ahhh, the life of a diplomatic princess . . .

Archive for the tag “Vista del Valle Plantation Inn”

Find a Place You Love and Go There. A Lot.

One of my least favorite parts of moving frequently is leaving spots I absolutely adore– a particular beach, a special B & B, a park I enjoy. These are places where I can breathe deeply and center myself, where my shoulders climb down from the bottoms of my ears, I leave them feeling refreshed and ready to tackle life again. I have several of these places in Ireland, one of them is my very favorite spot on earth, the others always left me feeling pretty damn awesome too. It was tough to temporarily let go of those special spots when we moved but I sooth myself knowing that I will always return.

About a year after we moved here my husband and I were lucky enough to find our spot in Costa Rica, it immediately became our place and we can’t get enough of it. Vista del Valle Plantation Inn (which I’ve blogged about before here) is a gorgeous hotel tucked away from the noise and movement of San Jose, it’s very near to the airport but you may as well be in the middle of nowhere because it is absolute tranquility. Instead of rooms there are houses, which is something we prefer when we go on romantic getaways, some are small enough for one or two people and some are large enough for groups. We just returned from our fifth stay at Vista del Valle and, while relaxing on the porch of our casita, staring out over the valley, listening to all the sounds of the forest, a thought occurred to me–it’s time for me to give some unsolicited advice to people who are new to the Foreign Service. Here’s my unsolicited advice: wherever you move, find at least one place that feels like yours, one place where you can breathe deeply and just be. And go there as much as possible. Don’t feel guilty about spending the money, or leaving the kids, or informing houseguests that the price of admission is a weekend of babysitting, or taking a day off work –just go. There you can feel like you belong to a place, which isn’t always easy when you move around a lot, and feeling like you belong, like you have a place that speaks to you and you can put down the shield so many of us carry around because of the challenges of living overseas, is more important to sanity than I think is often realized.

The minute we pull into the winding driveway of Vista del Valle my husband and I both inhale and exhale deeply and audibly, our muscles begin to relax, and we are completely in that moment, savoring the joy we feel each time we return. We know its paths and trails well enough that we can stroll them in the dark, guided by the moon and the soft Japanese lanterns that line the trails, moving by feel, soaking in the night sounds. Our time there consists of whatever we want–reading, napping, enjoying the quiet. My hubby loves asking me “what are we going to do today?” and hearing me answer “whatever we want!” While we always feel like we belong with our family, that home is wherever we are and that our roots may be mobile but they are strong, it’s important to us to also have a place, a spot of earth where we feel physically like we belong. Each time I find one of those place in our travels I feel very blessed because I know they help me remember who I am, which sometimes gets lost when your sense of place is constantly changing. So find your spot, you’ll know it when you meet it, and return as often as you are able.

Next Summer we move to Honduras, and while I will miss Vista del Valle badly, I look forward to finding another special place. Until then, we will return to Vista as many times as we can–feel free to visit us here in Costa Rica knowing what the price of admission is! Of course, the photos …

Inside the Mona Lisa

Inside the Mona Lisa

Path from the Mona Lisa

Path from the Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa, the other casita we've stayed in.

The Mona Lisa, one of two casitas we’ve stayed in.

Vista Del Valle May 2013 023

The resident cat, who is an absolute love

The resident cat, who is an absolute love

Christmas concert, Irazu, Vista del Valle 103 Christmas concert, Irazu, Vista del Valle 106

The porch of the Ilan Ilan, we've spent many hours sitting in those chairs.

The porch of the Ilan Ilan, we’ve spent many hours sitting in those chairs.

The outdoor shower in the Ilan Ilan, showering with a view of the valley is divine!

The outdoor shower in the Ilan Ilan, showering with a view of the valley is divine!

The Ilan Ilan

The Ilan Ilan

Christmas concert, Irazu, Vista del Valle 139

The path leading to the Ilan Ilan, one of the two casitas we've stayed in.

The path leading to the Ilan Ilan.

My hubby trying to coax the resident dog, also a love, to look my way.

My hubby trying to coax the resident dog, also a love, to look my way.

The view of the valley from the restaurant which, by the way, has fantastic food.

The view of the valley from the restaurant which, by the way, has fantastic food.


