Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pura Vida - Day 4

My last full day in paradise included some quality time on the beach, a sangria by the pool, seashell hunting and a cocktail class (I invented the mango-thyme mojito). I also snapped a photo of the hotel's mascot (a purple VW van with a surfboard on top). Not pictured was the yoga class I took in the morning.

I enjoyed the Chef's Special Tuna ceviche dish, a cocktail and the cucumber, sweet tofu and apple gazpacho. During dinner I watched the moon rise over the bay. It was like a movie made just for me.
Also, in case you wondered, here are a few of he best/worst things about vacationing alone:
Best
-       You can use all the towels – why do I need three for one shower? Who cares, there all mine!
-       No one will judge you if you sleep in and skip yoga (which I actually didn’t do since there was only one class offered this week)

-       You pick the place/time/duration of all activities
-       Everyone at the resort knows your name since you’re the only person alone at a romantic locale (except this one guy who thinks my name is Susan, I’m trying to get used to answering to that)
-       You can sleep diagonal in the bed (a nod to Phish, yes, but also surprisingly comfortable)
-       It’s easier to make friends with random staff and guests – they wonder what the heck you’re doing alone
Worst
-       You have to Skype someone to read aloud the best parts of “Yes Please” (my vacation read)
-       No one to put sunscreen on the spot you can’t reach on your back (but that’s why they invented the spray bottle)
-       Typically your vacation shots are all selfies but you learn to get better at taking them

-       You realize you haven't said anything to anyone all day besides "hola"
-       Walking home at night may call on your ninja skills but it’s usually just a wild animal

-       Eating every meal alone (giving you time to think, which I guess is technically good but there are three meals a day, yikes!)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Pura Vida - Day 3

Today begin with a morning run and breakfast that included coconut french toast with caramelized bananas (upper left). After that, I finally made it to the beach during low tide and finished a book (it's been so long since that's happened!). Then I spent a few more hours at the spa, I can't help myself. I wish I could capture the scent of the chilled face towels they hand out, scrumptious! I even payed homage to the boys in blue with my toenail polish - "Dating a Royal".
After a snack at the bar, I headed to my ceviche class. The chef prepared a batch that we all tried and then we stepped up, selected our fish (I had shrimp and seabass) and got to work. I went with a mango, cilantro, garlic, lemon, corn, salt medley. When we were done, they gave us a chilled bowl for our masterpieces paired with a bowl of plantain and apple chips. Sounds weird but it was excellent. I was so stuffed full of fish that I skipped my original plan for pizza.
The raw ingredients. If only I had this station (and all the pre-made sauces) laid out at home, I would make ceviche all the time!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pura Vida - Day 2

Today was a pool day -- I enjoyed breakfast (bottom right) and dinner by the pool, read by the pool and swam. I also checked out the second beach. Although it was high tide, the walk down was very pretty (middle right).


During breakfast I kept hearing a bunch of noises and noticed the trees swaying, despite a lack of wind. When I looked closer, I realized there were about 15-20 monkeys climbing about and eating their breakfast. Then, some unidentified creature showed up next to my table. Apologies in advance for how this was shot but I didn't want to miss a howl!

After a leisurely morning, I enjoyed a blissful, 90-minute massage. The therapist was even nice enough to take my picture. which I told her would be the only non-selfie one of my vacation.
For dinner I checked out the last of three restaurants at the resort: Ostra. Situated next to the pool and under a full moon, this open-air eatery was incredible. If you frequent this blog, you know I eat my way around the world and this meal was one of my best. Not to make you hungry but I have to share the details of my feast. The meal started off with an amuse-bouche (not pictured) of ginger, soy salmon chevice.

From top left: seasame encrusted sweet tofu in a cucumber, chile oil gazpacho with the signature cocktail - the Ostra: Tanqueray Ten gin, rosemary, grapefruit juice, lemongrass and ginger syrup. Bottom left:
asparagus, shrimp and ayote (squash) risotto, which had more shrimp than risotto - yum! Top right: deconstructed ayote cheesecake with caramelized cashews. Needless to say, I went to bed full and happy. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pura Vida - Day 1

As most of you reading this have heard, I am changing jobs -- leaving Water.org and heading to Bank of America. With this change comes a lot of fodder for reflection so I thought it would be nice to get away somewhere for the week in between. I had been to Costa Rica several years back with my friend Stef to learn how to surf and I've wanted to come back ever since. So, here I am!

I booked myself for five days at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort (my room above). Brian didn't want to be away from work this week, so it's just me -- which seems confusing for the staff here, but, yes, table for one please.
I love presents and my room came with complimentary sun hats, coconut candies, granadilla fruit and minibar full of snacks and drinks. There are also a bunch of activities planned for the week on the schedule above (I've signed up for three classes so far). I also love the indoor/outdoor rain shower.
I explored around the property after I arrived and had a little lunch. There are two pools, three beaches, a gym, spa and three restaurants. I headed to Chao Pescao for the tapas happy hour. I love how everything is open-air -- despite the sprinkling rain, you still felt the breeze. I had some salmon ceviche, fresh corn tortas with fresh salsa and guacamole with a basil mojito (complete with burning stick of cinnamon, who knew?). It was all delicious and I happily headed back to my room for some sleep.