Monday, January 3, 2011

Manuel Antonio

After losing track of time chilling out in Montezuma we made our way to Manuel Antonio. With not inconsistent internet connections and many "no availability" emails from places we checked out in Manuel Antonio...we set out wondering if we'd get a place at New Years as apparently this is the Beverly Hills of Costa Rica and really hard to find anything reasonable.
We found a Beach Front place that looked beautiful on the website and so aimed to land there and see if they had any rooms.
We actually did the the tourist thing this time and booked a direct "gringo" service - private bus from Montezuma to Manuel Antonio. It was super nice for a change and met some really cool people from Montreal.
We are continually amazed at how clean Costa Rica is. They really are into preserving the environment here!
We landed in good time near the village of Manuel Antonio on the coast...and it is magnificent!
The beach front hotel had a room and within 5 minutes we realized why...the manager is certifiably nuts, but thought since it was right on the beach, half reasonable for the area, we'd just try to stay out of her way and chill!
She sure kept us entertained just the same!!!
Anyway, Manuel Antonio is quite similar to America with all the amenities and gringoes, so it was nice to be on the beach away from the commotion with New Years even if it meant putting up with Loco Woman!
We're well rested and ready to come back and face the world. We've had a grand time catching up on three years of lost sleep!
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010


We finally got a bus from Puerto Viejo to San Jose for the night en route to Montezuma. Andrew ate some bad food at our hostel in San Jose and spent a restless night visiting the nearby bathroom...a startling encounter with some naked europeans at 2am woke him up out of a daze though! haha
We got to the bus station just after 5am (so much for sleeping in) in hopes of catching the bus to the beach. The same Europeans were also waiting at the station ordering everyone around trying to form a line up for the bus, but as thëy soon found out, it just made people rush and elbow all the more when the bus finally got there. Ticos don´t like the gringoes telling them what to do in their country!!
Anyway we did manage to get a seat which was fortunate as many had to stand for the 6 hour trip. We crossed on a ferry and found our much sought after sunshine!!!
Montezuma seems to be an over priced hippy town where their charging steep prices for ¨love¨to be added to the food. But so far it´s a nice chill out town. The beaches up the coast are un crowded and beautiful. Andrew got sucked in on the ¨cloudy¨day and got burnt to a crisp, so he´s nursing some tender skin...alas it meant a day of exploring today and we headed up to Mal Pais to check out the surf there. As we were waiting for the bus, we saw the yellow head monkeys playing around and one little guy peeled his banana and had a yummy snack! So cute (and cliche!)
We were sorely disappointed with the beach at Mal Pais..or should I say lack of it. Santa Teresa sported a nicer sandy part with some surfable waves, but we were told Mal Pais was the place to be...hmmm...we think Mal Pais must be the whole region. Nonetheless we had some amazing smoothies and a good 7 km walk in the heat of the day. It´seems to be hottest in the mornings down here with it cooling off with clouds around 1pmish.
Costa Rica is really similar to Panama and I would say Guatemala to an extent too. Very lush and green. Have to say that the Costa Ricans seem much more happy for the Tourism...maybe it´s because they charge an arm and leg, so they´re not worrying about ¨hawking¨as much. It is also much cleaner as a result of Tourism being the main industry here and their dedication to preserving their earth space.
All in all we have found the people to be happy and honest in the general sense, which makes it a dream to travel through.
Anyway we are planning to chill here in Montezuma for a few more days and then make our way over to Manuel Antonio.
Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


We woke up to rain again and were glad to hit the boat and up to Costa Rica. So as always, we seem to find adventure. We missed the one bus that would take us all the way to San Jose. When we got to the border crossing from Panama side, we were told to just walk across the rickety bridge to Costa Rica. It's a little sketch with big trucks leaving crossing with all the people...pressing up against some wire, hope, the trucks don't run over the feet and on we go. The line up to Immigration was long and it was seriously hot and humid from all the rain. Once up to immigration (after copius amounts of people budding), the immigration officer sent us back to Panama as they didn't stamp properly. I have to say I was seriously frustrated...good thing Andrew has the patience of Job.
After another couple of hours we got the proper stamping and headed back over to Costa Rica where we caught up the bus heading to San Jose. Andrew negociated our tix and the waiting continued. We finally found out that a truck had run over a lady and one of the ladies on the bus didn't have a passport. So the combined problems meant nobody was going anywhere. Andrew met some frustrated Americans and we all decided to high tail it to the nearest town and catch another bus from there to San Jose. So here we are in a little ocean front cafe listening to the waves, eating fruit and chocolate and desperately trying to find places to stay for Xmas and New Years. I think we're going to need some serious luck.
Our bus jets outta here at 4pm all going well which puts us late into the city with no accommodations lined up (all the places we contacted are full up)...ahhh...the stresses of travelling! Luckily Andrew isn't bothered by any of this and met some guys last night at dinner that own a hostel in San Jose and said we could crash there if all else fails. It sounds like quite the party place and since we are wanting to catch the 6am bus, we're hoping to find something closer to the station.
So it is me who has to learn patience and trust that all will work out as it usually does...
Hope this finds you all well!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Tonight we're chilling back listening to the jungle come alive at night. We made it over safely from Bocas town to the island of Bastimentos. OUr flight was delayed 2 hours...which seemed normal for the airline. It was raining when we landed and with wondering around we finally found the boat dock to get across. 2 ten year old boys herded us into their little boat and whizzed us across. About mid way through some serious waves I started thinking about how we didn't have any life jackets on board and then all our important docs were in our backpacks which would be quickly at the bottom should we have to abandon ship...we both discovered we were thinking the same thing when we safely landed...our return trip will go differently hopefully!
Andrew is now officially certified diver. He had a blast and did amazing. He was the first graduate of Scuba 6 diving...he just opened up shop with all brand new gear. Cool guy left it all behind in Holland and living hte dream down here.
I am still on the fence with the diving thing...and think I'm still more of a snorkeler...seems to be more "dark" waters than clear carribbean, so it's official, I'm still a water "baby"! :)
We're hoping to make our way up to Montezuma for Christmas...we'll see how we make out.
Our little cabina here in the jungle is many sounds in the jungle at night! It rained here today and is very wet. We went to an amazing beach yesterday after diving and snorkeling...It was a cow trail through the jungle from our cabina...Andrew just took off his sandals through the jungle, it was so muddy.
Up the hill from where we're staying is a little chocolate farm. We have been gorging on truffles and coffee..amazing!!!
Our little cabina is run by an Oregonian and his Thai wife who runs a little restaurant that is well known all up the carribbean coast. So we have also been gorging on Thai food every night and it is the best we've ever had!
So this is a bit of a muddled post, but wanted to get a little update as we're off chasing sunshine in the morning.
Hope this finds you all well!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Panama City

