Friday, 30 October 2015

Up the ante with an adventure trip to Suriname

Grab your most adventuresome girlfriend ( I'm thinking someone along the lines of Jessa from the hit show "Girls", who just got out of rehab so would probably jump at the chance to get out of town) and escape to exotic Suriname, the land of Tarzan and Jane. There's a good chance you won't bump into another American the whole time you're there. I discovered this during a recent visit after receiving an invitation by Sunny Land Tours to join a handful of American travel agents who were invited to explore Suriname so they could promote this undiscovered gem to their clients (since less than 1% of visitors are Americans)!
Colonial homes in Paramaribo
Colonial homes in Paramaribo
Where the heck IS Suriname?
Here are my top eight reasons why you should visit:
1. Bragging rights
You definitely won’t hear a lot of chitchat about Suriname when you gather round the office water cooler. When I told people I was going, including some veteran travel writers, not a single person knew where it was. They all couldn’t wait for me to report back when I returned, so you’ll definitely be able to hang with the cool kids.
FYI: Suriname, the smallest, youngest, least populated country in South America, is bordered by Guyana to the west French Guiana to the east, Brazil to the south, and Atlantic coast to the north. Approximately 500,000 people live here with about half of them clustered around the capital city of Paramaribo.

2. Fascinating mash-up of people and culture
A brief history lesson to explain why: the Dutch began to settle here in 1602 followed by the English. The Dutch traded New York for Suriname to the English in the 1667. (Such a deal!) They used West African slaves to work their coffee, tobacco and sugarcane plantations. The plantation owners were notoriously cruel even for those times, so many slaves escaped deep into the rainforests, where they established an independent society, based on hunting and agriculture. Many of their descendents, known as Maroons, still live in these jungle villages although in the last few decades, they have become increasingly urbanized. After slavery was abolished the Dutch imported workers from Indonesia, China, and India generating the cultural chop suey that now characterizes Suriname.
The result is an interesting mixture of fusion foods, religions and architectural influences. For example, there are over 20 languages spoken here. The official language is Dutch, from back in the day when Suriname was a colony of the Netherlands but English is widely spoken in the capital, Paramaribo, as well as Sranang Tongo, an English-based creole language used by the younger population.

3. A laid-back, compact capital city that can be easily be explored on foot or bike
Paramaribo (about an hour’s drive from the airport) is also affectionately referred to as Para, Parbo or the “Wooden City” for its historic, Dutch Colonial, white clapboard buildings. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the last ten years. Highlights include the postcard pretty, flag-filled, Independence Square in front of the Presidential Palace and Fort Zeelandia, a star-shaped fortress built by the British in the 1650’s. There’s a small museum inside, worth a quick peek, even though none of the signs are in English. On Sunday morning the Square will be brimming with locals who bring their caged songbirds here to compete in a tweeters version of “The Voice”.
Tip: Sunny Land partners with Orange Tours, a local company that offers over 30 eclectic city/jungle tours ranging from half-day city tours by foot, bike or bus. Options include a sunset, pink dolphin-spotting river cruise, guided explorations of plantations, historic plantations and nature parks or more extensive trips deep inside the rainforest. Their experienced guides were exceedingly knowledgeable, friendly, professional and exceptionally proud of their country. Tip: Sunny Land uses Orange Travel for their tours and I was most impressed with their friendly professionalism and knowledge. Shout out to my favorite guide, Gio, who after learning I was a foodie went out of his way to make sure I got to sample plenty of exotic taste treats.

