What about a little “Pura Vida!”?

I read about Manuel Antonio Park in Costa Rica and I wanted to go so badly! But how could I get from the Airport to the park? I did my homework and started reading blogs, TripAdvisor etc. and it was hard to find information, I only read comments about taking a shuttle $80 per person, renting a car (I didn’t even read how much this cost), a private driver (this was not an option), so I went ahead and searched the local buses and this is how I got there =D

From Juan Santamaría International Airport to Manuel Antonio:

Once I arrived at the airport and had all my luggage with me, I took an Uber from SJO to the Tracopa Bus Station in San Jose, it is about 25-30 min away. I paid around $11 – $12 USD for the trip.

At Tracopa I bought a direct bus ticket from San Jose to Manuel Antonio($9 USD one way), it takes around 3 hours and 30 min to get there. The bus driver was kind enough to stop right outside my hostel (Plinio Hostel) in Manuel Antonio, it was pretty easy.

From Manuel Antonio to Juan Santamaria International Airport:

I took a $0.60 cents bus to Quepos town (7-10 min away from Manuel Antonio) and it stops at the Tracopa bus station in Quepos, I bought a direct bus ticket from Quepos to San Jose (another 3 hours and 30 min) and it stops at the Tracopa Bus Station in San Jose.

From there I took another Uber to the Airport ($11-12 USD) and voilà, done 🙂

Here is the link for the Tracopa buses in case you want to check out the schedules:

http://tracopacr.com/es/index_es.aspx

You can easily convert USD to Costa Rican colones with an app or in google.

Now, let’s get to the fun part, where did I stay?

I booked my hostel through HostelWorld App, I always use this app I recommend it a lot. I stayed at Plinio Hostel, it looks like a big tree house, it’s a pretty cool concept. I paid $45 the night for a private room for two (breakfast included – super plus), it had hot water and a king size bed, I loved this place, totally worth it. The bus that takes you to the beaches and park stops right in front of the hostel and it costs 60 cents, it’s a 5 min ride.

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The entrance fee at the Park is $16, it opens at 7am and it closes at 4pm. Make sure you bring lots of water and some snacks to spend the day since they don’t sell anything inside.

We walked for a couple hours to different viewpoints, and beaches, hoping to see some sloths. The park is absolutely beautiful, breathtaking!

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This is Manuel Antonio beach inside the park, there are other beaches inside but this is the main one, it can get crowded so make sure you get a good sitting spot under a tree.

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Beware of the wildlife, racoons and monkeys can steal your bags or your food, make sure you don’t feed them.

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I absolutely enjoyed our day at the park and our stay at Manuel Antonio overall. We spent a day at the public beach as well, it is the Espadilla beach. The bus stops right in front of it. You can rent a canopy and chairs for the whole day at a price of $20 (even if you find cheap food, be ready, Costa Rica is the Switzerland of Central America, very expensive).

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Food is affordable, we ate “casados” which is a local dish, beans, rice, plantain, salad and the protein you chose (chicken, beef, fish) for $8 to $10 depending on where you eat.

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If you are thinking about a trip where you can combine wildlife and relax on the beach, this is it. If I could, I would pack my bags and go again haha! I recommend this destination, I had an amazing time.

I almost forgot! Yes we did see a sloth! This is a three-toed Sloth 🙂

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We also spent some days in San Jose but I will leave that for another day =) !!

I hope you find this information useful and I wish you an amazing trip!

See you on the next issue of Where On Earth Should We Go Now?

Love,

Kath.

“Tunqueando” in El Salvador

Hi everyone! I hope you are doing great and ready to read some interesting stuff about me going around taking amateur pictures for you to check out =)!!

Today we will learn a bit about El Tunco Beach.

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Have you ever heard about “El Tunco Beach”? El Tunco means: The Pig, yes oink oink, porky, piggy, piglet etc haha! El Tunco is a beeeaautiful beach located in La Libertad, El Salvador (Central America), it’s name was given for this famous rock, which locals say it looks like a pig lying on his back.

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This beach is very well known for the amazing waves you can surf! Pro surfers come every year to have fun and for the Surfing Championships that take place here. Of course, if you are not a pro but feel like learning a new sport, you can rent a surfboard and get a class for $15 the hour.

