AK Monthly Recap: January 2015

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Kate in Samara

Greetings from lovely Nicaragua! I am loving the heat and sunshine, loving that I’m avoiding the snow back home, loving the Patriots’ Super Bowl win, and loving all the adventuring I’ve been doing! Here’s what I’ve been up to in the first month of 2015.

Destinations Visited

Reading, Lynn, Boston, and Cambridge, Massachusetts

New York, New York

La Fortuna, Santa Elena/Monteverde, and Sámara, Costa Rica

Samara Beach

Favorite Destinations

Sámara. A low-key beach town with a long, uncrowded beach and just the right level of development.

Santa Elena. A chilled out mountain town with tons of stuff to do — if only it wasn’t so cold at night!

And I still love you, Brooklyn!

Stinky Brooklyn


Speaking about travel safety at the New York Times Travel Show with the State Department, along with Ed of Man About World and Regina and Pat, the Grannies on Safari, was an enormous highlight. This was the best panel I’ve ever done, thanks to great chemistry and the valuable information we shared. I loved sharing my tidbits on how to stay safe while traveling and it was so nice to meet so many of my readers!

I’ve jumped straight into adventures in Central America: zip-lining and holistic healing in Monteverde, hot springs-hopping and night hiking in Arenal, and swimming and stand-up paddle boarding in Sámara!

Winter in Massachusetts


I’m very happy to have had an easy month. I managed to escape the huge snowstorm that hit the northeast just in the nick of time. As weather reports rolled in, I was able to change my flight for free and flew out a day early, in what I later learned was one of the last flights that made it from New York to Central America.

Other challenges? I forgot to pack a towel. So I was towel-less for the first few days, using my pink pajama pants to dry myself. Then I bought a beach towel in Sámara. Riveting story, I know.

Also, it was a bit of a rough start, weather-wise, to Central America. It rained about 22 hours a day in Arenal, mostly in a downpour, then it was quite cold in Monteverde, especially at night. I had to pile on everything I owned to keep from shivering! Just goes to show that just because it’s in Central America, it doesn’t mean it’s warm!

But as soon as I got to hot and sunny Sámara, I finally understood Pura Vida, the motto of Costa Rica. It surrounded me.

Monteverde Cloud Forest

Most Popular Post

Join our tour in El Salvador and Guatemala this March! — The tour has since sold out, but see below for two more we added.

Palm Trees Samara

Other Posts

Five Years of Travel Blogging: Hitting the Reset Button — This post resonated with a LOT of you.

Sri Lanka From Above: Climbing Sigiriya — One of my favorite adventures in Sri Lanka.

Colombo: Learning to Love an Unlovable City — Colombo gave me a challenge, but I loved it!

On Christmas in New York — This Grinch enjoys her first Christmas in the most Christmasy city.

Where I’m Going (I Think!) in 2015 — My travel plans for the year, which I think will soon go out the window…

New in New York: The Latest Edition — The latest, newest things I’ve discovered in New York this December.

Strolling Through Galle, Sri Lanka — My favorite place in Sri Lanka — it’s easy to see why!

Samara Sunset

News and Announcements

If you’re still interested in our tours to El Salvador and Guatemala, we have spots remaining on two tours!

Option 1: March 26-April 10. Led by Leif.

Option 2: April 16-May 1. Led by Leif and Kate.

Our March 5-20 tour is sold out.

Find more information on the tours here.

Ziplining in Monteverde

Most Popular Photo on Instagram

In Monteverde, we had sunshowers all day long. Thanks to this weather, while zip-lining, I ended up flying through the biggest, brightest rainbow I have ever seen. I took this picture of my guide Johnny as he zipped after me.

Follow @adventurouskate on Instagram for more photos from my travels.

Frog in Arenal

What I Read This Month

I decided to do PopSugar’s 2015 book challenge — 50 books (technically 52 because it includes a trilogy), each from a different category! Check out the full list here — I love it because it’s more of a challenge than just reading a book a week.

I’m off to a strong start with six books read in January!

The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins. My favorite book this month, published just two weeks ago. An incredible thriller with an unreliable narrator — what if you witnessed a crime while blackout drunk and had no idea whether you were involved? If you loved Gone Girl, you will love this book. If you hated Gone Girl, you will also love this book. Seriously. Category: a book published this year.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. Everyone needs to read this book — plain and simple. Louie Zamperini went from being a celebrated Olympian to fighting in World War II and surviving a plane crash, being stuck on a raft without food or water for more than a month, and tortured in a Japanese POW camp for two years. No human should be able to survive what he did. This will make you value everything you have. Category: a book based on a true story.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. A fun and quick read about lies and gossip among kindergarten parents in suburban Sydney. I expected it to be a shallow read (and chose it because it fulfilled a tough category) but I was surprised at how much it drew me in! Definitely worth a read. Category: a book with antonyms in the title.

I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, With a Twist by Betty Halbreich. Betty Halbreich is in her late 80s and still works as a personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman — a job she invented. This memoir tells the story of a lonely girl who found solace in fashion. A bit sad, but very interesting, especially since it covers so many decades. A must if you’re into fashion. Category: a memoir.

Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison by Piper Kerman. I was already familiar with Kerman’s story, as excerpts of the book were printed all over the place even before it became a TV show. What surprised me about this book was just how faithful the series was, especially the first episode — up until the tampon sandwich, that is. Category: a book based on or turned into a TV show.

Looking for Alaska by John Green. Everyone knows John Green for The Fault in Our Stars, and Looking for Alaska has a very similar feel, telling the story about a boy on his own at boarding school, the friends he meets, the girl he loves, tragedy, and the meaning of it all. These kids are smart and interesting and heartbreaking. I cried a bit. Category: a popular author’s first book.

San Juan del Sur

Coming Up in February 2015

It’s all about Nicaraguaaaaaaa! I’ll be spending most if not all of the month here. I just got to San Juan del Sur, an amazing beach town with colorful wooden buildings, and I already know it’s going to be hard to leave!

After San Juan, I’ll be moving on to Ometepe, Granada, the Corn Islands, and Leon. I can’t wait!

Any suggestions for Nicaragua? Let me know!

49 thoughts on “AK Monthly Recap: January 2015”

  1. I love, love, love reading lists! I’ll be bookmarking this one for future reference.

    As for a book set in my hometown – being from Lincoln in the UK, I think I may have difficulties with that one!

    1. You know, I thought I’d have trouble and was just going to do one based in Boston, but my friend emailed our public library and they suggested reading a biography of Boston Celtics superstar Bill Russell, who lived in Reading (and faced a lot of racism :-(, a shameful chapter in my town’s history).

  2. I just read What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty — might have to check out the next! Loved Unbroken (the movie was okay, but kind of boring actually, given all they had to work with), read Looking for Alaska ages ago and I remember all of the lovely famous last words, and now I’m definitely adding The Girl on the Train to my wishlist.

    By the way — have you read What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman? HILARIOUS. A little “too much” in one parti in particular, but otherwise I couldn’t put it down.

  3. That book challenge is amazing, I’m going to take it up (though I’m already lagging behind now that I’m starting so late). Do you generally find a lot of time for reading when you’re traveling? I try, especially as I’m a bibliophile journalist, but I always feel a little bad not to be out exploring wherever I am when I do bury myself in a book…

  4. I haven’t been to Nicaragua yet, but I have spent two months in Costa Rica taking Spanish classes and doing Volunteer work in a home for disadvantaged kids in San José. Since we had long weekends off, I had a lot of time to explore almost the whole country plus I spent extra time after finishing my volunteer job. Sámara was one of the very few places I didn’t get to see in Costa Rica, but your post makes me want to return to the land of Pura Vida right away and brings back lots of great memories, Kate. I am definitely intending to go back for a revisit and to explore Costa Rica’s neighbouring countries as well.

  5. Saw this on twitter! I’m heading to Costa Rica next week and will be wandering my way to Nicaragua over the next two weeks as well! I’ll have to check back for Nica tips. And if you want to rendezvous with another traveler in her mid-20’s, feel free to message!

