Doka Estate - Alajuela, Costa Rica

Costa Rica produces some of the best coffee in the world and Doka Estate produces some of the best coffee in Costa Rica. I can't think of a better place to visit. 

Entrance to Doka Estate, located on the beautiful slopes of Poás Volcano, Alajuela, Costa Rica

Entrance to Doka Estate, located on the beautiful slopes of Poás Volcano, Alajuela, Costa Rica

 
Coffee bean imprinted pathway

Coffee bean imprinted pathway

 

Our day began with a traditional breakfast of rice and beans, omelettes with salsa, cheese, fruit, mango juice and coffee at La Cajuela Restaurant.

Breakfast at Doka Estate

Coffee is Coast Rica's third largest cash crop export.

The view during breakfast at La Cajuela Restaurant.

The view during breakfast at La Cajuela Restaurant.

Coffee Man Sculpture
Coffee tree filled with coffee beans

Coffee tree filled with coffee beans

 
Three different coffee roasts

Three different coffee roasts

Cafe’ Tres Generaciones

Coffee is more than a morning beverage here in Cafe’ Tres Generaciones, it is a way of life. This tradition started in 1929 and continues today. Cafe’ Tres Generaciones coffee beans are grown at 4,500 feet above sea level on the fertile land of the Poa’s Volcano north of Costa Rica’s central valley. These conditions provide our cofee with its unique aroma, flavor and body. Every day, Cafe’ Tres Generaciones slowly and carefully roasts the finest first class coffee beans grown of DOKA ESTATE.
— Doka Estate
Chocolate covered coffee beans, swoon!

Chocolate covered coffee beans, swoon!

Tres Genaraciones S.A.

P.O. Box: 129-4050

Alajuela, Costa Rica

Tel: (506) 2449-5152

Fax: (506) 2449-6427

www.dokaestate.com

info@dokaestate.com

 
Row of juvenile coffee trees

Row of juvenile coffee trees

Exit from Doka Estate

Exit from Doka Estate

Princess Place Preserve (My Favorite Local Park)

Matanzas River at Princess Place Preserve

Matanzas River at Princess Place Preserve

Visitors to Princess Place Preserve are greeted with a serene, tranquil glimpse into Florida's past. There are numerous outdoor activities available including: biking, birding,  canoeing, equestrian trails, fishing, hiking, kayaking and picnicking. Admission is free with a reasonable fee charged for camping and equestrian camping privileges. 

 
Princess Place Preserve Lodge

Princess Place Preserve Lodge

Henry Cutting, the former owner, had the Adirondack style hunting lodge built during the years of 1886-1888. The lodge  features a coquina wrap-around porch and still stands today as Flagler county's oldest, intact structure. Lodge tours are held Friday-Sunday at 2 pm. 

 

Another unique feature on the grounds is Florida's oldest in-ground, spring-fed, swimming pool.

 
Princess Angela Scherbatoff

Princess Angela Scherbatoff

Florida's First In-ground Swimming Pool at Princess Place Preserve

Florida's First In-ground Swimming Pool at Princess Place Preserve

Henry Cutting's widow went on to marry an exiled Russian prince, Boris Serbatoff and she became Princess Angela. Cherokee Grove was renamed to Princess Place. 

Matanzas River, Pellicer Creek, Moody Creek & Styles Creek are all located in the park.

 

Princess Place Preserve hosts the annual Creekside Festival. Children can enjoy a pumpkin patch, pony ride and scarecrow decorating contest. There are numerous craft vendors, clubs and businesses present for adults to explore. Live music and numerous food trucks round out an affair where even the family dog is welcome.

Tour of Princess Place Estate with George Hanns -  Flagler Memories Project 

http://www.flaglerlibraryfriend.com/holden/princess/princess.htm

 
Princess Place Preserve has two resident nesting bald eagles. (This photo is courtesy of Southeast Volusia Audobon Society)

Princess Place Preserve has two resident nesting bald eagles. (This photo is courtesy of Southeast Volusia Audobon Society)

My daughter is an avid birder which means we have spent many hours walking the grounds, and participating in natures aviary hide-and-seek. Some of the birds that we've see here include:

American Crow
American Redstart
Bald Eagle
Black and White Warbler
Blue Jay
Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Wren
Common Yellowthroat
Double-crested Cormorant
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Gray Catbird
Great Blue Heron
Great Crested Flycatcher
Great Egret
Great Horned Owl
Little Blue Heron
Mourning Dove
Northern Cardinal
Northern Mockingbird
Northern Parula
Osprey
Palm Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Red Shouldered Hawk
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-winged Blackbird
Summer Tanager (female on migration)
Tricolored Heron
Tufted Titmouse
Turkey Vulture
White Ibis
White-eyed Vireo
Wild Turkey

There are many other birds that take up residency in the park. These are just the ones that we have personally seen.

Other resident wildlife include: (too many) banana spiders, bob cats, fiddler crabs, Florida panthers, oak moths, oppossums, raccoons, red foxes, squirrels, white tailed deer, wild boars and much, much more.

Princess Place Preserve Brochure and Map

Princess Place Preserve Brochure and Map

 

Princess Place Preserve

2500 Princess Place Rd

Palm Coast, Florida 32137

386-313-4020

hours: Mon-Sun 7-6

 

Bridge across Pellicer Creek at Princess Place Preserve

Bridge across Pellicer Creek at Princess Place Preserve

Parked in the hammock at Princess Place Preserve

Parked in the hammock at Princess Place Preserve

Hotel To Home Decor Inspiration

Interesting Light Fixtures in a moody Lobby

Interesting Light Fixtures in a moody Lobby

I admit it, I like hotel decor. Since I had to travel a lot for work, I didn't have much choice but to like it. What I am saying is that I authentically like the impersonal, minimalistic, style of transient, interior design. 

Whenever I found something that I liked I took a picture of it for future reference. I'm sharing some of my favorites which may one day be incorporated into my home decor.

A bold, colorful , modern kitchen suite.

A bold, colorful , modern kitchen suite.

 
 
Together this is a little much for my tastes but I do love these doors, individually. Another interesting fact is that those are tiles on the wall. I wouldn't mind that, in moderation, on the floor.

Together this is a little much for my tastes but I do love these doors, individually. Another interesting fact is that those are tiles on the wall. I wouldn't mind that, in moderation, on the floor.

 
A Simple Bowl was left with a bag of complimentary, microwave Popcorn, makes a hotel feel like home. 

A Simple Bowl was left with a bag of complimentary, microwave Popcorn, makes a hotel feel like home. 

These, these are televisions in the bathroom mirrors at Hardrock Hotel in Tampa! (Hopefully it encourages more people to actually stop and wash their hands. Ewww!)

These, these are televisions in the bathroom mirrors at Hardrock Hotel in Tampa! (Hopefully it encourages more people to actually stop and wash their hands. Ewww!)

I fell in love with these "hardwood plank" style floor tiles. Beautiful and durable!

Technically found in an office, Abstract NYC skyline art. (I guess I'm biased)

Technically found in an office, Abstract NYC skyline art. (I guess I'm biased)

 
 
This was actuallly a trio of Christmas Trees in a hotel dining room

This was actuallly a trio of Christmas Trees in a hotel dining room

Clear Lucite Open Faucet

Clear Lucite Open Faucet

 
Two sided, multipurpose desk room divider

Two sided, multipurpose desk room divider

Nice colors and textures

Nice colors and textures

 
 
My compliments to the head of housekeeping who bleaches the Jacuzzi tub everyday! <3 her!   XOXOXO

My compliments to the head of housekeeping who bleaches the Jacuzzi tub everyday! <3 her!   XOXOXO

 
A Comfy Couch in My Living Room Area

A Comfy Couch in My Living Room Area

Finally few panoramic pics for ya! 

"Hotel Rooms Are A Naturally Creepy Place"

My room #606, nice try room.

My room #606, nice try room.

"Hotel rooms are a naturally creepy place." -Mike Enslin (Stephen King's 1408).

One thing I learned to appreciate during my previous career is the predictability provided by certain hotel chains. When you spend a majority of your time in a hotel room it is nice to have some measure of familiarity and routine. It's nice to know when breakfast will be served and what will be served in the morning and even if you may be graced with chocolate chip cookies in the evening.

Two-Fers are within stumbling distance!

Two-Fers are within stumbling distance!

But I am not writing about any of those countless hotels. Instead, I want to share my experience staying at the Holiday Inn Select hotel in Panama City. This particular hotel has a lot of nice perks. There was guest appreciation night which included wings, pizza and soda. Every evening brought cookies (I always love the cookies) and occasionally popcorn was served.

There is a restaurant, Mama Mia, and a bar that is whimsically named, Chances Are in the lobby (although I didn't patronize either place). Instead I chose to take advantage of Pepper's Mexican Restaurant which is within stumbling distance of the hotel. One reason and Two words why this was important, "Two Fers." Pictures should be self explanatory. It's nice to know that as long as you could transverse two connected parking lots after going out, you're good!

Mama Mia's Restaurant

Mama Mia's Restaurant

Chances "R" Lounge

Chances "R" Lounge

So, why is it over a year later and I'm still telling stories about this hotel. It is the decor. I usually describe is as something out of Stephen King's Mind. When I say that I'm talking about, The Shining and I'm talking about 1408. Now neither of those references may make you too eager to stay the night but I stayed for the better part of the week and lived to tell about it. I found all of the staff to be very pleasant and accomidating. Of course this hotel wont be everyone's cup of tea, but you know what to expect from the competition. If you want to maybe try something new check out the Hotel Inn Select in Panama City.

(I counted 8 fountains, I may have missed a few.)

(I couldn't count the number of fans, no one could.)

Hotel rooms are a naturally creepy place.
— Mike Enslin (Stephen King's 1408)
 

Epcot's International Flower & Garden Festival at Disneyworld

Disney's Flower & Garden Festival Micky
Disney's Flower & Garden Festival Micky

(Look for the Fairy Garden!)


