Costa Rica 2015: The Day Eric Got Bit By……
….A horse. Seriously. The whole time we were planning this trip, I was super nervous about all the poisonous snakes and spiders and crazy-huge bugs in Costa Rica, and the only thing either of us was bit by was a horse.
The day we transferred from Monteverde to Arenal/La Fortuna, we opted for a van/horseback/boat/van combination. It was kind of a crazy idea, seeing that neither of us had been horseback riding in probably 20 years, but we decided to just take a chance. We figured it would be a transfer/tour all in one.
The van picked us up at 8 am, which meant we had to say goodbye to our screened-in porch and our awesome view of the valley, but we did it. There was another family doing the transfer with us. It was nice to go with other people and find out where they had been in Costa Rica and what their plans were in Arenal. They had actually done an African safari a few years prior and emailed us some of the information when we both got back to the US. I definitely filed away that information for a later date!
Anyway, the driver drove us for probably an hour to an hour and a half, including a couple of bathroom stops. Then, he dropped us off in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere, but we were met by our “guide.” He spoke much better English than the driver (who pretty much spoke no English) and explained that the driver would take our luggage on to the boat while we rode. We walked a few minutes to where the horses were and he assigned us each to a horse. I can’t remember the names of the horses at the moment, but the other guy in our group got a horse who evidently thought he was the pack leader. The problem was that Eric’s horse thought he was also the pack leader. My horse was the lazy one and the guide kept having to tell him to keep up. Anyway, Eric’s horse and the pack-leader horse were always trying to catch up with each other and when his would get close to the other horse, the other horse would reach back and bite Eric’s horse. Well, there was one time that he didn’t get Eric’s horse because he got Eric instead. Luckily, we had long pants on and it didn’t break skin, but it did leave a bruise for several days. It also made for a really great story to tell the kids. They thought it was hilarious!
The trip was pretty uneventful other than the horse bite, but we got some awesome views of the volcano in Arenal at certain points in the ride.
After riding for probably 3 to 3.5 hours, we got to a resting spot and our guide cut up some pineapple for a snack. It was probably the best pineapple I have ever had in my whole life. It was amazing. We keep buying pineapple here in the states and just can’t find one that tastes anywhere near what they tasted like in Costa Rica.
After our short break, we boarded a boat to cross Lake Arenal. There were also some amazing views of the volcano from the boat, even though it was kind of foggy and you couldn’t see the entire volcano.
The boat ride was around 20 to 30 minutes and once we got to the other side, we collected our luggage and carried it up a big ramp to a van that took us to our hotel.
In Arenal, we chose to stay at Nayara Hotel Spa and Gardens. Yes, it was pricey, but it was also worth it. This was our biggest splurge on the trip, but it was named the No. 2 Resort in the World by Tripadvisor in 2015 and considering how expensive the No. 1 hotel was, this one was actually somewhat affordable. It was also named the No. 1 Resort in Central and South America by both Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. We couldn’t pass it up. Plus, our travel agent had stayed here and said it was her favorite resort of anywhere she has ever stayed, and I figured that was saying a lot. This place did not disappoint.
This trip was supposed to be in celebration of our 10-year anniversary which is next year but we just couldn’t wait, so we took the trip in July, a few months before our 9-year anniversary. So our travel agent wrote that we were celebrating our anniversary, and I think they put us in a honeymoon suite, so our room might have been even more amazing than it was supposed to be. Basically, it was a stand-alone casita all to ourselves. Half of the room was the bathroom, which included separate sinks on separate sides of the room. We had an indoor shower that we never used because the room also had an outdoor shower that was too amazing not to. On the other side, we had a bed and a small sitting area, but we spent most of our time out on our porch. The porch had a private jacuzzi, a hammock, two lounge chairs, and a small table and chairs we often sat in in the afternoons while we drank coffee.
When we first arrived, we went to the back of the van to get our luggage, but the doorman at the hotel stopped us and reminded us that we were on vacation. We had totally forgotten what kind of hotel we were going to! We were given a welcome drink of our choice and sat down to check in. Then, they drove us to our room in a little golf cart after showing us where everything was. We even stopped to see a sloth in a tree on the way.
Once we were settled into our amazing room, we ended up putting on some shorts and heading to the pool bar. We hadn’t had lunch so we had a snack of cheese fries and some drinks. We didn’t want to eat too much because we had reservations at a hot springs later that night and it included dinner.
I was pretty proud of myself for thinking to make reservations at the hot springs the same day we did the horseback riding. It was definitely a good move because we were both pretty sore. There are several hot springs in the area, but we chose to visit Ecotermales. It was probably the most affordable (aside from the free/public ones we saw people going to on the side of the road) and it is known for its more intimate setting because they only allow 100 people in at a time. Some of the others are supposed to be really big and aren’t as romantic or relaxing. We were pretty happy with our choice. We had the option to add dinner, so we decided to go ahead and do that. They also have 3 time slots you can reserve but we chose to do the evening time slot because there isn’t as much to do in the evenings, plus we thought it might be more relaxing at that time of day.
When we got there, we just told them what time we wanted to eat and they reserved a table for us. The springs had separate locker rooms for men and women and your entrance fee comes with a locker, so we were able to store our things while we enjoyed the springs. They have 5 pools ranging from 99 degrees to 106 degrees, as well as a fresh water pool if you need to cool off. We pretty much tried all of them and had a drink or two from the bar. When it was time to eat, we had to get dressed in our dry clothes. The meal was good. I had chosen chicken and Eric had chosen fish, and it came with rice and beans, as well as squash soup and ice cream for dessert. Of course, my stomach was acting up but thankfully, it didn’t last long. After dinner, we put our swimming suits back on and decided to spend a little more time in the pools. If you ever visit this part of Costa Rica, the hot springs are definitely something you should consider. It is expensive, but well worth it.
It was a super long day. That’s for sure. We were sad to leave Monteverde but were happy to have made it to Arenal in one piece!
To read more about our trip, check out these posts: