Monday, May 27, 2013

spain: costa brava

Costa Brava Castle View

Spain was like that perfect dream that you never want to wake up from. Barcelona was everything I ever hoped it would be and more, but I'm going to begin part one of my Spain series specifically on our time along Costa Brava. It was so unexpected & probably one of our favorite destinations to date.Costa Brava Rob Kris Castle

We actually rented a car from Barcelona & drove out to our first detionation--Tossa De MarIt's only about an hour outside of Barcelona and is a painless drive. There are a few tolls, but other than that not much to watch out for.

This picture above is not edited at all--the water and sky were really that blue. It was so heavenly. I've been to so many beautiful places, but this was by far some of the most captivating shoreline and ocean I have ever seen.

Costa Brava and Kris

Tossa Del Mar is nestled around the charming old town and Castell Tossa De Mar (the castle). Behind me you can see the old town, where people still live, and you can find lots of little restaurants and quaint bed & breakfasts.

coast of brava castle bridge

We were spoiled this day to have our friends Erin and Mark with us. We were able to get lots of couples shots without the painstaking process of waiting for cannon-savvy people to take our pics. This is a shot of us up on one of the castle arches.

Costa Brava Castle Walking

Costa Brava Castle Costa Brava high kick

This had definitely become his new "thing". For those of you who haven't seen this before, my husband Rob pretty much high-jumps everywhere we go now. He's freakishly strong and flexible.

Costa Brava Rob and Kris

Cobblestone streets. Like walking in a real-life fairy-tale. I love this man so much.

kissing in spain

Costa Brava Rob Castle

This boy loves him some castles. That being said, it's time for a small history lesson.

Medieval Tossa dates back to the year 966. The castle was built in 1187 and was constructed on the headland to defend the town. The walled enclosure, built in the 12th and 14th centuries has been preserved along with the original towers, which have become the emblem of Tossa de Mar. This is pretty cool--the enclosure is the only surviving example of a fortified medieval town on the entire Catalan coast.

rob and i in spain

Costa Brava Shore Kris

Costa Brava Sidewalk 2

Up next, we went over to L'loret de Mar--a Mediterranean coastal town in Catalonia. It is apparently one of the most popular holiday getaways in that area.

There area many things to do and see there, and we decided to spend the majority of our afternoon at the Santa Clotilde gardens.

Costa Brava Couples

Our crew for the day! So fun to have Erin and Mark with us. They may just be one of our new favorite couples.

Costa Brava Erin and Mark

The cutest couple.

Costa Brava Garden 2

These gardens were straight out of my travel board on Pinterest. I honestly could not have been happier as we wandered and made our way through these beautiful grounds. The gardens were designed in an Italian Renaissance style by Nicolau Rubió i Tuduri, and they are situated on top of a cliff so you have amazing views of the sea as well.

Costa Brava Garden High Kick 3

High-kickin' round the world.

Costa Brava Garden High Kick

....and again. Impressive, right?

Costa Brava Garden KrisCosta Brava Garden Rob and Kris

IMG_8872Costa Brava Garden RobKrisCosta Brava Garden 

It's  a lovely stroll around the park, and makes for a relaxing afternoon. I would most definitely recommend it!

Costa Brava Coast

After a fun-filled day we took a walk down to the coast, enjoyed some gelato, and then said our goodbyes to Costa Brava.

Costa Brava no edit

I have to admit, it was one of the saddest goodbyes I've ever had to make. I fell in love with this place. It was perfect.


“This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it.” -Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

To see a short video on Tossa Del Mar you can visit here.

As always, if you have any experiences in Costa Brava please share & if you have any questions for me, ask away! Stay tuned this week for more on Barcelona, London, The Cliffs of Dover & a whole guide on the do's and don'ts of renting a car in the UK (Trust me, we've done it all as far as driving on the opposite side of the road goes!)



Thursday, May 9, 2013

costa rica: part two

Costa Rica part two

The second part of our Costa Rica trip was an absolute dream. After spending two days by the Arenal Volcano getting our adventure on, we headed over to The Westin Golf Resort and Spa in Playa Conchal--an all inclusive resort over by Tamarindo that we 100% fell in love with (and the main topic of this blogpost) but more on that in a second!

