We left Copenhagen early in the morning to arrive into Stuttgart to catch our Flixbus (one of the cheaper options to get around Europe – Similar to Greyhound or Megabus) to Munich. Back to the euro and we felt like we were rich after being in Denmark for the past few days.
Arrived into Munich and we found ourselves a storage locker at the train station and walked around a bit. This was a task in itself as everyone was in town for Oktoberfest and also storing their things at the train station. We walked over to Marienplatz and it was a little drizzly. We ended up buying some chunks of Dutch cheese and also some grapes as well as fresh bread.
Oktoberfest is incredibly busy and many places are booked up or not renting out during this timeframe. The Airbnb we managed to book was located in Wolfratshausen (45 minutes roughly outside of town) and because of that, we called it an early night after our day of travelling. Our Airbnb host was baking mushrooms and her whole place smelt like pizza the entire time.
Oktoberfest – Munich, Germany
Woke up super early and met up with Winnie’s friends Kirtana and Mark. We made it to the festival entrance at the Fairgrounds of Theresienwiese to line up at 8AM. 9AM hit and the mad dash began to get into the specific beer halls. We made it to the doors of HB (one of the most popular ones for tourists) and low and behold beside me stood Scott who I met in Lisbon a week and a bit prior with his Remote Year crew.
It was also a mad push to get in but we got seated. Beer steins were 11.70€ each however beer wasn’t served until 10AM. We also ordered half chickens – which were amazing – also not served until 11AM. I also bought a bottle of water and they give you a chip so you can get a euro back once you return it. A good tip is to refill those water bottles at the washrooms for free! It is also cheaper to purchase food outside of the beerhall not as convenient especially if you have been drinking. Some of the people around us were buying these little viles of white powder and it turns out, it’s a thing to snort peppermint to keep you alert and wake you up as well as clear your nasal passages.
We met many wonderful new friends including Kelcey & Sam (she lives NYC now) from Texas, Caroline & Biscuit from New York, Scott and his friends from Remote Year and Texas, John & Stephen with their friends and Colin (who currently live in Prague) from Orange County and a few older Italian Gentlemen who might be part of the mafia. We went on a weekday so pretty much the crowd was foreigners.
We definitely had a fun experience with Oktoberfest and my first experience drinking and being a little drunk all before noon. Everyone in my group had 2L beersteins and finished them before noon. We stayed in that tent from 9AM-530PM. We came out and walked the grounds a little bit before leaving and finding some food and heading home.
The rest of the day was a write off but well worth it. We went to bed around 8PM.
Things to know before you attend Oktoberfest
-Oktoberfest does not take place traditionally in October but from September 21st through October 6th – it falls over 3 weekends and thousands/millions flood the city of Munich.
-If you are looking for accommodations within Munich, BOOK MONTHS IN ADVANCED or be prepared to stay on the outskirts of town and take the train in. If you are daring, there are Oktoberfest camp spots – literal camping in tents with a partying atmosphere all around.
–BRING CASH – card is not accepted.
-There is no entry fee to get into the Fairgrounds of Therheresienwiese, but of course the money you spend will go towards beer and food.
Opening day: 12:00 – 10:30pm
Weekdays: 10:00am – 10:30pm
Weekends and Holidays: 9:00am – 10:30pm
Tents Open late: Käfers and Weinzelt open until 1:00am
-Temporary beer tents are set up in advanced for each beer hall with long benches and picnic tables. Be ready to share seating with strangers.
-Oktoberfest is not just about drinking in beer tents but it is actually an amusement park with games and rides.
-Bags are not permitted. Fanny packs and little purses are acceptable.
-If you choose to dress up, you can actually purchase a dress (dirndls) or lederhosen at the train station
-Many people end up standing on the bench and try to chug their beers, this results in that person being kicked out of the beer hall. It’s a precaution in case they vomit from chugging so much beer.
-You will not be served if you are not sitting at a table.
-There are no small beers – 1L beer stein is what you will get
-You will not get a hangover if you ONLY drink beer – Germans have a beer purity law so the beer is made with very few fresh ingredients.