I was able to attend Disney's annual International Flower & Garden Festival  which was held from March 7th - May 20th at Epcot theme park. More than 100 topiaries are used during the festival. More than 75 topiaries are of Disney charecters.  These aren't your small 'garden variety' of topiary either. Most of them are larger that life.  Tinkerbell was half my height.

Presentations from HGTV and DIY network designers such as Genevieve Gorder were also featured at the festival.  The Flower Power Concert series brought acts such as The Turtles and Cubby Checker.

The Jammitors giving and All Star performance.

The Jammitors giving and All Star performance.

The Jammitors Jamming Out!

The Jammitors Jamming Out!

Here is a slideshow of some of the sights I saw when I atteneded on March 8, 2012.

Epcot's International Flower & Garden Festival Pictures

 

Atlantis: Take a vacation inside a water park!

I think the advertising for this Nassau vacation resort,  is being done all wrong.  All they need to say is, "Hey! Do you want to take a vacation Inside A Water Park? I mean literally inside the water park."

Atlantis in the Bahamas
Atlantis in the Bahamas

Because that's what Atlantis is.  It is a resort that is completely integrated with an aquarium and a water park.  On top of that it is also surrounded by the beautiful beaches and blue Caribbean water of the Bahamas. 

Atlantis Slides
Atlantis Slides

I don't mean a few token rides, either.   I mean a full blown water park.  The 'lazy river' stretches on forever.  There is an area where attendants thrust you into a huge wave  similar to the ones in wave pools.  At another area you have to decide if you want to go on one of three different large slides or if you want to circumvent them by going through the fast-paced rapids.  If you go on the slide you don't have to carry your tube.  The river pushes you up a water way that brings you to the top.  You don't even have to stand.  As you can imagine, we spent hours in the lazy river.

Aquariums are everywhere in Atlantis.  Not just the standard freestanding type, although they have plenty of them.  Walking paths lead you through a tunnel that goes underwater into the aquarium and then back out on the other end.  There are walls and walls of aquariums. 

Atlantis dolphin sculpture
Atlantis dolphin sculpture

The decor really plays up to the 'Atlantis' theme.  Ancient 'relichs' are scattered throughout the park, excuse me resort.  There are hidden gems everywhere. I was there for days before I stumbled upon a hidden area with a rope bridge and lake/pool.  Which reminds me there are no average pools.  A pool will have a slide or multiple slides that link to it.  Most pools have waterfalls and hidden grottos.

I met some people on the island of Nassau who were vacationing at the Sands resort.  I believe the Sands resort has a fire show at night along with a substantial casino, more substantial than the one at Atlantis.  When they found out where I was staying they asked me if I could get them in.  Evidentially this happens a lot.  The resort does have day passes that can be purchased.

Trina Jasmine and Dolphin in Atlantis
Trina Jasmine and Dolphin in Atlantis

Of course I enjoyed all of the other amenities, I lost some money at the casino and peaked into one of the many clubs (they even have a teen club).  I didn't make it to the comedy club (I was tired) but I did see a movie in their full sized movie theater. There is a luxury massage and beauty spa area but anyone who knows me knows that is not my thing.  I went and checked it out though, it was all top of the line.

The beach waters are clear and blue.  I was swimming underwater and came up to find that no one was near me but they were all staring at me.  When I looked to my left there was some type of huge ray next to me.  I was too busy worrying about eels, I didn't know they were that friendly.  There was waterskiing available right there in the resort.  All other water sport and activities were by companies outside.

I can't say enough about the food, I ate at a $125/head 5 start restaurant buffet style.  Can you imagine? Anything you could think of in unlimited amounts.  There are numerous restaurants to try within Atlantis and outside.  Every meal was delicious.  Just keep in mind that food can be pricey, especially in the tourist areas.

Harborside Resort at Atlantis
Harborside Resort at Atlantis

I stayed at the Harborside Resort at Atlantis which are the colorful condos in the slideshow below.  My parents have a timeshare there. The out of focus pictures were taken from the pool and hot tubs there. (I may have had a Bahama Mama or two first)  They also had a pool side restaurant and bar that served everything from breakfast in the morning to steak and lobster dinners at night.  Pool side Bingo, Karaoke and other events were held there daily.  As you can see the view was always amazing.  I saw a water plane land in the surrounding waters.  Yachts would anchor there during the day, stopping for dinner and maybe to go to the casino. 

A shuttle transported us to the main resort, a 5 minute trip by mini-bus or a 10 minute walk.  Once while walking back through Marina Village we saw a Junkanoo Band performing in the streets. Ultimately I loved staying in the condo better than if I had been in the main building.  Everything was provided at the condo.  We went shopping for food to cook in the fully equipped kitchen.  So we were able to enjoy all the comforts of home in an amazing setting. 

All of these amazing things can not be scene on the commercial so I just wanted to share my personal experience.  Of course I recommend Atlantis to everyone.  I can't wait to go back.

And Courtesy of The Amazing Race season 15, this is my favorite Amazing Race clip ever. The Globetrotters at Atlantis' Leap of Faith!