Monthly Archives: February 2014

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bestofcostaricaWould you retire now in Costa Rica if you could do it for under $3k a month?

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Yikes my Visa is about to expire!

When you enter Costa Rica, if you are from another country they will stamp your passport and this gives you a tourist visa. Now in the past they would usually give you 90 days. This is not so true any more my friends. One time last year we were coming back from a trip the the United States and the gentleman behind the desk stamped us. He had noticed that we had been here a couple times and gone in and out. So I don’t know if he was just upset that day about something or just being a smart ass, but when we looked at our passports he only gave us 30 days. Oh and did I mention he smirked at me when he gave them back? Yes he did.

You may ask why does this really matter? There are a couple of reasons it does, but only if you are living here. Myself like many expats have decided to live here in Costa Rica. You hopefully get a 90 day visa and at the time your visa expires you must leave the country. So every 90 days you have to make a trip out of the country. It can be a hard and long day and sometimes very expensive to keep doing this. I personally do not understand why anyone would not submit their paperwork to become a temp residence. If you do this you no longer have to leave the country every 90 days.

Well that is if you don’t want to drive in Costa Rica. See here they right hand doesn’t always know what the left hand is doing. So they changed a law and now you can’t get a Costa Rica license until you have your cedula (Residence card). In the past before the law changed you could go and show your passport, a valid drivers license from some other country and a medical exam and there you have it a Costa Rica license. Now in addition to all that you need your cedual. Here is the kicker, if your visa expires than you can no longer drive on your out of country license. If you have insurance on your vehicle it is no longer valid either. Everything you do is tied to that visa. Just my luck the law changed just before we moved here. So as soon as we could we submitted our paperwork and now we wait and continue to leave every 90 days and hope we get 90 when we come back in.

They have also begun to impose very strict rules on going back and forth across the local borders to try and get people to stop being what has been coined as, “Perpetual Tourists” I totally get that, but if they really want to stop it then they have to approve people quicker. Their own law says they have to have it done within 90 days. That never happens, unless you have a big corporation you work for that is bringing in a lot of dollars and is hiring a lot of local people. You can then have it pushed though in a matter of weeks. We submitted our paperwork in June of 2013. We arrived here in Feb. of 2013 and the only reason it took that long is we have to go back to the states to get more paperwork that was needed, because again they changed the law just before we got here.

So why am I telling you all this? Just to give you some background so I can do a review of a border run. Now we have done a few of them since we moved here. We went to the Nico border and we have gone to the Panama border. Our very 1st border run was terrible! We went to the Nico border with a company that said they could get us though. The drive from Atenas was long and some of the roads lets just say were typical Costa Rica roads and you really need to make sure you go pee before you hit any of those roads. :-) It was a very long day as they all are when you drive from Atenas. You leave very early in the morning about 5am and you won’t get home until about 8pm maybe a little earlier if the traffic Gods have decided to smile upon you. Nicaragua and Panama are very hot compared to what we are use to in Atenas, so be prepared for that. There are also rules now that were not in place when we 1st got here. You have to have a plane ticket to your home country. You have to have proof that you have $500 per person in a bank account. You have to stay out of the Costa Rica for 3hrs min. and upto 3 days. Depends on what you do while you are out and what the boarder patrol says you have to do. It gets very complicated and if you do that long drive and have not check on the current rules and are missing something you are in trouble now. There is no, “but I didn’t know” in these countries. You just won’t get your visa. So you will have paid all that money to drive here and not get your stamp and have to do it again. Not a good deal at all. 

So now you have the Why of this review and its time to get to the review. We recently went on a trip for a border run and it was the best trip we have done to date. We still had to get up early but we were home by 1 pm. There were a few things I didn’t like, but they are my issues not the company that hosted the trip for us. I don’t like to fly, but do it because I know I have to in order to get to certain places. Part of this trip you have to fly. Now part of this trip you also have to take a boat. Yes I am one of those people who get seasick if I even look at the water! Its terrible. I did find a really good medication that helps. Its called Zofran. I love it! I can take a cruise and do just about anything on the water when I have this in my system. Check with your doctor to see if you can take it before trying it.

