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Travel Guide for Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

When the opportunity to go to Costa Rica came about, my husband and I couldn’t resist!  Known as a great family-friendly destination, we decided to go with our kids and four other families.  

Instead of trying to do a hotel with different rooms, we got a house together in Manuel Antonio. The home was a purchase from a gala that one family had recently attended.  

The Villa Mariana (our home away from home for the week) was a beautiful property located right in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle. While there was enough room for us all to sleep, it didn’t prove to be the most kid-friendly property. As an important note, I would highly recommend this property for adults only!  Keep in mind many of the properties in Costa Rica do not have central air conditioning in the common areas, so make sure to inquire before booking your stay. We only had air-conditioning in our bedrooms, so you can imagine how hot it felt in the main hangout areas when it hit 90 degrees!  Thankfully we had two pools to cool off in, so it didn’t ruin the trip (but something noteworthy to consider when booking your next trip to Costa Rica).  The main home in the Villa Mariana has four bedrooms with a guest house boasting two additional rooms to make for enough space to accommodate 5 families. Aside from the home, I wanted to share my top 5 things to do in and around Manuel Antonio.

Playa Espadilla

This beach was a short 10-minute drive from the Villa Mariana. Make sure to book umbrellas and chairs ahead of time.  The Costa Rican sun gets very hot midday.  Consider bringing a cooler (they allow them!) with cocktails, water, and snacks…. it will make things easier especially with kids. For a proper lunch, we headed to a neighboring hotel which you might want to consider when deciding where to have your umbrellas set up.  Make sure to pack a portable speaker and some beach toys.  This is a great way to experience the Costa Rican beach and dip in the Pacific Ocean!

Catamaran

Since we were traveling with 20 people, we decided to book our own private Catamaran. If you are traveling with a smaller group, they have group charters.  We opted for the sunset cruise.  Aboard the boat, we had two chefs and two helpers.  Our outing included a late afternoon meal with rice, beans, chicken, and veggies as well as snorkel gear, and dolphin watching. This was a great way to dip in the water, bond as a group, and watch to a beautiful sunset on the water!  A must-do activity!

Manuel Antonio National Park

At this park, we saw some extraordinary animals including sloths in their natural habitats.  With some small stops along the way, including some food, it makes for a nice outing with the family.  Midway in the national park, there is a beach with the option to take a dip (pack a swimsuit or wear one under your shorts).  
*Something noteworthy* If you plan to include this in your travel plans make sure to pick a temperate or cloudy day so it can be more enjoyable.  On the day we had planned the national park it was VERY hot!  There was not a lot of solace from the sun along the walking path and doesn’t make for easy transport of infants.  The walkways are rough at the beginning so not ideal for strollers. If you catch a nice day, this is a must-see stop!  

Zip Lining: Canopy Tarzan

We picked Canopy Tarzan for our zip lining.  To be honest, it wasn’t the closest to our house in Manuel Antonio, but we heard it was the best one.  It did NOT disappoint!  With a multitude of LONG runs, it made for a perfect way to experience the jungle from the treetops.  The last jump in this excursion, was a quick dip in a pool and waterfall, make sure you wear your swimwear under your shorts!  *If you have a fear of heights this might not be your best bet.*  Lunch was included.  Make sure to mention any dietary restrictions when booking.  

White Water Rafting: Savegre River

The location for white water rafting was a total of an hour and half away in the middle of the rainforest and mountains of Costa Rica.  It was simply breathtaking!  Kids ages 6 and over are allowed to partake in a class 1 rafting trip.  Equipped with proper gear and a guide, you are taken down the Savegre River’s rapids and taught fun facts along the way! There are safe places for you to take a dip so make sure you are in your swim gear.  I would highly recommend this as a fun-filled family excursion!

I hope this guide helps plan your next trip to Manuel Antonio!  Costa Rica is filled with beautiful customs, food, scenery and most of all beautiful and friendly people!

Happy traveling!

Your Chick,

Sonia

Visit Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Where to Stay and What to do in Jaisalmer, India

Have you ever seen a photo and thought to yourself, I would love to go there!?!  A few years ago I saw a photo from a café with a lit up fort in the background and I instantly felt like I wanted to experience that view for myself.

Here is the image I saw.

This photo was taken in the small desert town of Jaislmer in the state of Rajastan, India. When we planned our trip to India this year, I included a three night stay in Rajasthan . We spent one night in Jodhpur and two nights in Jaislmer.  After a one night stay at Ajit Bhawan in Jodhpur, we made the six hour drive through the Thar desert to Jaisalmer where we stayed at a beautiful hotel called Suryagarh.  Usually car rides make me sleepy, but this drive was so unique that I was wide awake the WHOLE TIME.   We stopped along the way for tea and selfies with cows and camels ( I couldn’t resist) until we finally reached our destination. 

Where to Stay

In Jaisalmer we stayed at Suryagarh. This seven star resort in in the heart of the desert is literally the stuff dreams are made of.  For my fellow Bollywood fans, think Sanjay Leela Bansali perfect.  With backdrops and structures worthy of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam or Ram Leela this haveli had everything. Most recently Housefull 4 was filmed here.