4. Fun shopping at the International markets
Para has some of the best ethnic markets in South America. The grandmother of them all is the waterfront Central Market, a cacophony of exotic sights and smells. The immaculately clean main floor is filled with Asian and Indian stalls selling a variety of local meats, seafood and produce. So-so clothing is upstairs. The not-to-be-missed part is the 'Witch's Market', where you’ll find piles of herbs, spices, shells and bones, which can be used to make up some serious voodoo concoctions. Our guide surreptitiously pointed out an herb named “kill somebody”. Note that many Maroons have stalls here and they are fiercely opposed to having their picture taken.
Other worthwhile markets scattered about the city are the Chinese Market, where you’ll find fresh produce and a variety of tasty dim sum, the Javanese Market for durian and perhaps some smoked stingray, and the colorful orchid market filled with native plants.
5. Unique religious monuments
I was blown away by the number of churches, temples, mosques and synagogues found in such a small city, yet everyone plays very nicely together.
The Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral, built in the 1880’s, is the largest wooden structure in the Western Hemisphere. It was recently restored to its original magnificence.
Tip: Time your visit when services are held to hear Father Esteban Kross sing. He is renown for his voice and is rumored to become the next archbishop.
In the center of town you’ll find a magnificent wooden Synagogue, the Neveh Shalom, the only active Synagogue today in Paramaribo. One interesting characteristic of this synagogue is its sand floor, a reminder of all the years the Jews wandered the desert. Even more unique is that the synagogue sits right next to an Islamic Mosque and both co-exist in peaceful harmony.
Tip: Call ahead to arrange a tour with Stanley Beck. A native of Suriname he moved to Israel many decades ago. He and his son recently returned for two years in order to teach the remaining Jews Hebrew so they could read the torah.

6. Round-the-world restaurant choices
Para’s eclectic heritage is readily evident in the ethnic fusion food choices sprinkled around town. Whether you’re craving curry, Dutch pancakes, sushi, spicy chicken satay, peanut soup, tortellini, cassava stew, Baked Alaska, dim sum or vegetarian, you’ll find them all readily available. Dining establishments range from pricy Chinese restaurants that specialize in local shrimp dishes and elegant, date-night dining rooms offering European entrees (starting at $50) to Warungs, Javanese food stalls, serving bami goreng (fried noodles) and nasi goreng (fried rice) where you can fill up for a few dollars.
Tip: If you just can’t decide exactly what you’re in the mood for head to Spice Quest. Talented Chef/owner Patrick Woie, a local, who after graduating from the CIA in Hyde Park returned to open two restaurants, the casual Dumpling #1 dim sum house and his upscale Spice Quest. Popular menu items here include ceviche, Grilled Black Angus tenderloin, smoked duck breast with duck liver terrine which you can enjoy al fresco in the tropical garden or in the authentic Japanese Tatami Room, for around $100.

7. Get out of town and head to the jungle
The main reason that people come to Suriname is to explore the pristine rainforest which covers a whopping 90% of this country. For a real Tarzan/Jane experience you can spend days traveling deep into the undisturbed tropical Amazonian forest, uninhabited except for a few traditional Maroon or Indigenous villages.
But for a more civilized taste of the jungle, we jumped into one of Orange’s comfy mini-vans for the 90 minute drive to Bergendal Eco & Cultural River Resort, a lush, tropical haven located on the banks of the Suriname River.
A variety of individual lodges are scattered about the property, offering a choice of either rainforest or riverfront views. All are nicely appointed with tropical furnishings, air conditioning, comfy mosquito-netted beds, plenty of hot water in the showers and either a deck or balcony.
For the next few days we were able to be as active or slug-like as we wanted. Some of the options included a hike to a waterfall in Brownsberg Nature Park (the chattering monkeys, poisoness spotted frogs, exotic flora and fauna- many are used for medicinal purposes- were interesting although the waterfall was actually more a water trickle) canoe or kayak down the river, mountain biking, meander through the Heritage Village (an old slave town), visit a Maroon village and see how they live, zip line through the rainforest canopy, or simply laze around the nicely- landscaped infinity pool, doing nothing more than ordering tropical fruit drinks from the bar.
Although I’m usually a capital Type A, I loved my cozy river bungalow and spent many relaxing hours on my deck, reading a book or watching the boats drift by.
I’ve been on many zip-lines around the world so I wasn’t going to stir my stump for this until I heard some guests raving about it. Designed by a top team from Costa Rica, this was the best zipping I’ve ever done. I also joined a couple for a guided walk through a nearby Maroon village, complete with stores, a few “bars”, church, cemetery, medical post, a school, and agricultural plots.
Nightlife here was nill except for a lively performance one night by the Maroons, who entertained us with authentic singing and dancing. Their clapping hands took the place of instruments.
The buffet meals were adequate and plentiful although hardly inspired, however Chef Fredrik will soon be offering gourmet ala carte dining, featuring his fave cuisine, Italian food. In the meantime, you might want to stock up on cookies and snacks in Para.
Tip: Although the whole staff is anxious to please, if you have any issues or concerns talk to Sylvie. This dynamo runs the adventure center and also has become the official go-to person for Sunny Land tour guests.