-You can line up at 8AM and do the mad dash to the beer tents when gates open at 9AM
-Beer does not get served until 10AM and food 1030AM
-If you have the chance, check out Oktoberfest at night – live music (different experience than during the day – or stay all day long)
-As a tourist, weekdays are your best bet as weekends, millions of people including locals will be attending and it gets incredibly busy.
-The last day of the festival (October 6th) is apparently the most magical
Spent the day just walking around Munich after our Oktoberfest shenanigans the previous day and making sure we had ample time to recover if needed. The sun was out and turned out to be a good day to explore. So many cute little streets and neighbourhoods we ended up wandering through.
Made our way to the English Garden and watched some people catching some waves on the Eisbach river.
Walked past this alien spaceship structure which turned out to be an installation for the Pinakothek der Moderne. The whole building was just beautiful to look at.
Stopped to grab a bite at Dean & David – chicken curry bowl. Since we had time and the weather was much nicer than the first time we made it through Marienplatz, we went up to the tower at St Peter’s Church. It costs 3€ to go up but it is a narrow stairwell for majority of the way up and it is used to go up and down.
We purchased some sustenance and caught our train from Munchen hbf. We took the DB all the way to Berlin (lent my shoulder to a new Italian friend along the way) where we came in quite late. For our stint in Berlin, Winnie’s friend Lea graciously hosted us.
Our first full day in Berlin was a rainy one but at least we were accompanied by Lea.
First stop was to the East Side gallery of the Berlin Wall to check out the art pieces and of course the famous kiss art mural. Every so often, the murals get redone as a new commission.
We learned majority of things are closed on Sundays but one positive are the flea markets. We went to 3 of them – RAW Flohmarkt, Boxhagener platz and Mauerpark (On Sundays in the summer or when its still warm out, there are usually karaoke in the park).
We spent some time exploring Friedrichshain and made our way to Monsieur Vuong for lunch. I got the Pho Bo and it was much needed and satisfying to have a soupy meal on a wet and cold day.
We did stop over to Zeit fur brot where we got the apple cinnamon roll, walnut and maple syrup roll as well as fresh walnut and date bread.
With it being so wet outside, we wanted to go to the spa – Vabali but of course there was a huge line of people who also had the same thinking as we did. We did not wait in line and continued on. Did I mention in this weather, the Berlin Marathon was also happening. There were so many people running the city.
We walked about 20 minutes but made it to Futurium to be greeted by another line. We waited and the line moved quickly. It was also free admission. The museum discusses many possible future outcomes and sustainability. Very thought provoking but also a lot of information to take in. You also get a bracelet to keep and at each station, if you wanted to learn more about that topic or wanted to remember what you were interested in, you could use that code online and gather the information for later to continue the topic after your visit.
After being out all day in the rain, we decided to buy some groceries and make a home-cooked meal. Remember how I mentioned many things were closed on Sundays. Grocery stores are also closed BUT you can only find the open ones in the metro terminals.
We roasted beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli. While we waited for all that to cook, we started off eating the fresh bread from earlier with cheese and grapes.
Oh what a windy and wet start to the day. We took the bus and hiked up to Teufelsberg to only find out it is open wed-sun. It was still a lovely little hike.
Made our way to Alexanderplatz where they had a little Oktoberfest market set up. The sun came out and we walked to Hackescher Markt and walked through the alley to see some graffiti artwork. There were also so many cute little shops in the die Hackeschen höfe.
Walked by Berlinerdome (cathedral) and walked to museum Island and finally to the Brandenburger tor. There were so many tourists around and especially runners who ran the Berlin marathon the day prior as the gate was the finish line.
We continued down to Potsdamer platz – a little plaza that also has pieces of the Berlin Wall on display. This square is important because the road connecting the two cities crossed through this square.
We had booked a reservation prior to coming to go to the parliament government building – Bundestag. They have this beautiful rooftop with a glass Dome with 360 view of Berlin. We happened to have booked a time (530PM) when we could see the beginning of the sun setting above the city and it was absolutely stunning and a great way to end our day.
