7 things I am going to do before I leave home for a long trip
In exactly 15 days I will be leaving my beloved Costa Rica for 6 months or maybe more. When you are lucky enough to travel and explore the world, you will always feel something every time you leave your “home” for a long period of time. I have to say that I am super excited to start our travel to the United States, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia and some other Asian countries but before I leave my home, I would like to share the top 7 things I am going to do before I leave home. Things I am going to do before I leave home (Costa Rica) 1) Be close to my family Me and my sisters Like most of the Latino families I have quite of a big family. Samantha is always surprised when I find cousins everywhere we go. So lately I have tried to spend as much time as I can with my family especially with my mother and sisters. I love them and for the last 10 years I have been the male figure of the family. My mom always says that at the end when your friends leave you, the family will be the only ones next to you. 2) Practice how to pack all I need in one case Have to figure out how to pack the helicopter with all our stuff in just a few luggages Usually Samantha and I travel around the country and we don’t need that much. A backpack will do for both us but now that I will be leaving for awhile, I have been thinking about what I will bring. My computers and tech toys take up a big space in my luggage so every time I make the list I end up throwing away half the stuff. Hopefully on the next list I will get the perfect balance. 3) Enjoy every single sunset before I go Sunset in Playas del Coco Costa Rica has beautiful sunsets and before I knew I was leaving, I was not enjoying them as much as I do now. I try to keep every second in my memory and take as many mental pictures as I can. 4) Eat as much traditional Costa Rica food that I can Gallo pinto with toast, carne, plantains and an egg Costa Ricans love their gallo pinto (traditional breakfast made with rice and beans) and I am no exception so I have been eating as much as I can. I might gain some kilos but I think it will be worth it. I don’t know how long will it take me to taste the food that I have been eating all my life. 5) Travel to a place that I have never been before Up in the hills of San Ramon – first time here and I really like it I have been living in Costa Rica most of my life and I can say that I know it very well, but before we leave we will visit some places that I have never been and I will become a tourist in my own country. Sometimes it is fun to go with people who are not Costa Rican to see my country with different eyes. 6) Beer, Cerveza, Birra, fría I love beer and I will miss my Imperials so much. I have been using this as an excuse with Samantha every time we go out. I tell her babe in two weeks I will not be able to ask for an Imperial so I will get another one just to make sure I will not miss them and to fill up on them before we go. 7) Enjoy Costa Rican lifestyle If you have ever been in Costa Rica, you should know that Costa Ricans are very friendly and happy people that normally have a very relaxing life. There is no such thing as “I am in a rush” here. If you can do something tomorrow you will probably do it tomorrow. So I have been living more like that lately because I know that after we go, I will be living and experiencing different cultures and rules. Click here to get more posts like this straight to your inbox! Besides the 7 things I just mentioned, I have been researching online about every country we will visit. I want to learn about their culture and food (especially the food). I am very excited for these upcoming adventures and I am sure Samantha and I will have a lot of fun. I hope you all can follow our adventures and feel free to share with us how you prepare for a long term trip and what things you will miss from your own home!