8. Hassle free tour allows you to just pay, pack a bag and show up
Although I’m not usually a tour person, Sunny Land Tours, does a good job meeting a variety of needs. This affordable escape starts at under $1500 for eight days including air from Miami (about 5 hours including a stop over in Aruba) all transportation, 4 nights at Krasnapolsky hotel in Paramaribo, a city tour, 3 nights at the Bergendal Eco & Cultural River Resort (including activities), and about half of your meals. Other tours and activities are offered ala carte, which allows you to select only those which pique your interest.
Tip: Americans can buy their mandatory tourist card upon arrival at the Paramaribo airport for $25. Be sure to stop in the office for your card before you queue up in the customs line.
For more info contact Sunny Land Tours.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Pejibaye fruit

You'll find these bright orange flecked and striped fruits soaking in hot water baths by street vendors roadside and in supermarkets in Costa Rica. From a "Gringa's" perspective it takes a while before getting used to the rather bland tasting dry starchy texture of its flesh, but Costa Ricans just love it.
Peeling the fruit is also a trick in itself. After which a slice in the middle cracks open to revel its pit, much like a peach but smaller and denser. No wonder Pejibaye in English is Peach Palm Fruit and is actually taken in clusters from the tops of a particular Palm species in Costa Rica. It's found in other areas of Central and South America too, but is most commonly eaten in Costa Rica, more so than anywhere else.

Locals seem to enjoy it split, pitted and filled with a bit of mayo. It takes getting used to, but eventually you'll love it. Cream of Pejibaye soup is also a traditional Costa Rican favorite and was served to President Obama when visiting Costa Rica in May of 2013.

If you are traveling out of San Jose heading in any direction, like East towards Tortuguero National Park, South East towards Cahuita National Park, North West towards the Arenal Volcano, West towards the central Pacific Coast from Jaco down past Quepos towards Corcovado, you will find Pejibaye everywhere.

Friday, 10 July 2015

About Egypt

About Egypt 

Did you know it took  (20 years) and  (20000) Slaves to build the Pyramids 2000 years ago, all by manual laborers rolling 2 ton blocks higher than Eiffel Tower to bury their pharos in chambers partially discovered?

Did you know the Temple of Abu Simbel was built 3 thousands year ago,  Engineered with an opening that allows the Sun light  to the Inner Temples precisely on the Statues of Ramsas the 2nd to commemorate his Birth Day?

Did you know Moses led his tribe across Sinai to the promised Land  and thousands of the Pharoes pursuing army  perished when the open path in the Nile collapsed on them, in the area that  is now called the RED SEA.

Did you know the Oldest Established Tour Operator to Egypt in the U.S is Sunny Land Tours with over 50 years offering  Specialized Egyptology Trips?

For more visit:

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Costa Rica's big little secrets

Do you know about Costa Rica's Little Dry Season or Indian Summer?
It's called El Veranillo de San Juan and it is a weather phenomenon, interrupting the green season (rainy season) for one month of glorious summer like weather. This phenomenon occurs between June and July so it's a great time to take advantage of prime weather with low season prices! Check out our $399 Beach & Rainforest Package. Click here

More than 80% of visitors will include the region of Arenal in their trip. Get to know our most popular tour that includes this region.