We made it back to Lea’s flat where we had dinner with her flat mates Gaelle, Goel and their friend Heinrich. It was a fun dinner with homemade bruschetta and a lovely pasta dinner with great company.
If you haven’t joined and booked with Airbnb yet, follow the link and get credits for your first booking. www.airbnb.ca/c/ruu
Once we got settled in, we drove over to James Beach (60 N Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291) where we intended to have dinner but in the end, we went across the street to Plancha (2024 Pacific Ave, Venice, CA 90291) for tacos. James Beach has many reviews and is known for their fish tacos and made famous from the movie I Love you Man featuring Paul Rudd. At Plancha, I ordered the Tiger bowl ($6.95USD) which consisted of garlic tiger shrimp and the contents of a burrito.
After dinner, we decided to drive over to LACMA (5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036) to see the Urban Lights by artist Chris Burden. His installation is located at the Wilshire Boulevard entrance of the LACMA and consists of lamp posts that at one point in time have lit the streets of Southern California before being restored and installed in that one location. We spent a lot of time here just taking photos and just hanging out. It’s a great atmosphere to be in with friends.
After a late night, we drove over to Hermosa Beach for surf lessons. My friend JP created a website called GOJPGO that makes exploring LA so much more accessible with helpful tips and advice. My group wanted to go for surf lessons and JP had recommended us to go with his friend Kawika at Pier Surf (21 Pier Ave Hermosa beach, CA 90254) and we were not disappointed. 8 of us took part in the 2 hour surf lesson that Kawika along with Ryan another instructor took us to the beach and taught us the basics before hitting the waters. The waves were perfect for beginners and they explained to us that the waves are about 5-10 miles per hour and we want to reach that speed to catch a wave. It was a tiring but a very rewarding experience for sure and we definitely recommend them!
Right beside Pier Surf was Hooked where we ordered Poke bowls. You can customize your own bowl and I decided to go with a large ($12,50USD) with Kelp noodles, spicy tuna, sunomono cucumber & fish roe. If I were to go again, I would change my base to rice as the kelp noodles texture was strange and a little too tasteless for me. Otherwise, the poke was tasty with a little kick of heat to it. We ate and recovered from our surf lesson and just laid out on the beach for a few hours before a few of our friends headed to LAX to head home. I couldn’t leave the beach without getting myself a acai bowl. As the gang napped on the beach, I walked over to Paradise Bowls (1246 Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254) and got myself a mini $6.95USD (the small is massive) Guava Pipeline acai bowl (blended acai, banana, mango, guava juice with strawberries, bananas, granola and honey as the topping) delicious.
After a little more time lounging on the beach, we packed up and drove back to our Airbnb area in Venice beach but not before stopping off at Trader Joe’s to pick up some groceries and also my favourite – Unsulfurated Dried Mangoes – sad to say my other favourite – dark chocolate edamame beans have been discontinued!
After everyone showered, we drove over to Little Tokyo for dinner and dessert. Since we arrived late, we went for dessert first at Mikawaya (Japanese Village Plaza, 118 Japanese Village Plaza Mall, Los Angeles, CA 90012) for Ice cream mochi. I fell in love with ice cream mochi 7 years ago from this place. The Ice cream mochi is fresh and comes in multiple flavours that rotate through. They are about $1.30USD ea but well worth it. I had the Pistachio, Guava, Toasted Almond & Raspberry (my favourite). Once we finished devouring these tasty pieces of heaven, we walked across the street from the plaza to the well known yellow awning ramen restaurant – Daikokuya (327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012). I fell in love with this ramen place 7 years ago and to this day, I still think this place makes the best ramen (and I’ve been to Japan before). It could be an overstatement but the line outside proceeds me and from memory, the broth, the atmosphere, the taste still lingers and just makes it my top notch choice for best ramen I’ve ever eaten. With a group of 9, we walked in to write our name down and waited outside as they slowly went down the list. Trust me, it is worth the wait. I ordered the Combo meal – Daikoku Ramen with beef bowl ($9.95 USD for the regular ramen) and that is more than enough food. The ramen on it’s own is filling enough and you can also customize it with their special broth (Kotteri flavor from the back fat extracts). The soft-boiled egg just adds to it.
