Tourist Attraction Review: Los Lagos Hot Springs, La Fortuna

IMG_0502

One of the main pools at Los Lagos. This one had a slide, although that’s not what you see here. That’s a waterfall. But it would make a cool slide, I guess.

Greetings from a rainy mountain in Central America! I was thinking about this site recently, as well as the type of people who read it. More importantly, I was thinking about why they read the site. I try to share weird things about Costa Rica, but the posts that seem to get the most attention are ones that an average person can think about or use in some way, like posts about food. So I thought I’d try reviewing some places around Costa Rica when I go to new attractions or hotels, since there are still a lot of foreigners coming here. (And for more reviews you can check out my Trip Advisor account.) I guess the only problem is that these days, we hardly travel within Costa Rica, but it’ll give us a good excuse to get out there and do something!

So, in the spirit of all that, I thought I’d write a little post and put up a few pictures of Los Lagos hot springs, located just outside of La Fortuna, near Arenal Volcano. The weird thing is, just yesterday a bridge on the property fell down and seven people were injured! You can read about it here. I hope that everyone’s OK. I’m not sure what bridges the article is referring to, but we didn’t really go on any suspension bridges when we were there (They have a really large hotel and adventure tourism area, and I think that’s where it happened; we did go on a few walkways to get to the springs, but I don’t think it was one of them).

Anyhow, all that aside, the hot springs were really nice. There are a variety of pools and, like other hot springs near the volcano, the pools are arranged on the side of a hill. The higher you go, the warmer the water. At the top it’s really toasty, but at the bottom there are larger pools with lower temperatures. There are also “family-friendly” features like shallow pools and slides. We went with our baby and Angela’s niece Kati, and everyone had a good time. We took turns hanging out and watching the baby, since he’s probably a bit too young for hot springs. But he still had good time.

IMG_0512

During Baby-Watching Duty

We paid for entrance with a buffet dinner included. You can pay for admission to the springs only (at something like $15, if I’m not mistaken) or get the admission with a buffet dinner included for about $12 more. We got the buffet option; if we hadn’t, we would have had to leave the property to eat, and everything around La Fortuna is pretty expensive anyhow, and we’d not have found lower prices. The buffet was OK, not amazing, but it was designed to quickly feed a lot of people, so the quality reflected that a bit.

There were a few groups when we were there, but since everything is so big it didn’t feel overcrowded. The people working there were nice, and most everything except the changing rooms were clean. The few other downsides were that you had to pay to rent a locker or towel.

All in all, though, for the price and what you get, it’s a good deal. Other options nearby fall a bit short for some reason (Baldí is really big and noisy, EcoTermales is nice but pricey, and Tabacón is really nice but crazy expensive), but this place is like the Goldilocks of La Fortuna hot springs: it’s in the middle and just right.

Anyhow, if you like this kind of post, please feel free to leave a comment. If not, same thing. I just want to make sure that if I write these posts, someone will read them or find them interesting or useful. And if you know of other things that I should review (hotels, restaurants, CCSS health clinics), let me know!

Thanks for reading–have a great day!

IMG_0517

Kati and Angela

Costa Rican Food: Rice and Beans

14697556537_c7947dfcda_k

Quick, how do you say “rice and beans” in Spanish? Arroz con frijolesFrijoles con arroz? Well, those are both kind of right, but if you’re in the Caribbean part of Costa Rica, you just say “Rice and Beans.” Sure, the pronunciation is a bit different, maybe a little more staccato, but the real difference is in the flavor.

I’ve mentioned before that in many ways, Costa Rican cooking is somewhat bland, at least for my tastes. When people visit, they expect it to be like Mexican food, but are often confused that it’s got very basic ingredients. That’s OK, generally, since the ingredients are usually fresh. However, in my opinion, the major shortcoming of Costa Rican food is its lack of variety. Many people eat (white) rice at least three times a day, typically accompanied by some beans, a bit of meat, some chopped lettuce, and that’s about it. That tendency also means that a lot of Costa Ricans are less daring when it comes to food. If I ask in my classes, “What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?” many people seem to respond with something different, but not necessarily strange, like a meat cooked with fruit, or anything remotely Japanese.

The Caribbean, however, is a bit different. The province on the Caribbean side of the country is called Limón, and that’s where I’ve had what I consider to be the best and most interesting Costa Rican food. It’s got more Jamaican cultural influences, too, so that makes things interesting. Unfortunately, I don’t make it to the Caribbean very often, since it involves a drive of at least 5 hours, including a good chunk of time getting lost in San Jose, since it seems all roads lead through there. The last time we went there was a few years ago, but we still remembered the tasty food we had there.

So, I decided to finally try a recipe for rice and beans with “Caribbean chicken.” I don’t want to brag, but it was outstanding. We can give the credit to the mix of ingredients, though. The picture above is from the day I made it, and the green stuff is the cilantro sauce. You can find the recipe for all three parts here. It’s got a lot of steps, but the result is a lot of tasty goodness and a few days of leftovers, too. You’ll notice that it’s heavy on coconut milk, which is what the rice is cooked in. If you don’t like coconut, you’ll possibly hate this dish, but we loved the great mix of flavors in it–it was almost like a Thai dish in that sense, and some of the spices are similar, too. The only major changes I made was to use some chicken breasts and thighs instead of wings, since I thought it would be easier to reheat (and it was). Other than that, I pretty much stuck to the recipe.

The recipe is in Spanish, by the way, but with Google and other resources, I’m sure you can get it translated if you don’t speak Spanish. If not, and if you’re really interested in making the recipe, tell me and I can try to help out.

If you try to make it, tell me how it goes. And if you have tried Costa Rican food, what’s your favorite dish? Have you tried the food from Limón? What did you think?

Thanks for reading, and buen provecho!