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The place has a looot of hostels and hotels to choose from, rooms starting from $15 the night at The Carp House, Posada Luna $40, Tunco Lodge $65, Papaya’s Lodge $90, Roca Sunzal $97 and believe me, there are probably 20 other places to check from with prices ranging from $20 to $90, it all depends on your budget.

You will find a lot of diversity here, people from all over the world come to get a good tan and enjoy a cool vibe. If you’re looking for a place to catch some drinks, enjoy nightlife with awesome parties, eat good food, catch some waves, great music and meet fun people, THIS is the place.

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You can get some beers at Monkey Lala, La Guitarra, Tekuanikal, La Bocana, Blu Bar and another dozen bars. You can enjoy great beach views from some of these places.

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What’s the budget? Yes, if you get a private room for two $40, beers $1.50 – $2, food: it all depends if you want cocteles, ceviche, or carne asada, from $9 to $12 BUT if you want a burger, burrito or pupusas, you can have lunch/dinner for $3 – 7.

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I love this place, blocks and blocks of hostels, bars, shops (clothe, souvenirs, etc.), restaurants… it is very secure since a lot of people (Salvadorans and travelers from all over the world) visit this beach. Lovey-Doveys or nay?

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I’ll definitely be coming back, the vibe is good and getting tanned is a mission. What do you think?

See you on the next issue of Where On Earth Should We Go Now?

Love,

Kath.

Expensive Europe?

If you think you need to have thousands and thousands of dollars to travel to Europe, you’re wrong. I am not going to lie and tell you “you can travel with $100!”or scam you with things like “click here to find out how to travel for free”, of course it all depends on your budget, so let’s start there: Low budget. Please notice, I KNOW other people might spend less than what I will tell you in the next paragraphs but hey, it all depends on your choices on how to travel and how comfortable you are with the different options provided.

I live in El Salvador, my flight with Lufthansa was $560 round trip from SAL to FRA (Frankfurt), so this can definitely vary depending on where you live. Layovers? Yes, one in SJO (San Jose, Costa Rica) of one hour and then the second layover in Panama City (7 hours), and from PTY straight to FRA (11 hours).

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Once in Frankfurt we (I traveled with a friend – Luis) took a train from the airport to the main station (Hauptbahnhof) and walked to the hostel. So here is the cool part, first stop: Frankfurt, Germany.

  • Frankfurt Hostel: it was around $24 the night and it included breakfast AND dinner, they serve a bomb ass pasta starting at 7pm. Bathrooms are clean but the downside is that you never know with whom you’ll have to share the room with and beds are not so comfortable. However, we saved a lot of money by eating at the hostel for breakfast and dinner.

Frankfurt is a small city, you can walk from the Main Station to Römer, no need to take the train, Uber or a Cab. IMG_0705

Depending on your budget, you can have a meal around Römer or restaurants starting at 5-10 euros or you can get a Currywurst (sausages and fries) for about 5 as well. We went to the zoo and we paid 12 euros for the entrance fee. We totally enjoyed our stay in this lovely city. Next stop: Paris, France.

We bought Flixbus tickets $45 each but we missed the bus 😦 we went to the wrong station, bummer. However, there’s this awesome app called “Blah Blah Car” and we reserved two seats for $35 each 😀 I forgot the drivers name but he is from Tunisia, great talk about diversity and culture, super polite guy, the car was a brand new Merdeces Benz and the ride was absolutely smooth.

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Once in Paris we took a train to the hostel:

  • Vintage Gare du nord: around $37 the night. This hostel does not include breakfast but they serve croissants and other type of pastry, coffee and tea all day. We had the room to ourselves, the bathroom was really clean and it had a terrace with a nice view. Just a couple blocks away from the Gare du nord train station, very convenient. We found a gem near the hostel, a french restaurant that has this promotion of two large pizzas for 10 euros, I forgot the name tho :(. Train from Gare Du Nord to Champs-Elysees was around $3 one way and walking around is for free so pretty cool. We did the line to enter the Louvre Museum, it didn’t take that long, probably 30-35 min and we paid 16 euros for the entrance, no need to pay this crazy fees of $40-$50 and “skip the line” scams.

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We also visited Tour Eiffel, we did the line and bought the stairs tickets for 8 euros. No need to spend extra money. All worth it, amazing views, great weather, beautiful Paris. So we ate a lot of pizzas, croissants and lots of water. Next stop: Geneva, Switzerland.