With our trip to Trader Joe’s and going across the street to the dollar store, we gathered enough ingredients to make a big family style breakfast that consisted of coconut pancake mix from TJ’s, cookie butter ice cream, cookie butter, eggs, bacon, bananas, grapes, apples, cereal and beer. It was a great bonding experience and also a great use of the outdoor patio we had.
After breakfast, we all went to Venice Beach and of course one of the main attractions ( I could’ve just stayed there all day) was the Venice Beach Skatepark. Not only were the locals out in full force skating, a few did intricate tricks which were great to see front row centre. We also walked over and tested our ability at the free muscle beach which consists of a few bars and rings. You can also pay $10USD/day to use the actual outdoor Muscle Beach gym but looking at the equipment, everything was wrapped in saran wrap and not my cup of tea.
Our main group then said our goodbyes to Susan and Kevin and off we went to drive east of Los Angeles to Joshua Tree. We made a stop at Toys R Us that detoured us south before heading east. Since we didn’t go according to our original plans, we started our drive to Joshua Tree really late and we got stuck in traffic. We made one more stop at In-N-Out (well done fries and a animal style cheeseburger are the way to go). What is so mystifying and entrancing are the wind turbine fields. The drive does get a little windy as you drive through mountains. Once we arrived by the main Joshua Tree visitor centre (which was closed when we arrived) the sun was starting to set. We drove in and stopped off on the side of the road to climb some rocks and take photos of the trees. Our end goal since we didn’t really have a chance to hike especially with the remaining light was Key Views Road which is the highest point in the national park that overlooks the park and the city. We took in the remainder of the sunset and light before laying down on the ground and gazing up into the sky as it darkened and the stars glistened and covered the sky. Incredibly sad that I wasn’t able to spend the day there and hike. I also hear and have been recommended to check out Cholla Cactus Garden.
After taking in all the stars and the vastness that we were surrounded by, we made a run for it back to LA. Koreatown was our end point for dinner at Tangji Gamatang (3470 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020) for a family style meal with our group before calling it a night.
Farmers market – Tamarindo Feria. Local farmers market with local produce, handmade crafts, fish etc. That was the so called plan but when we made it to the area by the Backpackers Hostel, there was no market in sight except for signs. I guess it was closed for Easter. We walked the beach from Langosta back to our hostel then decided because it was only 930AM that we would do all day rentals and surf. We rented for $10USD including rashguards from Johan at our hostel and off we went. The waves were pretty tiny and not consistent when we got out unfortunately. The best I results for my ride was a slight crouch or riding on my knee. We surfed for about two hours then headed back since we got tired.
After lunch we stayed in for a bit to avoid the sun. Around 330PM we went back into town to grab groceries and when we got back Johan was actually leaving to head into another city to meet up with his family for Easter dinner so our surf plans got canned. We took another break from the sun for a bit before venturing to the beach to watch the sunset. Such a disappointing sunset that reminded us of the colour dot on old tube televisions. We bumped into Caribbean guy (sorry I can’t remember his name but ;et’s call him E). He was trying to convince us to go out clubbing and he convinced us.
We walked over with E and he filled us in more about his life. He was born on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, his brother lives there, he works in a surf shop, lived in Belgium with his ex girlfriend, learned English on the streets. We went to a bar club called Elbe! and his friend Mateo joined us. It was 2000 colones entry with unlimited drinks with your plastic cup. The music at the beginning was old, American and Euro music that no one should even dance to. It started to pick up when they dropped Blackstreet – No Diggity and that’s when the dancing started.
One more full day to go with no plans. We went for a beach walk in the morning. The hostel has cleared out because everyone had gone back home after Easter except the actual tourists. It’s a ghost town now. I don’t understand how it’s so humid. Johan finished work we joined him to Playa Avellana to surf. He drives this sweet white land cruiser and strapped boards above. Playa Avallenas is about a 30-45 minute drive away from Tamarindo and also is where Lola’s restaurant is. It is a restaurant located on the beach which features Lola the pig. The waves are massive here and the beach is beautiful but a large portion has rocks at the base. Johan and Sarah surfed while I got out my waterproof bag and shot from the end of the last ripple in the water because the waves were aggressive and I can’t multitask shooting and staying a float. We stayed until sunset and Johan had some cool moves. But there was this one kid that was just killing it. As we got back to the car, Johan’s friends gave us these huge fresh coconuts that made it so much better. Good to make friends with locals.
