Monday, April 30, 2012

Ocean Beach Pier

Ocean Beach Pier is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast. The pier is a wonderful place to catch the sunset and take amazing pictures (do a Google search, the pictures are breathtaking). We visited the pier in early January so it wasn't as crowded as I'm sure it is in the summer. Street parking was free. The pier has a decently long perpendicular section at the end so there's plenty of space for people to gaze out at the ocean or back at the coastline.

Ocean Beach Pier is probably the closest you can get to watching surfers in action without getting wet yourself. At least when we went, the waves were breaking right underneath us. There's also a cafe on the pier which has some crazy pictures of when the waves have washed over the pier and obliterated the cafe (Google these too).

I doubt we would come here to hang out on the beach, as there are much more scenic beaches in San Diego, but we will definitely be catching many a sunset from this pier.

Click here to see more of our pictures from Ocean Beach Pier.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Snapshot Saturday: OC Fair 2011

This picture was taken by my friend James Le with a Canon T2i (I think...). My friends have an annual tradition of going to the OC fair but last year was extra special for me because I had entered a picture into the photography contest! I didn't expect to win any big prizes but I was hoping that, at the very least, my picture would be displayed in the gallery... and it was!

The picture was of me and Ignas's silhouettes against a boulder in Palos Verdes. It is the bottom picture in the middle row - I'll post it as a future Snapshot Saturday post. Anyway, this was us reenacting the picture in front of the picture!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Sleeping Indian Hostel

The Hostel makes up the second floor of this building.
The Sleeping Indian Hostel was the first place we stayed at during our trip to Costa Rica and it was actually my first hostel, ever. Staying here was a bit of a gamble because I booked this place in a hurry on the same day we were flying out. (We had been so swamped with work that we hadn't booked a single thing for the trip but we agreed that we should at least secure a place for the night we flew in.) I found this place on and booked two nights after skimming through the few reviews and pictures... and I am so glad I did! This place ended up being one of the unforgettable highlights of the trip.

First of all, location. The Sleeping Indian Hostel is one street off of the main road through town. It is adjacent to the La Fortuna de San Carlos church so the balcony provided a pretty view of the church and the town park.

We had two rooms to choose from. One had a queen bed but only a small window near the ceiling. The one we decided on had two twin beds but also two huge windows. By pushing the beds together, we had the best of both worlds. Both rooms had its own private bathroom and shower (the shower was a Gerald shower, which I will explain further in a future post but basically there was hot water). Our room didn't have a closet but I rarely find myself using hotel closets anyway. The wall hooks and hangers sufficed (actually, I don't think I used those either).

The common area of The Sleeping Indian Hostel.
The common area was beautiful, kind of an odd word for a common area but that's really what it was. The hammock, the furniture, the colors and the sky lighting all made me wish that we were staying there longer. There was also a kitchen with everything you would ever need: coffee maker and Costa Rican coffee (yum), stove, fridge, utensils, rice cooker, plates, etc.

Gerald, on the left, is the owner of The Sleeping Indian Hostel.
The owner, Gerald, is honestly reason enough to stay here. He is one of the friendliest people I have ever met and he set quite the precedent for Tican hospitality. He was extremely knowledgeable about Costa Rica and all of its natural wonders and we were privileged to hear a few of his fascinating lectures. For example, we told him about the different animals we saw at Arenal National Park so he told us everything about them: their biology, reproductive processes, roles in the food chain, etc.

Gerald was also very attentive and generous. On our last night, we were all in the common area having another fun discussion on Costa Rican nature when Ignas expressed his wish to see the red-eyed tree frog (this frog is on the cover of every Costa Rica guidebook). Gerald said, "I can't have you leave without seeing a red-eyed tree frog!" And boom, off we went on a free night hike, which ended up being the best guided hike we took during the whole trip. Also, before we left, he saw that we didn't have a good driving map so he gave us his. Nicest guy ever!

A few other things to note: There was no a/c but we never found it unbearable. The fans that were provided were enough to keep us comfortable. Also, The Sleeping Indian had it's own private parking area but we also parked on the street and it was fine.

Lastly, let's talk money. At $15 per person, per night, this place was amazing. I would HIGHLY recommend staying at The Sleeping Indian. I know that when me and Ignas go back to Costa Rica, The Sleeping Indian will definitely be our go-to hostel in La Fortuna. THANKS GERALD!

Click here to check out more pictures from The Sleeping Indian Hostel on our photo gallery. Also, check out The Sleeping Indian Hostel's Facebook page.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Snapshot Saturday: Na Pali Coast

This picture is from the Kalalau Trail on Kauai, Hawaii. The trail is a tough one but well worth the stunningly breathtaking views. Taken with the S95.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Photo Gallery!

Me and Ignas take a ton of pictures... all the time. I always thought it was a shame that nothing ever gets done with them, which is part of the reason for creating our blog. I used to upload to Facebook but for many reasons, Facebook isn't as personal anymore. The perfect place is this blog but I didn't want to overcrowd the content with pictures either. So, it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you our photo gallery!

A snapshot of the gallery in the making.

To create the gallery, I made a new blog solely dedicated to pictures. You can visit the gallery by clicking on "Photo Gallery" in the menu bar up above. Mind you, my photo editing skills are non-existent and I take most of my pictures using my iPhone4S. Ignas's pictures will be much more pleasing to view.

We do a lot of things and go a lot of places and it makes me really happy to share our pictures with the world! :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Snapshot Sunday

Heather and I climbed to the top of Iron Mountain this weekend. This shot was taken as a raincloud was bearing down on us with my Canon S95. The weather was a chilly 8C, but perfect for hiking. The views from the top were well worth the climb!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Costa Rica 2012 is finished!

Yay! I am finally finished with my video montage of our Costa Rica trip! It was a lot of fun for me to make, as if re-living the trip. I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Snapshot Saturday?

Alas, the Photo Friday has turned into Snapshot Saturday due to my forgetful ways. REALLY looking forward to a relaxing weekend at home with the family. With Easter Sunday coming up, figured this shot of a rabbit at the bluffs overlooking Black's Beach from last Sunday was fitting. Heather and I took a leisurely evening stroll, which was somewhat marred by a large group taking pictures for what was presumably a bridal party. Nevertheless, a gorgeous evening and plenty of Easter bunnies hopping around. Taken with my T3i with the 55-250mm lens. HAPPY EASTER!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Arenal Volcano National Park

Volcan ArenĂ¡l was our first major attraction of Costa Rica and the only volcano we explored during our trip. We stayed in the nearby city of La Fortuna and drove our rental car to the National Park, less than 30 minutes. Arenal used to be quite an active volcano, giving spectacular shows of spewing magma and smoke every night (Google pictures because they're stunning). Unfortunately, it’s been dormant since 2010. Still, the volcano’s perfectly shaped cone and the views of Lake Arenal made this activity well worth it.

Picture from Arenal Volcano Inn:
Admission into the park was a $10 parking fee. For the first part of our hike, we took the Las Coladas trail to the end but on the way back, we took the El Ceibo loop. Our trail can be easily completed in two hours, definitely less if you don’t plan to take too many pictures.

The end of the Las Coladas trail is on the volcanic rock.
Most of the path is wide and well-maintained, except for the short section that takes you up above the forest at the end of the trail. Here, the path is on the volcanic rocks and there were a few rocks that weren't as stable as they looked. Test your footing! The view at the end of the Las Coladas trail was the best on our hike with picturesque angles all around.

Our group in front of Arenal Volcano.
The walk through the forest was beautiful and on the loop back, we saw the amazingly huge Ceiba Tree. We didn't see too much wildlife during our hike but we did see different birds, butterflies and coati. After our hike, we drove to the Mirador lookout point for a few more pictures.

Ignas with the Ceiba Tree.
Overall, I recommend dedicating a half day to visiting the National Park but not any more than that. There really isn’t anything else to do besides the trail, while the possibilities in the nearby area are endless (zip lining, waterfall rappelling, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, kite/wind surfing, hot springs, etc.). Don't forget to bring water and snacks for the hike.
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