Looking for tickets or info for the Get Happy Tour 2018 featuring Bowling for Soup, Army of Freshmen and The Aquabats?

This domain name was used for the Get Happy Tour back in its original run around 10 years ago, when I used to do work for BFS and AOF. However, for the past 5 years it has been used for my travel blog as I never thought we would have another Get Happy Tour and I didn't want it to go to waste.

But as a favour to two bands who have done a lot for me over the years, and so you don't miss out, ticket info is:
O2 Presale: 10am on 25 September
General Onsale: 10am on 27 September.

Tickets available from ticketmaster.co.uk and bowlingforsoup.com
 


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Archive for February, 2012

A morning in Entebbe

February 29th, 2012 No comments

As I arrived at 10pm yesterday rather than the 220am of my old flights I was able to get up early enough to be able to explore Entebbe for a while before my friend arrived to collect me for the journey to Jinja. After getting up, repacking my bags and discovering how bad the ants are in Uganda I checked out of the room and headed out towards the Uganda Wildlife Centre to see some African animals. It was to be quite a walk but a guy was waiting near the hostel with a boda motorbike taxi and took me to the zoo in only a few minutes.

Almost every guide book about the region recommends staying away from Bodas due to the risk of injury. The roads in Africa can be chaotic and the traffic laws tend to be used as guidelines more than rules so when combined with the quality of the roads and the lack of helmets there can be a lot of accidents. However when you’re in Africa without your own transport and on a budget they tend to be the only way to get from A to B within a town. TIA after all.

A Lion at the zoo in Entebbe

A Lion at the zoo in Entebbe (Uganda Wildlife Centre)

A Uganda Kob

A Uganda Kob

A Bird Cage at the zoo

The bird enclosure

A Zebra in Entebbe

A Zebra at the zoo

I enjoyed my time at the zoo as I was able to see and get close to so many animals that I missed out on last time I was in Uganda including Lion, Crocodile, Snakes and Monkeys – the latter of which were wild in the grounds and got VERY close on occasions. The grounds themselves were lovely and and extended all the way down to the shore of Lake Victoria and as I was one of the only visitors this morning I was able to walk around in peace and soak up the atmosphere.

While I was looking at the Lions I noticed a jeep pull up near me and a man in a suit got out and started watching me. Originally I thought I was standing somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be but after walking towards him he introduced himself as the manager and he wanted to chat to me just to see what my views were on the zoo. We chatted for a few minutes about his zoo and other zoos I had visited and he asked my opinion on a few things they had done recently – it seemed like they genuinely care about what people think rather than just presenting the animals for you to see like in some other zoos. I was also asked what I thought about the entry price of the zoo and whether I received a receipt but didn’t think anything more of the answers I gave until I got back to the entrance. As I walked out I heard somebody trying to get my attention from the side window of the ticket office – it was the ticket clerk who sold me the ticket wanting to give me my receipt. It seems the manager had a word with him to find out why I didn’t receive a receipt, I assume to stop him pocketing the money himself.

Lake Victoria

A view of Lake Victoria from the zoo

A nice tree-lined avenue at the zoo

Scenery at the zoo

An Ostrich

An Ostrich at the zoo

Wildlife at the zoo

Wildlife looking at me in Entebbe

A monkey having a drink at the zoo

A monkey having a drink in a pond

Monkeys at the zoo

Some of the many, many monkeys roaming free at the zoo in Entebbe

A monkey seeing his own reflection

A Monkey staring at his own reflection

A short, fast Boda ride later and I was back at the Entebbe Backpackers where I chilled with a magazine for a bit while waiting for my friend to arrive to take me to Jinja. I was chilling for maybe an hour before my friend arrived with Job, the Ekisa Orphanage driver of choice, and two kids from the orphanage (Paul and Zeke). The kids were really happy to see me, despite not being able to speak English, and we all sat around having some drinks and snacks in the shade for a while to give them a rest before heading off from Entebbe towards Jinja.

My room at the Entebbe Backpackers

The left part of the building was my room at the Entebbe Backpackers

Entebbe Backpackers

The main building at Entebbe Backpackers

Outside the Entebbe Backpackers

The road outside the Entebbe Backpackers

The journey progressed slower than we expected so we decided to stop in Kampala for lunch at a place near the American Embassy called Le Petit Village. It looked like a really expensive hotel, built in traditional African style, but we stopped for their deli which served a great selection of baguettes. I opted for a nice Salami baguette which definitely filled a gap. I caught up with my friend and interacted with the kids for a while but it was soon on to Jinja.