Well, we have arrived safe and sound. There's always something to kick off the adventure and this time our luggage didn't make it with us. With no offer of explanation, we were told to call the next day and confirm where we were staying. Dressed in our canadian clothes, we were a little concerned that our one and only checked bag with all our necessities wouldn't make it with us for our travel to Bocas. Turns out there were 5 other people in our hostel with the same problem. Apparently Continental is famous for leaving luggage behind. Anyway today it arrived safely and we're ready for some fresh clothes.
A serious down pour grounded our interest in venturing too far today. Once the rain slowed we made our way to the canal. Panama City is a modern city, but us budgeters are staying more in the "local" district...meaning a little more sketch area. Mamallena is a chill place with lots of room...although my sensitive nose is taking a beating with the smells...
The Canal is amazing...we saw 4 huge ships pass through the Miraflores Locks. Quite an astounding operation. Amazing how many people came to build the canal...amazing how many died during the construction.
We're finding the cost not too bad for a city that looks similar to Miami.
Found a great little market nearby and had some amazing fresh fruit...ahhh...vacation here we are!
Tomorrow we're off to Bocas and hope our little cabana is as cute in real life as it is on the website!
Cheers all...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Panama Bound

Van Halen's "Pan-AH-Ma-ha" has been sung periodically, at the top of Andrew's lungs the last couple of months since we changed our plans from Africa to Panama and Costa Rica over the Christmas Holidays.

With flurries all day today, we're looking forward to some sunshine tomorrow!
We were hoping our newest Ewing nephew would make his appearance before we jetted out, but as luck would have it, he's taking his time making his entrance into this world...alas we will look forward to meeting him when we get back!
Andrew and Brent took their diving recently, so Andrew is pumped about completing his certification with his open water dives on Tuesday in Panama!
We're not sure how often we'll get to update with our travel journal this time around...and this trip is a little more about chilling out, so we likely won't have much to report.

Hope this season finds you all well and enjoying your time wherever you are!
The Harrisons...

Friday, February 19, 2010


So we discovered a possible reason why our flight from Rome to Venice was so incredibly cheap...being an early morning flight, the local transit wouldn't get us there in time for the flight so we had to fork over the money and pay for a car to the airport. It was still cheaper to fly with extra cost than it was to take the train, and of course it's only a 50 minute flight, so it def added time in Venice for us.
When we arrived in Venice we were able to get right on the taxi which is actually a water boat and landed in at St. Mark's square before 10 in the morning. It did take an hour though to get from the airport to the square.
It is just so cool to land in the airport and take off on a boat. It's hard to comprehend that there are no cars and walking or taking the boat is the navigation choice.
We had heard alot about how Venice stinks, but perhaps because we were there in the winter when it is cooler, we didn't find it smelled at all.
So we're on a roll with Italian hotels...apparently our hotel didn't have hot water, so they moved all the guests to another hotel of similar caliber and it was beautiful!
The only downside was our canal side room was set back in and we couldn't actually see the water...anyway after our usual form of travel rooms, we have no complaints for the huge beautiful spacious hotels! :)
We had the most fantastic time getting lost in Venice, stopping for espressos and taking it all in.

I now understand why all the reviews on Gondola rides are so mixed. We did the Venice thing and went for our "romantic" Gondola is the one thing that didn't surpass my imaginations...although it was fantastic, I would not consider this to be romantic...first off unless you pay huge amounts of money for a private one, you will be pretty much guaranteed to have others in your boat...which is actually fine when you understand this is not really a romance event. The Gondoliers are all talking shouting to one another through the canals, checking their email it's really neat to explore and see the city sitting from a Gondola, but not as heavy on the romance side of it. All in all it was awesome, and I'd def say completely worth it!
It rained pretty heavy our second day there which was pretty cool in that we could experience the elevated side walks...the St. Mark's church was all flooded as was the square back up into the maze of streets...but out come the elevated side walks and by late afternoon all as back to normal.
Since our train didn't leave until noon, we thought a couple of hours would be lots of time to get over to the train station....normally this would work...this time there were high tides and a strike on the boats!! WE did manage to get on the last running boat, but there was def a few stress moments in there...worse case scenario we could have paid the money for a water taxi as there was no way we felt confident to navigate through the streets on a short time frame to get to the train.
As a side note the train station ends at the Grand Canal, so either way flying in or taking the train is very cool. Certainly the train gives you that "wow" feeling when you walk through the doors and the water is coming up the "steps". Venice...certainly the coolest city ever!!!
We had a fantastic train ride through Italy back to nice and after some late night Gelato and great sleep, we're looking forward to exploring a medieval town, the small country of Monaco and then us girls are off shopping while the boys chill at a football game here!