Sunday, November 17, 2013

Restaurante Bocart, Bocas del Toro

bocartrestaurant.com

If you ever go to Bocas del Toro, plan a visit at restaurant Bocart!
This nice relatively new little restaurant is close to the center of Bocas at the main drinking and food mile. The team at Bocart is very friendly, attentive and it is obviously that they love good and creative food.
A main course costs around 11-15$ and is worth every penny! They always offer different daily specials which is for sure a good choice.

"Amuse-bouche"

Raw Sushi, Bocas del Toro

If you like sushi you are in very good hands at Raw Sushi right in the center of Bocas. Its a beautiful restaurant / bar with tables right at the sea an really good music. The food doesn't only look good, it's also really delicious and the team seems to have fun at work.
From 4pm to 6pm they have happy hour: 1 sushi roll 4$ and a beer 1$ (try the Soberana beer - fits well even with sushi).

Hostel Heike, Bocas del Toro

A realy good location right next to the park in Bocas del Toro is Hostel Heike. It is one of the older places in town (Marcial stayed here six years ago). The rooms are clean and really simple, but don't expect daylight. They have a kitchen you can use and every morning free coffee, tee and pancakes. There is also a beautiful comfortable rooftop terrace with plants, lounge chairs and hammocks. A bed at the dorm costs around 8$, a private room with shared bathroom is 22$.

Cabinas Riverside, Cahuita

The location from Cabinas Riverside is superb, just one minute walk from the national park entrance and one block away from the main drag. There is also a chines supermarket just around the corner.
I liked the laidback vibe of this place, with the garden and the hammocks. You can see and hear the wildelife, it's like staying at the national park. Cabinas Riverside hase double rooms for 23$ and rooms with kitchen for 25$. We stayed at the apartment on top with a huge kitchen, living room, eating area and two bedrooms, a balcony and a terrace with a hammock and great wifi for 30$ a night. It was great - like a home away from home.

Into Panama, Bocas del Torro and Boquete (09.11.13 - 14.11.13)

From Puerto Viejo we took a bus down to the border crossing into Panama. Six years ago there was only the old railroad bridge which pedestrians had to share with trucks and cars. Now there is another bridge for vehicles and they even fixed the huge gaping hole in the railing where a truck/car must have plunged into the river.
After proving we would leave the country again by showing them an email (which could have come from anybody ;)) we got our passports stamped. Having some time and Tico Colones left we visited the Duty Free store! ^^ How can a 1l bottle of J├Ągermeister only cost 13$ in the middle of nowhere in central america?! We bought some rum (7 year old Centenario), red whine (from Chile) and as many beers we could get for our Colones. Sadly the only cold beer was some shit american brand, why?
After a shuttle and fast boat ride we arrived in Bocas del Torro. There has been quite some change since I got my PADI Open Water certification here six years ago. The many chinese run super markets (I counted 7 in the main street o_O) for example or the multi storey hotels and apartments for example.
As it has been a while since we've been diving we booked a two-tank-dive ^^ which took us out to The Caves. It had some nice rock formation but not much aquatic life besides the millions of fireworms. Also the visibility was quite poor due to the heavy rains in the night before. But the second dive was even worse! Our inexperienced divemaster swam away from us multiple times, getting lost and we had to surface to find her again... She swam over flounders (which she has never seen before she told us later o_O), scorpion fish, baby lion fish (sadly no spear at hand), nudibranches, cleaner shrimps and lobsters. Not everyone gets the good education of Underwater Vision it seems ;)
The next two days was more or less all rain so the trip to the beach never happend and we left. A boat and taxi ride later we found us perched into a local bus and shouted at by a the co-driver. Him being cross-eyed didn't help and none of the passenger knew who he was talking/shouting to. During the almost five hours we wished we would have taken the direct-tourist-shuttle for twice the price... In David we changed into a proper Chicken Bus™which was first class in comparison. Our accommodation in Boquete turned out to have a hot jacuzzi! This was quite welcomed as the temperature was in the sweater-at-night region. The exertions of the previous day took its toll and we more or less slept away the whole day. Again the rainy weather discouraged to do any tours and the steep prices didn't help either. So we relaxed and I did some research on what to do once we get home - I have some ideas ;)

Minion on the old railway bridge

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Along the carribean coast, Cahuita & Puerto Viejo (02.11.2013 - 08.11.2013)

From Tortuguero we took a boat which runs down to Puerto Limon and then a little shuttle to Cahuita. After wandering around we found a nice place just next to the cabinas I stayed around 6 years ago. They seemed abandoned and the owner of our place told us it has been like this since a couple of years. Seems a shame.

In Cahuita we didn't do much besides chilling in our nice apartment or on the beach next to the national park ;) Having our own kitchen again was great! We only planned to stay two nights but in the end we spent five nights there.

From Cahuita we took a local bus down south to Puerto Viejo. On the way Minion almost fell out of the bus! A brave man jumped to his rescue and could grab him by his ankle. Shocking moments for everyone!
In Puerto Viejo we wandered around but ended up with a shabby shack, so we left again the next day!



Monday, November 4, 2013

Tortugero (31.10.2013 - 01.11.2013)

After two days in the big city we headed by public bus to La Pavona to catch the boat to Tortuguero. This small village in the middle of a huge national park can only be reached by boat or airplane. On the fantastic ride through the jungle we have seen river turtles, a crocodile, plenty of different birds and beautiful flora.
The round 700 citizens live primarily from the ecotourism around the national park. The park has a rich biological diversity and is one of the most important places for the green turtles in the caribbean. Once reached adulthood they come back every year to lay their eggs, one the same beach they were born.
We were lucky enough to see two days in a row how around 40 green baby-turtles made their way out of the nest into the ocean! You can see that spectacle before sunrise or after sunset, when the black volcano sand is not to hot anymore.
In our opinion it is way better to see the baby-turtles than to make the organised tour at night were you can see how the big ones lay their eggs. From 6pm to 6am the park is closed and you only can go in with a guide.


Also a recommended thing to do in Tortuguero is a canoe tour. But don't book a tour with one of the motor boats, you can see and especially hear much more with the other ones! Also important ask around, the prices are very different and ask if the park ticket (10$) is included.




Friday, November 1, 2013

Hostal El Momento, Granada

Hostel Granada Nicaragua - El Momento

In the center of Granada, two minutes from the park lies this very beautiful hostel El Momento. In a 400 year old colonial house you find a real oasis, quite, friendly, clean with beautiful interior. The hostel has a bar/restaurant, a lounge area, a rooftop and quite good internet.
A night in the dorm cost 8$ a private room 14$-36$, a very good value so.