Friday, January 8, 2010

Pura Vida - Costa Rica!

A bunch of you have asked for details on stay and activities of our trip to Costa Rica. I will very gladly write up my experience, cause I am all for promoting this amazing place! The write up is going to be about things we did and places we stayed. CR is very very tourist friendly and I am sure there are a million other options/routes/cities/activities that will be fun!

We flew Frontier from Austin to San Jose, CR (with a stop over in Denver). It was convenient coz we got in at 7 in the morning and could drive out immediately to La Fortuna (home of the Arenal volcano). The drive is about 3 hrs and very scenic. We got a private ride arranged by the hotel, but if we were to do it again, I would take the public ride. They normally seat about 6-8 ppl in those public cars ... it's very convenient and safe.

Most of our hotel bookings were done in April, this is because Dec. is peak season and things around xmas and NY get booked very quick. Other times of the year don't need so much pre-planning and is cheaper. Just be sure you are not going in the 'wet' season .. you don't want most of your days to be rained out.

Also - best way to exchange money is using the ATM> There is one in the San Jose airport .. withdraw whatever you need. But do know that Dollars are accepted all over CR. In fact many menus are listed in Dollars and cabbies too take it. Just beware of the conversion.

La Fortuna:

Stay: We stayed at Arenal Nayara. La Fortuna has a couple of very famous resorts, the top one being Tabacon. It's about 40 years old and is the most famous for their natural hot springs. The stay tends to be pricey because of the hot springs. In my experience, if the stay is pricier, I would just stay at another place, and visit the hot springs for a day and that's what we did. Dec. is peak season, things are very pricey and so we chose Arenal Nayara. Our room was a suite with a jacuzzi in the balcony and the view of the Volcano. It was out of this world. The staff was very friendly. The place had a beautiful restaurant with amazing food, a gorgeous wine bar, a beautiful pool bar, a small spa (which they are expanding now). This was my fav. stay out of all the places we went to .. just cause of the atmosphere and the people and ofcourse the view. I loved being in the vicinity of the volcano .. it was breathtaking and definitely very humbling.

Activities: (booked 1 week before travel)
Day 1 - Volcano Hike & Hot Springs with Dinner with Desafio Tour company (Google them, they are awesome). Make sure you do the hike on a clear day .. there is really no way to predict .. cause it can get cloudy in minutes. I guess best thing to do is pray you get to see the lava! ;-)
Day 2 - Chilled in hotel, used the spa, jacuzzi, pool, wine bar, everything really! :)
Day 3 - Canyoneering & Waterfall Rappelling followed by White Water Rafting - called Mambo Combo by Desafio Tour company. This was an all day thing .. we set out at 6:30a and get back only at 6p. The tour company provides snacks(fruits) and a delicious meal! Be sure to specify if you are veggie. CR on the whole is very veg friendly.

Places to eat: We ate mostly at the hotel's restaurant coz the hotel food was awesome.

This is the cloud forest. The place is 1700m above sea level .. and gets very cold here .. you will need a jacket and full pants. The cabins and hotels here aren't fancy at all. We stayed in Cabinas Roca Verde .. but we later found that there were many better options. We were here only for 2 days .. and did lots of activities .. so it didn't matter. But if we were to do it again, I would stay elsewhere. If you aren't wanting anything fancy, there are lots of comfortable 'hostels' right in town which are very convenient, clean and can be a lot of fun! Private rooms available too. Sleepers Cheapers is one which we recommend. We would have liked staying there much more over the cabins.

Day 4 - We arrived in Monteverde by the Jeep-Boat-Jeep transport from Arenal Nayara (can book through Desafio or your hotel). It takes about 3.5 hrs. We arrived in time for the night tour through the Ficus FOrest. Very cool .. set out with your tour guide and torches. Spotted some interesting insects and sloths.
Day 5 - Morning: Monteverde Fair Trade and Organic Coffee Tour - a fun experience. Learnt a lot about coffee .. and finally had an awesome cup of some Grade A Costa Rican coffee.
Afternoon: Suspension Bridges and Ziplining with Selvatura Tour company. Suspension Bridges was beautiful .. it's a 1.5 hour hike through really tall green trees. Zipling is the most thrilling thing you will do here in Monteverde. SO SO fun!! There is ziplining in the other cities in CR .. but nothing will compare to Monteverde. Definitely do it here.
Day 6 - Ziplining again with Extremo tour company. If I were to choose one of the two ziplining tours .. I would choose Extremo. The cables are faster and more thrilling ... I loved it. Both were awesome though. I was more confident the 2nd time so didn't mind the cables being faster. Not sure how it would have been if we had done only Extremo.
Other activities we would have liked to do if we had more time: Guided tour through the Monteverde Forest

Places to eat: A highly recommended place for lunch/dinner in town is Mara Villa!!! It's small, but AWESOME food and juices. Another place we tried out is Blue Morpho .. pretty good. We also went to Tree Top Cafe which is highly touristy and disliked the food and the service (probably the only place in CR that we didn't like). All of these are in Santa Elena town .. you just need to tell the cabbie the name of the place .. they know it all.

Manuel Antonio:
Day 6 continues - take a public shuttle (van of 12 ppl) to Manuel Antonio.

Stay: We stayed for 3 nights in "Makanda by the Sea" and our 4th night in "Gaia Reserve".
Makanda: I was skeptical when we booked the stay .. coz the website looked just ok . But we seriously didn't have any other options. every other resort we wanted was booked out. But when we were shown to our room, I was blown away. The room was gorgeous. The view was even more gorgeous and the resort was amazing. The website didn't do justice to it at all. ANother place I highly recommend. We spotted Capuchin Monkeys, Howler Monkeys, Iguanas, Vultures, Tucans, all on the hotel premises.