  6. I REALLY cannot WAIT to see more of your Central America posts. My boyfriend and I backpacked, hitchhiked, and volunteered along the way from Mexico to Panama, and many of your stops we were also at… brings back so many awesome memories. SO happy you chose this region of the world haha.

  7. Hi Kate,

    Loving your Facebook posts from Central America. I spent about 5 months traveling from Guatemala to Panama, and found some really incredible Airbnbs. Sharing my list here since I know you use Airbnb a lot and this list could give you a break from the hostels – http://the-shooting-star.com/2015/01/31/10-awe-inspiring-places-to-stay-in-central-america/

    That book challenge is incredible; thanks for sharing those reviews, I need to catch up on my reading.

    And congrats on 5 years of travel blogging. Big milestone!

  8. That’s totally Stinky Bklyn, right? I was just there on Saturday! And as my first time in the Cobble Hill/Carrol Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn, I loved it! We went on a food tour with Urban Oyster there, and Stinky was definitely our favorite stop.

  9. OHhh you’re in my home place 🙁 I’ve got tons of recommendations for Nicaragua….. I could write a whole book. Beaches surrounding San Juan: El Ostional, turtle reserve la Flor. Playa Gigante down from Rivas, Tola. Isla Ometepe. Corn Island. Matagalpa. El Macizo de peñas Blancas in Bosawás. Bluefields. Oh you’ll enjoy it so muuuucccchhhh!!!!!

  10. It’s so great to see you doing lots of travel again and in a new exciting destination.

    I think I’ll have to get onto this reading challenge. I’m currently going through my summer ritual of re-reading all the harry potter books which should occupy me when I’m stuck on planes and trains for my upcoming trip to Thailand.

    Look forward to hearing about Guatemala! It’s the stop on my planned RTW that has me most worried safety wise so any tips would be great!

  11. Frebruary is looking exciting for ya! I haven’t been to that part of South America. In fact, come to think of it, I’ve only been to the Dominic Republic and I didn’t even like it! Sniff!
    Good book choices there. I’ve just finished reading “The Girl on the Train” only this morning. I even got it for free as I’m registered with “Kindle First” LOL! A very good read indeed!

  12. I’ve just added your blog to my Bloglovin’ feed and am looking forward to your February posts. I’ve been to Costa Rica and the rest of Central America is high on my list of future destinations!

  13. Ahh I hope you’re loving Nicaragua! On Ometepe there’s a lovely little breakfast spot on the south end of Playa Santo Domingo…I don’t remember the name but there’s a big sign that says ‘organic’ on the side (helpful, I know). You also have to hike up the smaller of the two volcanoes, Maderas, and spend a day at Ojo de Agua. Enjoy!!

  14. Ah, Central America! So in love with Costa Rica, though I did a different path than you! Heading to Nicaragua on Sunday morning….would love to say hey when you’re in Granada as I’ll be there for the next 3 months!

  15. Sounds like you’ve had a good start to 2015 – keep it going 🙂
    I’m loving the book list. I keep seeing this Reading Challenge for 2015, and I keep telling myself to join it. I’m still on my first book this year, but I’ll get there.
    I think “Orange is the New Black” will be next on my list!

  16. Oh God…we’ve all been sans towel at some point and it’s not fun! I once spent three days in Berlin drying myself with tissue paper (no, really). Can’t wait to read all of your updates!

  17. Be sure to get a piña y crema de coco batido at Siembras y Cosechas! I just got back from Nicaragua, and batidos are one of things I miss! You can find a Siembras y Cosechas in almost any city in Nicaragua, and they’re only about 60 Cordobas for a large batido! Enjoy the beauty of Leon! Also, I went “ashboarding” while in Leon, and it was so much fun!

  18. I love reading about your adventures in Central America, Kate! Your posts are making me really excited because I’m hoping to be traveling through Central and South America in a few months!

    And I read The Girl on the Train: A Novel based on your recommendation – loved it! I couldn’t put it down and now I’m sad that it’s over!

  19. Amazing blog but i would suggest
    It’s much better if they have a also tour in Asia.
    All travelers must know about this.I think if you are a real traveler
    You need to come up with specialties such as travel agency for at least secure your traveling.
    But by the way thanks a lot Kate for your information.
    Have a nice day.

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