Touring the National Theater in San Jose, Costa Rica
The national theater in San Jose is one of the most beautiful buildings in Costa Rica with great importance to the cultural and historical aspect of the country. It opened in 1987, representing Costa Rica’s high degree of fine art and is a grand display of neo-classical architecture. The National Theater in San Jose The construction of the theater started in 1891 with the funds coming from a coffee tax since it was their main export at the time. After 7 years of hard work under the direction of an Italian engineer, the theater opened and quickly became Costa Rica’s prized cultural jewel. The inside of the theater is filled with lavish decorations and intricate detail which is so well done, it must have taken some very talented workers to make them all! I’m sure they needed to have a lot of patience to create every single little decoration. Statues and paintings depicting the Costa Rican lifestyle in the 19th century are placed carefully in the theater, creating a magnificent atmosphere. The National Symphonic Orchestra performs in the theater as well as other artists, both Costa Rican and foreigners. When there are no concerts going on, visitors can tour the building and see the splendid decor. As you walk into the seating area, you can’t help but marvel at the theater’s beauty. Sitting down in one of the chairs makes you feel so sophisticated and elegant being in such an exquisite theater. I can only imagine how amazing it is to listen to a symphony here, which I really hope to do one day. There are several floors of the theater which you can explore. The most impressive room is the foyer where there is a huge painting on the ceiling, delicately carved statues, brilliant chandeliers and gorgeous gold detailing. The big painting on the ceiling was especially interesting because there is a little secret to them. If you look at the girl in pink from the right side, walk over to the left and look up at her again, she’s looking the opposite direction from before! Same with the little kid banging the cylinders, when you walk from one side to the other, he is looking the other way as well! I love the gold decoration on the doors, I definitely wouldn’t mind having one of these in my future house! There are several paintings of banana farmers since that is also an important resource for Costa Rica. What’s funny is that the painter incorrectly showed a man carrying bananas in his arms when they actually put them on their shoulders. The national theater is definitely worth a visit to tour or for a concert. Seeing how beautifully decorated the building is and how they tie that in with the Costa Rican lifestyle gives you a deeper insight to how important the theater is to the country and what it stands for culturally and historically. Visiting the national theater: - $7 for foreigners - Cafe inside - Hour: 9 AM to 4 PM Tues through Sunday - No flash photography Location: Avenida Segunda, between Calles 3 and 5 (next to the plaza where all the pigeons are, right above the Gold Museum). San Jose. Click here to get more posts like this straight to your inbox!
Traveler interview with Alli from The Vintage Postcard
Today we’re happy to talk to Alli, an adventurous girl with a love of postcards, documenting her travels at The Vintage Postcard. She has some great personal stories to tell and yes she does love vintage postcards! Meet Alli from The Vintage Postcard Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your blog My name is Alli and I am currently living in Toronto, Canada. My blog The Vintage Postcard was born out of my love of travel, adventure, writing, and photography. How did you come up with your blog name? My blog name was created through my love of writing, postcards, and anything vintage. (I just love a postcard!) Let’s talk travel memories. What are some of your favorite and not so favorite? My very favourite travel memories include sailing around the Croatian Islands, hiking mountains in New Zealand, eating fabulous Greek cuisine in Greece, and trekking the Inca Trail in Peru. How do you combine your degree in English Literature and Creative writing with travel? I combine my education in English Literature and Creative writing with travel via storytelling through my blog. I try and describe my travels with as much imagery as possible so other’s can understand my experiences best and also enjoy my writing. I also am very open and passionate about a lot of the countries I visit and I try and write as honestly as I can Tell us what travel means to you and why it’s an essential part of your life I appreciate the many, many differences in other countries and try my best to be open and understanding. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have grown up in Canada. Traveling around the world helps me gain insight into other cultures, witnessing differences that make me appreciative of the place I call home and also differences that I admire. Share with us the moment you realized you love travel My first solo trip to Europe where I camped for 6 weeks. I was hooked, still am, and always will be! Is there one country you fell in love with in particular? Any place you could see yourself settling down? The countries that have my heart are New Zealand and Laos. Both beautiful countries with amazing locals. I could see myself settling down in NZ . . . What are your plans for the rest of 2014? I have already ventured to Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia this year. This weekend I am backpacking Algonquin Provincial Park for a few days. In two weeks I am going to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, and around Christmas time I plan on visiting NYC! Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Google + Pinterest
Learn how to bargain in Costa Rica like a Tico
