Burger Bistro & Alex Urban Kids The Wicked Monk Boat House Fire Island
Friday, May 12, 2017

Cape Cod Weekend Getaway

Cape Cod map.During our last weekend’s trip to Fire Island I again started reminiscing about us visiting so many places and yet still not being able to make it to Cape Cod. Well, we decided to take an upcoming long Memorial Day weekend and remedy the situation.

One of the issues before was that we have tried to look into visiting the cape during the peak summer time and the prices are just way out there. We decided to go there ahead of the season — there are still supposedly plenty of things we can spend our time on without having to actually swim in the ocean.

Another decision that we made was to stay at the very start of the Cape Cod peninsula. Most of the land along the National Seashore is covered by little motels and lodges and they have less than stellar cancellation policy. Having two little kids who can decide to develop a fever on whim’s notice we prefer bigger chains.

We booked our stay at Hampton Inn & Suites Cape Cod1 in Yarmouth-Hyannis area. There was another Hilton property in close proximity, but we settled for this one because it had a hot tub in addition to an indoor pool that both properties featured. Provincetown itself is 45 miles or 1 hour away, so we’ll be able to visit it on one of the days while we are there. Continue Reading

  1. Hampton Inn & Suites Cape Cod — 4 nights, total of $1,115 with taxes included. []

Leave a comment

O.o teeth mrgreen neutral -) roll twisted evil crycry cry oops razz mad lol cool -? shock eek sad smile grin

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

March and April Fitness Stats

March move goal medal.April move goal medal.March was a pretty regular months with our regular regiment of daily exercise on our recumbent stationary bike. We haven’t taken our real bikes out a single time, but I did a 20 minute workout on an elliptical machine to get a one time medal that Apple Watch gives out for several common types of workouts. I do hate elliptical. I just don’t find the machine pleasant at all. Never did.

I also hit a 500 daily move goals on March 24th. The medal is awarded for 500 total move goals — they don’t have to be consecutive. Here are the overall stats for March:
MertricUnitsPer DayMaxTotal
Walkingstesps3,3857,654104,938
Active Energycalories54175716,761
Cyclingmiles7.7812.30241.30
Excerciseminutes44631,382
Walkingmiles1.593.5549.16

One time medal for doing a workout on elliptical.500 days of hitting a move goal.April was quite a bit different from our usual months. First 10 days of the month we spent in Costa Rica. At first I was planning to visit a gym on daily basis to hit my goals, but on the very first day we discovered a daily water aerobics class that would usually last for about 30 minutes — exactly what I needed. In fact I remember that such classes occur pretty much on all such vacations, but we never paid any attention. Here we participated daily.

I also tried doing a swimming workout to get another one of those one time medals that I mentioned above, but swimming is hard. I barely eeked out a 15 minute swim and haven’t attempted it again. I just need more practice to keep myself from standing up from time to time to take a break. Later on when we got home I came to a realization that out of all possible activities I have never gotten this type of medal for something as trivial as running.

My crazy run stats.End of April.So I went for a 15 minute run. I had a profound experience — running is HARD. I guess the muscles that get worked on a recumbent bike do not help at all while running. I was intentionally moving at a slow pace. I did finish my run having my heart peak out at 170 BPM at one point — which is very high and very unusual for me, 184 being my advisable max. I averaged out 164 BPM for the whole run. My muscles were incredibly soar for the next 2 days. As I said — profound.

Also as I mentioned earlier we have placed an order for Peloton Bike right after our return from vacation, but more on Peloton in a future post. By buying the bike we also got early access to Peloton iOS app that has all of the classes available that we could stream to our TV via AirPlay and Apple TV. So we took a 2 week break from our spinning and concentrated on core training — stretching, arms and leg workout, lower back and abdomen. We even did some Yoga.

Here are my April statistics:
MertricUnitsPer DayMaxTotal
Walkingstesps6,06813,648182,051
Active Energycalories52774315,817
Cyclingmiles7.8513.90133.39
Excerciseminutes42661,259
Walkingmiles2.706.1981.05

On April 28th we got our Peloton Bike delivered. What a difference it is compared to our previous machine. So far we are enjoying it quite a bit, but we’ll have to wait a couple of month for a final verdict.

