretty expensive, and GOD no on MARTA (its like riding a trailer through Atlanta).

Some things I am purchasing while in Costa Rica:
Coffee (for myself, and my mom)
A new imperial shirt (mine shrunk)
a monkey (for my niece)
some sand (for Aaron)
a Costa Rican ( for my brother to race and help train)
Some Costa Rican Art (for Kate, nuff said)
Cuban Cigar (for dad and coworkers, might have to smuggle those in Prison style, sorry ya'll)

I am getting more and more excited about my trip. I have small things here and there to "make the time go faster." but 29 days still feels like an eternity.

On a non-Costa Rican New Front:
Vince, the shame wow sales man, was arrested.. too funny

Music for today: Well this one is an old one, but still timeless. August and Everything After by Counting Crows. Still probably one of the best albums of all time. I remember Fall of 93 Spring 94 when the CD came out. I saw them open up for the Cranberries in Atlanta. They absolutely blew me away. I had to get this cd.
Anna Begins, All time favorite, followed closely by, Murder of One, and Mr. Jones (yes one of the best)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Day 32.

Hola chicos y chicas! I'm laid up sick on a nasty Monday... no sun, 40-degree blustery weather... so I figured what better to do than start contributing my two cents to our little blog here!?

Brian and I enjoyed some seriously delish mango margaritas (and by "Brian and I", I mean "just me, because my man don't drink no stinkin' girlie margaritas!" right?) and remembering that yummy tropical conconction, I just had a little vision of landing in San Jose and quite literally jumping up and down in excitement, I cannot wait to be in our little paradise (PS we still have room!).

We have one month from tomorrow and I feel that our biggest challenge we have between now and then (since I found the shoes I needed to buy, so there went that major life choice) is deciding what exactly we're going to do with our spare time while we're in Quepos/Manuel Antonio (I know, if everyone's worries could be this intense, right?!)

So for those of you playing the home version of our little game (which, at last count, is just Brett...), I am adding a new feature to our website: CHOOSE OUR ADVENTURES AND MEALS! I'm going to add a few here and you're going to provide your input in the finals days leading up to our trip...

The restaurant of the day is...

$1 gelato, wood fired pizzasx, $5 pasta. I rest my case.

The adventure of the day is...


"A “Spice Plantation Tour“ where we explain and identify the various aromatic spices, medicinal plants, and essential oil plants to visitors. The tour is a gentle walk through the plantation and is very sensory, with multiple stops for tasting and smelling along the way and includes our new "Flavors of the World" tasting - an assortment of gourmet spice treats and drinks prepared by our in-house pastry chef. As proponents of sustainable development we are also proud to demonstrate the cultural practices we apply on our farm which has been certified organic since 1992 and biodynamic since 2000. " (From their site)

Now, as my bathing suit may soon prove, I've not come across much food that I haven't said no to, so a tour of a plantation full of edibles sounds extremely interesting... I'm not sure Brian is convinced of this.

Remember to reserve judgement until the final vote in a few weeks because I've nerded out and have a folder full of research that I've done for our adventures and meals that puts Frommers to shame!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

reading a good piece of information day 34

Day 34

there are good resources on the web for those traveling to Costa Rica. One particular piece is Costa Rica Pages. It is an english paper based in Costa Rica. It keeps you informed of events going on in the beautiful nugget of the earth called Costa Rica. The link is below.


I am excited about the trip. I know I have a few weeks to go and to concentrate on what I want to do and see while I am there. I am nervous about the weather being too rainy. However, per most of the travel guides I have researched the Green Season is basically, "Sunny mornings and early afternoon. the evenings are when it rains" which they recommend finding a nice hammock and chilling with a good book. I am so THERE!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Day 36 or is it 35?

"Good professor what day is it??"
ok, so we are still working out the days on how long it is.
I am getting pretty excited. We fly out in 5 weeks. I am looking forward to seeing Quepos and Manuel Antonio. I am a bit nervous about the park as they only let in 600 people a day. However, when we go down it will not be in the touristy time, rather the green season. They typically don't have all day rains like we do here. Most of the time it is beautiful most of the day with rain in the evening and night. The area is in the tropical convergent zone where Pacific Coast Cyclones began to form.

The next few days are pretty exciting as tomorrow we are going to the Braves vs The Tigers, and Monday I get to go back to the Masters!! Fun times. Should help get us closer to Costa Rica.

To do (buy) lists:
Snorkel Mask
bug spray
Malaria pill (just kidding)

The airport at Liberia from last year.. Primitive to say the least

Why Drinking (Imperial, which btw, their boxes say "Please do not enjoy our beer with lime!" and of course my friends added lime the whole time down there. DOOOH!!)
and Tropical Heat don't seem to mesh well. I didn't drink more than 3 beers the rest of the trip.. 98 degree heat and dehydration don't go well together....whew! what a hangover

The rocks at Playa Langosta at about 7 A.M. Very peaceful. I really did some deep reflection while out on the beach alone.

