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Friday, January 8, 2016

Letting the Jet Lag and Stress Float Away in Costa Rica

(If you've missed it, you can catch up on part 1 of this trip here)

With the rental car shenanigans behind us, it was a dark and lonely road to the Riu Palace Hotel on Playa Matapalo. Around one dark corner, a lone horse stood in the road. I almost put him down. Now and again, speedbumps would appear in front of a school.  Narrow one lane bridges popped up with some regularity. Pedestrians and bicyclists  would materialize out of the dark, moving slowly in the traffic lane.

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It was a bit harrowing that first evening then coming down the steep hill into the little bay we’d call home for the next week.  My wife urged me to slow down while I informed her my foot was already pressing on the brake pedal.

Three massive speed bumps really slowed us down and then we were at the gate to the Riu.

There are two hotels here, the Riu Guanacaste...the nice but more budget friendly of the two…and the Riu Palace, the top level brand of the Riu chain.

Unloading the car, we step up to the checkin counter and I immediately remember why I love the Riu.

As a server hands us each a welcoming cocktail (especially nice after the fight at the rental car agency and the dark drive) checkin goes efficiently and effortlessly.

“Remember, we are here to serve you. You only have to dial 9 on your room’s phone and we will get anything you want.”

And, as we’ve found out at the Riu before, that is not an empty promise.

Our room is just what we booked. Oceanview, though not quite beachfront, over the pools, with a nice terrace and three beds set up just for us. The bellman shows us the ropes, with the in-room liquor dispensers, the minibar, TV, and more.

There’s also a spa tub between the beds and the bathroom that’s really more in the way than useful but I can see where some people might like it. For us, the large, walk-in shower is more of a luxury making it easy for Tim to have a bath.

It’s not an official accessible room (although they do have some available) but we find the regular rooms here work just fine for us and we get better views and locations than the wheelchair rooms offer.

After tipping the bellman, we hit the buffet for dinner before retiring back to our room for a deep, night’s sleep to catch up on all we missed the day before and to shed our travel frustrations.

The morning dawns bright and sunny.  A hot sun. The breakfast buffet is very good and extensive. Great protein in the fried eggs, scrambled eggs, and more. Costa Rican food is represented by their banana –leave wrapped tamales, gallo pinto, and several varieties of rice and sausage.

A couple of shady lounge chairs invite us to stake out a place by the pool. A ramp makes it easier to get Tim in the water. We wade in and roll the chair as far as we can, put Tim’s feet through the hole of an inner tube, stand him up, let him fall through the hole till his arms hook onto the tube…holding him up…and away he goes to float for a few hours in the Riu’s pool.

Nicole, our pool server, keeps us supplied with Mai Tais, chocolate martinis, beer, and water. The three of us float around like this, soak up the sun, and meditate on what activities we’ll be doing this week.

After swimming, soaking, and meeting new friends at the pool, it’s off to L’Anfora off of the lobby. This is the Riu’s Italian restaurant and the only one besides the buffet that does not require a reservation.

I have a local version of ossobuco while Tim has lasagna and ravioli. Letty has a nice seafood pasta.

Our room is right over the floor show area, so after dinner, we can watch from our terrace. The music can be loud, so you might want to ask for a room away from it if it bothers you. Since they have a curfew of 11pm that is strictly enforced, we can live with it.

After a day of cocktails, sun, and water, our minimal jet lag is diminished and we retire to rest up for the next part of our adventure where we head off property and go exploring the Central American countryside.

Copyright 2016 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

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