So the trip is done by a resort called The Rio Indio Lodge Just click on the name and you can see their website. It is a wonderful lodge with some really good food. They fly you into an area called Greytown. Then you take a boat to the lodge. They usually give you a little boat tour of the local area and tell you about the history of the town. It is very interesting and I will let them tell you all about it when you go visit. :-) So as they say a picture is worth a thousand words. So here are some pictures of the trip to the lodge.

rioplane

The plane

Now I am told this is bigger than the one they usually fly in. YIKES! I may not have been able to do a smaller plane this one was small enough for me. We just had to fly out on a day where the winds were really bad. I pretty much kept my eyes closed and kept thinking good thoughts the entire flight which was actually very short.

the boat

The boat that takes you to the lodge 

the airport in nico

The airport

The boat ride was not bad at all. Since I took my medication it wasn’t a problem. The little tour through the town was nice and giving us the history of the area. Not sure if they do that all the time, as we were running early and I think they needed time to get supplies back to the resort for lunch. If they don’t do the tour all the time make sure you request it before you get on the plane. Here are some random pictures from the water tour.

riohouse riohouse2 riotown riotown2 the place towerrio

Oh and did I happen to mention that no one owns a car here. That is because in this town there are no roads! Nope none. You must travel by boat to get to any place in this town.

So this was just a short trip for us so we didn’t stay at the lodge overnight. We did have a wonderful buffet lunch of fresh fish and lobster along with rice and veggies and an assortment of other items. It was all good and I am a bad foodie as I can’t find my picture I took of the buffet bar. :-( So you will just have to trust me on this one the food was excellent.

So here are some photo’s I took of the Lodge. It is so beautiful. This place was put together by some people with really good and expansive taste. You will love these pictures.

lodge1 lodge2 lodge3 lodge4 lodge5 lodge6 lodge7 lodge8

 I did not take any pictures of rooms. We had to rush and get back as the winds were picking up and they didn’t want to have a major issue and I am so glad they thought of us in that regard. You will need to go to their website to see pictures of the rooms.

The cost of this trip was about $250 a person. There were some border fees and such that is not included and you need to take cash in US for these fees.  They will go over all that with you when you book the trip.  Now both our trips to the Nico and Panama border with hiring a vehicle and then all the border fees and “TIPS” to get you there we would spend about $600 a trip. That did not include food so that was extra. So all in all this trip saved us money and it wasn’t a hard trip at all. Our 1st trip to the Nico boarder was painful. We had to stand in lines and it was hot and a lot of walking. It was not fun at all. This one was fun! Denise my wife and I plan on going back for a long weekend. It was a really great place.

Lets wrap this up. Great trip, friendly people, less expensive than our other boarder run, good food, great lodge, fast. I would say that if you have to do a boarder run this is the way to go without a doubt! So I give them 5 seashell out of 5!

Pura Vida!

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Outback Steak house why you made me so sad

If you have not yet figured it out I am a big foodie. I love food. I love going out to eat and taking pictures of everything I eat. I have to say that I did not take any pictures of the food from this restaurant. None of the food was picture worthy. So sorry to disappoint on this blog, there will be no actual food pictures. I will however post pictures from their facebook page and explain the difference between what they advertise and what we actually got. I am not going to show all the items we had but the top 3 worst items.