Suryagarh-Jaisalmer

What To Do

The weather in Rajasthan is great during the month of December with highs hitting about 70-73 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and the nights getting down to a cool 45 degrees.  Known for its location in the Thar Desert, excursions into the desert are popular among tourists.  I, for one, could not wait for a desert jeep safari and camel ride into the dunes.  I have always felt a connection with the desert which is why Sedona, Arizona is also one of my favorite places in the US (see my post about my favorite drive of 2019 here). 

We ventured into the desert, walked through the only remaining living fort in India, and visited Gadisar Lake. Jaisalmer was everything I could have expected and more from this little town.  From the local experiences all the way up to the seven star hotel experience, Jaisalmer is a must see.  I love seeing places a little bit off the beaten path and this is one of those places not overrun by tourists. In my opinion, two nights in Jaisalmer is just right for a Rajasthan itinerary (note: they have a great airport).

Travel is one of those things that you spend money on and it truly makes you richer.  My visit to India was wonderful, but the visit to Jaislmer was truly the cherry on top. 

Having visited Mumbai, Kerala, and now Rajasthan, next on my list is Leh.  If you know anyone who has been there who has recommendations please let me know.

Thanks for checking out my post.

Your Chick,

Rina

Jodhpur Hotel Recommendation

Known as the little brother of the much more luxurious and expensive (3x more expensive) Umaid Bhawan (where Priyanka Chopra got married), Ajit Bhwan offers a royal and regal experience right in the heart of the city.  It’s amazing to me how places like this are built with so much creativity and effort.  The hotel is designed like a village where you are escorted to your mini villa.  It was also the best shower I had in the two weeks I was in India.  See my pictures from Ajit Bhawan below.

Jaisalmer (2)

Experience VOLTA in Atlanta Now!

In the spirit of #DatingYourSpouse , Anil and I set out for a VIP experience with Cirque Du Soliel’s VOLTA in Atlanta until January 2020.

VOLTA VIP Experience

VOLTA is a captivating voyage of discovery. It’s about finding yourself, and unveiling your personal powers. Inspired in part by the adventurous spirit that fuels the culture of street sports, the show weaves acrobatics in a visually striking world driven by a stirring melodic score.

VOLTA is a story of transformation. It is about being true to oneself, fulfilling one’s true potential, and recognizing one’s own power to make it possible. Ultimate freedom comes with self-acceptance, and with the liberation of the judgement of others.

Freedom is the ultimate achievement.

VOLTA’s stage has a pulse and a life its own. In a heartbeat, it can turn from a dark, stone-dead quarry into a cathedral of light. Be sure to check it out before it is gone!

Your Chick,

Rina

Best Drive of 2019!

I have shared before that I live in a small town.  Living far from places I like to visit has turned me into quite the driver.  Give me a destination and I am there! 

Desert Babe
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I have really grown to cherish my time on the road, I love being alone with my thoughts and of course my music! When I travel, I always make sure to rent a car to get around. Some of my most memorable drives have been around Hawaii and most recently on my trip to the Grand Canyon.

Surprisingly the drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon is less than 4 hours and the route goes straight through one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE cities of Sedona.  I had good company (my kids) and good music to go along with the scenic views. 

Road Trip

Check out our ride and some of the landscape in the video below.

Grand Canyon

At the Grand Canyon we signed up for a jeep tour with Grand Canyon Jeep Tours and Safaris.  Although we enjoyed the tour, I recommend skipping the pricey jeep tours and heading straight for the Visitors Center where you can easily build an itinerary according to your time available and personal preferences.  There are hikes and view points to accommodate all ages and interests.  They also have a cute and FREE Junior Rangers program for the kids to keep them engaged!  Two things to keep in mind when visiting the Grand Canyon: it’s COLD, you are between 7000 and 9000 feet high, bring layers, it was 41 degrees the day we went in October. Secondly be sure to catch the sunrises and sunsets, they are breathtaking.  Whether you watch the canyon light up in the morning or turn down for the night, the overwhelming beauty that is the canyon is really captured at these hours. 

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Sedona

On our way back we stopped for a while in Sedona.  This incredibly beautiful and unique city has had my heart since I first visited ten years ago.  Something about its isolation, desert landscape, and tall red rocks just captivates me.  Unlike in the Grand Canyon, in Sedona I HIGHLY recommend a jeep tour.  Getting up and around these rock structures is not easy, but with the Pink Jeep tours its fun and scenic! We had lunch at the tasty Oaxaca Restaurant that has the most beautiful view in the city.  Be sure to swing by the Fine Arts and Crafts Square where there are interesting boutiques and art galleries, live music, cafes, and more!

In The Desert

This drive was truly one for the books and with the beautiful Arizona sun on our side. We enjoyed every minute we spent on the road.  Now, I am off to plan my next #RoadTrip.

Your Chick,

Rina

Desert Babe
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