Beers of Nicaragua: A Taste Test

After the success of our Panamanian Beer taste test, it seemed only fitting that we imbibe in another round in Nicaragua. I would like to thank Colleen for stepping up to the plate and being our third judge in this little adventure.

So without further ado…The beers of Nicaragua

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P1020952Victoria Frost: Alcohol Content 4.9%

Kate: Watery but still hoppy with a little after skunk. Tastes a big lighter then the other Nicaraguan beers. I could drink a few but would still prefer something lighter and with a lower alcohol content

Colleen: Super light and dangerous

Shaun: Pretty good, but bit of a chemical beer taste. Something may be a bit off with this one.

 

P1020953Victoria Classic: Alcohol Content 4.9%

Kate: Way thicker and hoppier. Hits you between the eyes like its saying “drink lots of me and I’ll make your morning a doozy.” It has a bit of a skunky aftertaste. Tastes like something I would drink out of a red plastic cup at a party.

Colleen: More like a Molson Canadian. Heavier then the frost. Don’t care for the chemically after taste

Shaun: Good name (Victoria), Pretty Good. Could slam back a few, less after taste then the frost but would need to be very cold. It’s pretty bad when warm

P1020955Tona: Alcohol Content 4.6%

Kate: Stronger smell. Thick, like molasses beer. A hint of lime at first. I’m not opposed to this beer but would only drink one on a really hot day and only if it was ice cold. Nice to not have that skunky finish though.

Colleen: Heavier than the other two. Harder to chug!

Shaun: Seems like a heavier beer in comparison but refreshing. Good but not as poundable. More of a winter beer then hot climate beer.

P1020956Cerveza Premium: Alcohol Content 4.5%

Kate: Stinky! Tastes like water compared to everything. I keep sipping it up thinking there might be more to it, but its just bubbly yeast water. Let’s be honest, this is a Kate beer. Fluffy, light, nothingness. Perfect for my delicate dainty palate

Colleen: Not sure if this is even from Nicaragua, what does “Made in Central America” even mean. Not a huge fan. Overall would prefer anything else

Shaun: Judging by the name it must be good. Not very good. Reminds me of a Pacific Pilsner…Terrible

So there you have it! We knew going into this that Nicaragua is certainly not known for its beer. That fact was defininetly reinforced with our taste test. It should be advised, that beer taste tests often result in situations like this.

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Yes, that is a delicious street side burrito. I regret nothing!

The Costa Rican beer taste test will be finale. We are waiting for the perfect moment though, because we 9 different varieties to try, we may never recover!

Are you in Costa Rica and want to partake in the finale beer taste test? Message us on Facebook!

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

10 Things We’ve Learned in our Four Months of Backpacking

Hard to believe, but I now have 4 months of backpacking under my belt. Although I feel like I’ve graduated from my newbie backpacker status, I still learn new things every day.

I thought I would take a moment today and share with you 10 of my most recent observations about the crazy world of a backpacking.

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  1. Lack of laundry facilities means spilling something on myself is 100 times more devastating.
  2. After four months it has just becomes easier to refer to ourselves as Keit and Jawn.
  3. When leaving a hostel that has hot water, we shower like we will never see hot water again.
  4. Buffet breakfast? Watch out, we will make three meals out of it
  5. Free Coffee? Watch out, Kate will make three meals out of it
  6. If I am not wearing underwear by noon, I won’t wear any all day. That’s a waste.
  7. If I have to pee when I’m in a bed with mosquito netting, I will opt to do the potty polka until morning.
  8. Somewhere in Costa Rica, someone is giving out free Jack Johnson CD’s to every citizen. We just aren’t sure where.
  9. Some people need the sound of waves, crickets or whales to fall asleep, I’m pretty sure when I get home I’ll need a sound machine that plays bad karaoke, howler monkeys and people humping.
  10. Date night’s consist of a box of cooking wine, a bag of plantain chips and being in bed by 9

So there you have it. A little insight into the glamorous world of backpacking.

What other tips about backpacking do you want to hear?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Wild Panda: Our Favourite Bar in all of Costa Rica

Oh Wild Panda…how we love thee…

From our very first day in Tamarindo, I knew I would be writing this post. In fact, I sort of alluded to it here!

We love Wild Panda for so many reasons. I love it for their focus on healthy food and healthy cocktails, and Shaun loves it for their flat screen TV and the all day 2 X 1 Rum Pineapples. All this aside, the real reason we keep coming back is our history with this place.

The story about us and this bar actually starts way back in 2011, when Shaun and I last visited Costa Rica. There is no one better to recount this tale then Shaun himself. So, after a long absence from the blog, he has agreed to write all about our (extensive) time with Wild Panda.

