Now is the prime time to visit Costa Rica during its dry season through April, before the onset of the wet season.
Explore Costa Rica Pura vida, the pure life at Costa Rica awaits you. Make 2017 your year of discovery.
Discover a land where monkeys rule the rainforest and toucans rule the sky. Delve into Costa Rica’s key destinations, on this carefully designed highlights adventure.
Costa Rica is celebrated for its vast biodiversity, awe-inspiring landscapes and numerous natural wonders, which makes it a perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts.
Experience zip-lining high above the cloud forest, hike through wild jungles in search of ocelot and sloth, and stroll along pristine beaches as the sun dips below the horizon. In the evening, relax in comfortable and airy accommodations with the sounds of nature surrounding you. You can experience tours to National Parks and listen to the thrilling sounds of jungle creatures stirring to life.
The town of Jaco is located on the Pacific Coast province of Puntarenas, Costa Rica. It’s the ultimate hideaway for sun seekers and active travelers, with cinnamon-hued volcanic-sand beaches, lush green rain forest and verdant mountains.
Surfers flock here from around the world, but families, and honeymooners also find much to love, thanks to the multitude of beaches, outdoor activities, dining, shopping and nightlife.
Explore the Costa Rican rain forest by horseback, learning about the flora and fauna in this impressive eco-system. Take an ATV tour to beaches, remote villages and waterfalls. Try your hand at sport fishing, paragliding, sea kayaking or even bungee jumping. Spend an afternoon at the Pura Vida Gardens and Waterfalls, where you’ll find millions of plants, flowers and orchids from around the world.
Pictured above is the view from the balcony of the condo, overall view with pool and nightlife in the town of Jaco. Plan your 2017 vacation now or give a gift to your favorite person for Christmas this year.
The luxury 2 bedroom condo apartment has 3 spacious full bathrooms, 2 queen beds – one in each room, and one sofa bed in living room. It sleeps up to 6 people in a family friendly condo apartment complex.
The condo is fully furnished and equipped with air-conditioning, WiFi, Internet, in-room safe, a kitchen and a laundry room.
The top floor condo with ocean view is only a two-minute walk from the beautiful Jaco Beach, and 15 minutes from Jaco, one of the country’s liveliest beach resorts.
The town of Jaco bustles with tourist activity with its many bars, restaurants, night clubs, dance bars, shopping & entertainment.
Make this condo your base to explore the best of Costa Rica, near and far. Try surfing, horse back riding, swimming, and other sports or just relax on the beach watching the beautiful sunsets. There is a 24 hour security guard.
Starting at $150 USD per night. Special rates on extended stays and off season.
The minimum stay in season 7 nights, deposit 500 USD. Check in 2 pm, check out 10 am.
Step into the heart of Burgundy with me as I explore the “Climats” or the vineyards and the cultural landscape of this French region. This is my third stay in Burgundy as part of my annual summer writer’s retreat made possible by Dr. Emma Palova and Dr. Adrien Chavent.
“Climats” in Burgundy present cultural landscape, a 2015 UNESCO world heritage site
Note: After my third visit to the wine region of Burgundy in France, I consider it to be my annual summer writer’s retreat amidst vineyards, exceptional gastronomy and the “Climats.”
By Emma Palova
Fixin, FR- On an early Sunday morning, I woke up to the ringing of the church bells and a local gentleman shouting at his dog, a lot louder than the dog’s barking.
From my studio, I heard the cars rolling down the narrow Rue Magnien that leads into the tiny wine village of Fixin. The walls around the estates magnify the sounds and funnel them into endless echoes.
Major street through Fixin
But, just before the light broke, I could hear the chirping of the birds in the mulberry tree. The mulberry tree is the only tree that grows between the bricks in the small…
Washington D.C.- For Washingtonians, it isn’t the robin’s arrival that heralds the spring. In the District of Columbia, it’s all about the cherry blossoms, and, of course, the hoards of accompanying tourists. The infamous trees were a gift from Japan in 1912 and visitors celebrate them annually as a gesture of friendship between the two countries. The week or so that they are in full bloom is undoubtedly the most beautiful week of the year in the nation’s capital. They surround the Tidal Basin, framing the Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr, and Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorials against an azure blue sky.
Over the years, the National Cherry Blossom Festival has expanded to include far more than just a leisurely stroll through the trees. “Let’s go fly a kite” takes on a whole new meaning on the day of the National Kite Festival, a day done in cooperation with the Cherry Blossom Festival. Kites of every size, color, and shape imaginable fill the National Mall, stretching over a mile from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial. Free fitness classes, such as yoga, in front of the Washington Monument are offered on Saturdays and often include several hundred participants. Paddle boats are also available to get a different perspective on the trees and popular memorials while getting a little exercise at the same time.
