Monday, 29 June 2015

Central America Holiday Haul

     So if you’ve been reading my blog lately at all, you might have noticed that I’ve been off travelling through Central America for the past month. I mean, you know, there’s only been about a dozen posts about it… Anyway, I’m starting to get into my usual schedule for posting again, but first up, I’m going to round off the trip with a haul post about the various souvenirs I bought (I say round off, but there will be Travel Inspiration posts in the future with more of my photos). I told myself I wasn’t going to buy loads, but that was wishful thinking! I got quite a few things, the majority being jewellery, as it’s small, easy to carry, and I know I’ll definitely wear it and not just leave it sitting in a box somewhere. Also, not included here are my magnets, as I collect at least one for every country I visit (sometimes more for different cities or trips).

Jade necklace, blue element necklaces & Mayan stone carvings from Belize

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

La Fortuna | Central American Adventure

     Costa Rica is just bursting with activities to do! Like Monteverde, La Fortuna isn't a big, exciting city, but is a good base for activities. There were so many on offer it was hard to know what to pick! Unfortunately, the continual rain they've had there recently limited some things - a few people wanted to do canyoneering, or hike a volcano, but it was too wet for either. La Fortuna sits at the base of the Arenal Volcano, with is a near perfect cone, but we only got to glimpse it for about half an hour during our entire stay, as it was hidden by the clouds most of the time. On our first evening, we checked into Fortuna Hotel (which had the best wifi we've seen in about a week!), then walked to the main town square, where we had dinner at Kazan. It was a bar, rather than a restaurant, though we were all too tired to stay out for drinks, but they made a rather excellent cocktail called a Gran Dama, with chocolate liqueur, Bailey's and cinnamon!

View of river and palm trees at Caño negro outside La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Monday, 22 June 2015

Monteverde | Central American Adventure

     Higher and higher, up rocky, winding roads, with spectacular mountain views all around. Monteverde is famed for its cloud forest, a jungle so high up it sits in the cloud layer, and is home to an abundance of wildlife. It's also colder and wetter than the lowlands, so bring some layers and a raincoat! The town itself is quite small, but is a base for plenty of activities, for nature lovers and adrenaline junkies alike. After checking into the Historias Lodge, we headed out for dinner at Sabor Tico, where I tried chalupa, a local dish with fried tortilla, chicken, beans and salad.

Hanging bridge in the cloud forest canopy of Monteverde, Costa Rica

Friday, 19 June 2015

Ometepe | Central American Adventure

     Two vast, active volcanos rising out of a lake so huge, it feels more like an ocean. This was home for two nights, on the island of Ometepe, in Lake Nicaragua. The volcanos, Concepción and Maderas, are joined together by a small stretch of land, and you can just see the mainland on the horizon. Ometepe is an hour or two by ferry, and it's quite something to see the volcanos towering out of the water like they do. We crossed mid-afternoon, and then only had a short drive to our hotel, Finca Venezia. The rooms are like small houses in the grounds, with views of palm trees and the beach outside - but there is the occasional power cut, as we had for the entirety of our first night! It lasted long enough for dinner at the hotel at least!

Concepcion volcano view from Maderas on Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Granada | Central American Adventure

     We had two very, very long travel days before reaching Granada, including crossing the border from Honduras to Nicaragua. Eventually we arrived mid-afternoon, so there was still some time to explore the city. There's lots of colourful buildings and pretty architecture to see. We got a brief tour and history lesson from our local guide, taking in a church, the cathedral, and the main square. There was a bit of free time to explore the main street, a pedestrianised area full of bars and restaurants, and street vendors. Then we met up again for dinner and drinks at El Tercer Ojo, which had a menu more similar to what I'd expect at home, rather than what we've had here so far, but was still very good.

Main square and cathedral of Granada, Nicaragua

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Roatán Island | Central American Adventure

     Another island playground! From Copan, we travelled to the coast to catch the ferry to the island of Roatán. The ferry ride was not everyone's favourite journey, as the sea was pretty choppy, which led to some queasy stomachs. There was a little boy sitting in front of me, who I ended up playing with (mostly communicating through funny faces) for most of the journey - then about 10 minutes from docking, he vomited all over the floor. Great. Anyway, we eventually got to our hotel, Las Orquideas, in West End, where every room has a balcony by the waterside, which was beautiful! Then we headed out to dinner at a group of restaurants sharing the same space, so we could order from any and all sit together - I chose tacos from El Boske.

Beach in West End, Roatán Island, Honduras

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Copan | Central American Adventure

     Here we are in Honduras for the next few days! Antigua to Copan is a fairly long drive, so we set off at 4am, to avoid the traffic through Guatemala City and cut down the waiting time at the border. In the end, we got to Copan by lunchtime, albeit feeling a little groggy. Because of this, everyone opted out of activities that afternoon. We walked around the town, which is a pretty place, full of cobbled streets, and stopped to get street food for lunch. You hear a lot of warnings about eating street food, but as long as you can see it's been prepared properly, it's often fine, which this was.

Cobbled street of Copan, Honduras

Monday, 8 June 2015

Antigua | Central American Adventure

     Well we actually got to see Antigua this time around, no road accidents to hold us up this time! Unfortunately, as soon as we arrived, around lunch time, it decided to pour down with rain! Antigua is a beautiful town, coloured houses and cobbled streets, all carefully preserved that way (McDonald's aren't even allowed their golden arches on their exterior), but it's not very appealing to walk around it in the rain! There were streams running down the middle of roads, so we took refuge by having lunch. It was a place called Saberico, which already looked cute from the front, but had a hidden garden in the back, where we ate under a sort of awning.

Volcano and buildings in Antigua, Guatemala at 6am

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Lake Atitlán | Central American Adventure

     Technically, there was a night spent in Antigua prior to these two days. I was intending to write about that in my Antigua post, after we return there, however, there was a road accident on the way, which delayed us by about six hours, so we didn't see any of the town at all! We even had dinner in a random roadside service station, with a queue of barely moving lorries outside! It was a very long day, to say the least.

Market stall at Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Tikal & Rio Dulce | Central American Adventure

     Hola Guatemala! A new day, a new country! We crossed the border between Belize and Guatemala, taking a private van, before driving on towards Tikal. It's not far from the border, but sits near a vast lake, Lake Peten Itza, where we stopped for lunch at El Muelle restaurant. The lake stretches out as far as can be seen, and you can walk down from the restaurant for a swim while waiting for your order. They also have a swimming pool, if the lake is too cold or green, which most of us opted for. Then we drove into Tikal National Park, where we would be camping for the night. Or "glamping" as our tour manager said, since we had modern, waterproof tents, and access to hot showers and the hotel restaurant.

Temples in Tikal National Park, Guatemala

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