Page 4 of MaRs BaRs Travel Blog Posts


North America » United States » Louisiana » New Orleans December 21st 2017

Mardi Gras, the famous carnival celebration that occurs in New Orleans takes place on the Tuesday before Lent; or so Renata and I thought. Actually, Marti Gras is a month long celebration that starts just after New Year’s and ends before the beginning of Lent. Renata and I learned this news when we visited Mardi Gras World. Mardi Gras World is a working facility that makes over 500 floats per year for the Mardi Gras season. On the Mardi Gras World tour, Renata and I learned about the history of Mardi Gras. There are no corporate sponsorships or media involved in Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans. The money involved in making the various floats come from membership fees from the various Krewe members. Krewes are organizations that host Mardi Gras balls, ride on parade floats ... read more
Mardi Gras World
Mardi Gras World
Mardi Gras World

North America » United States » Louisiana » New Orleans December 20th 2017

New Orleans, a melting pot of French, American and African culture, is known for its decadent cuisine, vibrant live music and party atmosphere. New Orleans is also home to the famous and colourful Mardi Gras Festival. Renata and I spent a few days during the Christmas holidays exploring this incredible city. We arrived in New Orleans early evening and checked into our hotel, the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. After settling into our rooms, Renata and I headed over to Drago’s seafood restaurant, located in front lobby of our hotel. We had our first taste of New Orleans cuisine, charbroiled oysters and fried gator bites. Delicious! Then it was time to check out the Christmas scenery! New Orleans during the Christmas season was breathtaking. There were dancing alligators and (a “Who Dat?” sign) a slogan for the ... read more
Fried Gator Bites
Christmas Who Dat?
Christmas Alligators


On our last day in Costa Rica, we headed over to the local supermarket to buy a couple of snacks and souvenirs for the plane ride back to Toronto. We also bought some Salsa Lizano, to try our hands at making Gallo Pinto at home. When we walked out of the supermarket, we were surprised to see a parade of people marching down the street. We asked our hotel concierge, what the parade was all about. Apparently, today was Juan Santamaria Day, a National Holiday in Costa Rica. Juan Santamaria, was a poor drummer boy from Alajuela who helped prevent the U.S citizen William Walker and his mercenary army from turning Central America into a slave-trade empire. After Walker conquered Nicaragua, Costa Rica sent troops to Nicaragua to fight the growing threat. The battle, turned in ... read more


Today, we are traveling from Manuel Antonio to Alajuela to relax before our flight tomorrow afternoon. We learned yesterday, that the bus that goes to San Jose from Quepos stops at the Juan Santamaria International Airport in Alajuela. This was great news, as we didn’t have to take an expensive shuttle to Alajuela. We reached Alajuela in the afternoon. After storing our luggage at our Hotel, Hostel Cala, we headed off to one of the many cafes for lunch. Alajuela, felt more laid back than the busy capital city of San Jose. In the center of Alajuela is a grand church and a lush green park to relax. There are also a lot of interesting architectural buildings, statues, and smaller parks around. After chilling around downtown, Alajuela we headed back to our hotel for the night. ... read more
Alajuela
Alajuela
Alajuela


Today, Renata and I are going surfing with Dante’s Surf School. I always thought it would be cool to learn how to surf. However, I never realized just how difficult it would be. While trying to surf, I fell off my board numerous times, bruised my knee and twisted my ankle. I am glad, Renata and I decided to leave surfing as our last excursion in Costa Rica. I would not want to be walking around with a twisted ankle for the majority of our trip. Although, I had great difficulty learning to surf, Renata had better luck. She able to stand up on the surf board for about 30 seconds. I really applaud her determination with learning to surf. She never gave up and looked like she was thoroughly enjoying herself. I, on the other ... read more


In the afternoon, we headed to the Damas Mangroves for our Kayak tour with Tucanes Tours. We drove past huge African Palm trees on our way to the Mangrove. Palm oil is one of the many exports of Costa Rica. When we finally reached the Damas Mangroves, we were given life jackets and paddles. After a brief safety demonstration, we were off. On the tour, we learned about the different mangroves. The main three mangroves are the black, red and white mangroves. There were also mangroves that we saw that looked sort of like pineapples. Although, Renata and I had difficulty maneuvering the kayak to avoid mangroves, we always seemed to escape tight situations. It was an amazing experience and I would definitely do it again. For dinner, we headed over to the local Falafel Bar ... read more


Today, Renata and I headed on a guided tour of Manuel Antonio National Park with Costa Rican Jade Tours. Out of all the national parks we’ve been to in Costa Rica, I found Manuel Antonio National Park to be the best park to spot wildlife. We saw sloths, various monkeys, birds and insects. The park also has a beautiful beach to relax. However, at the beach, we had to be careful of our belongings. The white face capuchin monkeys and raccoons are known to steal from unsuspecting tourist. As the day grew hotter, we headed back to our hotel to cool off. In the late afternoon, we headed to the local beach and watched parasailers in the distance and the beautiful sunset on the horizon. For dinner we headed to La Cantina, where we enjoyed some ... read more
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park
Manuel Antonio National Park


After breakfast, we headed to the Balsa River for some white-water rafting with Desafio Adventures. Our bus guide, made an impromptu stop at a road side grocery store where we learned about the different tropical fruits of Costa Rica and had our first taste of Coconut Water. Delicious! By the time we reached the Balsa River, our river guides had everything prepared for our white-water rafting excursion. We were provided with a helmet and paddle and after a quick safety demonstration, we were off on our white-water rafting adventure. The Rio Balsa is a class II and class III River that is regulated by daily dam releases. It is perfect for first timers like my sister, Renata. We steered our way pass various rocky rapid and enjoyed a relaxing float down the river. The rapids were ... read more
Whitewater Rafting
Whitewater Rafting
Crocodile Sighting


This morning, we headed out on our spelunking tour of Venado Cave with EcoTerra. With flashlights to light the way, and helmets for protection, we were ready for the unknown. To get to the entrance of the cave, we had to walk down a couple of slippery steps. We got a glimpse of our first and last encounter with a tiny red poison dart frog. The frog was only about an inch in length. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a picture of the frog because I left my camera and phone behind. Renata and I were told not to bring our cameras and phones because they would get wet in the cave. We walked, climbed, squeezed and crawled our way through various tight passages in the cave. I was definitely glad that I did not ... read more
Arenal Volcano Hike
Arenal Volcano Hike
Arenal Volcano Hike


Today, Renata and I are going canyoning in the Lost Canyon and horseback riding and swimming at La Fortuna Waterfall. I have never been canyoning before nor have I swam in a waterfall. Two first time adventures in one day! Our first excursion of the day was canyoning. A bumpy ride up to the Lost Canyon was rewarded with great views of the countryside. When we reached our final destination, we settled into our safety gear and after a brief safety talk, we headed to the first waterfall. Rappelling down the first waterfall, “the Baby” was a little nerve racking but once I got the hang of it, it was incredible. Renata and I rappelled down four waterfalls, jumped into pools, zipped our way on guided rappels and got soaked by rapids. The scariest part was ... read more
Horseback Riding
Horseback Riding
Rest Stop for Horses




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