Travel Blogs

From Mexico to Morocco we explore the world and take you along for the ride.

Boardwalk near Caloosa Cove in the Florida Keys

Tickling The Florida Keys

Not really having a plan except knowing we wanted to spend some time in the southern states, we booked a cheap flight from San Jose, Costa Rica to Miami, Florida. The weather was gorgeous and we were looking forward to North American style dining, shopping and ease of travel. It also didn't hurt that the local language was English again. At a minimum, the kids were definitely excited to be able to watch cartoons in English now.

After a few quiet days laying low and acclimatizing ourselves to the US, our wanderlust finally kicked back in. I hadn't been to Florida since I was in my mid teens and really didn't remember that much about it. One thing I do remember is that we didn't go any farther south than St. Petersburg. This trip I was adamant about seeing the Florida Keys and going for a hike in the Everglades.

We managed to rent a car and headed south for a few days of exploration. The kids and Micki were excited to see...

Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Travel Photo: Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia

The Angkor Wat Temple in the Siem Reap Province of Cambodia is a gorgeous example of Khmer architecture. It was built in the 12th century and is the only temple in the area that has seen consistent use since it was built. It is a large complex spanning over 500 acres.

It has become a major tourist destination in Southeast Asia and is the number one tourist destination in Cambodia. It's located around 6 kilometers from the town of Siem Reap and passes are required to enter the Angkor area. They are on sale at the front gate for 1-day ($20), 3-day ($40), or 7-day ($60) intervals. The 3-day pass is valid for any 3 days within a week, while the 7-day pass is valid for any 7 days within a month.

When we were there we hired a tuk tuk driver in Siem Reap...

Orangutan in Bukit Lawang Indonesia

Travel Photo: Orangutan at Bukit Lawang Indonesia

The Bohorok Orangutan Centre at Bukit Lawang in Indonesia is one of the only places in the world where you can see orangutans in the wild.

Half a dozen orangutans were swinging in the trees around us when we snapped this photo. The rangers were feeding some of the orangutans on a feeding platorm a few feet away.

Bukit Lawang is a small village deep in Sumatra's forest, packed with backpacker hostels and cafes. To get there, we took a ferry from Penang, Malaysia to Medan, Indonesia, and jumped on board a mini-bus to Bukittinggi. From Bukittinggi, we took a local bus on roads with potholes deep enough to lose a car.

Mango Condo Tamarindo

Pura Vida at Mango Condos Tamarindo

We stayed at Mango Condos for a month during our stay in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Overall, Mango was one of the cheaper Tamarindo condos we looked at renting. We were quite happy with the value that we got for the price, despite a couple of minor problems.

Price. We negotiated with the ever-patient owner, Julius, and got our two bed, one bath unit at Mango condo for a month, starting in mid-January, for $1,200 USD. When we went, the Tamarindo economy was still in a bit of a funk, but prices were starting to pick up again, so you might pay more.

Security. The condos have a secure, locked front entrance, with separate keys for each condo. There are three levels, with condos facing either the dusty front street or the big leafy trees in back. A troupe of howler monkeys traveled through trees in the back a couple of times, making for some great wildlife watching out back. Because the condo is about a three minute walk from the beach, none of the condos have ocean views.

Pool. The pool is nice but small, with a small kiddie pool and an attractive fountain. It's great for a quick plunge, but not really big enough to hang out at all day. It's in the center of a small courtyard, and out of the sun most of the day. The cafe tables by the courtyard are a great place to read the local paper or enjoy a drink...

Auto Mercado Supermarket Tamarindo Costa Rica

Supermarkets in Tamarindo

Tamarindo's expensive, and the grocery stores are no exception. Once we got used to the sticker shock after coming from San Jose, we managed to find almost everything we needed at the local Tamarindo supermarkets.

Super 2001 - Our condo was about half a block away, so this was our default place to stock up on groceries. This is a very small supermarket (only about five isles, so about the size of a convenience store in Canada or the US).

The good. Considering the store is so small, they have a respectable selection of North American staples. There are some decent bakery items (including pizza) in the cases next to the cashiers. The wine selection was good.

The bad. Not cheap, but nothing is in Tamarindo. This is the smallest of the three main grocery stores in Tamarindo...

Mandarina Tropical Juice Bar

Searching For Cheap Restaurants In Tamarindo

Tamarindo has no shortage of great restaurants. It does, however, have a big shortage of cheap restaurants. With a month to spend in Tamarindo, and a family of four to feed, we didn't want to spend a fortune on eating out. These are the best cheap eats that we found in Tamarindo on a budget.

Pizzeria La Baula

This place has me so Pavlovian-conditioned that just saying Pizzaria La Buala makes my mouth water. Pizzeria La Baula is a home run: Amazing pizzas with high quality ingredients and a comfortable, casual, attractive place to hang out.

If you're craving anything other than pizza or salads...

Playa Tamarindo Cheap Things to Do Sunset

Amazing Cheap Things To Do In Tamarindo

Tamarindo is famous for its surf breaks, and almost equally famous for being a bit expensive and full of tourists. We spent a month in town enjoying the waves, and got a chance to track down some of the best cheap things to do in Tamarindo.

Boogie boarding on Playa Langosta. While Playa Tamarindo is the most famous beach in Guanacaste, Playa Langosta is just a short walk away. The waves at Playa Langosta are generally smaller, and better for families and newbie surfers. That said, we caught the waves at Langosta at high tide on a big swell day, and managed to smash a boogie board in two. Cost: One replacement cheap boogie board from Super Compro grocery, $10.

Zip lining at New Monkey Jungle Canopy Tours. Great from begining to end. New Monkey Jungle has seven zip lines and an awesome...