Costa Rica Continued

The second day of my Costa Rica adventure with Under30Experiences included more stunning views, a new favorite spot in town and yet another coastal sunset. We began our day with a pretty tough hike through the rainforest. Though the steep and rocky path wasn’t easy to climb, we were definitely rewarded with turquoise waters, a hidden beach, and beautiful foliage along the way.

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After our hike and a quick dip in the pool to cool off our group headed to one of my favorite spots on the trip, Café Milagro. Not only do they make their own premium, single origin, estate grown, micro milled coffees (I was lucky all the coffee I bought fit in my luggage!), they have the BEST fish tacos. I started things off with a double espresso for that little afternoon pick me up and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.SauvignonBlue-CostaRica-750-3

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After lunch we headed into Quepos where we toured the waterways on a local boat and caught the most beautiful rainbow over the river. Just in time we stopped at on land to catch our 3rd colorful ocean sunset of the trip.

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Costa Rica- Manuel Antonio National Park

I had no idea where we were staying in Costa Rica until maybe a day before my flight, not even joking! People thought I was a little crazy, some said I would go missing, but in reality I was too busy keeping up with work in the days leading up to the trip to go over the exact itinerary. Traveling with Under30Experiences was also amazing because I didn’t have to worry about any accommodations or transportation ahead of time. They took care of everything for you so you can almost just show up in San Jose ready to go.

We arrived to our new home at night, so it wasn’t until the next morning that I could really take in the scenery of where we would be staying. Villas Mymosa was such a wonderful place to spend our time in Costa Rica! The plants surrounding you are beautiful (like almost all places in the area), the pool felt amazing after some long uphill hiking, and the Mymositos outside Restaurant and Bar was the perfect place for us travelers to spend time getting to know each other more over breakfast, dinner and drinks.

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Our villas were about 2.5 miles down the road from Manuel Antonio National Park, so we hopped on the city bus and headed that way after breakfast. Whenever I travel I am drawn to a more local experience than a lavish resort, so exchanging my dollars for colones to pay for a bus ride was something I really enjoyed… even if our bus ride back consisted of being completed smashed in between people, while a couple very awkwardly exchanged aggressive gestures towards each other in the seat near us. Gotta love the little things, right!?

We arrived at Playa de Manuel Antonio and walked to the park entrance where we were greeted again with some coco locos. The group chose  to stay hydrated for our hike instead of the rum filled coconuts  (look how responsible we are!), and made our way through a gorgeous hike.
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Playas Gemelas was our first stop off the trail . The turquoise blue water combined with the black rocky shoreline and green foliage was stunning. Following a  30 minute photo shoot on the largest rock area (hello, we all had to get our selfies in with no one in the background… with 15 people that takes time!) we made our way back to the path.SauvignonBlue-CostaRica-23 SauvignonBlue-CostaRica-24

Another thing on my check list for this Costa Rica experience was seeing some wild life, and we definitely lucked out big time during our hike! At one point an entire group of capuchin monkeys crossed our path so close you could reach out and touch them if you really wanted (and if they didn’t attach to your arm when you did). Along with the capuchin monkeys, we were fortunate to also spot the howler monkeys and squirrel monkeys, but they typically keep their distance from hikers.

Our path then led to a beautiful lookout on Playa Puerto Escondido, a slightly tough uphill walk back up but totally worth the view.
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On our way back to the entrance of the park we came across the cutest smiley faced slow poke– a sloth. That little guy was maybe 8 feet from our path and he was so fun to watch in slow motion.

After exiting the park we walked up the road past some colorful bohemian little shops (always my fav!) and stopped at El Sol for lunch and to cool off from the humidity.
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Another home run for the restaurant picking by Under30Experiences by choosing lunch at El Sol ! My frozen passionfruit margarita cooled me right down from our hike and was complimented with some delicious tacos de pescado. El Sol is definitely a place I would stop on my next trip our to Manuel Antonio. Looking around the table there were so many other amazing dishes I’d like to try. After lunch we walked across the street to the the beach where we spent the rest of our day.
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Some of the group took surf lessons while a few of us ladies hung back and enjoyed some relaxing beach time (well, despite that one wave that completely took me under and almost took my swimsuit with it, eeeekkk). We stayed oceanside long enough to see yet another bright Central American sunset.

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Day 1 came to a close with Ladies Night up the road from our villas. When almost your entire travel group is made up of girls, Ladies Night is a great perk! A few vodka sodas and pool games later we ended the night with a life-size Jenga game where we discovered this U30X sticker from a previous travel group (shout out to the Nov 2015 group!).
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Next up for Costa Rica on SB– hidden beaches, local places, boat rides & more!

Costa Rica, Aren’t You Pretty

On Thursday December 10th, I arrived at the San Jose Airport in Costa Rica to begin my Central American adventure with an amazing travel group for young adults called Under30Experiences. This was my first group trip with total strangers and I absolutely loved it! Others came with friends or significant others, but just like the other half of the group I was set on doing this completely solo. I think when you go alone to something like this you’re more likely to step outside your comfort zone a little and get to know others. Not only was I looking forward to experiencing an amazing new country, but also connecting with people from all different places and backgrounds.