So lets start off with one of the most popular items on their menu in my opinion. The Blooming Onion on their facebook page looks like this.

bloomin onionWow this looks really tasty doesn’t it. Well what we got was nothing like this. It was much smaller than this looks and it was so over done we didn’t finish it and there were 4 adults and one teen who will eat anything and eat more then any human should ever eat. He is a teenager so its ok. That should tell you how bad this really was.

victorias filetThis looks like one amazing steak. Now back in the USA it would be. Here at this restaurant it was not. This picture makes it look so pretty and juicy. It was anything but. It was dry and over done. We asked for medium rare as any good steak should be cooked. It came out almost burnt. Now I could say, Ok over cooked this one, but my wife got a steak as well and asked for it medium rare and it came out almost burnt as well. Needless to say it was dry and not tasty at all. We couldn’t even eat either of our steaks because they were so tough.

outback wingsThese look really tasty. Don’t be fooled they were not. Now get this the steaks were over cooked and the wings were under cooked. one was even raw near the gone. They had no real flavor or heat to them at all. We asked for blue cheese and they gave us ranch. Ranch just doesn’t work for me when you are talking buffalo wings.

Lets talk about prices. It was one expensive meal. The prices do not reflect the quality or quantity of food that we got. Than factor into it that we couldn’t eat most of it because it was so bad. So not worth the price of admission that is for sure. Service was so slow and they were not attentive at all. We had to keep flagging down the staff to get refills and they were not busy. When the restaurant is swamped and full I totally understand having to wait sometimes, but this was not.

So lets wrap this up. Bad food, slow service, over priced food and drinks gives this place 0 seashellout of 5. I will never go back there again.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Restaurant Reviews | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Kay’s Gringo Postres

kays tableskays

There is a place in Costa Rica where everybody knows your name. No it isn’t named Cheer’s although there is a Cheers bar in Heredia, but I’m not here to talk about that just yet. :-) Kay’s Gringo Postres is a nice little restaurant here in Atenas. The owner Kay Costello is one of the best people you can find in Costa Rica. She greets you with a smile and remembers your name when you come back months later. We came in November of 2012 and than when we returned in February of 2013 she remembered our names and even what we liked to drink and our special diet! She is one amazing person.

Kay's_girls

So the lady in the center is Kay, on the right is Katia, and on the left is Mercedes.

These are the wonderful staff that will take care of almost all your needs. Katia mainly works in the Kitchen and cooks, Mercedes helps out and does most of the baking and let me tell you her cakes are to die for! Kay of course is the owner and she hangs out and helps people where she needs to. This is a great combination for some good food and a good place to hang.

cake

A cake she made for my wife’s birthday. Amazing taste as well as look!

Kay is an expat originally from Belle Fourche, South Dakota. Kay moved her over 10 years ago with her husband Tom. She started out very small and simple by selling dessert. She now has a full restaurant that sells very good american comfort food. She also has some Tico dishes as well. Here are just some examples of the food we got when we were here in Nov. of 2012. They have a really good Chef salad that I love!

salad

Specially made Salad to accommodate our special diet.

burger and fries

Very tasty Burger and Fries. Always a classic!

desserts

So many desserts and so delicious!

sunday brunch

This is the Sunday all you can eat Buffet.

soup and sand

Tomato Soup and a grill cheese sandwich was yummy!

Atenas has a Chili cook off each year which was started by Kay. It was a great success this year. They raised more then $30K for a local orphanage. The great part is that Katia and Mercedes won 1st place this year! The chili is served at Kay’s so if you go you really need to try the chili. 

1st place chilli winners

Kay’s menu has a good number of items on it and at reasonable prices. She has specials every day of the week which range from local fresh fish to meat loaf. You can get a a really good lunch for under $7 usually. She is closed on Mondays, but open the rest of the week from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm, but the cooks go home at about 2 pm so the kitchen is closed. You can still get some wonderful Costa Rica Coffee and Desserts.

So to wrap it up this is a great place to eat! Friendly people, good food, and reasonable prices. This gets 5 seashell out of 5 from me. If you are ever in Atenas you must stop in and say Hi to everyone and have a bite to eat. You won’t regret it.

You can find them on facebook: Kay’s Gringo Postres

Pura Vida!