Woke up early to catch our tour bus. Today with Tamarindo Shuttle and Tours we did a 9 activities in 1 combo. $130USD for shuttle, activities such as zip lining, rappeling, rock climbing, buffet, horse back riding, tubing, sauna, hot spring and volcano mud bath. Gustavo was our tour guide who lives outside Tamarindo.
Some facts about Costa Rica:
-CR doesn’t have an army because they are a poor country so when they had a Panama president, he declared it’s too expensive to keep an army and put funds towards education.
-Nicaragua on the other hand has an army but education is poor but Panama has the canal thus economically they are better off.
-There are only two seasons in CR – rainy or dry. It actually gets more humid in rainy season. The caribbean side is very different from this side of town. Huge African population lives there so a much different culture, food, music etc and they speak patois.
-Coffee was the biggest income after tourism, 1820 is one of the best coffee brands.
-There are 4.2 million people on Costa Rica and 2 million of that live on San Jose.
-Guancaste is the province.
-Tamarindo is only 20 years old so they don’t have any schools there. The closest school is 4KM outside of Tamarindo. It’s now one of the most popular places in CR.
-Okinawa is the best place in the world for the longest living. CR’s Nicoya has the highest number of people over 100 years old. It’s hot here so they sweaty out all the toxins and live a simple life but even the 100+ people are still active.
-There are 9 major volcanoes with 5 active but there are many mountains and hills undiscovered so there are actually 121.
-There is one highway that if you go one direction, it will take 1 hour from Liberia to Nicaragua border and the other direction, 3.5 hours. If you go in the same direction to Nicaragua, 5000 miles to California. The roads are tough but they are building a highway to go 50KM both directions.
Old Woman’s Corner is the name of the volcano we visited. The legend from many moons ago is that only Indians use to live on this area and the princess fell in love with an older person from the enemy tribe and got pregnant. The chief (her father) threw the guy into the crater, when the baby was born, the princess was so love stricken she threw the infant into the crater to be with its father. The princess roamed the land collecting herbs for medicine.
There is an energy plant that harnesses all the steam from the volcano that powers the country.
We did a breakfast pit stop at Peri grocery store then back on the road for about an hour and half. Our first activity at Hotel Hacienda Guachipelin was zip lining. It was fun but I truly believe Whistler, BC has this place beat. Along the course of lines (they were short) we had a chance to rappel down then climb up the wall. The best part of the zip lining was swinging upside down – spiderman style. During the tour, we met this lady named Olivia who was originally from Brazil who now lives in Los Angeles but is in Costa Rica with her husband who decided to go surfing so she took this tour on her own. She became our buddy for the day. Our tour bus had a few families from America but one particular family had two whiny, sensitive irritating boys named Liam and Max.
After the snake farm, we were taken by a school bus to part-take in white water tubing with another bus full or two of other people. We grabbed our huge tubes and walked down to the river. We rode the Colorado river which at this moment is at low tide making the whole thing take an hour and half instead of 45 minutes. It was so much fun except for two things: low tide means the water is low enough that when we hit the rapid, our bottoms hit the rocks hard and because it was so dry, the trees and forest caught on fire easily. Closer to the end of the tubing, the forest was on fire and we could feel the intensity of the heat as well as the debris of ash falling from above into the river on us. My hair smelt of a campfire. When we made it to the very end and had to walk up with our tubes, there were fires right beside us that we could touch or stepped on if we weren’t careful. If this was North America, this would for sure be cancelled for being unsafe. We got to the top and dropped our tubes off and literally the whole forest was white and ash by this point making it hard to breathe. The ironic thing is that as we were trying to escape, we were stuck behind a gasoline truck in the middle of this forest fire.