We introduced ourselves outside the airport, packed up the van, and headed out to our first stop of the day- cocolocos and crocodiles!
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Something I liked about Costa Rica right away was all the little random shops on the side of the road, especially the ones serving coco locos ;-). I’m slightly addicted to coconut water already, so getting to drink right out of the coconut itself and get a little rum buzz while doing so was a great way to start the trip.

Coco locos in hand we walked just down the road to the Tarcoles Bridge to checkout some huge crocodiles and take in our first out-of-van views of the area.
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Next stop was Playa Hermosa, whose name literally means “Beautiful Beach”. The black sands of Playa Hermosa were so unique and almost made the ocean waves and sunsetting sky pop more than usual. To say we enjoyed a “pretty” sunset would be an understatement, it was absolutely gorgeous. SauvignonBlue-CostaRica-5 SauvignonBlue-CostaRica-7 SauvignonBlue-CostaRica-8 SauvignonBlue-CostaRica-9

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After watching the colors turn from bright blues to warm orange and pink we continued taking in the view over dinner at Bowie’s Point. Another benefit of traveling with Under30Experiences was all of our dinners were included in what we already paid for the trip! This made things even easier for all of us travelers, and I enjoyed my first taste of Costa Rica with a Pilsen beer and Tuna Poki. Perfectly ripe avocado pieces mixed with super fresh local tuna over rice, it’s making me hungry just thinking about that dinner!SauvignonBlue-CostaRica-12 SauvignonBlue-CostaRica-13

The group then packed back in our van and drove through Quepos towards Manuel Antonio to our home for the next few days. After settling into our rooms a few of us grabbed a bottle of wine and enjoyed a glass and conversation with our toes in the pool.

Next Up: Day 2 of hiking, monkeys, beaches and ladies night, stay tuned!

Laguna Lovin’ & Cali Goodbyes…. For Now

August 25, 2014– The last full day of my newly single lady trip out to the west coast and I wanted to make the most of it! I was spending the day with my aunt… okay technically she isn’t my aunt at all, but to keep it simple I’m going to go with that. Aunt, friend, whatever… she’s someone who’s known me since birth.

I had to also drop my rental car off that morning so she met me at the airport. I was so sad to give back my favorite travel companion for the past week. Our daily trips to In-N-Out, the drive up the coast through Long Beach to Santa Barbara, cruising along the California hills blasting music, and all the while pretending it was mine. It was the perfect ride for this trip, and I was sad to turn in the keys! I may or may not have done some research about purchasing one of these guys when I returned home, but that’s as far as that idea went… for now.

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After dropping off the car we headed to Laguna Beach for the day. Back in high school when the reality show Laguna Beach was on TV, I remember my mom commenting on who stupid all their annoying drama was (agreed), but she always liked watching the TV show intro. Apparently the beach clips reminded her of growing up and her regular trips with friends from Long Beach to Laguna. She would tell me how she recognized the location shots and how she loved going there all the time as a teenager. I was excited to visit this gorgeous place for the first time, but also to visit another city that is indirectly tied to my past.

We parked the car and decided to start the day by taking a long walk along the water, taking in the endless views along the way. I love the rocky coast of Laguna and all the surrounding foliage. It feels much more natural than other nearby beaches I’d been to over the past few days.

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SauvignonBlue-LagunaBeach-4After our oceanside stroll we stopped for some super fresh quac and cosmos, still with that beautiful beach view. Over the next hour we sipped cocktails and talked about life, relationships, and future goals. I love how the older you get the less age matters in personal relationships. There I was, sitting with someone who is the same age as my parents and whose son is also my age, relating to each other and sharing stories and feelings as friends more than anything else. There were lots of laughs, a few tears, but most of all we cherished that time spent together in such a beautiful place. Over the next few hours we moseyed around through the streets, stopped in art galleries and cute little crafty stores, and continued to enjoy the day.

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A few hours later we found ourselves at this beachfront restaurant right as the sun was setting. We decided to grab another drink and some dinner to watch the sun go down, making it the perfect ending to not only an incredible day, but I week I will never forget.

As I watched the sky and its reflection on the water change over time, I thought about the journey I went through that week and the time leading up to it. What began as kind an escape from the reality of a recent sudden break-up had turned into a little bit of self discovery, and got me so excited for all the new possibilities in front of me. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the negative/sad feelings when life throws you curve balls and doesn’t take the direction you planned. I’ve heard stories from some of my girlfriends about just crying for weeks, even months after a breakup, not being about to see the bright side or move on for a long time. I am very thankful to know things always get better… and a lot of the time turn out better than you could have ever planned yourself.  With the bad comes something awesome around the corner, and sometimes you have to create that awesome for yourself instead of waiting around for it.

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