Above is route from the Arenal National Park to the resort and along the way we decided to do a little bit of site seeing. This drive was quite impressive, because we went through very green, heavily vegetated 'rain forest' type areas, across dry plains and fields, and then on to the green and breezy coast. We truly saw the good and bad of Costa Rica (I won't go into detail about the experiences we had trying to stop in the not-so-touristy-areas, just know that it  was a blessing my husband speaks fluent Spanish)

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On our way around Lake Arenal, my husband decided to do a little exploring (on an incredibly sketchy dirt road up a mountain) but as usual--it really paid off because he found this amazing lookout point where he celebrated his freakish amounts of strength and flexibility with his famous toe touch.

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We stopped at a couple different lookouts. This is one of the reasons we LOVE renting cars as opposed to taking tour buses. We like doing our own thing, having random little side adventures, and being able to explore. Granted, it sometimes adds some additional stress but we love doing it this way. I would feel comfortable recommending a rental car to anyone going to Costa Rica. Just make sure you have a GPS.

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Just one of the many gems of Costa Rica we saw on our drive over to Playa Conchal. Impressive, right? Reminds me of my old college days. Moving from one apartment to the next. Ohhhhh the good old days.

Okay, now onto the good stuff.

We arrived at the Westin around 7:00 pm and were greeted by one of the most beautiful firework shows I have ever seen. No, but really. We pulled up and there were fireworks going off over the ocean, light acoustic tunes were playing over the speakers, the valet came out and took our car, and we were then asked if we'd like a beverage. Live like a celebrity much? Because I felt about as hot and important as Jennifer Aniston in that moment.  Come to find out, the President of Costa Rica herself was actually staying at the hotel attending a wedding that evening and the fireworks were actually for that event....but was the perfect start to a perfect weekend at this heavenly all-inclusive resort.

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We started our morning with a yoga class on the beach. There were only four of us in the class, and the instructor was awesome. A dreamy way to start the day.

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We spent a lot of time at the Royal Beach Club pool. Luckily, Roberto is a Starwood regular and has worked his way up in the we got to hang out at the private pool where you have people waiting on you and lots of quiet time to relax. We get spoiled by Starwood.

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And he spoils me. Big time.

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So relaxing.

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The sunsets out there on Playa Conchal were to die for. Some of the prettiest I've ever seen in my life! I  love this picture of Rob. We had such a fun, relaxing time away from reality and away from all the stress. I feel like this picture captures how happy we were this whole trip.

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So stress-free. I miss it already.

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The next day we spent some time out on the beach. Rob did some swimming with his GoPro. He loves that thing.

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We ended up chatting with this elderly couple in front of us. They were a hoot. They spend half their year in California, half in Florida and come to Costa Rica whenever they feel they need more sun. Ha ha, I don't know how you lack sun living in SoCal and the sunshine state but hey, I support their choices in life.

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Because this Westin is all-inclusive, you have your choice of places to eat for lunch and dinner. This was our favorite lunch spot out by the main pool. Of course, with my diet coke there in the corner.  We enjoyed the different food, especially the Pad Thai we had our last night there.

My husband is such a gem.

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If you can't tell already, we loved this place. The staff was was wonderful, our room was lovely, and the resort is to die for. We were able to book our stay there completely on Robert's travel points and though I'm pretty sure he was already, after our experience there he'll be Starwood for life.

We met some lovely couples both young and old. Enjoyed so much time relaxing and unwinding. And were genuinely sad to leave our spoiled little lives at the Westin Resort in Playa Conchal.

It was just another perfect addition to our time in Costa Rica.

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Last but not least, we spent our final evening in the town of Tamarindo (which is very close to the Westin and is a very popular tourist spot) We enjoyed some time on the beach and dinner at Nibbana right on the sand, and it was delicious. Definitely try it if you're in that area.

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It was tough saying goodbye to these sunsets, but I have a feeling we'll go back someday. Costa Rica had us at hello (or possibly the firework show that we still like to believe was meant for us) ;)

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Pura Vida Y'all!