The Liberia International Airport (LIR) may have slightly higher fares than into San Jose (SJO), but it saves 5 hours of driving time or a 45 minute domestic flight with a $100 pp cost to consider. Check out our best 5 day all inclusive deal. Click here
Sunny Land Tours has been in business for 50 years! That's right, This family owned Tour Company has been delivering amazing experiences at affordable prices since 1964.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Petra- Wadi Rum - Aqaba a 3 Day tour offered by A division of Sunny Land Tours

The escorted tour departs  every Thursday from Amman to Petra via the Kings' Road. En route, visit the mosaic city of Madaba, where the oldest map of the Holy Land exists on the floor of Saint George's Church. Madaba, or Medeba in antiquity, features many famous mosaics that exist in public and private buildings. After Madaba, a short drive will bring us to Mt. Nebo, the alleged burial site of Moses overlooking the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea.

Here Franciscans have built a structure that protects a 4th and 6th Century Byzantine church. After visiting this site, we continue on via the scenic canyons of Wadi Mujib (Arnon's Valley in the Bible) to the Crusader castle at Kerak. This 12th Century hill top fortress features galleries, towers, and chapels and ramparts that recall the gallantry of the Crusaders themselves. Then proceed to Petra  for Overnight. On Friday the  full day is spent visiting  Petra. Once the ancient Nabatean capital, this city has a lot to tell. The visit starts at the visitors center, where we are assigned a Bedouin guided horse for the journey to the entrance of the lost city. After passing some tombs that are located outside the city, we will pass through the Siq an immense crack in the Nubian sandstone. It is a winding, one-kilometer-long fissure between overhanging cliffs that seem to meet more than 300 feet overhead. Near the end of the passage, the Siq, we will make one last turn and out of the gloom into a towering brightness, where Petra's most impressive monument, el Khazneh - “The Treasury”, stands. 

This most elegant remains of antiquity is carved out of solid rock from the side of the mountain. It is nearly 140 feet high and 90 feet wide. Beyond el Khazneh we are surrounded on both sides by hundreds of Petra's carved and built structures, soaring temples, elaborate royal tombs, a carved Roman theater, large and small houses, burial chambers and much more. The Victorian traveler and poet, Dean Burgon, gave Petra a description which holds to this day - "Match me such a marvel save in Eastern clime, a rose-red city half as old as time. On Saturday we drive  the Wadi Rum Desert (a short ride in 4x4 vehicle) and its awesome moonlike landscape, where the film “Lawrence of Arabia” was shot. The tour proceeds for  a short visit to Aqaba before returning to Amman by the Desert Highway.

For more visit:  or

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Vacation Packages featuring the Temples of Abu Simbel in their itineraries ( )

The Temples of Abu Simbel were built over 3200 years by the Pharoah Ramses II to commemorate his victory over the Hittites. The 2 Temples were built by the Nile River in Upper Egypt bordering Sudan, The Larger Temple dedicated to Ramses II as God is 98 feet high and 115 feet wide.  The Interior Temples are dedicated to his wife Nefertari. Both Temples were aligned in such an ingenious way that the Sun light penetrates the Great Temple to the Status of Ramses twice a year to coincide with his Birth and Coronation date. Such an achievement can only be surpassed with the construction of the Great Pyramids in Cairo built around 5000 years ago that took over 20 years to complete with thousands of slaves. In 1960 The Egyptian Government built the Aswan High Dam, which resulted in a United Nations effort to remove the Temples 210 feet up to a new plateau at a cost exceeding 50 million dollars allocated by UNESCO for this project.


Egypt & Petra, Jordan with Air (EG-TW-05)


Egypt & Petra, Jordan with Air
Tour Types
:9 Days
:Weekly - December 2015
:Cairo, Petra, Madaba, Mt. Nebo, Amman
:Locally Escorted
For more visit: Egypt vacation Packages

Thursday, 11 June 2015


Do you know about Costa Rica's Little Dry Season or Indian Summer? It's called El Veranillo de San Juan and it is a weather phenomenon, interrupting the green season (rainy season) for one month of glorious summer like weather. This phenomenon occurs between June and July so it's a great time to take advantage of prime weather with low season prices!

Hotel rates drop by more than 25% during this period! The country is green and verdant thanks to the onset of rain in May and the beaches are much less crowded than they are in December, January and February. Hotels and lodges are likely to offer specials such as an extra night for free, and resorts that are almost impossible to get into during the dry season are available and with much more attractive prices.

In so far as driving in Costa Rica is concerned during this period, opt for a private transfer. You'll be glad you did, since many roads suffer inconvenient interruptions such as landslides during the rainy season, so having an experienced Costa Rican driver navigate alternative routes is a real blessing. Domestic flights in Costa Rica operate during the rainy season but your best bet is to book a flight that leaves in the early morning. Chances are the weather is better in the morning than in the afternoon no matter where you are in Costa Rica.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Two oceans, Rainforests, volcanoes and a new smile? What's your Costa Rican vacation going to include?

Did you know Costa Rica ranks amongst the top 10 countries for Medical Tourism?

According to a May 14 , 2015 report, published by Gulf Bussiness, "The Medical Tourism

Index (MTI), developed by the International Healthcare Research Centre and Medical Tourism

Association, measured the attractiveness of a destination or a country based on three key

dimensions including its environment, medical tourism industry, facility and service" and

Costa Rica ranked # 5.
It is no surprise, dental and medical treatments are a fraction of the costs here in the


Why not allocate just a day or two of your vacation to take care of your dental needs and

save so much money that it more than pays for your trip?

Look at this sample list of common dental treatments and the approximate costs of these

treatments in Costa Rica:

Popular dental deals
Consultation  $70
Dental Cleaning $70

Options for crowns
Metal fused crowns $350
All Porcelain or Zirconium Crowns $450
Teeth Whitening with laser $350

Common procedures

Surgical placement of a dental implant $850
Crown over dental $850
Sinus lifting $1300
Periodontal gum surgery with laser $350

Dental fillings with laser $70

Invisalign or clear braces $5500

Plan your trip flying into San Jose with several nights in a top area hotel, like the

Barcelo San Jose Palacio Hotel, close to where you'll see your dentist, next head out for

some adventure to Costa Rica's rainforest and beaches!
Prices shown for dental services in this blog are based on current prices as of May 2015 by

highly acclaimed professionals in their field at one of Costa Rica's top medical

For more Information, contact

Monday, 18 May 2015

The thrifty tourist guide for bargain souvenirs in Costa Rica

Don't get stuck buying overpriced souvenirs at the San Jose International Airport at the last minute.
Follow these tips and collect unique souvenirs at bargain prices before heading to the airport.

Everyone wants to bring home some Costa Rican coffee. With airport prices at a minimum of $8.95 for less than a 1 lb bag, stopping by any local supermarket will help you save big!
Look for Cafe Rey, Sanchez and Cafe 1820. You probably won't pay more than $5 for a 1 lb bag. There are 4 major supermarket chains in Costa Rica so buying your coffee at the right one will increase your savings.
Of them, Pali Supermarket generally has the lowest prices, even better than Walmart. (Yes, Walmart is in Costa Rica!)

Did you know Costa Rica is home to a variety of stingless native bees that produce a medicinal quality honey, that isn't sold in the U.S. but can be purchased at Costa Rica's leading pharmacy chain called Fischel Pharmacy.
Look for the brand Miel de Mariola and it's bright yellow fabric tops on these little honey jars sold for less than $10. The honey is used in a variety of ways for different benefits from healing burns snd cuts to alleviating the effects of surfers eye. This is a really unique and useful souvenir!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

3 things you must do in Costa Rica

There are just over 800 species of birds in Costa Rica and about an equal number of tours and attractions visitors need to browse through in planning  a great vacation experience.
But of all the things to do, these 3 are a must.

Sky Tram Sky Trek Tour at Sky Adventure Park, Arenal Volcano.
You get the sensation that something exciting is going to happen from the moment you arrive to the Sky Adventure Park visitor station. The electricity of the guides enthusiasm, the funny looking harness gear one has to slip into and the amazing volcano just in front of you somehow provide the inspiration to do what might be the most exciting thing you have ever done! Yet, the tour starts out nice and easy on the The slow-paced Sky Tram. These open air gondolas soar smoothly through the rainforest, offering up endless views during their mountainous ascent. Accompanied by a bilingual guide, tour takers will have the ability to stop the tram at any point, a feature that allows for magnificent, one-of-a-kind photographs to be captured and tropical birds to be spotted.

Once the top is reached, visitors are invited to explore the observation deck, where they’ll enjoy magnificent views of the Arenal Volcano’s southern face. From here, one can also see Lake Arenal and the rolling hillsides that surround it. Visitors can spend as much time as they please on the observation deck before heading back down.

There are two ways to return to the Sky Tram’s base. You can ride the tram down the same route that you ascended or sign up for a fast-paced zip line tour to the bottom. Those seeking an adrenalin rush would be wise to choose the second option, which will have them flying along a series of secure cables connecting one mountain to another.

There are 8 cables, the longest of which is over 2,000 feet.
Min. Age 8 years
At the tram’s base there is another large observation deck as well as a restaurant. The views from this deck compliment and contrast the one from the mountain’s peak.

Costa Rica Combo: Doka Coffee Estates, Poas Volcano and the La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Coffee, volcano, waterfalls and rainforest come together in this fantastic full day tour. Starting with a drive by the city of Alajuela passing by the Agriculture Monument, the Monument to Juan Santamaria and the famous Mango Park we make our way out of the Central Valley.

As we ascend towards the Poás Volcano we will notice the change in temperature and vegetation, palm trees are replaced by pine and cool air overcomes the lowland heat. We will see coffee plantations as well as fern, flower and strawberry farms along the way, creating a beautiful landscape that paves the way to our next stop, The Doka Estates Coffee Plantation.

Upon arrival at Doka Coffee Estate enjoy a delicious breakfast followed by a coffee tour, in the actual coffee plantation. Here, we will learn about the ancient techniques used by the experts to produce one of the best coffees in Costa Rica. Learn about the careful process involved on the cultivation, harvesting and roasting of the Golden Bean.

Next, we will continue to Poás Volcano where we will not only admire the impressive main crater with its sulfur fumaroles, but also learn about the different ecosystems in this beautiful national park.

Following the visit to the volcano we will continue to La Paz Water Fall Garden for lunch and tour. On arrival to the La Paz, we will walk through a trail, leading to a spectacular waterfall in the middle of the rainforest.   Inside the park we will also visit the largest butterfly observatory in the country, the impressive hummingbird gallery, the serpentarium, the bird house and the frog’s exhibit.

Arenal Volcano by Night with Tabacon Hot Springs
The Arenal Volcano with Tabacon Hot Springs tour is one of the most popular tours in Costa Rica.
This tour offers the best of both worlds, in terms of the raw untamed beauty of the imposing Arenal Volcano, which is juxtaposed against the lush and soothing thermal waters of Tabacon Hot Springs. All this set against a backdrop of lush vegetation and breathtaking views of the nearly perfect conical shaped lines of the volcano.
Situated in the northern lowlands of Costa Rica and about a 2 hour ride away from San Jose, the impressive Arenal Volcano is a magnificent natural wonder that attracts thousands of tourists who come to see an active volcano which on clear days allows one to witness white plumes of smoke that emanate from this conical shaped behemoth. It should be noted, that the volcano had previously been assumed to be dormant, until in 1968, when to everyone’s amazement it experienced a major eruption.

Enroute to the Arenal Volcano there will be a stop in the famous town of Sarchi, known as the birthplace of Costa Rica’s Artisans. In Sarchi, you can see many of the handicrafts that Costa Rica has to offer, as well as the possibility of feasting your eyes on the world largest ox cart. The cart is made of cedar and is painted with several coats (4) of orange paint and is multicolored. The design is typical and intricate, indicative of traditional oxcarts. The oxcart is two stories high and took nearly 70 days to construct and paint. For the record, according to the Guinness book of world recorded, the cart is nearly 45 feet long (14 meters) and weighs 4400 lbs (2 tons).

