A hop, skip and jump takes time!
Updated: Jul 6
Getting to Costa Rica looked so easy on paper. Just pop on a plane or two and there you are. The world is a small place these days anyway yes? Er, no. If it could go wrong it did. We're sharing the real life highs and lows here, so anyone else who fancies popping over to Central America can learn from our mistakes (and a few things we did right!)
Just to give you a feel for what it took to make our journey from home to our first hotel. We left at 11.10am on Friday 1 July and arrived (local time) 9pm 2 July (that's 4am UK time Sunday 3 July). That's a grand total of 40 hours and 50 minutes. During this time we had to take:
- 1 taxi
- 3 trains
- 2 flights
- and one final shuttle
Which, now I write it as a list, doesn't sound that much. But put all together it was looooong.
First learning point - when you have a long time available to you to make a journey - split the damn thing up more!
Okay, okay, so we did break it up a little! First off we had to get to London Heathrow (we live in Yorkshire), hence the first epic part of the journey (when we were all full of beans and excitement). See...
Though Esme did find the first journey a little tiring, so took the opportunity to try out her sleeping kit for the plane! I must admit, at this point I was thinking "If you're tired now...then just wait until you're another 24 hours in!"
Ali wasn't too different to be honest!
When we got to London we stayed overnight at what I thought was a hotel just 10 mins from T5. And it was, if you were willing to pay £25 for a taxi. Or you could take the Heathrow Express. It's only 1 stop surely? Er, no, T4 is some weird offshoot of the railway and you have to head back to T2/3 then to T5, which takes about 40 mins.
Next learning point: Heathrow is blooming HUGE!
But we were still excited. Yes we had to wait in a lovely long check in queue, despite the fact we'd already checked in online, got our boarding passes online and printed off our baggage tags - which makes you think 'what was the point?'. But, to be fair, we met some lovely people in the queue, including a real life Rocket Scientist who works for Nasa, who was returning to San Diego (ok he says he's a Rocket Engineer, but that's just not as much fun). He'd decided to randomly take his whole family to Albania (they don't recommend it apparently) and were very much looking forward to getting home. We also met a couple who were heading to New York with their daughter (a fab individual with purple hair and very much her own style in clothes) who'd just turned 18 and finished her A-Levels. Basically other adventurers like us!
We made it through without any problems though, apart from the vast number of people who were all in the same space as us. Found our gate, and even found our plane! All was going to plan!
Now I need to point out at this stage that this 'smooth sailing' did come with a slight twinge of anxiety with it. Because at the same time as this picture being taken, Tropical Storm Bonnie was blasting Costa Rica and Nicaragua, leading to multiple 'alerts' on my American Airlines app.
But we didn't care. If we could get to Miami we were most of the way there in our view. And no harm if we had to spend a few days in Miami waiting for the wind to die down.
As it happens, it wasn't the storm that delayed us (for 2 hours!) it was something entirely different. Our incoming plane had landed at the wrong Terminal (see I said Heathrow was huge!). Cue a rather restrained message from the pilot, once we'd finally boarded, about how these little issues will work themselves out in a few weeks. Exactly how they got a plane from T3 to T5 I'm not sure. Presumably it took more than a 10 min £25 taxi ride.
We were still smiling though! 9 1/2 hours ahead of us to Miami. A place I've never been to. I was particularly excited by the view out of the window. I'd seen images of the skyscrapers right next to the beach but I had no idea what it was really like. So here's a little snap to show you!
In Miami, we were supposed to have a three hour window to catch the next plane to Costa Rica. No worries yes? Well we were two hours delayed leaving Heathrow but somehow only 1 hour delayed once we'd arrived in Miami, so yes, all fine. Fab movies on the screen, yummy airline food (yes I know I'm weird but I tell you they were the BEST green beans I've ever had) and lots of free booze. Turns out our Air Steward (who was born in North Carolina but grew up in Florida - yes Ali does like to chat to people and get their life stories) was actually half Yorkshire (his mum was from Leeds!). So we got double the booze from his Yorkshire half :-)
Miami Airport was great. It's BIG but not in the Heathrow sense, more that it has really wide pathways and lots of space to move about. Loved it. And we had just enough time to get our connecting flight.
Well, we did. And Ali and Esme's luggage did. Mine apparently enjoyed the airport so much it decided to hang around a little longer. As I type I'm still waiting for it to arrive (it should be here this afternoon).
Learning tip #3 - when your husband suggests that we each carry an outfit for each other in our luggage, in case one goes missing, listen to him.
Luckily I had the essentials with me (contact lenses, glasses etc) and thanks to the fact we've kitted ourselves out with quick drying, moisture wicking clothes for the whole trip, I was able to wash my outfit and dry it ready to wear again today.
Despite that little hiccup though, we made it to Costa Rica and we are excited for the weeks ahead! If this if how it started, goodness knows how the next two months will pan out, but I'm sure we're going to have fun along the way!
Pura Vida folks!