Crossing the border from Nicaragua to Costa Rica

Our big day crossing the border from Nicaragua to Costa Rica was upon us, and we were extremely apprehensive given all the concern from the expats the night before. We woke up at 7AM so we could immediately check on whether a car/driver would be waiting for us, as previously arranged through the hotel. We had sent an email to Eric, the receptionist who had been helping us out before we arrived in Nicaragua, but had not yet heard back, and he had unfortunately not been working on Saturday to be able to check with him personally. As luck would have it, after I bolted out of bed from my natural alarm clock in my brain right before 7AM and went downstairs to check who was working he desk, Eric was there (but helping a customer). Soon after Brendan woke up, we confirmed that the car and driver would be there at 8AM on the dot. We packed up our stuff, had a nice breakfast, and sure enough, we were back in business with a punctual business arrangement and on the road to crossing the border from Nicaragua to Costa Rica. Our driver, Hector, picked us up in a tiny….

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Nica wedding

The next morning we slept in a bit more but not much, knowing that we would have a long night at the Nica wedding near Aposentillo outside of Chinandega. We met the group traveling from Leon at Brett’s house, where we had visited the night we arrived, at 1:30 PM. Prior to that we spent the morning relaxing, doing some new house stuff (we recently closed on a house and had some lingering paperwork), and had a nice French toast breakfast at the Azul Restaurante and Hotel. Brett had organized a bus that left his house around 2PM due to a few late arrivals (8 or so people going to the wedding caught the bus from Leon). Brett, Silvia, the families, and Derek had left for the beach area the previous night to set everything up. The bus ride was a grueling, sweat soaked, cramped (tiniest seats ever!) 60 minutes rolling over numerous speedbumps on a small road leading north through Chinandega, and then over a dirt road for the last 30 minutes – 90 minutes in total including the 2 times we got stuck on the dirt road and bottomed out. Nobody on the bus had really ever been….

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Exploring Leon

On our first full day exploring Leon, I woke up around 7AM because of the lack of curtains in our hotel room and the noise, and did not feel rested due to a fitful night of head congestion. Brendan slept for a few more hours as I did yoga, showered, and tidied up the bomb that went off in my luggage from the night before. Around 930AM we headed to breakfast, which was complimentary with the room, and quite delicious. I ordered the granola, yogurt, honey (from the nearby volcano area) and fruit, and Brendan ordered the Nica breakfast (gallo, which is beans and rice, eggs, plantains, and a lovely side of fruit). We also were able to snag some coffee, which was just what the doctor ordered. After breakfast we organized a city tour at 1PM, but before then we took a stroll to the main square to take in sights at our own pace. There was market going on in the plaza but it was still a fairly calm environment. After walking to the plaza, we continued along Main Street (Real) to the colorful 18th cathedral on the other side of the city. On our way, we saw….

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Arriving in Nicaragua

In the past 3 weeks, I got married, traveled to the UK for work, had our contract accepted for a house, brought our cat to the pet ER, and also prepared for our trip to visit a friend getting married in Nicaragua (and THEN spending some time in Costa Rica); so actually merely arriving in Nicaragua was the easy part! After booking some First Class tickets on United (using a $2000 voucher I received for volunteering to give up my seat on a previous flight), my husband Brendan and I had a long day ahead of us on Thursday, Feb 15 in anticipation of arriving in Nicaragua. We set out from our Highlands Ranch townhouse to the airport at 320PM via Lyft so that we could catch our 530AM United flight to Houston. All went as planned, and we probably left a little too much time to make our flight. We enjoyed our premium cabin food and service experience (soft product), even though the hard product on these regional planes left something to be desired (seats were old, no entertainment systems on the DEN-IAH leg). We enjoyed a few mimosas before 8AM 🙂 The flight was on time and we….

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Bairro Alto

We decided to take the Bairro Alto and Chiado Free Walking tour (Discover Lisbon) at 330PM, which meant we had a little time to grab lunch. Starbucks was the easiest so we paid for 2 caprese sandwiches and rested for a bit before meeting our guide at Rossio Square (where the Christmas market from the previous night was held). We had just enough time to grab a treat from the market. The meeting point was easy to find – we just had to look for the yellow umbrella and yellow shirts. Our guide, Eduardo, was a PhD cultural anthropology student doing his dissertation on the Thai islands of Phi Phi and its unique expat lounge culture. He was full of energy and a bastion of knowledge. Brendan previously has mentioned that the best guides he has had on these free walking tours (offered by many cities) are usually university students. Eduardo did not lead us astray as we headed to Bairro Alto. We learned about the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and how it devastated the city on a Sunday and All Saints Day to boot, when everyone was in church (except for the Muslims and the Jews) lighting candles. The….

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