It was a great feeling when we finally arrived in Jinja and made our way up to Ekisa which is on the outskirts of town near the Adrift campsite I stayed at a few years ago. As soon as I got out of the minibus I was greeted by another one of the kids, Mweru, who came flying through the air and hugged me. I have a feeling this will be the start of a lot of attention from him, but all of the kids were so curious when I arrived and I spent most of the rest of the day relaxing at Ekisa and interacting with the kids. The building has a couple of rooms for volunteers, a few kids bedrooms, two bedrooms for the Emilys, a lounge, kitchen and is set in a great walled compound which allows the kids to run around and have fun in safety.

Driving from Entebbe to Jinja

Driving towards Kampala on the way to Jinja

I’m now relaxing in the room I’ll have for the week I’m here which usually belongs to one of the directors, but she’s in the USA on a fundraising trip, so it’s giving me a chance to get away from the constant chaos that seems to pour through the building.

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I’m back in Uganda!

February 28th, 2012 No comments

I’ve finally arrived in Uganda and I’m really happy to be here, but it has required another very long travelling day – one of the hazards of travel I guess!

Yesterday after travelling to London I checked into the Travelodge near Heathrow which was the hotel I stayed at before visiting Central America and it provided good connections to the airport. Then this morning grabbed an early night bus to the airport so that I would arrive in plenty of time to check my luggage weight – I was carrying a huge bag of toy cars for the kids and a couple of hundred pairs of underwear that was being sent over by my friends family so the bag was a bit on the heavy side but luckily it was still within the limit. I also spent some time doing last minute research about things to do as my new flights arrived in time for me to have a good nights sleep before exploring Entebbe in the morning.

I thought my luck had run out again when we got to the departure gate as we were told our plane would be delayed by at least 30 minutes due to technical problems and with a short connection and terminal change required when I arrived in Brussels I was worried I would miss my flight to Africa. However it turned out connections in Brussels work a lot better than in many hub airports and I arrived at the gate with plenty of time to spare. Brussels Airlines seem to travel to lots of destinations in Africa – I saw flights to Sierra Leone, Togo, Guinea and Ghana on the boards in addition to my flight to Rwanda and Uganda.

The flight to Africa went smoothly and we arrived at Kigali airport in Rwanda for our stopover a little early. It was a shame the sun had already set as it seemed we flew in between the hills of Rwanda and over the city before landing so it would have been a great view. It was also a shame that my arrival in Rwanda was only for a stopover as I really enjoyed the few days I spent there in 2009 and one day hope to return.

Flying from London to Entebbe, via Brussels and Kigali

The view from the plane on the way to Brussels

Stopping to let passengers off in Rwanda

We stopped to change passengers at Kigali Airport, Rwanda

After less than an hour, during which the plane was cleaned by a crew of people that looked like Ghostbusters we departed for my final stop of Entebbe, Uganda. The flight went really quickly and, as the airport is on a peninsula, it was very unsettling to have felt the plane touch down without being able to see land or any lights. I stocked up on supplies while waiting for my luggage before heading out to meet the guy who was transferring me to the Entebbe Backpackers where I’m spending the night. The hostel is ideal for my needs as they have private cottage rooms available for only $25 including transfer from the airport at any time of the day or night. I’m in my room now, and it’s very basic, but has everything I need – a bed with (most of) a mosquito net, a shower, power sockets to charge my phone and seems secure and quiet enough for me to get a good nights sleep ready for an early start tomorrow.

My room at the Entebbe Backpackers

My bed at the Entebbe Backpackers

My bathroom at the Entebbe Backpackers

My private bathroom in Entebbe

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Charlie : Kigali Airport, Rwanda

February 28th, 2012 No comments

Charlie is currently relaxing on board a Brussels Airlines aircraft at Kigali Airport, Rwanda, during a stopover on the way to Uganda. Unfortunately we will not be visiting Rwanda on this trip, and will not even be leaving the aircraft while they clean it and change some passengers, which is a shame as I enjoyed my visit here a few years ago so it would be good for Charlie to have been able to see it too. However I was keen for Charlie to at least be in a photo on Rwandan soil.