We had a buffet style lunch serving some Costa Rican food which was tasty especially the ribs in the sauce and star fruit juice. The chicken was tasty but slightly undercooked. From there, we ventured out on horseback. I got stuck with a dud house who didn’t go fast at all. The horseback riding was fun except for the fact that the wind was brutal picking up all the dust. That is one thing I especially hate about Costa Rica right now is that it’s so dusty and windy everywhere – my poor eyes. We got off the horses and went over to the natural hot springs. You cross this suspension bridge that can only take two people at a time. When you get down the last steps, you enter an area with a mud painting station and paint mud all over your body and then let it dry and stay on for 10 minutes. You can either use the river or the showers to rinse off the mud before going into the hot springs. Obviously I take the river to rinse off which was a little cold but refreshing however the rocks were slippery. There are multiple pools you can soak in and they vary in hotness. I actually finished off looking to the river for it’s coolness over the hot springs. Two hour ride back to Tamarindo. We made dinner – pasta with tomato sauce and tuna .
Woke up on my own at 530AM. Took the only working bike out around 645AM to see if Tico Cafe was open to grab beans. I had read reviews about Tico selling the best coffee in Tamarindo and locally sourced and proceeds go back to the farmers. When I arrived, they had just opened before 7AM and I looked up to the trees and saw about 4-5 howler monkeys screaming. The shop is small but quaint and the staff was very helpful as she explained that Don Pupas was a local brand that made a really good espresso bean that was full bodied, creamy and hint of chocolate (6000 colones) and I also grabbed cashew nut butter 4500colones. The bike ride was so enjoyable with a stop along the way back to the skatepark which I wish I’d actually stopped by a few days back when there were skaters to take photos.
Got back and ate breakfast with Sarah and lexi the dog who is so friendly. Brought our stuff down and said quick goodbyes.
At the airport, we went to pay our exit fee of $29USD then fill out the exit form and proceeded to the check-in luggage line and were second and third in line because we came so early that the desk wasn’t even open yet. The security check was quick and easy and the airport is small. I wandered a bit and in the end probably spent more on snacks here than the entire trip on food but the coffee and chocolate are so good.
NOTE- BUY FOOD AND SNACKS BEFORE REACHING THE AIRPORT AS THE PRICES A SUBSTANTIALLY HIGHER.
In all entirety, I spent under $1300CAD this whole trip which is probably just a little bit more than a regular flight to Costa Rica.
This heat is killer. I decided to go for a morning bike ride for about 30 minutes then came back because I was a little dehydrated. It’s nice ride though because it’s so quiet in the morning. It’s a low of 24 with 63% humidity. It’s weird to say but I miss Toronto’s ugly March weather.
We stayed at the hostel for a bit in the morning then booked a tour for the day. Estuary and mangrove boat tour for $35USD. We walked into town as only one bike there was available. We went to check out prices for surfboards and rash guard rental and to get sunscreen. We rented from Kelly’s Surf for half day at $5USD including rashguards and lockers. I got a long board. I decided to leave my flip flops in the locker. Big mistake. The cement and sand were terribly hot and I burnt the bottom of my feet. I literally ran through the parking lot and beach to the water. I haven’t surfed since 2010 and I wasn’t that good to begin with. I struggled to even stay afloat at first but managed after a while. I did catch a few waves but I grabbed the tiny ones. Sarah ventured off further and did great. The waves here are barrels which don’t really go anywhere. There were some amazing waves I tried to catch but found I was always staring down a person who was in front of me in the water so I’d have to bail. It’s getting busy because of Holy Week and the waters are full. Holy Week is family time and hundreds to thousands come from San Jose to Tamarindo to have a mini vacation. I gave up after two hours because there wasn’t a safe path to surf. We walked back to the hostel but forgot again to purchase water. Ate lunch and hid from the sun for a bit. We met a group of 4 French Canadians who came down here to setup a hostel in Nicaragua and they drove all the way down from Quebec stopping over in Tamarindo to purchase boards.
