Paste your Google Webmaster Tools verification code here
Adventures for All

Category Archives: Travel

Planes, trains, automobiles, ships, bicycles and more.

What’s Costa Rica Like?

What's Costa Rica like?

Sure, lots of travelers have been to Costa Rica. But that doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy the Original Canopy Tour any less.

You can tell someone is an obnoxiously world-weary hipster traveler if you ask “What’s Costa Rica like?” and the answer starts with a sigh. And then a sneer, and then the words “Costa Rica is so … Americanized.

I’ve heard this answer countless times, and I find it just as myopic now as I did the first time.

Yes, Costa Rica has McDonald’s and common fast-food chains. But show me just one place in the United States where a jackhammer of a road like the one from Lake Arenal to Monteverde serves a major destination for travelers. Show me a major metro-area mall where guards tote shotguns. Show me a hotel in a capital city that’s surrounded by razor wire.

OK, then.

What's Costa Rica like?

Meet a coati in Costa Rica.

What’s Costa Rica Like?

I might not have made Costa Rica sound very nice right then. It definitely doesn’t sound like the United States. And it’s not.

It’s more laid back, more laissez faire. During my trip, the chaotic traffic through me off. Now that I’ve been to Vietnam, I might be a bit more comfortable with it.

Here’s what you can expect: tasty food, beautiful scenery and people who are genuinely friendly, even those not affiliated with the tourism industry. People there really do say “pura vida” to greet each other. It’s not some travel magazine exaggeration. One traveler friend described Costa Ricans, aka Ticos, as the Canadians of Latin America.

What's Costa Rica Like?

Looks at these little scamps hanging out in Manuel Antonia, Costa Rica!

Living Pura Vida

Here’s a great example of what Costa Rica is like: I was a few hours outside San Jose visiting La Paz Waterfall Gardens. And shit … I missed the last bus back. Well, an employee from the gardens noticed, and offered me a ride back toward San Jose, where he lives in a different neighborhood. We had a pleasant ride back, chatting the whole way about all that’s good and bad about life in Costa Rica. When he dropped me off at a convenient spot, I offered him some gas money. He wouldn’t take a dime from me. He’s still one of the all-time nice guys I’ve met in my travels. (If you go to La Paz Waterfall Gardens and see someone named Roy, that’s him. And if Cassador the cat is still around, give him a scratch between the ears. Cassador, that is. Not Roy.)

What's Costa Rica Like?

Check out the La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Advice for Your Costa Rica Adventure

Fly anywhere you can with one of the local airlines. Four hours in a bus on bumpy roads equals 15 minutes aloft in a Nature Air Twin Otter. The views are spectacular, and that’s time you add to your valuable-beyond-money vacation. It is worth every penny you spend (especially since you won’t be holding in a giant pee after a few hours).

And look, there are tons of blogs out there that will give you Top 10 Most Awesome lists about everything in Costa Rica. They’ll tell you what to add to your – excuse me while a barf just a little from cliche-induced nausea – “bucket list.” So I won’t dive too far into that.

What's Costa Rica like?

Go to Monteverde if you like coffee, yoga and easy access to solitude. Just prepare for a rough road.

I’ll just say the volcano-philes like me will love Costa Rica. So will people who love zip lines, coffee, simple-but-hearty food and soccer rivalries; if you can schedule your trip around Saprissa versus Alajuela, you will have a ton of fun basking in soccer madness. The country is also brilliant-green enough to blind someone from a desert environment.

What's Costa Rica like?

One of the residents of the La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Costa Rica in a Word: Aware

The powers that be in Costa Rica know what they have on their hands: scenery, scenery, scenery. The country has protected 25 percent of its land area, and is still working to improve.

Just ignore the hipster travelers and their scorn. Go to Costa Rica and have fun, even if you aren’t going before it was cool. Because it still is. Honestly.

Airline Employees Mostly Overlooked and Underrated

There’s a day/week/month honoring just about everything these days … donuts, India Pale Ale, truck drivers, pie – you name it. Guess who doesn’t have one? Airline employees. Pilots, flight attendants, mechanics and all the other people who do nothing but fly you safely at 35,000 feet for fares that are relatively peanuts next toContinue Reading

What’s Brazil Like?

If you’re wondering “What’s Brazil like?”, I have a small part of your answer. It’s a big country, and I was only in one city – Curitiba – for seven days. But I’ll give you some ideas for at least a segment of any future trip to Brazil. Brazil in a Word: Stylish From theContinue Reading

Re-Thinking Foreign Language Studies in the U.S.

U.S. schools need to get better at foreign language studies. Sure, you can find hundreds of online articles that say A) Americans are even worse at foreign languages than we realize or B) it’s not as bad as everyone says. Here’s the reality: When I run into someone from Germany, the Netherlands or Norway, they speakContinue Reading

What’s Australia Like?

I mark 2005 as the true beginning of my international travel experience. Since then, the way I view travel has changed as I’ve seen and done more. This post marks the first in a series that collects and compares what I’ve learned. Let’s get it started with “What’s Australia Like?”, a look at what youContinue Reading

Great Backpacking Destination: Iceland

Iceland is made for backpacking. It has a wealth of trails that are supported by smart amenities and relatively easy to access. The country has embraced the backpacker, with plenty of touring groups, sports shops and hostels. Here are some other reasons why it’s a great backpacking destination. Incredible Scenery Icelanders realize what makes the countryContinue Reading

World’s Best Museums: My Top 5

You know I’m not really going to tell you that my Top 5 list is the sole authority on the world’s best museums. This is just a snapshot of what I like … and I want to hear your responses. To compile my list, I considered a few factors: Weirdness, content and different perspectives just toContinue Reading

Visiting Filming Locations Around the World

Years ago, I got hooked on A Game of Thrones. I was surprised to see HBO take the ambitious step of turning A Game of Thrones into a series – and doing a pretty good job of it too. Sure, some of my favorite background characters didn’t make the cut; a few situations changed too.Continue Reading

Overlooked Oregon – Places Beyond the Hype

Tell someone you’re going to Portland, and you’ll get two reactions: “Ugh, why are you going there?” This is usually people from cities like Chicago or New York who can’t fathom that there’s actually cool stuff in other places. “Powell’s! VooDoo Donuts! Rogue Brewery!” All great, but … all plummeting toward cliché status. I madeContinue Reading

Oregon Blimp Hangar Ranks Among Coolest Aviation Museums

m4s0n501 It never fails to amaze me how many aviation museums I can stumble across. My latest one is the Tillamook Air Museum in Oregon. To be honest, I didn’t even plan to stop. I’ve seen more aviation museums than I can remember. And the Tillamook Air Museum doesn’t exactly have a huge collection. MyContinue Reading