Spotting Monkeys While Showering, My New Favorite Pastime

In our travels we visit a lot of places that are breathtaking, fascinating, and fun. We see and experience things that test our boundaries, inspire our imaginations, and make us see the world in a different light. Once in a great while we are lucky enough to visit a place that touches us on an even deeper level; Inishowen in County Donegal, and Blacksod Bay in County Mayo, both in Ireland, are two of those places for us and, last month, we stumbled upon another– a magical little spot about 40 minutes from our house that we fell head over heels in love with immediately upon arrival.

My husband and I rented a one-room, octagonal-shaped cabina at the Vista del Valle Plantation Inn. We only had one night, and we wanted something romantic, so I was looking for a stand-alone cabin in a quiet spot not too far away and the cabina on a cliff’s edge definitely fit the bill–plus, it had an outdoor shower, which I thought was pretty cool. When we can swing it, my husband and I make a habit of getting away just the two of us and I love searching for the perfect romantic spots for our getaways. After I made our reservation the hotel sent us this video:

Upon arrival we saw it actually was as beautiful as it appeared in the video and the people who run the Inn were as gracious and welcoming as we had anticipated. We were met with a tour of the grounds and a glass of sparkling wine, which was a lovely touch and a nice way to start our little mini-holiday. After our drink we took a walk through the grounds of the Inn, shortly after we’d started our hike we were greeted with this view

View of the valley from the hiking trail on the grounds of Vista del Valle Inn

The hiking path wound its way through the grounds and followed a sweet stream where impatiens (at least that’s what they looked like) grew among the rocks

After the hike we headed to the cabina for a post-dinner nap, I’m pretty sure I squealed in girly delight when we spotted the cabin

Mona Lisa Cabina

Front porch of our cabin, overlooking the valley

Inside the cabina–cozy and romantic!

And, of course, the outdoor shower . . .

Showering on the edge of a valley cliff!

After our nap we headed down the path from our cabina to the restaurant

The restaurant overlooked the valley so we drank wine, had our leisurely dinner and dessert, and watched the sun set over the valley

The next morning we woke up to the stirrings of the creatures in the trees, which we enjoyed from the bed (when you have a view like this, truly, there is no hurry to get out of bed)

I even spotted a toucan from the comfort of our bed!

While enjoying the outdoor shower I heard a rustling in the trees, I looked up and saw a family of monkeys moving through the branches over my head

On the way to the restaurant for breakfast we admired the pool and decided, next time, we were definitely bringing suits

One last cup of coffee on the porch of our cabina, soaking in the breathtaking view and serenity of our newly discovered paradise, before we headed off for a nearby village

We said “see you soon” to Vista del Valle and headed for Sarchi, a village known for its woodworking and, apparently, the biggest ox cart in Costa Rica

While in Sarchi we bought these chairs for our terrace

Rocking in the chairs, admiring the sunset over San Jose, is a lovely way to pass an hour and a great place to talk about our next visit to the Vista del Valle Inn!

Vista del Valle Revisited …

So we went back for a second visit to Vista del Valle. Kind of a spur of the moment thing, taking advantage of grandparents being in town (ya’ll know what I’m talking about–get away!). It was as magical and gorgeous as the first time we visited. We were greeted with a friendly “welcome back!” from the front desk. We got the same casita, which made us very happy. Pool, naps, a stroll, excellent food. Some places get under your skin, Vista del Valle is one of those places for me. I can’t explain it, really. I could gush about the amazing setting, the breathtaking views, the warm service, the feeling of complete relaxation that washes over me when I am there but none of that really encapsulates what it is about that place that has entranced me–it just is. So I accept that. All I can say is if you find yourself San Jose way, Vista del Valle Plantation Inn is a must visit. Hands down my favorite spot in Costa Rica so far. Some more photos, albeit kind of funky since my camera is acting up and I’m still waiting one my new one to be delivered … Oh! This visit I did not spot any monkeys while showering, which just means I’ll have to go back!

There are several charming arches throughout the property, this is just one.

VDV porch

A lovely spot to enjoy coffee and a book (or a glass of wine and a book, depending on the time of day).

VDV tree

Beautiful, old tree in front of the casita we stayed in.

VDV Garden

THIS is why their salads are so yummy!

VDV Bridge

Bridge of the pond, which houses koi.

VDV Bamboo

One of the many groves of bamboo, which adds to the Japanese zen feel of Vista del Valle.

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