The journey will then continue, traversing diverse plantations with agricultural products, including pineapple farms, and mango groves, ornamental plants and cattle ranches until arriving to the small town of La Fortuna, and stopping to enjoy lunch at a cozy restaurant with a magnificent view of the volcano.

Then you will go on to relax at one of the best hot springs in the area where you will revel in the cleansing and rejuvenating effects of the thermal waters. Tabacon is nestled at the base of mighty Arenal with a view of the Volcano towering in the background. Here, thermo-mineral springs flowing from Arenal run at a soothing 102 F through a maze of pools, waterfalls and exotic tropical gardens. You'll love exploring the springs many nooks pulsating with these magic hot waters!

Tabacon Hot springs combines the four elements of nature; the heat of the volcano, the flowing waters of the hot springs, the pure air of the rainforest, and the fertile earth of the Fortuna de San Carlos Region, to provided visitors with a first rate experience.

And for a perfect ending, before going back to San José, Tabacon's signature buffet dinner will be served with a great view of the volcano so that you do not miss any opportunity to look at the magnificently shaped volcano..

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

3 foods you must try in Costa Rica

Costa Ricans have a very healthy diet. Breakfasts are always hearty, lunch is always a well balanced plate and dinner usually the lightest meal of the day.
Fresh produce gathered at the weekend farmers markets provide the base for the weekly menu. A visit to one of these markets is a real treat. Strawberries picked from the flanks and fields of the Poas Volcano, cheese from the dairy farms of San Ramon and handmade Costa Rican tortillas from the Provence of Cartago can all found here amongst a kaleidoscope of fruits and vegetables, some familiar others not.

Peak into the refrigerator of most Costa Rican homes and you will find bottled beverages replaced by pitchers of freshly made fruit juices like maracuya (passion fruit), carambola(star fruit), naranjia, Cass, Tamarindo, flor de Jamaica and many others.
You are sure to also find a container of cooked white rice and another of prepared black beans, this for the staple dish eaten daily called Gallo Pimto (recipie follows)

Here are 3 food you must try while in Costa Rica (actually. 4 since since 3rd place was a tie)

Topping the list at number one, Gallo Pinto. This is a savory rice & beans breakfast staple.  No matter what your economics are or where you live in 
Costa Rica, chances are Gallo Pinto is on the breakfast table along side  ... Which brings us to #2 number two on our list,
Salsa Lizano. This tangy "party in your mouth" condiment is used in many dishes but most commonly with Gallo Pinto. Pour a little on top of your Gallo Pinto, you'll be glad you did. Bring some home, it's found in every supermarket and pulperria (produce/mini market stands) throughout Costa Rica.
Ceviche and Chifrio tie for 3rd place. 
With an abundance of fresh seafood, Costa Ricans have authored a very unique way of preparing this popular dish. Fresh diced sea bass tossed with lime juice, minced onions, sweet bell peppers and cilantro served with Soda crackers makes for delicious appetizer. Ceviche is the most popular seafood dish in Costa Rica.
Chifrio truly endemic to Costa Rica and traditionally served at local cantinas and bars is a hearty bowl layered with rice, beans (cubasis), pieces of chicharron (fried pork), pico de gallo, avocado and crispy broken tortilla chips crowned with a spicy vinegrette. You won't find this dish anywhere else in Latin America so make sure you try it on your next trip to Costa Rica.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Sunny Land Tours Inc is celebrating its 50th Anniversary !!!

I would like to share with you the biography of the company I started 50 years ago in Beirut, Lebanon. 

Sunny Land Tours, Inc. was formed in 1965 as an inbound Tour Operator for the Middle East with a Branch office in Jerusalem. In the aftermath of the '6 Day War' in June of 1967 between Israel and the combined armies of Syria, Jordan and Egypt that resulted in sweeping victory by Israel, the geographical map of the Middle East was changed, and it was no longer possible for my office in Beirut conduct business with our office in Jerusalem, since Lebanon and Israel had a state of War with no communications.