In addition to my posting daily I am going to add the "song of the day" Appropriate for the day
"I can see clearly" as sung by Hothouse flowers of Ireland. Good tune Check it out
I Can See Clearly Now
I can see clearly now the rain has gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's going to be a bright, bright sunshiny day
I think I can make it now the pain has gone
And all of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I've been praying for
It's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day
Look all around there's nothing but blue skies
Look straight ahead nothing but blue skies
I think I can make it now the pain has gone
And all of the bad feelings have disappeared
I can see clearly now the rain has gone
It's gonna be a bright, bright Sunshiny day

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Day 37

Well here we are at Day 37 before our trip. I am going to be writing as will Natalie. Right now I am planning on some of the excursions for the time we are there. We are going to Quepos and Manuel Antonio.
I am planning on Snorkeling, and I have to buy a snorkel and mask. I am very excited about the trip. Natalie is working on the logistics of the trip and the ideas. The location of the area we are going http://www.manuelantonio.com/

Also, our Hotel.. Wow! it is amazing


So far these are some of the places we are looking

Spice trip.. very nice place

The fincas butterfly perserve


Our morning coffee will be had here


Welcome to Beaches and Branches

Welcome to Beaches and Branches:

We are starting this blog about our traveling experiences and the related stress involved with setting up our trip this year to Costa Rica:
We have been dealing with a wonderful company, http://www.waytogocostarica.com/

However, to really understand our passion for Costa Rica we should revisit last years trip. I went to Costa Rica with three of my close friends from college. We left from Atlanta and landed in Liberia. Which, I would have to say scared me landing. I was expecting a cow to be on the runway (see Club Paradise with Robin Williams, a classic). We stepped off the plane and first thing I noticed, it was Hot. I don't mean, "Oh its warm out there", I am talking "HOLY SHIT, We just landed in hell". I was expecting to see little tribesmen walking out with robes on and spears. It was "Africa" hot. Unbeknownst to me, Guanacaste region could be classified as a Desert as it only has a certain amount of days of rain, and the area has cacti growing.

We stayed at an all inclusive resort. The Barcelo Playa Langosta. Very neat place, good food, helpful staff. The pool was large, the beach was pretty but there were large volcanic rock and it made it hard to swim in that area.

The resort had a lot of wild life running around it. We saw iguanas, and a species related to a Raccoon.

I went last year to Tamarindo on the Northern Pacific side, and had a blast. We surfed and enjoyed the local culture. While Tamarindo is growing with the new additions of large condos and hotels, it is still a very unique town of dirt roads, and a very small central district.
Actually while there last year we were privy to the first modernization of downtown Tamarindo, they paved the road!! Very funny and interesting coming from Atlanta that in one interstate has 24 lanes.

We went last year to several neat areas. We went on a horseback ride through the Jungle and on the beach. Our guide Paco was very "interesting". Unfortunately Paco was one of the Ticos (Costa Ricans go by this name) who did not speak english. It was not that big of a deal except my horse, Coco, thought she was in the Kentucky Derby. I was sore for a few days afterwords.

Here are some photos from last year's horseback adventure:

The next day while we were down there we decided to go surfing. I highly recommend Witches Rock Surf Camp (http://www.witchesrocksurfcamp.com/) . Absolutely one of the most amazing places in Tamarindo. They have huge nachos, As "Big as your ass" (see photo below!). The waves were in amazing sets of 6 to 8. I have to say those guys do it up right. The bar, surfing, and everything else made for an amazing afternoon in Costa Rica. The food was great, beer was cold, and the instructor was very knowledgable about surfing. We got to see some hot dogging as well. One guy with dreads was riding the waves in doing a head stand. Pretty cool stuff.

The end of an amazing day in Tamarindo and Playa Langosta

The following day was probably the most amazing day of my 34 years on this planet. We met our guide at 6 am on friday. Of course there was the "pissing and moaning" getting up that early, but WOW! is all I can say. We then went to the monteverde cloud forest. Wow! again, the area is a natural preserve in the mountains around Lake Arenal. http://www.monteverdeinfo.com/

The flora was amazing. Trumpet trees, ancient trees everywhere. One tree was so large that you would have thought it was planted when the earth formed.

But the most amazing moment was this.........
The Tabacon hot springs..

But another amazing moment on this tour, I warned you, it was AMAZING!!

Arenal Volcano.. very very cool moment

We were sad to leave. I really enjoyed the people of Costa Rica and the culture, If you are thinking of going there, Please don't hesitate.