Gaia: We spent our 4th night at Gaia which is in Quepos (5 mins. from Manuel Antonio) and it is gorgeous. It's high up and is right in the middle of a forest. The whole reserve has like 20 rooms. In fact most places in CR are like that .. very few rooms and just very private. The pool in Gaia was amazing .. the perfect temperature!

Day 7 - Near Makanda ... about a 15-20 min. hike is Playa Beisanz. A beautiful beach. We snorkelled here. Amazing experience snorkelling in the Pacific Ocean. Ate at some Italian eatery in downtown Quepos (don't remember the name), took a cab to Manuel Antonio beach to check it out, and then dinner at Rafael Terrazas - the best sunset in town.

Day 8 - Manuel Antonio National Park tour with Paul and Edgar (they are fantastic and highly recommended by TripAdvisor). Saw lots of animals and the tour includes the entry to the park's beaches .. which are clean and beautiful! Ate near the park (again can't remember the name, sorry). Dinner at Aqua Azul .. yum food!

Day 9 - Spent the morning in a private beach which we can hike to from inside Makanda itself. The hike was strenuous and the beach was fun. Afternoon, moved to Gaia. Spent the day in the pool, got a massage in the spa .. and ate at the reserve on that day and the next!

Day 10 mid-day - took a 6 seater public shuttle to San Jose.

Alright .. I am tired of typing .. and I am sure you are tired of reading now .. so ... let me know if you have any questions or need any contact/tour names. and of course .. would love to hear your experiences!! Pura Vida!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Our wedding invitation!

//Shri Ganeshaya Namah//

Our wedding invitations are finally printed! Thanks to P's mom's excellent taste, we are very happy with the contemporary look! :)

Also - we have finally registered!
Our (mostly my) fav. stores -

Crate & Barrel (

Bed Bath & Beyond (

I don't think I have done a great job at the registry .... mostly cause of the gazillion options & my laziness. Oh well ... thank God for Gift cards and the option to exchange!

One month left ... and the excitement seems to increase exponentially! :)

See you all there .. in person or in thoughts! :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Jab We Met"

Finally…yes, this post has been long overdue. We are closing in on our D-day and are more excited than ever about our lives together. Since Gayathri already told our tale about how we met and how our relationship progressed I will try not to plagiarize from her blog J.

When I first found out about her existence in Austin, I checked her profile on FB (the equivalent of in our case) and felt an instant attraction towards her (her gorgeous smile played a big role in that). When I finally contacted her and got to know her, I fell in love with her adorable personality and caring nature towards all. I don’t know what I was thinking when I asked her to meet for a run for our ‘first date’. Then again I wasn't really thinking or analyzing it in my head. But looking back at it, I am glad we met that way. There were no layers of unnecessary makeup or dressing up that normally goes with dates, so we could see the real us. We clicked right away and only in a few days felt like we had known each other forever.

A few days after our initial meet, I went for a Euro-trip and I missed her even though I hadn’t known her for that long. This is when I knew that there is something special between us. Our relationship has been on a fast track since then as we got engaged in a few months and our wedding is right around the corner. Almost every day I feel why I didn’t meet Gayathri earlier in my life given the common places we lived at and the common friends we had, but am so happy to have her in my life now J.

We are really looking forward to meeting everybody at our wedding and have a great time!!

Friday, June 5, 2009

How it all began ...

As many of you know, the past year has been one crazy roller-coaster ride for us. What many of you don't know is that it took longer for our dear cupids to convince us to meet, than it took us to get engaged! Like every other love story, ours is a story to tell too.

It all started over a year back at a "Baby shower"!! (I know I know .. you can laugh!) But wait, it gets funnier, it wasn't me at the baby shower, it was my darling Priyank!! (Now you can really laugh). :) My brother in law's dearest friend, Aashik & his wife, Raunak, spot Priyank, who was well marketed as an eligible bachelor at the event (Thanks Girija & Manish). They immediately decide that they should hook us up! Till today, I still wonder what it was about him, because Priyank tells me that he was pretty wasted 75% of that trip! Anyhooo, they & my brother-in-law tried and tried. They talked to me .. talked to him. My brother in law, Prashanth, without ever meeting Priyank, said some pretty strong words, which I'll never forget. He said, "Ga, I am pretty sure he is the man for you. It's almost like we just have to somehow make you guys meet, and then there'll be no looking back". As always ... he was right!

One very fine Summer morning, I get a Facebook message from P (of course, FB *has* to play a part). We met 3 days later for a run on Townlake and since then we have never looked back. We seriously don't know what hit us. We instantly liked each other, and soon missed each other, and before we knew it, we were committed! We wonder about this all the time, how and why didn't we meet earlier. After all, we did spend 4 whole years at Purdue together and then 2 years in Austin, before we were *forced* to meet. It's almost like God was teasing us .. by keeping us together .. and yet apart! :)

Late December, I took a 10 day vacation to visit my sister in Atlanta. I was missed so much (or so I like to believe), that I got my bling as soon as I got back! (Aaah .. .how I wish that worked each time! I kid I kid). 10 Jan 2009, we were engaged to be married!

Parents met, dates & locations were set. We still can't believe it that we are getting ready to send wedding invitations today .. when just a year back - we wondered who our soul mate was going to be!

The details on the events are still to be decided. But as of now, here is what we have planned around the big day:

25th Nov evening - Mehendi, Ahmedabad
26th Nov evening - Sangeet with Raas Garba, Ahmedabad
27th Nov morning - Wedding, Ahmedabad
27th Nov evening - Reception, Ahmedabad
3rd Dec evening - Reception in Udupi, Karnataka

Hope you can make it! :-)