You know it must be  good if Shaun is willing to tear himself away from surf and pool time to write a blog post!

Take it away Shaun!

The menu

The menu

So we happened to be Tamarindo three years ago and my brother and buddy Smit were trying to book a fishing trip and met this guy named Junior who at the time had a little booth type set up where he booked tours and what not. The boys got to chatting and Junior told them he was opening his cocktail bar later that week.

A classic shot...circa 2011

A classic shot…circa 2011

 Brad and Smit were pretty skeptical because there wasn’t much there, but they assured Junior they would come back and suck back a few cocktails.

Sure enough later that week Junior’s place was open and on one boozy night we hit up his cocktails. I hadn’t remembered much from that night but luckily the girls got lots of pictures. Funny how that happens…

quite a bit has changed!

quite a bit has changed!

Now fast forward to late November 2013, Kate and I had just arrived in Costa Rica for our big trip and we are enjoying our first night out in Tamarindo. As we’re walking towards the same area, we commented on whether his place might still be there. To be honest, I never expected it to still be open, let alone to see Junior. Sure enough though, Junior was there just chilling in the front. The place was now called Wild Panda, but it still had the infamous “Suck my Cocktails” sign. Junior obviously didn’t recognize us, but was impressed when Kate showed the pictures of the opening week three years ago. That was the first of many nights we spent at Junior’s Wild Panda bar.

The infamous Panda head!

The infamous Panda head!

During the Christmas break Junior probably made a small fortune off our friends and family who were in town. This included my brother Brad and Smit’s who were able to return to where it all began. We definitely missed the putting green he previously had, but the place has undergone so many upgrades and changes including a big TV and WIFI. It is a pretty sweet set up.

It also still has that really personal and friendly feel to it. You don’t see Junior there as much, but he has some really great staff that more than make up for it. Having a drink there is my favourite thing to do in Tamarindo.

Tourista Alert!

Tourista Alert!

So if you’re in Tamarindo check it out. Go grab a bar stool there and have a Rum Pineapple, get a picture with the “Suck my Cocktails” sign, or put the panda bear head on. Last time we were there they had T-shirts too. It’s the only T-shirt I’ve bought this trip.

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So there you have it! Wild Panda, it is the place to be in Tamarindo. Head on over there, grab a rum pineapple and say hi to Junior and his amazing crew!

Have you ever been to Wild Panda?

Pura Vida!

Kate (and Shaun)

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Our Favourite Places in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

After four visits to Tamarindo, you can imagine my surprise when I realized that I had never done a “Favourite Places” post for it. Blogger Fail. Who knows why this slipped through my fingers, but nevertheless, the week we spent here allowed for the perfect opportunity to get one done.

There are so many places I could have chosen for this post. I actually had to cruise around the town to do some additional taste testing for the restaurants who made the cut, all in the name of research of course. Thankfully it paid off, and I’ve managed to narrow it down to our top three picks.

199591_10150118390849102_7536690_nCR Paradise: When we talk about people that we like to visit while in Costa Rica, Michelle and Steven of CR Paradise are at the top of our list. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without these two. They helped me navigate everything from booking a snorkel tour for a zillion people at Christmas, to getting over the border to Nicaragua. Any time I have a Costa Rica related question I know I can email them and they’ll have answer for me super quick.

They are literally a one stop shop for surfing trips, airport transfers, zip-lining, car rentals, turtle tours, waterfalls and everything in between.

What really sets CR Paradise apart is their level of integrity. They aren’t just going to try and sell you a tour to make a buck (like many people in Tamarindo will do). They’ll be honest with you about the pros and cons, and make sure you are getting the adventure that best suits your needs.

If you are heading to Tamarindo, and looking for a tour company, I can’t recommend them enough. Make sure you tell them Kate sent you 😉

P1020888Nogui’s: We find that most of the beach front bars in Tamarindo are tourist traps. Travellers are lured in by the thought of eating dinner right on the beach, but are then faced with high prices, and lack lustre food. Nogui’s authentic and delicious Costa Rican cuisine makes it stand out from the rest.

Before I even start talking about Nogui’s, I highly suggest you click this link to their website. Their home page beautifully describes their history, and the history of what Tamarindo was like back in the 70’s when it opened. Nogui’s is truly a Tamarindo original, and has grown along with the town itself. Once only open for dinners by reservation, Nogui’s is now open all day serving up a huge menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

So, if you are visiting Tamarindo, make sure to make time to check out Nogui’s. I would suggest snagging one of their bright yellow Adirondack chairs right on  the beach and indulging in one of their famous pineapple, ginger mint juices with a side of their delicious ceviche.

P1020886Green Papaya: Shaun and I have already decided that our final meal in Costa Rica will be at Green Papaya. We’ve eaten here several times, and each time we go our meals are insanely delicious.

