Westin Playa Conchal
12/28/2019 – 1/2/2019
We woke up early and ate the banana bread we’d bought the day before and watched the sun rise. It’s really pretty there in Puerto Jimenez! We then went to the front desk to get a cab but nobody was there. So we started walking to the airport dragging our luggage and it wasn’t too long before a cab stopped and asked if we wanted a ride. Now the Sansa “terminal” in Puerto Jimenez is just a shack, and we were early so we got to hang out. Fortunately there were cute orange chinned parakeets outside goofing around. Our plane arrived and Mark inexplicably chose then to go the restroom. Then it was time to board and no Mark and I had to run and get him and the pilots were laughing at us. Uneventful flight to San Jose, but unfortunately they wouldn’t let us check into our later flight yet AND they had no place for luggage so we had to take our luggage with us when we went out for lunch. Because of the luggage we couldn’t really go to downtown Alajuela where the restaurants are small, so we chose the Tacobar Alajuela. It’s located in a new strip mall that would be at home in any California town. The restaurant was fine and good for what we needed. After lunch we walked over to the Yogurtland knock off and I can tell you that Costa Rican flavors are way more artificial and sweet than regular Yogurtland yogurt. Blech. We then called an Uber to take us back to the airport where we checked in and had an uneventful, peaceful flight to Liberia. From there, our transport was waiting to take us to the Westin Playa Conchal. We checked in, got our wristbands (Genevieve got the adult one!) and went to our room. Everyone kept saying “just one room?” like it was strange. Our family room came complete with kid sized bathrobes, toothpaste and toothbrushes so I guess those rooms are for families with younger kids. Whatever it was plenty large enough for us. There had been a snafu with the reservations for the restaurants (in that I had forgotten to press send on the email requesting them) so we were stuck with the buffet for dinner that first night. We walked around the grounds and then went to the pizzeria to see if they served dinner. They did, AND they gave us the menu for the Las Candelas restaurant so we were golden. Not much happening at night at the Westin so we turned in early.
Mission #1, get laundry done! If I had planned better, I would have given us two nights in Puerto Jimenez where we could have easily dropped off and picked up our laundry. But I didn’t, and so we were left with pretty much not one clean outfit between all four of us. We first tried to get The Laundry in Tamarindo to pick up but we were too far away. Next we tried to rent a car but they had a five day minimum. So finally we hit upon the idea of taking the shuttle from the Westin ($25 each). We got to Tamarindo, hiked to The Laundry, dropped off our clothes with the very nice people there, and walked back down to the beach area. New Year’s is huge in Costa Rica so Tamarindo was packed, with tv stations set up with those big booths like you see in Florida on Spring Break. Tons of tourists and tourist shops and really not my kind of place. But we found the Volcano Microbrewery right on the beach and had a great lunch and beers and just enjoyed the day. Did a little more cheesy shopping, headed back up to get our laundry which wasn’t quite done so in an effort to get back to the 3:00 shuttle we all joined in to fold it. On the way back the shuttle driver told us many people take the shuttle to get laundry done because it’s way way too expensive at the Westin. Believe it or not, even with the $100 in shuttle fees, it was still cheaper to do what we did.
Back at the Westin we headed to the pool. Our dinner reservations were late so we ordered room service fries (room service is included too) and rested. Then at 8:00 off to Faisanella for Italian food. This restaurant is in the residential area and the service was a bit strange, but the food was good.
Lazy pool and beach day! After breakfast at the buffet (so much food and all of it marginal, although we figured out you could make the cooks at the omelet bar make you eggs any way you liked) we went to the beach. Charlotte and I got snorkel masks but Mark and Genevieve didn’t want to. It’s amazing how many fish there are right off of the beach. Like people are hanging out and playing and if you have a mask on you can see all the fishies swimming among them. Now it’s not Belize, the water is not that clear and the coral is not that pretty, but we did see a lot of cool fish including two kinds of puffer fishes. Then we returned our gear and had lunch at the pool restaurant, then spent the rest of the day in and out of the pool. Swim up bars are fun! There was this little family with the happiest baby girl you ever saw. She was there every day we were and I never saw her even frown.
That night for dinner there was a mixup, we thought we were going to a restaurant in the golf club area but they didn’t have us and it took the woman 15 minutes to figure that out and everyone behind us had to wait too. Back to Las Candelas and sure enough they could seat us.
Because of Genevieve’s potoo obsession, we booked an early morning bird tour. And when I say early morning, I mean we got picked up from the hotel lobby at 4:00am which meant we had to leave our room at 3:45 which means we had to get up at 3:15. Blech. The van was there waiting and along the way we picked up our guide and then he went into a business park where he picked up a packet from a man in a dark jacket which all seemed very suspicious (remember it’s still dark outside). Then we went to the place where we were going on the tour and as the sun comes up we see it’s windy and stormy looking (we were in between two volcanos in the cloud forest zone). The guide looks at us and says “did you bring jackets” Uh no. Nobody told us it would be cold. We’re here in tshirts and shorts. So we get out and it’s not quite as cold as it looks (maybe 65) but not great. We go into a little very traditional restaurant for a very traditional breakfast, and a bus full of locals from the nearest town stops and they all get out to buy stuff and continue on their way. We’re feeling like we stick out so much! The guide tells us it’s very unlikely we’ll see a potoo, which is annoying to say the least because the only reason we’re on this godforsaken tour is because we want to see a potoo and we were clear about that when we booked the tour. But he’s nice so we go along this hike where he’s super excited about everything and I’m sure he wonders why we’re there as we’re clearly not avid birders. The little dog from the restaurant has joined us throughout the entire hike and finally I realize she’s herding us, cute thing. At one point we found a footprint and the dog got so scared. Turns out it was from an ocelot. After the tour we head back on the two hour drive and now you can see the massive windmills they have in that area. We got back to the hotel at 11:00, and we had lunch before we tried to rest but housekeeping came so we went to the pool instead. That night we had a great dinner at Bamboo and we THOUGHT the place would be rocking but no. The main area was set up with neon but the guy was playing smooth jazz. The bar near our room had been dead the entire time we were there and New Year’s was no exception. So we made the classic blunder and went back to the room to sit down and then it was all over. I finally gave up and put on PJs at 11:00, Charlotte had been asleep for an hour and a half at that point. At midnight the fireworks went off and I should have gone outside because all the animals that were scared by the fireworks went running past so Genevieve saw raccoons (like the one we’d seen earlier getting into the garbage) and an armadillo. She says the fireworks were good too.
Another lazy day, starting out with Charlotte and I snorkeling and then all of us eating lunch by the pool (really good ceviche there) and spending our time at the swim up bar. Genevieve was introduced to the very dangerous Long Island ice tea. For dinner we went to Manglar Mediterranean cuisine that was very good.