bulletTravelogue Costa Rica - Day 7, Wednesday, 24th November 2010

La Fortuna - Santa Elena: 107 km (67 mi)

A miracle has happened! We can see the sun. Unfortunately El Arenal is still covered with clouds, but a least we have a chance to take a 15 minute sunbath. So here are some sunny impressions of our beautiful hotel Silecio del campo:

A beautiful lodge
he thermal poolT
njoying the thermal pool
Lush vegetation

Souvenirs on saleWhen checking out at 10:00 a.m. rain is already back. But fortunately it is not a continuous rain like the days before. Later on our way to Monteverde however we luckily enjoy more sun than rain. We leave La Fortuna and drive along the shore of Lake Arenal. After a beautiful 35 km (22 mi) drive along we come to a Germany bakery advertising on billboards all the way from la Fortuna.

Well, it’s lunchtime and we are hungry, so why not give it a try? They do not only offer bakery products here, but hearty traditional German cooking as well. Bavarian veal sausage, „Bratwurst“, „Sauerbraten“, goulash and much more. It’s not surprising that most guests here come from Germany or Austria. Each tourbus carrying German tourists stops here. So it’s rather busy. We have Bratwurst and apple strudel with ice. Yummy, but quite expensive.

A few miles further we finally have a chance to stop and enjoy a Road to Santa Elenanice view of Lake Arenal. There are also some merchants at this view point selling souvenirs. They have a nice range of goods and we buy a decorative woodbowl at a fair price.
We continue to Tilaran where we Stopp to refill our gas tank. In Quebrada Grande we get lost despite our GPS, and we don’t really know how to find our way to Santa Elena. As if out of nowhere, a young man suddenly stands beside our car. He shows us the way to Santa Elena claiming there will be no sign-posts at all on the following way up. But help is availale of course in the form of a photocopied sheet of paper with a map drawn by hand. This can be purchased from him at a bargain price of 2000 Colones (4 US$) only. We decline with thanks.

This turns out to be the right decission as we learn when we continue our journey. There are definetly sign-posts and also our GPS is able to find the right way. The road however is extremely bad. It’s a gravel road with big stones und deep Potholepotholes. Our guidebook claims that this road is accessible only by a 4WD. In fact however we don’t have to use the 4WD, but are extremely pleased with the high ground clearance of our car. It’ also interesting to see how very large potholes are marked, if marked at all.

After a very bumpy ride we finally reach Santa Elena. It has taken more than 3 hours to do 107 km (67 mi). When we arrive at the Rustic Lodge owner Jose welcomes us with open arms. We get a welcome coffee, a map of the area and detailed explanations of the attractions nearby. Our main interest of course is to see the Monteverde Cloud Forest. It is recommended to us to take a guided tour, and so we ask our hosts to make a reservation for the tour next morning at 7:30 a.m.

The accommodation, in accordance with its name, is very rustic. The individual wood furniture is very nice but not always comfortable. Our room is spotless clean. The highlight of the Our room in the Rustic Lodgesimple furnishing is an extraordinary wood table which in Germany would cost a small fortune.

We use the time until sunset to explore the centre of Santa Elena which is in walking distance from our lodge. It’s a rustic small town which we like very much.

We are just back to our lodge when it begins to rain. It’s really high time for some rain again! Having been record-breaking 5 hours without rain we have already missed the lovely noise of falling rain drops.

Fortunately it is not raining anymore when we walk to town for dinner some time later. We decide for the Tree House Restaurant. Nice ambiance, good cocktails and tasty food. We are satisfied.
Back to Rustic Lodge we have to find out that walls here are extremely thin. So we get a Japanese lesson free of charge from our chatting neighbours – two young Japanese girls. But fortunately they soon stop talking and go to bed as early as everybody else does here.


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