What do you do with a 22 month old who has either been in a plane or a car seat for 17 hours? Open the door and unleash him on an unsuspecting friendly German couple operating the first hotel of our Costa Rican adventure of course!
Nolin was a trooper on the trip and I can’t recall even the slightest meltdown during the full day’s travel to our first stop. He slept most of the way, so by the time we arrived at 7pm (9pm our time) he was full of energy and excited to explore the tropical grounds of the hotel we were staying at. He just kept saying “Wow” as he took everything in around him, and wow was right although we wouldn’t fully appreciate the beauty of our surroundings until daylight the next morning.
Our friendly hosts showed us to our room, but decided that the crib we thought we would be able to use for Nolin would be too small. Well it looks like we were doing the mom and dad sandwich which inevitably meant earlier bed times and a little less comfortable sleeping arrangements because Nolin likes to cuddle and spread out all at the same time.
We were starved and our hotel was known for their great restaurant so we quickly made our way to an awesome dinner and (for me) a much-needed welcome drink. The next morning we woke up to an awesome breakfast. The funny thing is we would fill up on breakfasts and not once eat lunch on this entire trip, but we would find that our breakfasts at Hotel Cantarana would by far be the best.
Jenn & I (and now Nolin too) are not typically much for relaxing by a pool on vacation and tend to want to get out and explore, so I wasn’t exactly sure how this portion of the trip would go because we were in the very quite beach town of Playa Grande. It turned out to be wonderful and much-needed. The beaches were stunning, the sunsets amazing and the sun (judging by the funky sunburn I received the first day after an uneven sun screen application) was nice and hot.
We would typically eat breakfast, swim in the pool (which consisted of either Jenn or I doing somersaults for Nolin as he laughed hysterically), then walk to the beach, back for a nap (which never happened) and then off to explore, watch the sunset, dinner and in bed by 8:30. While we were there we took a two-hour walk on the beach to some pretty amazing rock formations, we crossed the crocodile waters to Tamarindo and we ventured off in the super cool Yaris to Lola’s (a cool bar/grille on the beach for an early dinner).
We started noticing on this trip that Nolin’s vocabulary is increasing at an alarming rate. He completely has the ability to let you know what he wants (or more importantly what he doesn’t want), what he is looking at or what he is feeling.
This location provided one of my favorite lines from the whole trip. The Hotel Cantarana wasn’t exactly built with an active two-year old in mind. We had to lock the door when we were in the room so Nolin wouldn’t go running off the balcony or down the stairs. One morning Nolin grabbed the keys put it in they keyhole, but still couldn’t manage to get the door open, he looked over to Jenn and I and said “Hmmmm….We have a super big problem here“.
I think Jenn and I both about died.
We met so many people during our stay here and everyone was friendly. You had the solo student traveler from outside of Prague who warned us of nearby crocodiles and how to keep blue birds from attacking our plates at breakfast. There was the family of 6 from up North who had been to Costa Rica 9 times (this was their second time in two months and the first with their 4 kids). They told us that we had to go to Lola’s and knew all about the places we were going. They even let Nolin steal their sand buckets and shovels for a bit.
There was the couple that arrived at the end of our stay from Minnesota who were on their first trip alone without their 20 month old (we still haven’t done one of those and while it sounds fantastic, I have to admit having Nolin along for the trip made it special) and had friends that had just moved to Virginia Beach.
There was also the housekeeper who absolutely loved Nolin. The owner of the hotel told us that she never talks about any of the guests, but that she couldn’t get enough of how much energy he had, and how happy he was just sitting at the pool singing all day.
There were the German Interns who helped out at the hotel. The girl who managed breakfast was Jenn’s favorite (I joked her that they needed to become Facebook friends so that we would have someone to visit in Germany) who also loved Nolin and would help him with his German and bring him extra watermelon.
And of course the owners of the Hotel Cantarana who were the nicest people you could have met. I now know that my mother’s obsession with cleaning and 409 is the result of the German side of her, because the wife ran a tight ship.
The place was immaculate and for a 4 room 2 bungalow hotel they had a landscaper there everyday for at least 8 hours. They also seemed very intrigued with Nolin and she told us before we left, I knew you were bringing a two-year old, but I didn’t know you were bringing a power package. This is a perfect description of Nolin.
I will admit we were a little sad to leave. The staff at Hotel Cantarana really made us feel at home and while the beach was fantastic our accommodations are really what made this area so special for us. For anyone planning on going to Costa Rica I would have to say this is a must stay place if your planning on visiting a beach town…you won’t be disappointed.
After our breakfast the final morning, we packed up our clothes and the power package, said goodbye (Nolin proceeded to say goodbye in French, German, Spanish and English) and headed to our next destination the Arenal Volcano…