Soul needs a spiritual place

Traveling with a child has made us think more of home comforts during this trip to Costa Rica. Guided by the fact that a rested child is a happy, tantrum-free child, I looked for accommodations that would not dent my wallet and at the same time would give us all the amenities we needed. Eco Villas Arenal gave us exactly that, nothing more, nothing less.

We stayed in a 4 unit villa, that's the entrance to our room on the first floor. This little river/brook babbled away all night and was such a relaxing way to fall asleep. There were cute little trails behind our unit that we explored in the afternoons.

Pretty individual little villas, beautiful lawns and well groomed gardens, parking right in front of your door...everything well thought. 

The hotel has included breakfast every morning starting at 7am, a huge blessing. Most of our tours started around 7.30am so this timing worked perfectly for us. The dining room is open-air (see below photo) with pretty curtains fluttering in the breeze. They also serve a fixed menu for lunch and dinner however we preferred to eat at different restaurants instead of here. 

Nadia enjoyed beans, eggs and milk every morning :-)

There also was a outdoor swimming pool that we used one afternoon. 

The hotel is located 2 km north of the center of La Fortuna surrounded by lush vegetation. We had free Wifi, which worked great as long as you were able to get an IP address and lock it down :-)

Everything was an easy drive away, the waterfalls, the base of the volcano, canoe safaris etc. 

Lastly, look at that view (Mt. Arenal photo below). Imagine eating breakfast every morning, taking a swim with that in the background...heavenly.

Here is their website, if you are considering a trip to Costa Rica http://www.ecoarenal.com.

Costa Rica - Alajuela and Doka Estates

Having been told nothing but wonderful things about Costa Rica for years, we finally made plans to go. This being Nadia's first international vacation, other than India...Costa Rica (Or as Nadia calls it “CostaRi”) offered the perfect spot for an escape from Milwaukee’s winter…warm weather, lovely vistas, exotic wildlife. Traveling from February 14th through the 21st, we spent time at San Jose, Alajuela, Doka Estates, San Ramon, La Fortuna and Monteverde.

We spent Valentine’s day night at Wyndham in San Jose, surrounded by couples with roses. We had a nice dinner at the hotel and turned in eary.

Next morning, we had an awesome breakfast at Wyndham. Tropical fruits, warm eggs and fresh coffee which our hostess made for us at our table…delicious.

Cofee maker stand 

Soon after, we checked out of the hotel and started driving towards Alajuela (or so we thought). After driving 10kms in the wrong direction we quickly realized our mistake and rectified it. We reached Alajuela within an hour on a Sunday morning. The town center was filled with people relaxing, making their way to Sunday church and some other local folks selling their wares. We spent some time in the central area with Nadia playing with bubbles and just enjoying the fresh air.

We then walked around the little town surrounded by mountains and soon after left for Doka Estates. We were so lucky to be welcomed at Doka Estates by this gorgeous rainbow atop the rolling hills.

Doka Estates is famous for the coffee tours. We reached around noon, hungry and ready for lunch. We booked the 1.30pm tour and stopped for lunch at their restaurant. A simple lunch of rice, beans and chicken along with the most refreshing mango juice and we were ready for the coffee tour. 

Fresh Mango juice 

Fresh Mango juice 

Doka Estate coffee is one of Costa Rica's highest quality coffees. Located on the fertile slopes of the Alajuela Poas Volcano, the rich soil and the ideal altitude and climate have made the Santa Eduviges farm famous because of it's excellent coffee.  The Vargas coffee growing family also carry a brand - Cafe Tres Generaciones. From the seed to the cup, the Coffee tour pretty much taught us everything one needs to know about how coffee is grown and made.

Our guide showed us the coffee plants, as well as talked about the local history and geography of coffee production. We then visited the processing plant, which is very old and was, in fact, declared to be an Architectural Heritage for Humanity site in 2003. Here we observed the process of de-pulping and fermenting the grains, which readies them to be peeled and then exported or roasted in the country. Finally, we visited the roasting plant Café Tres Generaciones and sampled the eight different blends made at Doka Estate.

We bought coffee, chocolates and a coffee maker wooden stand. I used it to make coffee this weekend and it was a delightful experience, bringing a bit of Costa Rica home to us.