Charlie

Charlie at Kigali Airport, Rwanda

Soon we will be leaving Kigali for the short flight to Entebbe, Uganda, where I start my week in the country visiting a friend.

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I’m off to Uganda again!

February 25th, 2012 No comments

When I heard that my friend was going to be spending a year volunteering at an orphanage in the town of Jinja, Uganda, I was very excited. I spent a few days in the town a few years ago and loved it just as I did the rest of Uganda. So when it was suggested that I flew out to visit as I would be allowed to stay at the orphanage for free I jumped at the idea.

I needed to get a break away from things so after a few days of searching I managed to find some flights for a very cheap £370 with Gulf Air via Bahrain – even my direct sale flights to Nairobi a few years ago cost more than this so I couldn’t believe my luck. The only downside is the flight arrives into Uganda at 230am but for the price I couldn’t say no. Plus it would fit a trip to my favourite country in the middle of a very busy few months of travelling – less than 2 weeks after getting back home from my Central America trip and a month before visiting Amsterdam to see my favourite band.

Luckily I’m the sort of person that when I travel I check everything twice. After arriving back from Central America I logged onto Expedia to print everything off and then since there was a Gulf Air confirmation code listed I decided to log onto the Gulf Air website to see if I was able to reserve my seat. However upon loading up the Gulf Air site the legs of my trip between Manama and Entebbe were missing – I called Gulf Air and found out that they had cancelled the route due to lack of sales and that I would need to go through Expedia to get a refund. Unfortunately they were unable to help as I called at the weekend and the department I needed to talk to were only open Monday – Friday so it was a tense couple of days waiting to get my refund. I passed the time by looking for new flights but couldn’t find anything for less than £500 although this was via a very interesting route. The route offered would take me to Ethiopia and Rwanda before arriving in Uganda – on the way back I would connect through Ethiopia and Rome and this sounded like a load of fun but I decided to wait for my refund before booking anything.

I’m glad I waited as I managed to find flights for £100 less in a last minute sale with Brussels Airlines that would have be transit in Belgium and Rwanda which I booked without hesitation. I’m all packed, am leaving in a few days, and am really excited!

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Arriving home after a long trip

February 16th, 2012 No comments

I’m now back home after 3 weeks of long and exhausting travel days but also of many, many new experiences and new friends. This has been one of the most fulfilling trips I’ve ever been on even if it did end with three back to back flights.

My overnight flight from Panama yesterday went well. I caught up on a bit of sleep but could have done with a bit more, however it gave me a chance to catch up on my reading. I was impressed with the service on the flight – drinks came round all the way through the night at regular intervals to make up for the fact that all liquids were confiscated at the gate including ones we bought in the terminal and the staff spoke at least 3 languages which puts me to shame. The plane landed in Amsterdam on time and after proceeding through security I transferred over to my KLM Cityhopper flight back to Heathrow.

As I was on a small plane my bags came through by the time I made it through passport control and I didn’t get stopped at customs so it was one of the quickest arrivals at Heathrow I’ve ever had. I grabbed a quick coffee at Costa before catching the tube back to St Pancras ready for my train back home – the whole journey back was cold, wet and windy which is the stereotypical welcome back to The UK but I’m glad there’s no snow here like during the cold spell I read about while in Honduras.

I’m completely exhausted now so will be going to sleep shortly but I’ve had so many experiences and made so many new friends along the way I’ll have these memories with me for a very long time so it has all been worth it.

There weren’t really any bad points of the trip either – sure things were a little disorganised at time but things never run to schedule in Central America and Mena did a great job of making sure we were safe and that we got where we needed to go. If I had to pick a bad point I’d say the only one I can think of is the fact that some of the team who had been travelling since Mexico never really tried to let us integrate with their half of the team meaning that after a 17 night trip I still don’t know what some of their names were. However this didn’t cause any problems and didn’t stop me from having a good time or making friends – Team Breakaway ended up being far too awesome anyway and I’m happy to have become friends with them!

Central America is a destination I’ve wanted to go to for many years and it was one that didn’t disappoint me as I’m sure you’ll have noticed by the tone of this blog.

I want to go back!

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Last night in Costa Rica and the flight home

February 15th, 2012 1 comment
Pre-drinks with a big bottle

Kelly pre-drinking before we all hit the town in San Jose last night

Me and Guido

This is me and Guido my room mate

So last night was definitely eventful but I had a great time and it was a great way to finish what has been an amazing trip.

