Spurins Geriatric Gap Year


Spurins Geriatric Gap Year


Today has gone belly up before we’re even out of bed. Our flight home, recently delayed from 6.40 to 8.40 this evening, has now been pushed back to 7 am tomorrow. So, instead of a leisurely brunch before going to to the airport to check in, we book an airport hotel for our ‘bonus’ night in Costa Rica. We toy with idea of one final sightseeing trip this morning, but rapidly lose interest. The old man settles down to crush candy, while I set up camp by the pool for one last swim/blast of sunshine. After brunch (yesterday’s leftover Chinese – who doesn’t love cold sweet & sour prawns for breakfast?) we swap hotels. There is mention in the email from British Airways that if we go to the airport (at an unspecified time, to an ... read more
The glamour of international travel.
Another morning by the pool
Another afternoon another pool

Today is the last full day of our trip and we’re going into San José for some culture. We spent a day sightseeing in the city last week, but it was a Monday when everything is closed. So today we plan to visit the museum and art gallery. We take an Uber into town and find a spot for breakfast; Restaurante el Patio del Balmoral. We order the del Patio breakfast – gallo pinto (fried rice and beans) with fried cheese, fried eggs, fried plantain and fried bread. In case that wasn’t sufficient calories, it comes with a side of sour cream! And a pint of orange juice. Once we have consumed a zillion calories, we head to the National Museum, which is housed in the former Bellavista Fort, HQ of the Costa Rican army until ... read more
Restaurante del Patio breakfast
National Museum
National Museum (Bellavista Fortress)

Today sees the first leg of our journey home. There are no direct flights from Panama to London, so this afternoon we fly back to Costa Rica. After the obligatory trip to the breakfast buffet, I blow the last of the Balboas on fridge magnets before packing and heading for the airport. A tactical error; I finished my book this morning. An error compounded by the fact that the airport wifi is limited to 30 minutes. An error further compounded by the fact that shortly after boarding commences, it stops again and the passengers who had already boarded reappear. Apparently, a member of crew has fallen ill. They promise to let us know what’s happening in 30 minutes. And so afternoon drifts into evening with alternating additional delays and gate changes. At one point vouchers are ... read more

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama City February 7th 2022

Planning a trip to Panama City was a bit like doing a jigsaw; post pandemic, most tourist attractions are only open a few days a week and putting together an itinerary which incorporated everything I wanted to do was fiddly. Then, I caught covid and we had to change all our flights. The result – our only full day for sightseeing is a Monday, when everything is closed. No matter, we will spend the day wandering and looking at the outsides of things. Our first stop (after the breakfast buffet – you can’t keep the old man away from a breakfast buffet) is the Casco Viejo – the old town. Or to be more precise, the old new town. The original site of the town (Panama Viejo) was a few miles to the northeast. After it ... read more
Casco Viejo
Casco Viejo
Casco Viejo

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama Canal February 6th 2022

Today is the highlight of my trip and it doesn’t disappoint; we are doing a partial transit of the Panama Canal. It’s a southbound transit – ships travel northbound through the locks north in the morning and south in the afternoon - so we are picked up by a minibus around midday. First, we have time to watch some of the Panama Ironman, with the cycling discipline passing by our hotel. The event started with a 1.2 mile swim in the canal, which really doesn’t look like the right colour for water you’d want to immerse your face in. Then a 56 mile cycle up and down the flyover – by the now the temperature has reached 32 degrees - rounded off by a half marathon up and down the causeway. That’s quite a feat – ... read more
Panama Canal train
Culebra Cut
Centennial Bridge

I wake up thirsty and walk to the bar to get a drink - always a nerve racking experience as I’m unlikely to be alone. This morning there is a toad on the step and a cricket the size of a bus on the bar (OK so I’m exaggerating slightly). I can cope with those. Yesterday, the religious Germans found crocodiles and a boa constrictor. I don’t want to run into either of those on my quest for caffeine. Today is our last day on Bocas del Toro – the question is how to fill it? Our flight isn’t until 5.45 pm, but the somewhat chaotic nature of public transport here means we don’t want to risk going too far and getting stuck. First, breakfast and a swim – breaststroke as the pool isn’t very big ... read more
Boat to Isla Carenero
Isla Carenero faro
Isla Carenero

Last night was not great; the old man’s wriggling kept making the bed shake (not exactly what one has in mind vis a vis their husband making the earth move!) That, plus the noise from the a/c, which sounds like a boy racer revving up a Concorde, make sleep impossible. At 5.30 I get up, douse myself with insect repellent, fight my way through the mice in the bar to retrieve a Diet Coke, and sit on the veranda reading my Ukrainian penguin v mafia novel. It seems I’m not the only one who can’t sleep; a few minutes later the howler monkeys start their pre-dawn chorus (how can something so small make such a big noise?) and the Germans emerge with torches and announce they’re off to see the animals. By 5.45, the old man ... read more
Breakfast on the veranda
Reading in the rain
Huge scary moth

We wake up at – who knows? My iPhone is struggling to work out where the f*** we are and keeps randomly swapping between Panamanian and Costa Rican time. My watch is Bluetoothed to my phone, so the only way of finding out the time is googling ‘What time is it in Panama’? No matter, it’s impossible to sleep past dawn when the howler monkeys wake up anyway. So I get up and sit on the veranda and watch the monkeys, who are in the tree above the bar, until breakfast is served. It’s a very civilised affair – the owner lays the table on our veranda and brings pancakes with banana and chocolate, followed by eggs and toast. The old man is in 7th heaven as the fact the pancakes are covered in nutella means ... read more
Breakfast for monkeys
Breakfast for monkeys
Breakfast for monkeys

Today we’re (kind of) back on track as we’re taking our original flight to Bocas del Toro; a group of Caribbean islands just off the Panamanian coast. We had originally planned to return from there to San José by a couple of bus rides to keep costs down. But as we have only spent one night in Panama City, we will now fly back at the weekend for our rescheduled canal trip. We get up and go for breakfast. The lady next to us coughs incessantly. She sounds like she has covid, however she polishes off 5 plate fulls of food, so whatever her ailment, it certainly hasn’t affected her appetite. Breakfast is a non self-service buffet. The food is behind a screen and you have to ask servers to pass it through holes in the ... read more
Miraflores visitors’ centre
Miraflores lock
Miraflores lock

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama City February 1st 2022

Today, four days later than planned, we are finally leaving Costa Rica. The last challenge for my running club’s January Jaunt is a mystery run/walk where opposing teams must guess your location, so I have deliberately avoided mentioned our next destination - Panama City. I can remember learning about the building of the Panama Canal at school (a very long time ago) so am very excited to be visiting this engineering Wonder of the World. It’s a stressful start to the morning, as I have scheduled an Uber, but the hotel wifi is down so I cannot receive notifications of if/when it will arrive. The first 3 drivers cancel, but finally we’re on our way. It feels so good to be checking out of my ‘isolation hotel’ and getting on the move again, even if the ... read more
Hotel room view
Hotel room view
Plaza Paitilla Inn

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