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Better than I thought it could be

North Carolina
Level Contributor
79 posts
1 review
Better than I thought it could be

Having received so much information from this forum, here I am trying to give back. Thanks for all the help. Costa Rica was much more of everything than I thought could be possible. I can't write like a lot of you and describe in beautiful words as so many of you; but I can say how much we enjoyed every part of the country that we saw. Thanks to a wonderful man, our driver, Leonardo Rodriguez who was just super! There he was waiting at the airport. Loaded his wonderful van with the 6 of us and our luggage, had the cooler waiting for us, and headed off to Arenal Observatory Lodge. What a guide and what a wonderful driver. So observant of things along the road to see and so considerate of his passengers. I don't think he ever hit a pothole and there were many of them. He delivered us safely to the Lodge where we had a most wonderful three days. Could hardly take our eyes off the volcano as it moaned and groaned and spewed forth hot lava rocks. We lay in our wonderful beds and just watched in awe. Our grown kids and their friends did the hikes, ziplines and all kinds of exploring. Leo arranged the zip line trip for them and they loved it. Quite an experience. He picked us up at the Observatory Lodge three days later and drove us to the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area where we had rented a house for the next 6 nights. We saw so much of Costa Rica and learned so very much from him. The mountains, the waterfalls, the birds, the animals, the people, the food; I just can't put it into words. Our house Casa de las Brisas was beautiful and the people at Escape Villas in MA were great. Lester certainly went more than out of his way to make our stay perfectly wonderful. Our rental agents here in NC could learn so much from them. We never lacked for anything. Even had as many as 25 White faced monkeys playing all over the roof and patio of our house. Just unbelivable! Our chef for an evening was Roger and his assistant Ober and the good Lord knows none of us have ever experienced anything like that before. We ate from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. and I can honestly say never have we had such good food prepared by such excellent chefs. Sure is hard to get back to this regular life here on the coast of NC. The Manuel Antonio Park is so great. So happy we did that. Mario was our guide and again, let me say, we were blessed to have found someone so knowledgable. The mangrove tour was wonderful. Jason was our guide and I don't think he missed anything to point out to us. Leo picked us up again to drive us back to the airport and again, made it a memorable trip that we will long remember. We are already planning a return trip to another area to see more of wonderful Costa Rica. Leo will be there to meet us. We came away with love in our hearts for Costa Rica and now we have friends there as well. PURA VIDA!

If you would like to contact Leo...his email address is: leratravelcr@yahoo.com and please let him know I referred him to you :)

Mitchell, South...
Level Contributor
282 posts
5 reviews
1. Re: Better than I thought it could be

marshgirl. I am so glad that you used Leo and gave such rave reviews. My family of four used him in May and I have written many posts due to his professionalism, safe driving and great personality. Great post. You traveled to different locations than we did and I so enjoy reading all that Costa Rica has to offer. Leo e-mailed me that Manzanilla Beach is paradise - so that is where we will have Leo take us next, and on to Osa. Can't wait. Happy Holidays.

Edmonon, AB
1 post
2. Re: Better than I thought it could be

Marshgirl,

Thanks for the posting. Some great insight. We are heading down to stay in Casa De Las Brisas in January with a group of 18 people for a wedding. We are looking forward to it... but I have some questions that I thought you might be able to answer...

1) Is the location walking distance from the beach? Which beach is the closest?

2) How far is it from Quepos and what is the best way to get there?

That's pretty much it...

I'd love to hear back from you on any of the above and anything else you want to add. We can't wait to get down there!!

goosejr.

North Carolina
Level Contributor
79 posts
1 review
3. Re: Better than I thought it could be

goosejr.........

Reply:

1) Is the location walking distance from the beach? Which beach is the closest?

Walking distance? Yes. Long and tiresome walk? Yes. Some of our group walked down to the beach that was said to be within walking distance, but got a cab to get back up to the house. The beaches are pretty and most, nice, but I think you will need to have transportation and I would recommend that. Also, use red cabs with the yellow triangle on it.

2) How far is it from Quepos and what is the best way to get there? Not far, maybe 4 miles or so. Not a bad trip at all. Again we used a cab to go there to do some shopping and really enjoyed the day. We also stopped at Ronnie's Place on the way back for a late lunch and it was wonderful. The cabs are not expensive and most drivers are very helpful.

Hope this helped a little. When we were there December of 2005 they were adding two or three bedrooms downstairs and doing some really elaborate decorating. We had four bedrooms including a private one in a tower beside the carport. That house is the best!!!! The monkeys that visited every afternoon around 3 to 4 were so amazing that we never wanted to miss it.

central ny
Level Contributor
22 posts
4. Re: Better than I thought it could be

Glad to hear you had such a wonderful time and are already planning a return trip.

Our family of 5 is scheduled to fly out in about 6 weeks and after reading your's and other's wonderful posts the last week or two I'm glad we picked CR for our big vacation!

I just sent off an email to Leonardo - hope to hear back from him soon.

A few questions -

How did you find him?

Did you feel the need for a car while in Arenal?

What were his fees?

Does he smoke?

Did you have a lava view from the lodge - I heard the lava flow is now on the opposite side of the volcano from the lodge?

Do you have any restaurant recommendations for Arenal?

Thanks for your post - it's folks like you that make this site invaluable.

North Carolina
Level Contributor
79 posts
1 review
5. Re: Better than I thought it could be

familyvacati0n...........I found Leo while searching information on tripadvisor and Fodor's. He is just wonderful and we consider him a friend indeed. From the very first meeting we felt we could not possibly have made a better decision. He is always prompt, helpful, accommodating, interesting, informative and knowledgable, a safe and observant driver, kind..................need I say more? He does not smoke and he speaks three or four languages. Hopefully next time we go he can just travel with us all week as he is like one of the family.

We did not feel we needed a vehicle in Arenal as we were only there for three nights. Leo arranged for a tour to pick up all but my husband and me for the zip line thing and that was great as they really enjoyed their time doing that. One night they went to Tabacon, which they loved and then went to La Fortuna for dinner, which they said was really good. Will get them to remind me of the restaurant if you like. Tom and I stayed at the Observatory lodge and enjoyed the hikes, (lava trail and around the grounds,) swinging bridge, waterfall, etc. We felt the food was good there and we did not want to miss a single rock tumbling down the volcano. We could not sleep all night because the view was so good and we could hear every rumble. Totally awesome! Do want to go back. I do understand the view is better from another location at this point in time. The Arenal site is a good one to get information.

If I can be of any assistance, will be happy to accommodate.

North Carolina
Level Contributor
79 posts
1 review
6. Re: Better than I thought it could be

familyvacati0n..........If you have emailed Leo, I am sure he will email you back as soon as he has a minute to do so. His fees, to us, were really reasonable and I am sure each circumstance is different. There were 6 of us on our first trip to Arenal from San Jose. This last time there were 9 of us going from Liberia to Playa Grande.

7. Re: Better than I thought it could be

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