Category Archives: Wanderlust

My Favorite Restaurants In Sámara (or Where You Should Eat)

We were in Sámara for a mere month. Our goal was to attend TEFL school to get certified to teach English.  It was an intensive four week course and we passed with flying colors. In our down time on weekends or occasional evenings we would often find ourselves, sometimes with kids and sometimes with new friends, at one of many restaurants in this quaint but quirky little town. Here are my favorite restaurants in Sámara.

1. Bar Arriba: This fun restaurant has the best french fries in Sámara. My kids also enjoyed the chicken strips as well. Although they are family oriented during lunch and dinner it is a fun place to hang out watch a soccer match and have a beer or four. They have a ladies night on Tuesday and often have live music or a DJ to keep it lively. Most of the drinking crowd starts after nine so bringing the kids here for dinner isn’t too chaotic.  The hamburger is the best in town. (Some say the veggie burger at Luv Burger rules but I’m saying as far as beef burgers go, this is the place.) You can find them on FB at Bar Arriba.

2. Falafel Cafe: This was my go to for fast and fresh lunch. In Costa Rica a fast lunch isn’t always possible which is good when you’re on vacation but not when you’ve got a designated hour for lunch. Falafeño or the Tabbouleh plate are excellent choices. Hubby got tired of going here too many times in a row but admitted to it being an awesome little place to get a quick bite. It’s also fairly cheap and filling for this tourist town. You can locate them in the Nature Center part of town. You can find them on FB at Falafel Cafe.

3. Coco’s Mexican: This is a great little place to celebrate with family and friends. They serve typical Mexican fair which, being from Colorado, we crave from time to time. They also serve large margaritas during happy hour. When we finished class at Costa Rica TEFL this was where we went to get our relaxation on. They have happy hour specials like everyone else in town but they have Mexican food and tequila which was a major selling point for the hubby and myself. Kurt really enjoyed the Chimichanga and the Chicken Nachos were excellent. As with all outdoor restaurants in Costa Rica bring some bug spray to keep the bugs away. You can find them on FB at Coco’s Mexican Restaurant.

4. Sub Express: This was my kids and hubby’s second most favorite place to eat lunch. They have sub sandwiches and the boys favorite was the Italian sub. Very good and filling sandwiches and wraps. I enjoyed a few of their wraps and was never disappointed. You can also get some lunch meat and cheese to go. It’s pricey because it’s imported from the States but it’s good and worth when trying to feed two teenage boys. You can find them on FB at SubExpress

5. Restaurante Makizu Sámara: We really enjoyed our time here with friends. Kurt and I usually don’t have sushi but our friends do. Kurt had never tried sushi before coming to this place. He tried it and liked it. He ordered the Chicken Adobo and thought it was super amazing . I had Philadelphia rolls and a few bites of the sushi platter in trade for my large serving of Philly rolls. The rest of the table ordered a large sushi platter which was pretty to look at and tasted fabulous. Everyone truly enjoyed their experience. You can find this great restaurant on FB at Makizu Samara.

Honorable mention: Vela Latina, Lo Que Hay, Flying Taco, Pizzeria Paraiso. I’ll cover these restaurants and maybe more in a later post.

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Big Week (or Calgon Take Me Away)

It’s been a big week. Last week we were accepted into the TEFL school. So this week we got to pay for school, find a place to stay, buy plane tickets, yada, yada,yada. Calgon take me away. Just for a moment. I need to wrap my head around all this.

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Phew…. that was good part of this week. Everything took a few emails or phone calls but we got it done and got some good deals in the process. Great priced plane tickets, a cheap and reasonable place to live while at school, and even a fair priced ride from airport to Samara.

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Then things got weird. It’s been raining and cold all week. Rain I can handle but I’m over the cool temperatures. It’s even  supposed to snow on Sunday, Mother’s Day. Yuck. After working three overnights this weekend I was exhausted and sore. The frosting on top of my icky week cake was getting prepared for a yard sale (in which it’ll be raining), car issues, and refiling taxes for the state.

Our newly paid off car needs repairs and its too much to do just to sell the car. So we’ll be selling it as is and losing any money we put into it.

I’m having a yard sale because I’ve been waiting for a month to have this yard sale. Usually I work Saturday mornings and therefore had to take off but it’s going to rain. I’m doing it anyway under my covered porch and parking spot. Improvise is my middle name.

Finally we had to redo our state taxes. Instead of receiving any kind of return we are having to pay. It’s just a little bit but the whole process is annoying.

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Overall awesome week but I’m having a beer and a shot of tequila for the not so savory parts of my week. We’re very excited about moving to Costa Rica but we’re suffering from ‘senioritis’ wanting this to be over and the next part to begin. Calgon take me away.

Shoot for the Moon (Chasing Italy Does)

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Sometimes you need to shoot for the moon.