Cherry Blossom Princesses are selected from each state to come to Washington to represent their homes and have a chance at becoming the randomly selected Cherry Blossom Queen. The Queen makes a trip to Japan later in the year as a special ambassador for the United States. The 2011 Cherry Blossom Queen arrived in Tokyo not long after the recent tsunami devastated the country. She felt extremely honored to have that opportunity and was very touched by the warm welcome she received despite the incredible tragedy the Japanese had experienced. Another former Cherry Blossom Princess is the wife of the Librarian of Congress. She still looks back fondly at her tenure as a Princess even though decades have passed since then.
The last weekend of the three-week festival includes a fabulous parade with elaborate floats, celebrity entertainers, and giant helium balloons. Afterward, spectators can join in a day long celebration of Japanese culture. As if that weren’t enough, the capstone of the evening is a spectacular fireworks display over the Tidal Basin. For anyone lucky enough to experience it, it’s no wonder the National Cherry Blossom Festival is called “The Nation’s Greatest Springtime Celebration!”
Copyright (c) 2015 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.
Note: This is the second account of Tamela Spicer’s recent travels to Uruguay in South America.
By Tamela Spicer
EW Emma’s Writings
On my recent trip I had the pleasure of indulging in many of Montevideo’s finest pleasures, including a stunning Opera at Teatro Solis and a world-class ballet led by the infamous Julio Bocca from Buenos Aires. I also discovered something new, the wine road. Created in 2005, Los Caminos del Vino features a variety of small boutique vineyards along the southern region of Uruguay, many of them within 30 minutes of Montevideo. Wine making has been part of Uruguay for several decades, but it has only been in recent years that the wines have gained international attention.
For me there is something magical about vineyards. Of course, I enjoy the wine, but more than that, I love the peacefulness of miles of vines growing in the countryside. In Uruguay it doesn’t take long to find that countryside. More than 80 percent of the land in Uruguay is agricultural. The small number of cities populate the edges of the country, with large ranches filling the interior. In that space between the city and the vast ranches of the interior lie beautiful, peaceful vineyards.
Uruguay is gaining international attention primarily for Tannat wines. The iconic grape was brought from southern France in the 19th century and the rich soil with the ocean air provides for excellent growth in Uruguay. Most of the vineyards are small, family owned facilities, but the flavors are rich and bold. After an unplanned stop at the wine school where they provided an impromptu tour, we visited Bodega Artisana along Los Caminos del Vino. Artisana is actually owned by an American who visited Uruguay years ago and fell in love with the area. While the owner still lives in the United States part of the year, locals manage and operate the vineyards. They gave us a private tour and tasting. It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon and of course, I brought home a few bottles.
Those few bottles that make the home don’t last, so the challenge becomes finding someone who sells your new favorite so you can restock. There are a variety of laws that govern distributors in the United States, and each state has their own rules. The other challenge is that not all vineyards produce enough wine to export. When I’m visiting a vineyard out of the country I always ask if they have a distributor in the states. Often times you can contact the distributor and they will be able to tell you if the wine is available in your area. Local wine shops are sometimes able to find a particular vintage, and of course the Internet is very helpful in tracking down a favorite bottle. Availability depends largely on geography. For example, due to the local wine industry, Michigan has strict laws on wine imports, particularly from foreign vineyards. The key in finding that favorite wine is just ask; or if all else fails, perhaps you need another vacation to return to that special vineyard.
Vineyards, beaches and the arts made for a wonderful, relaxing vacation. But it was the time spent with family and friends that made this trip to Uruguay special. Being able to enjoy Martin’s two weddings was a joy. In Uruguay only magistrates can legally conduct a wedding. So if a couple wants to marry in a church they must first have a civil ceremony performed by a magistrate. The first wedding was a small affair held at Adriana’s home on a Wednesday evening. Just under 100 guests were present as the bride and groom, along with several witnesses, signed the official marriage ledger and the magistrate announced them as husband and wife. The ceremony began about 7:30 pm and the party lasted well into the night until the police showed up around 2 am due to a noise complaint.
However, the couple exchanged rings at a church wedding on Saturday. Over 400 guests came to witness the ceremony that began around 9:30 pm. Unlike here in the states, in Uruguay there are no large bridal parties, only the parents stand up in witness of the church ceremony. Friends and siblings enjoyed the honor of signing the registry during the civil ceremony so at the church wedding they simply sit back and enjoy. And of course, the party.
The reception was fairly typical of what we might enjoy in the states. Held at a local country club, there were beautiful floral arrangements, a wonderful meal and plenty of champagne. Unlike in the U.S, there were no bridal party photos or cutting of the cake, but there was a special waltz for the bride and groom and the party lasted well into the night. Actually, all night long. We had breakfast around 5 am and we finally left the country club just after the sunrise around 5:30 am.
Even if you don’t have a wedding that would take you to Uruguay, you should go none the less. It is a beautiful country filled with warm, welcoming people. Whether it’s wine, beaches or ranches, Uruguay has a lot to offer. As for me, well I plan to return again soon. I’m currently working on plans to that will allow me to spend three or four months a year in Uruguay, a nice way to escape our Michigan winters. Maybe you’ll join me one day soon and I’ll give you a tour of my favorite vineyards.
