Sunday, May 16, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010 – Puntarenas, Costa Rica – 84F - Mostly Sunny

Another day in paradise…

Puntarenas - “Sandy Point”

We are on tour today - “Scenic Costa Rica”, which includes a visit to a coffee plantation and the orchid botanic garden.  The tour also involves about two hours of driving each way but that will give us a chance to see the countryside and maybe spot one of the volcanoes in the area.

  Leaving Puntarenas (Small)

Leaving Puntarenas

Countryside CR (Small)

One of several rivers along the way

Mountains CR (Small)

Mountains formed by earthquakes – no volcanoes

Our first stop is at a tourist store that carried all types of clothes, coffee, and souvenirs.  I tried the coffees and the coffee liquors, and even found a nice cap that actually fit (for a reasonable price).  Can you find Ellen in the picture below of the store?

Where is E CR (Small)

Our next stop was in the small town of Palmares, where we walked around a bit to catch a flavor of the local culture.

Palmares CR Church (Small)

In front of the church (all sandstone)

Town Square Palmares (Small)

At the entrance to the town square

Iguana in Palamares Town Square (Small)

One of the locals in the tree in the square

outskirts of San Jose CR (Small)

Outskirts of San Jose,the capital

Our main destination was the Doka Estate Coffee Plantation in the hills in the outskirts of San Jose.  Our guide, Lee, took us through the plant.

 Coffee Plantation (Small)

Doka Coffee Plantation – Main Entrance

Coffee Processing Plant (Small)

Machinery used to strip the skins from beans

Raw Beans (Small)

Someone famous holding raw beans

During our tour of the coffee plantation, we were told that the raw beans were dried in the sun (right there on the cement surface) – I was hoping that there would be a more Hi-Tech way to do this.

air drying coffee - really (Small)

Raw coffee beans drying in the sun

After the tour, we were treated to lunch at the Plantation’s outdoor cafeteria.  We had a totally vegetarian meal consisting of rice, beans, and candied plantains.  Of course, there was coffee with the meal along with some fruit cake so thick and gooey that it literally took five minutes to chew each piece (molasses was the not-so-secret ingredient).

I tried to get some coffee beans to chew – they had them in the Doka store but they had been handled by everyone.  A nice server told me she would get me some and she did – a literal handful.  Next time, maybe.

Coffee Plants covered most of the land comprising the Doka Estate.  I was hoping to be able to spot the Arenal Volcano from the lookout tower at Doka – maybe it was there covered by clouds.

Coffee Field from obs tower (Small)

Doka Estate from observation tower

Volcano in the clouds 1 (Small)

Coffee plants and perhaps the Arenal Volcano in the Clouds

Soon after starting our return to the port, we spotted a familiar (but not quite right) symbol – a K Mart Store.

K Mart knockoff (Small)

Our final stop was the Botanic Orchid Garden, a nice facility with orchids, other plants. and a few exotic birds.

Me at the bot garden (Small)

Entrance to the Botanic Garden

giant bamboo from burmaq (Small)

Ellen and giant bamboo from Burma

H and E Bot gardens (Small)

We standing because of the ants on the rocks

E by the lake bot garden (Small)H and the lake bot garden (Small)

There is a very pretty lake on the grounds

Heading home, we crossed over the “Rio Grande” river.

the other rio grande (Small)

Back at Puntarenas the Island Princess (left) had been joined by the Carnival Elation (an old “friend”).  The Elation looked different – perhaps it was a newer ship with the same name or the ship had undergone some upgrading.

Carn Elation and I Princess (Small)

View from pier Puntarenas East (Small)

View West Puntarenas (Small)

The Puntarenas beach front looking east (top) and west (bottom)

Before we boarded the ship, we visited the Internet store ($2 an hour) to catch up with everyone and  send the latest pictures.

A rushed shower and equally rushed dinner in the buffet so we could attend the Shabbat Evening service.  The service was a bit more orderly this time with more attendees participating.

Showtime – Universe Lounge

“Adrian Zmed in Concert"  Who is Adrian Zmed?

He is a 56 year old Chicago born former star of Broadway (original Danny Zuko in Grease), television (sidekick in TJ Hooker and host of Dance Fever) and Las Vegas.  The show was great – it looked like he had taken his Vegas Show to sea (Princess must have him on regularly because the complicated sets are specific to his show).  He was joined by the Princess Dancers and Singers – he also used multimedia to summarize his career.  It all worked very well.

 Adrian Zmed in Concert (Small)

Adrian Zmed in concert

A long but enjoyable day in Costa Rica…

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