Categories: Restaurant Reviews | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Remax Real estate in Atenas Costa Rica

ShellyHere is the link to their website and you must give it a look: Remax

They not only sell real estate, but also do rentals as well. So if you are looking to move to Costa Rica or just spend a little time here you should really check out their website. If you don’t see what you are looking shoot them off an email or give them a call. They may have something that isn’t listed or they can hunt around to find what you are looking for. They will try to make your experience here as pleasant as they possible can. They are great!

We used their services to buy our house here in Costa Rica. We came down in Nov. of 2012 not having a clue what it would be like and what we had in store for us. they made it simple and easy and painless. They found us a rental in our budget. They took us out on our schedule to show us houses, not only in Atenas, but worked it out for an area call Grecia as well. We did finally settle on a house here in Atenas.

They held our hand though every step of the process and even help us to find a good lawyer for the closing.

So to wrap it up great team, Trustworthy, honest, friendly, informative and just really good people all the way around. You should use them if you are looking to buy or rent in this area. I give them 5 seashellout of 5.

Pura Vida!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Riu Palace Guanacaste Costa Rica

Rui Lobby

The lobby of the Hotel

RiU Lobby Riu Lobby

Let me start off by saying this is one of the best Lobbies I have ever seen. I have seen many. This hotel is just that a Palace. It is huge and so beautiful. It is a must see. It is also an all inclusive resort and you can’t beat that. Staying here is like going on a cruise ship and not being on the water. You will want for nothing at all hours of the day and night. There is food and drink everywhere.

Here take a look at the mini bar:

Mini-Bar

Not that is what I am talking about. Full bottles with single shot spouts. When you are empty they just replace them and you start all over again. Its going to be hard not to find a hard drink when you have a mini bar like this in your room.

So now that I have your interest. :-) Room rates vary from $320 to upwards of $800 a nigh. Keep in mind once there all your food, drink, and entertainment is included in the price. Really those are not bad prices.

So here are some pictures of the room we stayed in. It was an amazing room.

Riu Room Riu Room Riu Room Riu room Riu Room

It was a most comfortable room. Now the water in the room is not drinkable. So don’t drink it. They always make sure you have bottled water in your room. There is also free Wifi something every hotel should have in the room! So you can upload those pictures to your friends at all hours of the day and night. The shower was amazing. It had good water pressure and it just made you feel so good when you were done.

Now onto the most important aspect of the trip, THE FOOD!!!!! It was amazing. Now we were only there for a short trip and most of the restaurants require you to make a reservation. So we didn’t eat in those. There were a number of them. You have to make the reservation by 2 pm the day before your dinner. Now we did eat at the one restaurant you didn’t need a reservation. Again the food was amazing.  It was a buffet style and each night they had a different theme to the foods. Remember what I said about a cruise ship? Yes it is just like that. Here are some samples of the food that was presented one night.

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Shame on you if you leave this place hungry! This was all in just one night and I think I may have missed a few stations. There was a waitress who brought us our drinks and they were very attentive to our needs.

So the beach and the pool were very nice no doubt. We did not get in the water only because the pool area was so amazing and we were only there for 2 nights. They have 6 pools and there are pool bars in and outside of the pool itself. They have chairs and other items for the beach as well if you decide to be a beach bum instead of a pool bum like me. So here are pictures of the pool and beach area.

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So, my review wrap up is a great place to stay with amazing food, comfortable room, great pool and beach, and friendly attentive staff. So I give this place 4 1/2 seashells out of 5.

Just in cast you want to stay there, here is a link to their website:

Riu Hotels for Families with speacial activities

Pura Vida!

Don’t forget to check out our Cafe Press shop! $3 of every item purchased goes to Charities here in Costa Rica. Also check out our House for Saleand Rent listings as well!  If you are traveling and you want a cheap $4.99 a month and good VPN so you can watch hulu, your countries Netflix, and amazon click here. Good for travel or if you live here in Costa Rica. Don’t forget about our Amazon shop as well!

 

 

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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