Our flight from Paris to Geneva was around $70 with Easyjet (we bought all our flights through the CheapOAir app) pretty chill and smooth flight, oh I almost forgot; we were only traveling with a small backpack and a carry on to avoid extra fees. From the airport we took a train to the city, it was around 12 swiss francs. Once in the city we did not have to spend a dime in transportation since the hostel gave us a card that we could use during our stay to move around in boats, trains, trams and buses.

  • Geneva Hostel: It was around $37 the night, includes breakfast. This was the best breakfast of them all, very complete and a lot of choices to pick from. Very well located, just a couple blocks from the main train station and very close to the lake. The beds were ok and it has the most secure lockers but the bathrooms were kind of dirty.

So in terms of location and transportation we were covered, the city is breath taking and I swear everything is beautiful in here, people are very polite and the city is super clean and a bonus: free, cold, delicious tap water.

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We went to the United Nations, we saw the Broken Chair, we visited the Ariana museum (free entrance) and walked around the Vieille-Ville (old town), we sat on the world’s longest wooden bench lol. Everything was so beautiful and clean.

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But as you might know, it is quite expensive. A regular meal from McDonalds that you would buy for $5-6, here is $13-15. Yes. Now, if you go to a restaurant be prepared to spend some good money. If you go to a market you can buy a good size sandwich for 5-6 swiss francs. Life savers. Next stop: Rome.

Our flight from Geneva to Rome was $35 with Alitalia, super comfortable seats, very polite crew, another smooth flight. Once in Rome, we took a train to our destination, it was around 15 euros. From the train station we walked a couple blocks to get to the hostel.

  • Zen House: This was the best choice. We booked a room just for us two, we paid $50 the night and it included breakfast. It had a king size bed, a desk and a sofa. Giacomo, the owner, actually rents two apartments therefore you won’t find a crowded building or common spaces. Very quiet area and very clean. The bathroom was big and clean. Giacomo helps you with all your questions. Breakfast was delicious and careful, the coffee is STRONG, remember, you are in Italy now.

We traveled around by bus, 24 euros for the weekly ticket and you can hop on/hop off as many times as you desire. Very easy system. Almost all turistic places in Rome are for free, Piazza Venezia, Piazza di Spagna, Fontana Di Trevi, Fontana della Barcaccia, The Pantheon, and you can see the Roman Forum from Piazza Venezia.

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Again, we did the line to enter the Colosseum (waited around 20 min), we paid 8 euros for the ticket and it included the entrance to the Forum. We visited the Vatican, I am not going to lie, the line here was surreal, we waited almost 2 hours but there is no fee to enter St. Peter’s Basilica. You only pay a fee of 15 euros for the Museums and Sistine Chapel.

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We ate a lot of pizza, gelato, pastry and more pizza. BEST PIZZA EVER. We would spend around 3-4 euros per meal and you can also drink tap water that you will find all over the city. I wish I could tell you all the places that we visited in each city and describe them but you know, by now I’ve written 1205 words. Next stop: Brussels, Belgium.

Our flight from Rome to Brussels was $65 with Ryan Air, I do not recommend this airline, they wanted to charge 40 euros for my carry on just because it looked “too big” even tho it did comply with measurements, I proved my point when the carry on did fit the “bag sizer” so I did not have to pay anything but geez, that was close.

  • Hello Hostel Brussels: $29 the night and it includes breakfast. We had the room to ourselves again, beds are not so comfy but do the job. Bathrooms are very clean, showers are a nightmare, too small and no space to hang your clothe. They store your lugagge but anyone can enter the storage room so it’s not that safe. Very well located, one block away from the train station.

Train is about 1,50 each trip but Brussels is a small city as well so you can actually walk around. We did not go to museums in Brussels but did join a free tour around the city. We visited the Grand-Place, we saw the Manneken Pis and walked around the city all day.

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Food was affordable, you can get a decent meal for 6-8 euros. Don’t forget to buy chocolates at Leonidas! Delicious.

From Brussels we took a train back to Frankfurt, it was $45 and it took us around 6-7 hours to get there.

That was the last stop, we traveled to 5 countries in 17 days. Our budget: $2,400 – for everything. Flights, buses, trains, hostels, tickets to museums etc, food and souvenirs.

This was our adventure, we had an amazing time, we enjoyed every minute of it and we are getting ready for the next one!

I apologize in advanced for aaaall the misspellings, my native language is Spanish but I am doing my best =) !!

See you on the next issue of, where on Earth should we go now?

Love,

Kath.