The night started out at a local Karaoke bar in town which had a great atmosphere and was really cheap – I think I only paid the equivalent of $5 for 3 vodka & cokes! I’m not much of a karaoke person but after a few drinks I was soon joining in with Mena and Kelly while they sang Bon Jovi songs. This was much to the horror of the couples in the bar who were busy trying to sing love songs to each other due to the fact it was Valentines Day yesterday but we were only in the bar an hour or so before moving. The other Intrepid guide recommended we checked out the bar up at the University of Costa Rica called Terra U so we all jumped in taxis and made our way out to the suburb of San Pedro.

I loved the atmosphere at Terra U and I’m not much of a club person but it had a mix of everything – nightclub, bar, disco, sports bar, TV lounge and terrace all in one with the atmosphere and liveliness of a University all in a great climate. The drinks were much more expensive and I think I paid as much per drink there as I did for all of my drinks at the Karaoke place but I’m glad I decided to carry on there with the group rather than head back to the hostel. I must say that a University bar on Valentine’s Day is quite a frustrating place to be when single but I wish we had gone straight there. We probably stayed there for an hour or two before starting to head back to the hostel in groups, of which I was in one of the first with Mena, somebody from the other Intrepid group and Miriam. We chatted over whatever drinks of ours were left in the fridge before heading back to our respective rooms but I didn’t sleep much last night for a few reasons.

Ice overload

They seemed to like giving us ice at the Karaoke Bar

Tequilla shots

One of the other Intrepid group had her birthday so it was Tequilla time

Me and Kelly

Me and Kelly singing Bon Jovi songs in the Karaoke bar

Me, Mena and Kelly

Me, Kelly and Mena in the Karaoke Bar last night

Terra U

Me, Gina, Kelly (& Guido) in Terra U - the bar at the University of San Jose

This morning I relaxed in the hostel partly to recover from last night and partly due to the fact I would have a lot of travelling ahead. I got up early to say goodbye to Gina who is travelling on to Panama on the next leg of the trip with Intrepid and then finished my packing while waiting for the others to get up. I had a transfer booked for lunchtime; I decided to book a transfer through the hostel rather than catch the bus like Mena so we just chatted for a bit until it was my time to head to the airport.

The lady that transferred me to the airport was one of the hostel worker and came from Colombia. We chatter for a bit during the transfer about our respective travel experiences and about what I did while in Central America and it helped pass the time as the airport is quite a way out of the city.

Hostel in San Jose

This is one of the social areas in our hostel

I checked in online yesterday before heading out into the city so When I arrived at the airport I paid my $28 departure tax before collecting the boarding passes from the bag drop desk – they gave me the option to go on an earlier flight but I decided to stick with my original flight due to the fact I had a seat with extra leg room booked. When I received my boarding pass I found out they had changed my seat but they had put me in an exit row which was even better as I have long legs so every little helps. Then it was time to proceed through security to grab some lunch and then relax watching the airport activity before my flight.

My COPA Airlines flight to Panama City was short and sweet but enjoyable. I read in the safety information leaflet in front of me that you are supposed to be able to speak fluent Spanish to be able to sit in the exit row for safety reasons but the flight attendant gave us the instructions in English and said she knew she could count on us if there were any problems. I’m glad that she felt she could trust me as I was the only person on my side of the plane at the over-wing exit, while there were two Americans on the other side of the aisle. COPA seem a fairly good airline in terms of service, comfort and quality but that was the only flight I’ve ever been on.

San Jose Airport

A view of San Jose airport while waiting to board my plane

Panama City Airport

Waiting to board my KLM flight in Panama City

I’m now in Panama City airport waiting for my flight to Amsterdam where I will catch my connecting flight to London to finish my trip. I was worried I wouldn’t make my connection on time but it looks like this flight is going to be delayed, and the inbound flight arrived right next to my ongoing one, so in the end I had plenty of time. It’s an overnight flight so hopefully it’ll give me a chance to catch up on sleep.

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Charlie : Costa Rica

February 15th, 2012 No comments

Charlie’s first trip abroad, to The USA, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica has come to an end and today we travel back to The UK via Panama City and Amsterdam. We have had a great time.