About the cover photo: Vendange 2013 in Burgundy, France, inside the wine caves.
Montevideo, Uruguay-Tucked beneath Brazil on the South American continent, Uruguay is a country filled with vast ranches, hundreds of miles of beautiful beaches, amazing boutique vineyards, and a large metropolitan city that offers all the culture you might find in New York City, but with the warmth of a Midwestern community. I visited Uruguay for the first time in 1980, living in the capital of Montevideo for one month and in the northern city of Salto for three months. It would be years before another visit in 2008.
My connection to Uruguay began during my junior year of high school when my family hosted an exchange student, Adriana. After high school I spent four months living in Uruguay with Adriana’s family and it has been a second home ever since. Today, technology makes it easy to stay in touch, but there is nothing quite like going home for a visit, especially for a special occasion. It was the wedding of Adriana’s son that prompted my most recent trip to Uruguay, in December 2014. While wedding festivities provided plenty of time to catch up with family and friends, I was also struck by the changes in the country since my first visit nearly 35 years ago.
Most Americans have never heard of Uruguay, and if they have it may seem like a third world country. When I made my first visit there in 1980, it felt a bit third world, well at least old fashioned. I remember the milk man leaving the old-fashioned jars on the front stoop and while there was television, it was still black-and-white and only broadcast a few hours each day. It was a simple life that seemed unspoiled, but then 35 years ago everything seemed simpler.
Today Uruguay is a sophisticated and stable country that offers every modern convenience needed. The cell coverage in Uruguay is some of the best in South America. Comcast or Dish Network digital service is easily accessible and you can find Internet in any major hotel and several restaurants. Yet, even in the cosmopolitan capital, Montevideo, there is a peaceful pace of life and a sense that family is deeply cherished.
Montevideo is home to just over half the total population in this small country. The city sits along the beautiful shore of the Atlantic Ocean with the Rio de la Plata spilling in. Summer days are often spent at the beach and nightlife abounds along the Rambla, the coastal walkway with beautiful views, exercise stations and wide walkways. Uruguayan nightlife usually doesn’t start until around 10 pm and often lasts well into the wee hours of the morning. There are plenty of night clubs, casinos and restaurants of choice in the city, including tango dinner clubs and seafood by the sea.
The tiny railroad town of Brunswick, Maryland has a certain irresistibly quaint charm, and never more so than at Christmas time. November 29 and 30 the Brunswick Heritage Museum hosted a wonderful opportunity for families to experience what their great-grandparents did to celebrate the holidays. Guests were greeted on the first floor by a volunteer in beautiful period costume then ushered up the stairs to begin their journey back in time. On the second floor, a table beckoned visitors to sample a traditional Victorian Christmas cake. A far cry from the cakes we’re accustomed to in this century, it has relatively little sugar and no frosting. Much of the flavoring comes from molasses and spices such as cinnamon and ginger. After examining the many display cases showing life in the area one hundred years ago, you are welcome to stand in front of the American flag and take the Oath of Office to become the Mayor of Brunswick. A few of the items that can be seen include antique baseball jerseys, an old barber’s chair, and a Victorian wicker body basket-a grisly homage to the danger of working on the railroad tracks. Children can’t resist the rack of clothing in which they are invited to dress up so they can be properly attired for sitting in the Victorian parlor. Especially for the Victorian Christmas event, kids were able to make a paper cornucopia decorated with holiday stickers and filled with hard candies to hang on their Christmas tree at home. The third floor was focused completely on an enormous model train display with signs declaring the distance of various local towns from Washington’s Union Station.
Visitors to the museum on Saturday were treated to a bit of traditional Victorian entertainment as well. Punch and Judy shows were commonly seen on the streets of England in the seventeenth century, though they moved to the beaches during the nineteenth century. The Victorian era saw them migrate indoors to the parlors of patrons, at which point most puppeteers altered the script of the shows to focus on more family friendly material as opposed to mocking public executions and the like. Professor Horn’s performance, as seen at the Brunswick Heritage Museum, included a short magic show and a delightful musical performance using a box that when wound sounded much like an old fashioned calliope in addition to the puppet show itself. One thing that sets Punch and Judy shows apart from the average puppet show is that it requires audience participation. For instance, the Policeman puppet asked the children to call out if they saw Punch hiding. The children thoroughly enjoyed the antics of the puppets while the adults laughed at the Clown puppet calling a Devil puppet a “tobacco lobbyist.”
After enjoying the museum, the perfect place to stop for lunch is a few doors down at Railroaders Coffee and Tea. Prices are very reasonable, and the sandwiches are positively delectable. The International sandwich includes guacamole, brie cheese, and apple slices heated on a panini press. The coffee is delicious and the staff are delightful. When it comes to Christmas celebrations in western Maryland, the town of Brunswick takes the (Victorian) cake!