We hid from the sun some more before making our way to the end of Tamarindo beach to catch our boat for our tour of estuary and mangrove with Emiliano aka Shaggy. The family that was suppose to take this tour cancelled so it was just us 3. He was a great guide who told us the history of the national park island and the mangrove trees. The white mangrove trees are the only trees the howler monkey’s eat because the the red are too salty. These monkeys are also vegetarians. Apparently they are around 69 crocodiles in the water we surf and swim in. We spotted a few more today. Shaggy guided us through the islands and pointed out other things then we arrived at our end destination of the monkeys. It was cool to see them but man the bugs sure love me and in this instance, wasps. We hopped back into the boat and Shaggy cut open a pineapple for us and we fed the little hermit crabs.
Overall it was a nice afternoon outing not directly in the sun. We made it back to shore in time to watch the sunset. We bumped into the 4 Canadians again on the beach and had a friendly chat before all of us went back. Power went out for a bit then we made our dinner -a salad with lettuce, chickpeas, avocado, corn, cheese and apple. We let our dinner digest a little then went back into town. We haven’t been able to stay up past 10PM so we went for a walk and explored a little more. This town is seriously all beach, surfing, outdoor activities and eating. I’m happy with our choice in hostels because it’s so quiet and away from the activity. So many people everywhere because of Holy Week. At night, the main area fills with tourists who want to party as well as locals here to have a good time. If you want to party every night, this place is for you.
Got up at 7AM and biked to town to try to grab coffee beans at Tico Cafe which according to Tripadvisor had the best local Costa Rican coffee. I biked out and it was actually pretty empty in town in terms of the cars that lined the streets the night before. I made it to Tico to find it to be closed for Easter weekend – Semana Santa and will reopen Monday.
A very lazy day spent on the beach and hiding from the sun. I went back out around 230PM for a bike ride but the bike handle came loose so it was very difficult to steer. I decided to take a different path which led me up a hill to hotels and tennis clubs then beach down I went towards the main grocery store because I was hoping to catch a few riders at the skate park but nothing. Hung out some more in the shade then around 5PM we returned to the beach to catch last light and catch the sunset. Each sunset is different. A voice called us from behind asking where our surfboards were. It was Johan who we met earlier from the hostel. He had ended his shift and wanted to catch the last waves for the day and pulled out all sorts of tricks.
Johan started surfing at 13, has been living in Tamarindo for 13 years. He originates from a town close to the Panama border. Johan runs the tour shop for the owner who is Danish that only lives in Tamarindo for half the year. He works 26 days straight with 4 days off a month but when he finishes work, he is able to just cross the street and catch some waves. He introduced us to the Caribbean guy who is a surf instructor on the main strip who also lives in the hostel.
My co-worker found an amazing deal on Air Canada Vacations for a flight deal of $385CAD roundtrip for a week. We tried our best to spend as little money as possible during this short getaway so we also purchased groceries and made majority of our meals.
We flew with Air Canada and the flight was pretty smooth. 5 hours. It’s bloody humid in Costa Rica – Liberia and area to be more specific. We booked Tamarindo Shuttle and Tours for our airport shuttle then on the road we went for a half hour-hour drive. We stayed at Tsunami Surf Hostel at the end of the main strip. We met Omar the manager once we arrived and paid for the room in cash because they charge $13USD for credit card. We are room 27 all the way at the back; private room with two beds with a/c and ensuite.
We threw our stuff down, changed quickly and went straight for the beach. Across the street from our hostel was a hidden entrance to the beach. We walked a bit and then found a spot to plop down but the wind was brutal and the sand would hit you so hard in the face. I think Hawaii ruined beaches for me.
After a little taste of the hot sun and humidity, we ventured the streets and found a grocery store and a bank. 20000 colon is only roughly $50CAD. We also booked our one-day 9 activity tour with Tamarindo Shuttle and Tours for Monday (040615) for $130USD. We walked back to our hostel and around this time it was only 3PM but felt so much later. Our hostel is on a big plot of land and features an open kitchen and lounging area so we hung outside and had mangoes from the mango tree in the yard.
We decided to head to the beach to watch the sunset and boy it sets early – it started to set at 6PM. We stayed on the beach and watched the sun go down then wandered back onto the main street.