So about six weeks ago my husband started freaking out. (Visualize the Thinker). Which, in turn, caused me to freak out. (Visualize cartoon Tasmanian devil). My anxiety aside, Kurt freaks out so quietly that I find it completely unnerving. He ponders and frets and keeps to himself. Being a natural introvert this is how he deals. But to me, not introverted at all, I begin to wig and wig hard. I become an annoying little bird, jumpy and trying to figure out what’s wrong, what can I do to fix it, or what did I do. I’m not a quiet patient wife. I fret and I try not to nag.

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After about three days and a bunch of forwarded emails with links to getting visas and jobs in Italy he finally broke his silence. He was concerned about Italy. Concerned that we’d be setting ourselves up for failure by leaping head first into our adventure. A multitude of blogs and websites say that though not impossible, it’s difficult to start ESL teaching in Italy. That experience is what we need and we can’t afford to adventure into the unknown willy nilly like. Our little bit of money would go much further, while we get experience, in a different country.

Knowing that we were not going to give up this dream of traveling and of Italy, we began to discuss options. What countries? What continents? What would be acceptable and reasonable and what wouldn’t be acceptable? Kurt threw out the idea of South America. Possible. He’d been there ten years ago on the Amazon river on a missions trip. I threw out Asia and Kurt cited a few reasons why he’d rather not. Not possible. Among them the cuisine and the Asian work versus play lifestyle. We wanted to not have to work a ‘regular’ job in a foreign country but to work some , explore some, travel some, and blog about everything in between. Plus we have teenagers and we want them to experience as much culture as they can between their studies and our work. Family time is quite important. So Asia is more or less off the table. Europe is on hold. For some reason we’ve never discussed Africa. So we started looking at central and south America.

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Out of the blue I suggested Costa Rica. Not sure why. I didn’t know much about it outside of ecotourism. I even had to check a map to see where exactly it was located. I felt rather blonde as I discovered that it was actually just north of the country I was born in. But then again I was born in Panama but left at six months of age. I’ve always wanted to see the place of my birth maybe now I’ll get a chance.

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
Norman Vincent Peale

So Chasing Italy will shoot for the moon. It might take a while but it’ll be an adventure.

Where is your ‘shoot for the moon’ place? Italy? Europe? Asia? Australia? Tell us in the comments below.

Waiting is the Hardest

We’ve been waiting for things to happen, but things take time. It’s like when you find out you’re pregnant, but you have to wait nine months to meet your baby. Sure things proceed and change but you have to wait until the time is right. We started planning with a six month window of time. As we wait, we research, we talk, and we dream. What do we dream about? Oh so many things.

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Five Cities I want to see the first year besides Vicenza: Venice, Verona, Florence, Parma, and Bologna. I actually want to see every nook and cranny of Italy but you have to start somewhere. Venice for the canals. Verona because of Shakespeare. Florence for the museums. Parma and Bologna for the food. I’m sure the food in every region is amazing and I’m willing to try all of it.

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Five things I want to do my first year in Italy. These aren’t in any particular order: ride in a gondola, ski on the Dolomites, soak up the sun on an Italian beach, ride on a train, and learn basic conversational Italian.

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Five things I want to try my first year. Cappuccino and espresso like a native, wine from as many regions as possible, risotto, gnocchi, and polenta. My husband and children will be all over the pizza, pasta, and gelato choices. And as much as I love wheat it doesn’t love me back. Therefore, I will concentrate my gastronomic experience to the wheat free/gluten free arena. I’m excited because I’ve read Italy is GF friendly and northern Italy has fabulous risotto, polenta, and gnocchi dishes.

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Although we have no idea where we’ll land in Italy past school, we have open minds and willingness. Dreams of Italy prevail both in our days and our nights. It’s kind of like “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” but slightly more realistic.

I’m open to suggestions for our first year in Italy. Remember I’ve got two teenage boys both with a reasonable but not overwhelming interest in art and architecture. They love to eat though.

Ready to rock and roll…Passport to the World

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It begins…

When my husband got word that he might have a little bit of money from his beloved grandmother, we didn’t think much of it. We figured that it probably wouldn’t change our lives. Then we learned that it might make a difference if we allowed ourselves to dream a little.

After some contemplation, my dear husband, Kurt, says that he has a couple of ideas. Now you should know that we never back down from a challenge or adventure. We have moved across the country with very short notice for a job with a newborn and two year old. That adventure landed us in northern Virginia right before 9-11 and the sniper shootings. We moved back to Colorado to be near family and six years later did the cross country thing again.

Back to the idea and the dream. In his reasoning, (being way more logical than myself) we could invest in a future, like a restaurant. We had discussed this before but without means didn’t seem possible in our lifetime. So we spent some time investigating this option. The quality of restaurant we wanted was beyond our means. We still held onto the hope that it could still be possible but in the end came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to happen.

So I begin to imagine option B. What is option B? Option B is Italy. Yes, the entire country. Actually, we had dreamed for years of going abroad. We have many countries we’d like to visit but Italy has always been at the top of the list. As a child, Kurt, lived in Vicenza while his father served in the U.S. Army. He has very fond memories of Italy and he wants to share Italy with me and the kids. I’m all for it. Can you imagine, the food, the wine, the art, the architecture, the history?
So we’re getting out of dodge and chasing Italy. It begins…