Green Papaya is a little off the beaten path, but well worth the trek off the main strip. You’re not only guaranteed a delicious meal, but super fast and friendly service.

Mom and brother Sean enjoying the swings at Christmas!

Mom and brother Sean enjoying the swings at Christmas!

Something that is often hard to find, especially in Tamarindo.

The restaurant has a great design. Guests can beat the heat by sitting inside on big wooden carved stumps (more comfortable then it sounds!). Alternatively guests can opt to sit outside on swings. Seriously! How could you pass up the chance to eat dinner on a swing? Well let me tell you, most people can’t. So get there early, or you will be swingless!

Chicken Tacos....NOM

Chicken Tacos….NOM

As far as suggestions are concerned, you just can’t go wrong with their chicken taco’s. Then again, their chips and salsa, chili, and burrito’s are amazing as well. This is the only problem with Green Papaya, to delicious things to choose from!

My most recent discovery about Green Papaya is their coffee bar. Finding a good coffee on the main strip in Tamarindo can be a little challenging. I’ve already written about my love for Cafe Tico, but Green Papaya certainly gives it a run for its money.

So whether you are looking for taco’s, coffee or swings, Green Papaya is certainly a must visit in Tamarindo.

Well, I certainly feel better now that I’ve got that done! Check out our other favourite places here. As always, if you are looking for other recommendations for Tamarindo, or elsewhere in Costa Rica leave a comment below or visit our Facebook page.

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

The Best Place to Watch the Sunset in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

As I mentioned before, we’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Tamarindo, and feel like we’ve pretty much got the town cased.

This includes knowing where the best place to watch the sunset is.P1020864

Actually I should back up a bit, and explain the phenomenon of sunset watching.

Here in Costa Rica, sunset watching is an event. At around 5:30, beaches become crowded with tourists and locals alike who are taking a moment to appreciate the beauty of what is unfolding. It’s actually a really magical thing when you think about it. Even as I write this, I feel sort of deviant because I’m sitting by the pool while everyone is heading down the beach. Note to self…time blog writing better!

Shaun and I have experienced this sunset phenomenon in many places throughout Costa Rica.

ya we were THOSE people (Shaun will hate that I posted this!)

ya we were THOSE people (Shaun will hate that I posted this!)

In smaller towns we are one of a handful of people who are enjoying the view, in others, it’s a gong show. Tamarindo is one of those places where sunset time is often just crazyness.

Don’t get us wrong, our first night in Tamarindo back in November, we rocked it tourista style. Beers in hand we took countless sunset photos. Selfies, couple shots, yoga poses, kissing photos, name a classic tourist sunset photo and we did it.

Now a days, the need to take 100 photos of one sunset has subsided, and we can appreciate the view without needing to document the moment. That is, if we can manage to see the sunset through the hoards of kissing couples and yoga posers.

See the cliff way off in the distance? That is where we were heading!

See the cliff way off in the distance? That is where we were heading!

So, as I was saying, knowing what Tamarindo sunsets can be like, we made a plan to watch it from somewhere a little different.

Playa Tamarindo is the main beach in town, but if you head south a ways you will end up in Playa Langosta. Right between the two beaches is a rocky cliff. That my friends, is where we were heading.

So with a plastic bag of cold beers (cause that is how we roll), we headed out on our adventure. We made our way down the beach, dodging photo takers, navigating rocks and even photo bombing a wedding. After about a 20 minute hike, we made it. We were two of about 8 people who had the same idea. A far cry from the 100’s of people we could see lining the beach.

P1020858To say this was a good idea was an understatement. Not only were we able to watch the sunset in peace, but we also got to watch the waves crashing up against the rocks as the tide came in. It was one of those moments that you know you are going to remember forever.

So, if you are in Tamarindo, and looking for a peaceful sunset watching experience, you now know where to go. It is certainly a bit of a hike, but it is well worth it.

What is your most memorable sunset?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Returning to Tamarindo, Costa Rica

After our couple days in Samara, we headed back to Tamarindo for a week. If you’ve been following the blog, you may think to yourself…Tamarindo? Haven’t these guys been there a zillion times?

Well technically three times now, but yes, we do keep coming back.

During the crazyness of travel, life can seem pretty chaotic. We often find ourselves longing for a place that feels like home. We’ve come to realize, that for us, Tamarindo is that place.

For those of you who know us, know Tamarindo or know both, this may come as a surprise. Tamarindo is a very busy little town, full of people, and full of party. Not necessarily a place that fits our relaxed “in bed by 8pm” approach to travel. In fact, if someone were to ask me where I would recommend they go during their trip to Costa Rica, Tamarindo would be much further down the list then some of the other places we’ve visited.