Costa Rica was a little more built up and touristy than the other places we visited on this trip, except for Atlanta at the very start, but it was a beautiful country.

After crossing into Costa Rica from Nicaragua we had lunch in Liberia before travelling up to the Monteverde Cloud Forest for a couple of nights. While here I went zip-lining, enjoyed the lovely scenery and saw a lot of frogs. The others from the group also went on a night safari but the line “Tarantula sightings guaranteed” on the leaflet made me and Charlie decide to stay back and enjoy some lovely Costa Rican food with Mena and a couple of others.

Next stop was La Fortuna, next to Lake Arenal and the Arenal volcano. Here we took a boat trip across the lake, visited a National Park and experienced a magnitude 6 earthquake which made us both a little nervous.

Charlie

Charlie

Charlie

Charlie at Lake Arenal

We ended our trip in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, where we went on a number of walks, visited some museums, enjoyed some great food and I also spent a night out in the city at a karaoke bar and university nightclub while Charlie stayed at the hostel and guarded my bags.

Overall during this trip we have done a lot, so please read the full blog rather than just this summary of the main sights that we saw.

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San Jose on Valentine’s Day

February 14th, 2012 No comments

By the time I woke up this morning some of the group had already left for the airport but I said goodbye to the remaining early leavers while enjoying the free pancakes that the hostel seem to put on every morning. I was eager to explore San Jose today so as soon as the rest of Team Breakaway were awake and fed we wandered into town to do a bit of sightseeing. We all wanted to see the Museum of Pre-Columbian Gold and decided that the plan for the day would be to visit that followed by a relaxing walk around the tourist trail walk that we were told about that follows a path around the city taking in all the best things to see.

Walking into town

Walking from our hostel to the city centre

San Jose

San Jose city centre

Plaza

One of the many open plazas in San Jose

Mena came with us into town but decided to relax with ice cream in the plaza during our visit to the museum. The price for the ticket has increased since my guidebook was written as they’ve combined the three subterranean museums into one so we decided to get our moneys worth and look around them all. We started with the temporary exhibits space which was closed while they set up for an art exhibition but we still managed to see some of the paintings before moving onto the money museum which showed us exhibits of Costa Rican money from throughout the ages along with monetary instruments. It was all fascinating as I’ve never really read up much about the history of money but wasn’t what we went there for so after checking out the exhibits we made our way downstairs to the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum.

The Pre-Columbian Gold Museum contained all sorts of artifacts covering the history of Central America including population maps, original tools, mock ups of homes, an example of a tomb and much more but the main attraction to me was the gold section. Among the exhibits were amulets, head dresses, gold melting pots and more including maps showing the progression of gold works around Central America and the styles of such works in different parts of the region. This was the first museum I visited on the trip, unless you count Copan Ruins as being a museum, so even though I’m not a museum person it was nice to read about the history of the area after travelling so far to get here.

Gold statues

A few gold statues at the Museum of Pre-Columbian Gold

Old pottery

You can also see pottery and other relics at the museum

Maps

You also learn about trade in pre-columbian times

We met up with Mena for a quick lunch at a cheap Chinese cafe just off the plaza before embarking on the tourist walk I mentioned. If you’re in San Jose and short on time like we were it’s a good way to see the city and all of the sights it has to offer including old buildings, parks, plazas, churches, old steam trains and sites of architectural significance. It took us a couple of hours to do, including regular rest stops due to the heat, and have us a an opportunity to take loads of photos. The route took us all over the town and finished back in the centre where we had an opportunity to do some last minute shopping in the indoor market before heading back to the hotel. The walk is definitely worth doing and you can pick maps up at all the local hotels and hostels.

Me and a bird

Me with a new friend in San Jose

A park

On our walk we went through many lovely parks

A nice church

We saw this church on our walk

Central San Jose

Back in the centre of the city this is one of the main plazas

San Jose Costa Rica

One of the main plazas in San Jose

Post Office

This pretty impressive building houses, among other things, the main Post Office

After returning to the hostel we decided that Team Breakaway should have a final meal together and Mena, Kelly and myself went to the supermarket around the corner to buy supplies and stock up on local foodstuffs that we wanted to take home. The meal itself was a lovely pasta creation made buy the girls and was a nice way to say goodbye to everybody before we head our separate ways tomorrow – Kelly on to Panama, Mena to Mexico and me back home to England while Kelly and Gary explore Costa Rica on their own for a while. We also took some final group photos to remember each other… but the girls didn’t like me interrupting their food preparation to take photos!

Gaudy's Backpackers

One of the social areas at our hostel in San Jose

Team Breakaway cooking

Mena and Kelly didn't like me interrupting their cooking

Team Breakaway

Team breakaway group photo (-Gina as she was somewhere else)

Apparently we’re going out on the town tonight with the people from the Costa Rica – Panama Intrepid trip and their leader which should be fun.

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Mother Nature keeps me awake

February 13th, 2012 No comments

They say if you watch a kettle it never boils but in the case of last night it was “if you need to get to sleep then you won’t” due to numerous factors keeping me awake all night. Firstly I had to wait up until Guido got back from the club, which was fair enough, but when they all got back whoever was in the room next to us put the TV on quite loudly which kept us awake. Then I had to turn the fan off in our room as it was so loud but this meant it was too hot to get to sleep although I got used to it after a while – just in time to hear Guido start snoring. Our came the ear plugs and just as I thought I was drifting off to sleep we had an earthquake which shook the building for around 20 seconds. I decided that it really wasn’t my night and as it was almost 5am at this point I just gave up and sat up in bed collecting my thoughts – I can usually get through anything but I can’t compete with Mother Nature shaking me awake!

I wish I wasn’t such a light sleeper when I travel as half of our group didn’t even feel the earthquake. I’m not sure how they managed that as they’re estimating it was a pretty strong magnitude 6.0 on the Richter Scale with an epicenter just south of San Jose but it’s a skill I need to learn. I guess on a positive side it wasn’t the Arenal Volcano erupting like I initially thought when it shook me awake.

The earthquake

An image I borrowed showing the distribution of our Earthquake

After a last minute explore of the town it was back to the hotel to check out and wait for our transport to San Jose. Half of the group wanted to go rafting but were unable to fit it in along with the other activities available so Mena organised a way for them to be able to fit it today which was set aside for travel. One of the rafting options goes in the direction of San Jose so they were able to do that this morning and then the rest of us picked them up on route in a private minibus ready for the final part of our journey to the capital. It cost us a few dollars to upgrade from local bus but gave us a more leisurely day and meant everybody could do the things they wanted.

We arrived at the rendezvous point early so had to wait a little while for them to finish lunch and collect their belongings but we were soon on our way. We stopped for a quick lunch as those of us that didn’t go rafting hadn’t eaten all day – the others were annoyed but we were starving and they soon found ways to entertain themselves during the stop.

Lunch in CR

Stopping for a quick lunch on the way to San Jose

Anne and Kristy

Anne and Kristy entertained themselves while we ate

I relaxed and listened to music during the remainder of the journey to San Jose during which the scenery became a lot more mountainous as we passed over the mountain range between La Fortuna and San Jose. The scenery itself wasn’t as beautiful as some of the valleys in Honduras but it was more “large scale” if that makes sense with huge rivers to cross and larger rolling hills which were perfect to collect my thoughts on our last group transfer day of the trip. After passing over several hills and through several police check points we slowly made out descent into San Jose.

San Jose is the most built up and chaotic place we’ve visited on this whole trip so I’m glad we’re finishing here rather than starting. There is so much traffic and the city is full of one-way systems it’s just chaos unless you know where you’re going and it took our driver some time to find our destination, Gaudy’s Hostel, but we got there in the end. Gaudy’s is a nice little place with a couple of lounge areas, the rooms set out around various wings leading off a central courtyard and all the facilities you’d expect at a hostel like kitchen, Internet etc. The rooms could do with some improvement but San Jose is an expensive city compared to the others we’ve visited so it was a good place on our budget.

A river

We crossed this river before passing over the mountains to San Jose

Mountain Road

One of the mountainous roads we went along before San Jose

San Jose outskirts

The outskirts of San Jose

After checking in and freshening up it was time to head into the city for our goodbye group meal which Mena had booked at an oriental restaurant that came highly recommended called “Tin Jo” which was really nice but a little pricey. A few of us decided to stretch our legs after a long day of travelling and walked there but we managed to get lost due to the fact San Jose has no visible road signs and there are so many open parks and plazas which, although they are lovely, confused us quite a bit. We got there eventually and I tucked into a lovely meal of crunchy tofu followed by Filipino pork. During the meal the bulk of the group presented Mena with her tip but they didn’t even think to ask us to contribute – apparently they didn’t think we would want to give her a tip as we hadn’t been on the trip for as long as them which I found a bit rude. Mena has done a great job even though it’s only her first group lead and I’ve had a great trip so of course we would want to contribute. We’ll be having a Team Breakaway group meal tomorrow so I’ll see about organising one then, but I’m not going to let the whole thing bother me :).

Instead of walking and getting lost again we decided to get a taxi back to the hostel although this was an experience – the driver was absolutely crazy and drove the car like a mad man. From his random incoherent rantings I’m sure he was drunk or high or something but we somehow got back in one piece where we relaxed with a few drinks before bed. I’m glad I’ve booked an extra night in San Jose tomorrow night – I’m not ready to say goodbye to Costa Rica or Team Breakaway yet!

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The wildlife of Costa Rica

February 12th, 2012 No comments

When looking through the various guide books I bought on Central America I saw how amazing the wildlife in the area was so one of my top priorities before coming out here was to see lots of wildlife. However we haven’t really seen as much as I was expecting so today a few of us decided to take a trip to the Cano Negro National Park despite the fact it would involve a whole day of travelling.

After picking up a few people from other hotels we started out on the 90 minute drive out of La Fortuna all the way up to within a few miles of the Nicaraguan border. On the way we stopped at a couple of locations to check out the wildlife including at a bridge over the river where there were hundreds of iguanas sunning themselves on the trees. Our guide explained that there were so many as they have been protected to stop the locals eating them so their population has boomed.

Iguanas

We were shown a huge group of Iguanas on the way to the park

Cano Negro National Park

The start of our river cruise through the Cano Negro region

When we arrived at the park we saw a lot of people sitting on the jetty being watched by armed guards – apparently this is one of the places from where Nicaraguan illegal immigrants are deported back home as it’s so close to the border. However we were heading in the opposite direction into the park for what ended up being a 2 1/2 hour journey around the various waterways.

The trip around the park showed us more wildlife than I had seen so far on the entire trip. We saw Heron, Crocodiles, Swallows, Capuchin Monkeys, Howler Monkeys, Jesus Lizards, Kingfishers, Bats, a Hawk , a Sloth and much more so was definitely worth the exhaustion. I took so many photos but will only be able to upload a few of them to my blog.

Bats on a tree

A family of bats on the branch of a tree

Crocodile

I managed to catch this photo before he slipped back into the water

Cappuchin Monkey

We saw some Capuchin Monkeys which was awesome

Howler Monkey

I got some better photos of Howler Monkeys here than in Nicaragua

Bad timing for this photo!

A badly timed photo of a bird sunning itself

Cano Negro

A view of the river in Cano Negro

Me and a flower

Me on the river boat with some sort of flower from the region

Lunch for the day was at a typical local restaurant and the meal was good, when it arrived. They tried to give me the wrong meal a couple of times and in the end I had to pretend I had a seafood intolerance to get them to give me to beef – it worked! Then not long after I got my meal it was time for the journey home which was pretty fast until we got held up in some sort of horse rider parade just outside La Fortuna.

Gina had spotted an ice cream parlour in town and so we decided to go there after getting back from the trip to see if it was any better than the one in Granada, and it was, despite all the weird flavours we decided to try. During my time in town I stocked up on supplies ready for the journey to San Jose tomorrow and bought the last few souvenirs for everybody.

Team Breakaway decided to head out for dinner tonight at the Lava Lounge while the others went out drinking at a club. The food was actually really nice and I decided to sample a Thai Chicken pizza with a side order of Hot Wings. We stayed and chatted for a while before deciding to have another Team Breakaway catchup over wine in the hotel although this one didn’t go as smoothly as the other times. In Monteverde the hotel owner went to get us some glasses and then washed them all up for us but at this particular hotel they wouldn’t even give us glasses until we bribed them with money.

La Fortuna

Walking around La Fortuna after our nature cruise

Pizza

My 5th pizza of the trip so far

My room

My room in the Hotel Fortuna

I’m now relaxing in my room catching up on my reading and watching TV – I Am Legend is on which is coincidental considering Will Smith is filming just outside town. The door to my room is self locking so I hope Guido gets back soon as I’m exhausted and need to have a good nights sleep tonight.

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