As a result, my company could no longer handle touring arrangements in the Old City of Jerusalem from Beirut, and made it necessary to establish an office in the U.S. as an outbound wholesale Tour Operator by incorporating the company in 1969 in Hackensack, NJ.
Sunny Land Tours continued to diversify and expand with an office in Athens, Greece in 1974 and Cairo, Egypt in 1975.
With a steep shortage of cruise boats on the Nile, in 1976 Sunny Land Tours commissioned a 25 cabin cruise boat 'The Nile Explorer' built to American standards, in Chattanooga TN, and shipped to Egypt to begin 3 & 4 night weekly cruises on the Nile. The cruise has visits to Historical Sites, and Pharonic Temples in Upper Egypt. The demand was extraordinary in that all cabins were sold 6 months in advance.
In the 80's and 90's Sunny Land Tours continued diversification and expanded its operation to cover South America and in early 2003 the Head Office was moved to Palm Coast, FL, with a new Central Operations and Service Center in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Sunny Land Tours continues to diversify and refine its product and services to over 25 destinations worldwide.
At the age of 74, I am still running the business as actively as when I was 24!


Elie Sidawi
President & CEO
Sunny Land Tours

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Heredia - Costa rica vacation

With a territory of 2.656 km2 and a population of 75 000 inhabitants, Heredia is Costa Rica’s smallest province, town appreciated for its colonial heritage and traditional architecture.
A great number of adobe houses may be appreciated along the communities of Barva and Santo Domingo. The city of Heredia, best known as 'City of the Flowers', was founded in 1706, pursuant to an initiative of some 150 families dwelling there.
In Heredia you still find an important number of coffee plantations, many of which have been adapted to perform guided visits with tourists. It can be delightful to enjoy the captivating process of harvesting, drying, and roasting of coffee beans.
Among the natural wonders of the province of Heredia, we find Barva volcano, a formidable colossus located at the west part of Braulio Carrillo National Park, which rises 2.906 meters over sea level. The vegetation surrounding this sleeping giant is astonishing; an ideal place for bird watching, especially for those who dream with the magnificent quetzal.
On the other hand, Braulio Carrillo National Park represents the greatest natural richness near the Central Valley. A tropical rainforest, home to hundreds of plant and animal species.
The dense vegetation of the park safeguards many cascades and rivers, some of which are used in sports adventures. Sarapiquí River is another of the attractions of the province. This imposing river travels through dense vegetation, where birds are abundant. It has an ideal current for those who enjoy the rapids, with a moderate degree of difficulty.
The mountainous areas of Heredia, just before crossing the Central Mountain Range, are characterized by vast extensions of forest and fair climate. Many people choose these green and fresh sites to establish themselves, to live far away from the city crowds.
Costa rica vacation packages, Costa rica vacations

Monday, 19 January 2015

Sanjose capital of Costa Rica

San José
San José is the country’s most highly populated province. Located in the Central Plateau, it extends to the northeast, crossing the impressive mountains of the Central Mountain Range, which includes national parks, forest reserves, and fertile lands, with an abundance of coffee plantations.
Costa Rica’s capital, San José, is in the Central Valley. It’s an extensive plain, guarded by majestic volcanoes and green hills, honoring the natural richness that exists throughout the national territory.
Founded in the first half of the eighteenth century, San José is nowadays a city where visitors of the entire world converge; metropolis full of interesting places, faces, and colors reflecting the history of a population.
Its architecture is diverse, as may be the people walking its streets. In the north sector of the city you can find the most refined samples of urban development of the early last century. There are many houses and buildings of European inspiration, built with a profound Costa Rican sense of style.
Among the most representative places of the city, we can mention the National Theater, Costa Rica’s pride, and historically, house to some of the best artists, national as well as foreign. Inaugurated in 1897, fruit of the determination of merchants, intellectuals and politicians, who were able to identify the importance an opera house could have, to present the best artistic productions in the world.
Nonetheless, a list of world class museums, parks, hotels, theaters, and historic buildings, are some other options to be discovered by the thousands of tourists visiting San José yearly.
Once in the city, visitors may choose among dozens of one-day tours to the most outstanding natural places, inside and out of the Central Valley, as well as having access to a great variety of sports adventures and activities for exploring.