Posted on Feb 13th, 2011 by Allison (Costa Rica, Family/Friends, Photography, Travel)

The next leg of my Costa Rican journey took us to Arenal Volcano and La Fortuna.

On the way, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant that was frequented by some beautiful, colorful birds. I saw my first toucan in the wild – along with toucanets, pretty tanagers, woodpeckers, and this cool Montezuma Oropendola.

We were very fortunate to arrive at a scenic outlook when the volcano was visible – because the next two days (when we were staying right next to it) it was shrouded in clouds.

On the long drive around the lake to Arenal, we noticed a small, hand painted sign, nailed to a tree, advertising a “German Bakery.” And a few miles later, another one.

Mile after mile, no bakery, but more signs (this is one of the larger, later ones).

And the signs kept getting bigger and bigger . We alternated between feeling anticipation for potential strudel, and aggravation (“Where the hell is that bakery!!”)

Finally, after passing lots of other little restaurants, coffee shops, and road-side stands we pulled into the beautiful town of Arenal and saw this sign.

I dare you not to stop at the German Bakery after that drive. They sure know how to market! If we weren’t craving strudel an hour before, we certainly were now!

Here is what we ordered.

It was a bit overpriced, and the staff weren’t particularly friendly, but it was a charming place and our treats were pretty good, though the chocolate cake (the girls’ choice) was a bit dry… as are most cakes in Costa Rica. It was a nice break from traditional Costa Rican fare.

Arenal really is a lovely little town.

The drive between Arenal and La Fortuna was incredible. Spectacular. The most lush, green jungle I saw the entire trip.

And yet I have no photos because my battery died on this particular stretch of road :(    I made this sad discovery when I tried to photograph a magical bamboo grove.

I had used up the battery trying to capture images and video to figure out what the beautiful, colorful flowers were that covered the roadside.

There were just no good places to pull over…. so I got a lot of blurry photos and a video that made me nauseous.  But I was a woman obsessed and on a quest to find out…  

“What ARE THOSE FLOWERS!?”

When we finally DID get the chance to stop and see just what they were I was blown away. My mom will be so envious.

Impatiens!

Beautiful, colorful, glorious impatiens growing en masse, wild along the hillsides. I thought of my mom and her struggle to get impatiens to survive – let alone thrive – in her garden each summer and knew she’d just love to see them. So these photos are for you, mom.

Brandon booked us at beautiful Los Lagos Resortin La Fortuna, at the foot of Arenal, for two nights.

During the daylight hours we we explored the lovely grounds. We wandered the butterfly garden.

This orange butterfly really, really liked Jen. It followed and landed on her several times. Must be because she’s so sweet :)

We also visited the ant farm, frog farm and crocodile farm. Sadly, the frog farm was being renovated and no frogs were to be found.

I’m not sure why someone would want to farm crocodiles, but there they were.
Notice the impatiens behind him.

We took advantage of the free wifi in the large, lovely lobby during a major downpour. It was fun to see and hear the rain – it came and went so quickly.

We also explored La Fortuna a bit and visited a lovely gallery featuring original art by Costa Rican artists called Coco Loco.

Lots of beautiful artwork – I think the mixed media wall hangings/masks were our favorites.

But the real treat was the hot springs.

We swam both nights and had so much fun in the naturally heated pools – and the cooler pools along side them.

They are designed to look and feel like natural pools – maybe 12 or so of them – ranging from smaller, hot tub size to large swimming pools – some hot, some warm, some quite chilly – and with some of the smaller ones being covered or having private little nooks.

Would make for a great romantic getaway. There actually were several couples cuddled up in those nooks the first night – but the second night we practically had the whole place to ourselves.

It was magical.

The large, hot pool also had a big, very fun slide (yes I went on it once!) and a bar/restaurant you could swim right up to. We sat at the bar and enjoyed piña coladas in pineapples, soaked, splashed and swam – surrounded by joyous frog song.

I actually saw three frogs - one right on the rock in front of me in one of the smaller pools. I love frogs.

On our way back to Grecia, we stopped in San Ramon for Jen’s ultrasound appointment (was very fun to be included in that). While there, we checked out the beautiful church in the center of town. Lots more pictures in the slide show below – or access them here.

Next up – Ashley, Justin and Kennedy arrive! So do you want to visit Costa Rica yet?

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Comments

Robert on February 13th, 2011 at 9:00 am

Awesome photos. What a lovely resort for you to spend time in.

Impatients and crocodiles… what a mix… : )


Jean on February 13th, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Thank you for taking me on a wonderful trip through your photo’s and blog posts. I have enjoyed it very much.


Brandon Pearce on February 13th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

I loved that drive around Lake Arenal – so lush! And the hot springs were a blast, especially the slide. I’m so glad the girls finally got up the courage to go down it.


Jennifer Pearce on February 13th, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Even though the bakery wasn’t everything we were anticipating, those signs along the way and all the cars we saw parked around the bakery when we arrived was worth a good laugh.:O

Your pictures are so breathtaking, I especially loved the pictures of the little rivers/streams and the picture of the lake at Los Lagos. I also loved the toucan you caught a picture of in the tree. So beautiful!!

I’m also really glad Emily and Marie both got brave enough to go down the waterslide at Los Lagos, and even had enough fun that they didn’t want to stop!


Michelle on February 13th, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Gorgeous! I love the volcano picture and the lovely resort pools, looks so relaxing. I can see that you had a marvelous time. Your German bakery story cracked me up. That gator looks very formidable.


Ashley on February 13th, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Again, such amazingly beautiful pictures. You guys saw so many cool birds in the wild!! I’m glad you were able to take so many great pics. And I’m glad you finally made it to the German bakery. lol.


paul on February 17th, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Again, amazing. What a wonderful vacation. All that beautiful scenery and wonderful family moments too. I’m so glad you shared.


Lauren on February 25th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Holy cow I have LOVED looking through your pics of Costa Rica. You are so very talented :).


Allison on February 25th, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Thanks Lauren. It was such a fun trip. I’ve got one more post coming (hopefully this weekend).

You’re pretty talented with a camera yourself!


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