Take Me Back Tuesday – Costa Rica

Last December my two girlfriends and I decided to pack our bags, be a little adventurous, and go to Costa Rica.  It was such an awesome trip that we managed to pull off on a pretty small budget.  Ever since I studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain and traveled around Europe I have been bitten by the travel bug.  After college I worked in the travel industry for four years which only furthered my desire to see the world.  Being in my twenties means if I want to make this a reality I need to do it without spending too much money.  Our itinerary looked something like this:

San Jose

We flew into San Jose and found a great budget hostel that was awesome!

Hostel Pangea was a great place to start our vacation.  It had a great view, a bar/restaurant with pool tables and computers, and a pool!

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La Fortuna / Arenal

From San Jose we headed to the town of La Fotuna which is where the Arenal Volcano is.  We had another great hostel here that almost reminded us of a mini backpackers resort.  The Arenal Hostel Resort was the perfect place for us to explore our “adventurous side.” The owner of the hostel and the workers were great.  They were so accommodating from the moment we got there.  They organized a hike for us around the Volcano, Zip lining, a visit to the Baldi Hot Springs, and even a barbecue at the hotel followed by a night out at a local bar.

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Tamarindo

Our final stop was our “relaxing” portion of the trip. We had about 4 days in Tamarindo which is a little surfing town on the pacific coast.  It was the perfect place for us to get some sun, beach time, and try out surfing.  Some people say that Tamarindo is getting more and more touristy, especially with backpackers, but we absolutely loved it!  We stayed at two different hostels.  The first one was Blue Trailz.  This one was small, right across from the beach, and allowed us to have our own little suite with a kitchen, porch, and all!  Who ever said staying at hostels was roughing it?!  The next one we stayed at was call La Oveja Negra.  This was definitely more hostel-esque.   We still had our own rooms, but had to share the bathrooms and showers.  This hostel was really cool though because we met so many travelers from all over the world.

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Tips for Tamarindo

Surfing: I would suggest, if taking surfing lessons, to find the local guys on the beach.  This is what we did and it was a lot cheaper and they were great.  Make sure you pay attention to the tides so you are out there during the right time for your skill level.

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Restaurants: All of the restuarants were awesome in Tamarindo.  You pay more for the ones on the beach and less for the ones a few blocks off.  Definitely try some seafood here – it was all delicious!  This is where I tried ceviche for the first time and I was hooked!

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Bars:  Once you are in Tamarindo you will feel like you are part of a little community separated from the rest of the world.  Everyone in the entire town goes to one bar each night.  You will know this because everyone from your server from lunch to the guys selling surf lessons on the beach to the hostel workers will tell you!  Go with it, you will meet people from all over the world and different walks of life…one of my favorite parts about traveling!

Sunsets: Don’t miss the sunset in Tamarindo…it’s beautiful!

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My Go To Dinner – Spinach, Mushroom, Bacon Omelet

Alright, so I think this has my been my go to dinner for almost two years now….that’s crazy right?!  How can a person not get sick of a meal after two years? I couldn’t tell you because I eat this meal at least 3 to 4 times per week.  I used to switch up the ingredients but have pretty much stuck to the staples lately.  It’s so easy to make too which is why it’s the best for weeknight dinners!

Ingredients

Bacon

Sliced Mushrooms

Organic Spinach

2 or 3 Cage Free Eggs

First cook the bacon until your desired crispness (sometimes I get too impatient and my bacon doesn’t come out very crispy at all).  Remove the bacon and put aside. Saute the mushrooms and spinach in the bacon grease.  Add two or three whisked eggs (I usually add a splash of water instead of milk) to the pan right over the mushrooms and spinach.  The pan has to be the size of the omelet before flipped in half.  Let the eggs cook by swiveling the frying pan.  Add the bacon to one side once the egg is almost fully cooked.  Take the side without the bacon and flip that half on top of the other half.  The picture might help….I’ve never really written out recipes and think I might need some work!

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I also had a bunch of cucumbers and tomatoes lying around so decided to put together a simple salad to have for the rest of the week.  Perfect to bring to work for lunch!

Simple Cucumber Tomato Salad

Cucumbers

Organic Grape Tomatoes

Olive Oil

Salt, Pepper, and Trader Joes Lemon Pepper

Combine everything and enjoy!

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Meal Prep Monday

I think I heard “It’s just another manic Monday” on the radio twice today….how fitting.  Why are Mondays so tough?!  Today for some reason was especially tough for me.  I was extremely tired and not very focused.  When 6PM rolled around and I knew it was gym time I had the urge to just go home and go to sleep but we know that wouldn’t solve anything.  Since my boyfriend, Andy, is the best motivator I told him how I was feeling and he sent me some encouragement with this text.

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So I got in my car and got my butt to the gym.  Mondays I usually do a Cross Fit workout at the gym.  If I could afford to go to a Cross Fit gym I would but I also have to spend a lot on yoga and my gym membership so I guess it would be a little ridiculous to do all three.  Instead, I’ve just learned the techniques of most of the Cross Fit exercises and do them on my own at the gym.  I used to get embarrassed and shy doing dead lifts or push presses, etc at the gym – but I’m over it.  Now I kind of just feel cool…yup I own it!  Today I did a modified version of “Rowing Helen.”  It consisted of:

Complete 3 rounds of…

500 Meter Row

21 Kettle Bells

12 Push-Ups (This was supposed to be pull ups but there was someone on the pull up machine boo)

After the gym I headed to the grocery store.  Moving to Stamford, I was pretty bummed there wasn’t a Trader Joe’s near by.  Then I discovered Fairway Market!  It’s awesome…kind of a cross between Whole Foods and a local health food store.  It’s huge, has a ton of options for good quality/grass-fed meats, and has all that good healthy organic food store stuff.  I usually can get my whole grocery list for the week, including lunches and dinners, for about $40 – $50.  This week I bought grass-fed ground beef sirloin and Fairway’s homemade mango salsa to make mango salsa burgers on the grill which would be my dinner tonight and lunch for the next three days. They didn’t come out as good as my regular salsa burgers.  The mango chunks were a little too big and they fell apart a little bit….but it all goes to the same place right?!

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I should probably get to bed before 11PM tonight since I complain of being tired quite a bit and am waking up at 5:45AM for Yoga.  Can you be a morning person AND a night owl? Because I think I am!

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