If you are a foreigner in Costa Rica, you might find out that some items here are way more expensive than back at home depending on where you are from. The truth is that sometimes it’s not the merchant’s fault, import taxes are very high here. For example, if you buy an acoustic guitar on Amazon just like this one it will cost you around $140. To ship it to Costa Rica will cost you an extra 30% tax, plus a transportation fee and insurance. At the end it will cost you around $220 but if you go to a store here in Costa Rica the same guitar might cost you $260 or more. I know it sounds very expensive but merchants do need to make money. If you buy your products here you will have the warranty from the store, which is easier than shipping the item back to the US in case the product is damaged or doesn’t work well. I always think twice if I want to buy products in Costa Rican stores or online since warranty is always something to consider. Tip: Did you know that every Costa Rican citizen gets a tax exemption of $500 every 6 months? The only condition is that the item must be sent by a friend or family and not from the store. You might need to fill some paper work but most of the carrier companies will do it for you for a small fee. How to bargain in Costa Rica In Costa Rica it is common to bargain prices in stores but in order to get the best out of it, it will be better if you do it in the “tico” way. Before we start let me tell you that you can’t bargain in super markets or small grocery stores but you can do it at pretty much every medium/large size business. If you ask for a discount at most of the stores in Costa Rica, they will give you one but you have to do it in a nice way. Remember Costa Rica is a “pura vida” country and if you walk into a store and the first thing you say to the sales man is “I will give you $300 for this” when the product costs $400, it is NOT going to work. 1. Be nice with the sales person and you will see that they will be nice to you. Tell them that Costa Rica is a beautiful country and try to make a small conversation. 2. Once you know what you want to buy, ask the sales person if they have discounts going on (ask just to be polite) and most of the times they will offer you a 5% or 10%. You can say something like this in Spanish “Me podría hacer algún descuento por favor” which means “Can you give me a discount please.” I know that in some countries it’s not common but it is kind of normal here to ask for it. You can learn some useful phrases and words in Spanish for shopping first. Then the next move after you get the first 5% or 10% offer is to check the possibility to get more discounts if you pay with cash. As we all know credit cards companies charge a percentage fee for the sale and if you pay with cash, the business will be saving that fee. Also businesses love this because they might not report all the cash sales to the tax system ;). So at this point you might get another small discount which by now could be from 15% to 20%. If you want to get more for your money, add more products to your purchase and the store might give you extra discount for big purchases. I always do that and it usually works. Don´t feel bad asking for a discount I have worked in stores in the past and I know that one of the strategies for sales is to offer “special prices.” It’s common to go to a shoe store and see the sales person with a calculator in their hands, ready to tell you something like “Hi, do you like that pair? The price is 30 000 colones but with a discount you will pay 27 500 colones just for today.” I mean why offer a discount without asking? Just to make this more specific, take a look of these pictures and see the prices. In this shop the base price is 480 000 colones for a laptop. If you do separate payments, the price is 399 900 which represents a 17% discount and if you pay in cash you will pay 379 900 which is 21% less than their “base price.” Here is another example. In this example you will be saving 20% if you tell them that you are paying in cash but I bet that you can get more if you start talking to them. As you can see Costa Rica is a nice place to live but the cost of living is higher than many countries in Central America. So if you are coming for vacations or moving here you might save some money if you learn how to ask for discounts in stores. Click here to get more posts like this straight to your inbox!
Photopost of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua – A Colorful Little Beach Town
San Juan del Sur is a fun little beach town in Nicaragua and it’s the one I always go to when I have to renew my tourist visa. Crossing the border is something all tourists need to do if they plan to be in the country for more than 90 days so I just head on over to Penas Blancas and spend some time in Costa Rica’s neighbor to the north. The last few times I’ve gone to San Juan, we didn’t do much besides grab a drink and walk around.This time, I took my camera with me to take some shots of this cute colorful town. It’s low season right now so the beach was fairly empty, there weren’t too many people in town but you can still see trucks full of surfers on the street corners and tourists with giant backpacks walking around here and there. San Juan del Sur is a popular destination for backpackers since it’s so cheap, there are a ton of other like minded souls and there’s a good amount of things to do in the area. It’s not too touristic to the point it makes you think that you’re not even in Nicaragua so there is a good mix of locals and foreigners. You can find a great variety of delicious food, lots of great surfing beaches nearby and it’s fairly easy to meet new people from all over the world. If you’re thinking about visiting Nicaragua and not sure where to go, San Juan is a great place for first time visitors. Just make sure you don’t tell them pura vida! Photo post of San Juan del Sur Click here to get more posts like this straight to your inbox!