But we have a soft spot for Tamarindo, and the longer we are in the country, the larger it grows.In previous trips to Costa Rica, we’ve always stayed in Tamarindo, and have been able to see the town develop over the past 6 years (since our first visit). Tamarindo is the first place we stayed when we landed back back in November, and it is going to be the last place we stay before getting on the plane in April.

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We are comfortable with the town, we know where the deals are, we know which restaurants we like, heck we even have a cat that we pretend is our own! We have come to know several people in the town, and any time we visit we take a moment to pop in to say hello.

Familiarity, comfort, friends, these are all things that you miss when travelling. When you find a place that gives you a little taste of those feelings, it is always going to keep you coming back.

So, at this point in our adventure, we found ourselves back at Villas Macondo for a week. Laying by the pool, visiting with Bearly Bear, and enjoying our time to regroup before our big trek up to Nicaragua.

How do you find ways to feel “at home” while travelling?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Backpacker turned Hairstylist- Cutting my own hair while travelling

After 3.5 months, I came to the point where I could no longer stand the greasy strands, sandy scalp and all around unruly mop I have been sporting on top of my head.

A couple of weeks ago it all came to a head (get it..a head…no pun intended…actually no that is a lie…I thought of that pun way before I even started writing this post)

Anyways, we were back staying in Villas Macondo in Tamarindo, and I knew they had a hair dryer. This meant, for the first time, in a long time, I could check out the status of my bangs and give them a trim.

Now why on earth would I need to trim my bangs when they haven’t seen the light of day for months AND will likely not be seen again for the remainder of the trip?

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See what I’m sayin!

Sanity, pure sanity. As much as I have adopted the free-spirited, makeup-less, “when did I last shave my legs” backpacker lifestyle, every once and a while I still need to feel fancy.

Now, the thought of a selfie bang trim strikes fear into my heart. I have flashbacks of sitting on the side of the sink as a child as my mom cut my bangs mid-forhead, using a piece of scotch tape as a guide. Seriously, I’m cringing just thinking about it

Luckily for me, I had come prepared for this day. Prior to leaving, I had a little one on one time with Chris Lawry at Lavish Salon in Victoria Between creating a magical sun kissed hue and cutting my hair in a way that would make it grow out nicely, he taught me how to trim my bangs.

(side note: If you are in Victoria and need a stylist, stop reading, and call them. Your hair will thank you).

So here is a little step by step approach of how things went down for my selfie bang trim.

P1020868Step 1- Be Afraid: First, take your hair out of its messy bun for the first time in a week. Look in the mirror and marvel at how sunscreen, sweat, sand, and saltwater makes for some pretty intense natural volume.

Step 2- Conditioner is your Friend: Next, try and brush your hair, realize its impossible, and opt to jump into the shower. Use the ole “mitt-ful of conditioner approach” to get rid of the knots. Keep in mind, this approach only works when you know your bestfriend is coming for a visit the following week who has promised to bring you a conditioner refill.

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Step 3- Brush that Shizz: Shower complete, now brush your hair. Be disgusted with yourself for the amount of hair that is coming off your head. As you clean out your brush, and end up with enough hair to make coat for a small rabbit, vow to yourself to remember to brush your hair more frequently. Immediately forget about the vow until you are writing a blog post about it several weeks later.

P1020875Step 4- Access the damage: Try and remember which way you parted your hair, back when you cared about things like hair parts. Comb your bangs forward to see just how impressive your hair growth as been.

Now spend several minuted trying to take the perfect long bang selfie. Opt for a side mouth smile.

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Step 5- Moment of Truth: Ask your husband to take a picture of you trimming your bangs. Try not to cut yourself as he directs you where to put your arm so he can see your face. Ultimatly decide to pose for a photo and then actually do the deed without distraction.

Pull your bangs into middle of your forehead and trim slowly with the scissors pointed upward. Start with small cuts, and let go of your bangs every once and a while to access your progress.

P1020884Step 6-Be Shocked: Stare at yourself in the mirror and think “wow, I think I actually nailed this”. Decide that your new found fancyness warrants leaving the unflattering orange glow of the bathroom and heading out into better lighting. Take your last selfie.

Then be so exhausted with the whole process, opt not to blow dry the rest of your hair, and then just put it up in a bun for the night.

It was good while it lasted!

Honestly, I was totally prepared to butcher my fringe and rock a French braid for the rest of the trip, but Chris’ instructions made the whole process go super smoothly.Check him out if you are in the Victoria area!

If you are heading out for some big travelling adventures, but want the option to keep up some style, I would highly suggest a pre-trip visit to your stylist to pick up some tips.

Have you ever cut your own hair? How did it go?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress