Sunday, December 11, 2016

Costa Rica Anniversary Travel Diary: Our Stay in La Villa Segundo Rio B&B in Alajuela!

By: Mhe-anne O. Isidro

Costa Rica which literally means "Rich Coast" is a country in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island. Administratively, Costa Rica is divided into seven (7) provinces namely: Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limon, Puntarenas and San Jose.

Christmas Bear at Juan Santa Maria International Airport in Alajuela, Costa Rica
Departure & Arrival: Wearing our matching couple shirts from Palawan and our navy - blue high cut Chuck Taylor shoes, we took Delta Airlines direct flight from Los Angeles, California at 1 o'clock in the morning of December 10, 2016 and arrived at 6 o'clock in the morning at the Juan Santa Maria International Airport. Although called the San Jose (Costa Rica) International Airport (SJO), this airport is actually located in Alajuela, the second  largest province next to the capital San Jose. 

There is no visa requirement to get to Costa Rica so our arrival was fast and smooth. The arrival card is filled up and collected by Delta Airlines, so we just get our entry stamp at the Immigration section upon arrival  and present the custom's form upon leaving the airport.  

There is free wifi service at the airport. After changing $300 into colones (with exchange guarantee for the remaining amount), we booked Uber to our accommodation at the La Villa Rio Segundo Bed and Breakfast. 

Our Room Exit to the Swimming Pool!

Accommodation: La Villa Rio Segundo Rio B&B  is located 8 km from Alajuela City Centre and just 10 minutes drive from Juan Santamaría International Airport which is La Villa Río Segundo B&B's greatest advantage (but the greatest disadvantage to guests!) since you can hear the noise from airplanes taking off and landing in at the airport. The property has an outdoor pool, a beautiful garden, hammocks, a terrace, a shared kitchen and barbecue facilities for guests. There is a free WiFi available in public areas, a tour desk and luggage storage. 

Our double bed comes with a swan styled towels

Our room is by the pool with a view of the garden. At $44, the room has a shared bathroom with hot & cold shower and complimentary breakfast offered from 7:00 to 10:00 am. of the next day. 

Breakfast consist of scrambled egg, ham, bread, juice and cereals 

Activities while in La Villa Rio Segundo B&B:  Although we read that an array of activities can be enjoyed in the surrounding areas such as Poas Volcano National Park, Zoo Ave, La Paz Waterfall, and Laguna de Fraijanes, we decided to take it slow, sleep in (to recharge!), enjoyed swimming at our accommodation, and visited the City Mall which is located only 7 km from the property. 

Alajuela City Mall's Food Court

Since check - in time at La Villa Rio Segundo B&B is at 12 noon, we left our stuff at the counter and took Uber to the Alajuela City Mall . The mall has only been operating for a year and is hailed as the biggest mall in Central America (but really it is much smaller than our Mall of Asia). The mall hours works well for us as it opens from 9am until 10pm. We had our brunch at the Cajun Grill ($8) and a yogurt fix at the Yougurt Mania ($5). We were also able to visit Movistar for our phone essentials for our week-long stay in the country.

We enjoyed a dip at the La Villa Rio Segundo B&B Swimming Pool

TRAVEL TIPS (that works for us today!):  (1) Upload an Uber application in your phone. Uber is the safest (and cheapest!) to go around from SJO airport to / around Alajuela since Costa Rica has no address system and asking for directions might be a problem if you do not speak Spanish like us!; (2) Buy a sim card good for one week at Movistar for only $5 and data for $2.5 for 1 GB; (3) Exchange rate at the airport was only $1 = CRC 477 (while it is $1=CRC 560 outside). But it would be good to have colones right away, for transportation and other stuff. So when exchanging dollars at the airport, choose a money exchange that offers an exchange guarantee for the remaining colones at the end of the trip. Global Exchange offered such guarantee if exchanging $300.