Monday, February 27, 2012

Monteverde Here I come

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The last part of the ride to Monteverde was under heavy downpour. We passed by many coffee plantations, but we weren't able to stop and take photos because it was extremely wet. I've never seen this heavy rain in awhile and I enjoyed it.

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But before the sky opened up, I was able to shoot a sample of the landscape that's verdant.

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In the early 1950s in search of a peaceful lifestyle, Quakers from the USA settled in the area of Santa Elena and Monteverde. They bought farms and raised dairy farms. Our hotel FONDA VELA is located on these former farms and is still owned by the same family. My room is at the very end on the bottom floor.

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The room is very spacious. We had the junior suite.

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And outside our window, we watched nature at its finest. I'll show you later.

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And the downpour continued.

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The rain delayed our exploration of town. Rather than venture out right away, we thought it was best to see where the pool and hot tub and bar are located, just in case we needed a little soak later on. Also we wanted to get our free cocktail.

I was getting antsy that I wasn't able to go out and see the gardens. I would have if I had an umbrella. However, I made the most of it by photographing the garden from under the safety of the roofed pool area.

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There may have been more sculpture somewhere. These are all I could see from where I was standing.

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It looked from this point that there would be more waiting for the rain to stop, so we ran back to the room rested while we wait for the rain to abate.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My First Fan Fest

This is another of those posts that maybe only I can fully appreciate. Just humor me, will you?

For a baseball fan, the months between the World Series and spring training seem to go on forever. So any chance during this lull in action to see the players is welcomed by the many avid fans.

I don't know how many teams do this, but the San Francisco Giants hold annual Fan Festival, just before the pitchers and catchers report for spring training. This is a time for the fans to show their support to the players and their team. The Giants are a classy team. They know how to appreciate their fans. Last year, we were unable to go because of scheduling conflict. The day the fan fest was scheduled was the day we were coming back from our cruise.

Lesson learned from last year; hence we made sure we were ready for this year's Fan Fest. If nothing else, it would be a great day at the park.

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Do you see the blue skies? Early February and the temperature was in the upper 60s. Short-sleeve weather, yay!

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The fanfest was scheduled from 10 to 3 pm. I arrived a little before noon.


THE PARK:
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The fans were allowed to peek at the home team's clubhouse.

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The corridor walls were decorated with photos of memorable moments in Giants history. My fave moment as a Giants fan was when Brian Johnson hit a game winning HR in the bottom of the 12th, LA Dodgers vs SF Giants, 9/18/97. Still one of the best games I've seen (on tv). This is that moment pictured here.

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The scoreboard.

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So clear you could see Oakland across the bay.

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The waterway to the right is called McCovey Cove.

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Won't be long before this place will see full house night after night.


THE PLAYERS/TEAM:
The players were scattered all over the ballpark signing autographs. Some lines were really long and wraps around the park. It was never my intention to get any autographs, so I didn't even catch sight of the other players.

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Jeremy Affeldt (l) and Nate Schierholtz (r) being interviewed by Larry Kruger (l) and Gary Radnich (r). The Giants flagship station sponsored the fan fest and the shows were aired live from the ball park that day. I spent more time listening to interviews.

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Reliever Sergio Romo, a member of the bearded brigade, takes his turn at the interview desk.

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Matt Cain, pitcher extraordinaire, walks up to the interview desk.

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And gets to take pictures with Fitz and Brooks, sports radio announcers.

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Pablo Sandoval, lovingly called the Panda by fans, was all smiles as he walks off the interview desk.


THE FANS:
The Giants announced that the number of people who attended the fan fest was 36,000. Here are some of the 36,000 that my camera captured.

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It was a lovely experience.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

And On The Third Day We Travel

The only drawback to a 3d2n getaway is that the first and last days are getaway days, which only leaves a full day for exploration. But before we drive away from Arenal, hubby and I took one last stroll around the gardens and enjoyed the sights.

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In the morning after breakfast, an air-conditioned mini van picked us up to deliver to the next destination. The driver drove around Lake Arenal, which is a loooong drive. However, the road is paved so it wasn't very bumpy. The road was winding though so those who get motion sickness, this was a tough ride. Lake Arenal is a man-made lake that sits at the base of the volcano. It covers nearly 33 sq mi and reaches about 200 feet deep. Lake Arenal is an important energy source, it produces about 12% of Costa Rica's electric energy.

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It was a gloomy day for travel. Our driver was very accommodating. He would stop when we point out something we want to photograph, even though no one wanted to get out of the vehicle.

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Many lodging structures are situated around the lake. I bet they really have wonderful views. We never even get to see or enjoy the lake up close. Time was so short.

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As I'm getting accustomed to the practice, every travel stops at a designated rest stop, where the driver usually eats a meal, therefore silently inviting passengers to also do the same, give business to the restaurant.

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Attached to the restaurant is a gift shop where so many bric-a-bracs and other souvenirs tempt the visitor. I have purchased a little something in this store, although I wanted to get one of these. They're just too bulky to carry around.

While the driver was eating, I went outside and people watched. How many times can I indulge in my hobby? Not many so I took advantage.

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And then we travelled some more.
On deck is Monteverde.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Must Shop For Gifts

We went back to town upon leaving the waterfalls. We asked William our trusted taxi driver to take us to where the locals eat for some grub. We were in need of sustenance after a whole day of activities. We've only been munching on fruits all day.
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It was pouring.
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William took us to a local soda (restaurant) that was almost empty except for two locals who were there reading newspapers. We met Dona Flora who works in the soda, very friendly and chatty. We engaged in animated conversations with our broken Spanish and her almost nonexistent English. She was happy to see Indian faces, my companions are all Indian looking, because at that time her daughter was backpacking in India and she was only too happy to share this experience with us. Our companions allayed her feelings about the safety of travels in India. She seemed relieved.

However, too much talking expelled hunger from our system. We weren't hungry anymore. We excused ourselves from Dona Flora and the "chef" with a promise we'd return after making rounds in the stores in the neighborhood.

Across the soda was a grocery store. We went inside to investigate.
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Look they have flavored mayonnaise.

Right there and then we agreed to do our shopping for friends here. They have coffee beans packages at reasonable price. Costa Rica is known for their coffee, hence we decided what better gift to give our friends than coffee from Costa Rica. Local chips also went into our cart. I find shopping for pasalubong (gifts) in grocery store especially for packaged, canned foods in grocery stores. It's cheaper. We bought most of our gifts for family and friends in a grocery store in Barcelona when we went there.

Our decision to buy the coffee packages in the grocery store paid off dearly when not ten minutes later we saw the same packages at twice the price in a souvenir store not too far from the grocery store.

We returned to the soda, but we concluded that getting food to go was the best thing to do at that time. It was late, we were tired, the rain kept on pouring. We needed a little soak in the tub.

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A moonlight walk around the plaza was not to be.

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This is WILLIAM the honest. If you find yourself in Arenal-La Fortuna area, find him. He's a good guy.

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Then there's Kaylor, another friendly face in this foreign land.

I must say that Costa Ricans are so friendly and warm. Even though they are in the hospitality business, you could feel the sincerity in their dealings. I'm pretty much blown away.