We ate dinner at Nari. It’s a beautiful restaurant that is built around a tree so it looked like a giant tree house with these beautiful lanterns. We both got oven cooked pizzas. I got the Hawaiian BBQ Chicken pizza ($15.20USD) and it was so tasty.
We grabbed a huge jug of water and went back to the hostel. There aren’t any lights that lead up to our room except for one very dimmed lantern. The shower is very basic and there is a little space to put your shampoo but it you knock it down then it will fall down the hole/drain. The knob to turn on the water has no temperature setting so it’s rather cold with not much of a water pressure and if you touch it with a finger or thumb it shocks you. We both fell asleep before 10PM.
The hostel has bikes we can use so around 8AM we went down to the main strip to see if the bank was open. It was not. Rode back to the hostel then rode back out when it opened at 9AM. Rode back to the bank to be told we need our passport to convert our money. Rode back to the hostel to grab our passport then rode back to the bank. We ended up getting groceries at the closer supermarket but it just wasn’t the same as the further one we went to the day before by the bank.
We got enough food to last us breakfasts, a few lunches and maybe dinner. We decided to loaf at the beach for a few hours before we had lunch. There was an alligator sighting that made people clear out of the water. We left the beach because it started to get hot. We made ham and cheese sandwiches then hung out on our porch out of the sun because it was just too intense to be out in. Around 2-230PM we decided we needed to go back out to the beach. Another sighting of the alligator cleared everyone out of the water as the alligator was swimming really close to shore.
We went back to our hostel to grab money and off we went to purchase groceries at the further grocery store. We got back, showered then used the kitchen to make dinner. We made pasta with tomato sauce, zucchini and tuna.
At our hostel the day before, we had used Skype to call and try book surf lessons as we missed the opportunity to surf in Australia. We ended up booking surf lessons with Discovery Surfing NZ (89.95NZD for 2 hours beginner)and headed to Mount Maunganui Main Beach in Taraunga. Our awesome instructor Tully took Andrew, myself and an American from Seattle named Brendan out to catch some waves. He outfitted us with wetsuits to stay warm as it was the first week of autumn then taught us the basically instructions. We practiced on land for a bit to get in the motion of popping up off the board and what foot naturally leads. My left goes naturally forward but Andrew’s was goofy (right foot first).Did you know that when you pop up, its your comfortable leg that leads. If your right foot leads; its called a goofy foot and if left; your a natural. Basically when you pop up, you want your lead foot to be where your sternum was when lying down. When you are lying down, you use your foots position at the back end of the surfboard for reference thus your weight isn’t to forward etc. For me I have to have my feet further back. I can tell you its tiring. I worked with 3 different boards. The first one I had gave me trouble trying to balance and then he switched it for a smaller one which I think was the best one for me. He then made me switch with Brendan and his longboard which was a heavier and bigger board which meant pulling it over the waves was that much more difficult.
There are technically 2 techniques Tully showed us; the easy way and the hard way. The winning combo that worked for me best (where I actually stood and rode the waves) was a combo of the 2; Get on the knees and then pop up. There were many times I nose dived in and some where while I was about to pop up my foot got tangled with the cable as well as 2 that I think would of been perfect rides my left leg didn’t charlie horse. Even Tully was riding hard and broke a board on a wave. Now I can say I’ve surfed and surfed in New Zealand to add to it. Hopefully next time I go surfing, it will be warmer.
I drove back in the direction of Rotorua for about an hour and we went zorbing. Zorbing is pretty much a giant inflatable ball that looks like a hamster ball that humans jump into. Andrew and myself both did Zydro (39NZD) where there is water in your zorb. I chose the straight a way and basically I went down a huge hill in this hamster ball with water inside. At first, I was turning all over the place then my back settled near the end. I should’ve done what Andrew did because the zig zag course made him do a few flips. I also made a friend with one of the zorb guys – Che. We did a bunch of jumping shots which are my favourite type of shots. Be prepared and bring a change of clothing as you pretty much can go zorbing in anything from a swim suit to full clothed. It was very chilly leaving. We got back to Rotorua and ate bentos. There is a large amount of Japanese and Korean restaurants in Rotorua (mainly Korean).