March stats.April stats.My weight is holding steady. I was at 167 lbs at my last check and my current move streak is at 330 days.

Leave a comment

O.o teeth mrgreen neutral -) roll twisted evil crycry cry oops razz mad lol cool -? shock eek sad smile grin

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Easter Egg Hunt

Sakura blooming at Brooklyn Botanical Garden.This year Arosha got lucky with the length of his Spring Break. First, we took him from school one week in advance, and then he got some extra days on the account of Easter.

Friends.I just wanted to say a few words about our week off after vacation. First, we went to Brooklyn Botanical Garden with Erica and her children and Natasha with hers. It was a hot and sunny day, and we spent around 5 hours in the park.

Arosha and Alex.The children had so much fun just playing in the unfamiliar place, watching the koi fish at the pond and visiting different exhibits, like the one with cacti. We even got a small pot with basil in it, and it took its proud place among Arosha’s plants on our living room’s window sill. Funny thing is that Arosha thinks that basil smells delicious, while Anюta finds it quite disgusting.

Anna and Liza.Another field trip was to Floyd Bennett Field to participate in the Easter Egg Hunt. Erica was the generator of the idea and I am very glad that we joined them this year — last year I passed on the offer. Natasha and Ilona, both with children, joined us. To my surprise, there was not just the hunt, but the whole bunch of other activities for the children — pony ride, hay ride, “fun” house, cow milking, goat petting and others.

Easter egg hunt.The weather was so-so, but at least it was not raining. The children had a lot of fun. Anюta took special liking of the Easter Bunny and asked me to take photos of her next to him on 4 separate occasions. I hope that we’ll go to this event next year again.

Easter Bunny.Other than that, we spent a lot of time outside on the playground, so that the children will just relax and play. I can’t wait for the Summer break to start!

Pony rides.

Leave a comment

O.o teeth mrgreen neutral -) roll twisted evil crycry cry oops razz mad lol cool -? shock eek sad smile grin

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Costa Rica Vacation RIU

Riu pools.It was a truly nice, relaxing and pleasant vacation! Except for our trip to volcano and Daniel’s mom sickness, but I will not write in detail about those.

Pacific.What I liked the most was the water, both the ocean and the pools. It was just so warm! I remember that when we were in Costa Rica four years ago, the ocean was much colder and I swam in it briefly just a few times. This vacation was so different. We spent hours in the water.

Kids by Arenal Volcano.Of course, the ocean was wavy, and it was not easy to watch both kids at the same time by myself, but luckily Daniel and his dad were both helping me out most of the time. Also Daniel’s mom was watching the children in the pools sometimes, which was nice especially when Danя, his dad and I were doing water aerobics.

Pools. By Boris R.I also really liked the fact that the resort did not feel crowded. You could get a nice spot on the beach at any time of the day. Anюta and Arosha liked playing in the sand in the shade of the trees and they were pretty much the only children doing this. The pools were not crowded either, and we could almost always get a ball to play water sports with.

Dad. Anna in the background.There was a program for the children in the evening — they would get on stage and dance and have a little competition afterwards. Arosha was shy the first few days, but then he got a taste of it and was really excited to participate. Anюta was joining him too, but she still felt a little shy throughout.

The beach at sunset. By Boris R.The food was OK. Not bad, but kind of very similar in all the restaurants. As it always happens on such kind of resorts, I’ve came home a few pounds lighter, and so did everyone else. I liked fresh fruit the most, especially pineapples. You simply can’t find pineapples this tasty in Brooklyn. Anюta insists that eating watermelon was one of her favorite vacation parts.

Anna with coconut. By Boris R.I also got a chance to wear my pretty summer dresses! And so did Anюta. One day we were wearing a matching nesting doll dresses, and people kept commenting how adorable we look.

Anna with grandma.Talking about clothes, I got Daniel a long sleeved rash guard. He never used one before, and I think it really changed his beach behavior for the better. He used to avoid being in the sun or getting in the water in the first half of the day unless there was shade. Like most of us, Daniel really hates putting on sunblock, and this took care of it for the most part. I also think that having apple watch gave us extra incentive to be more active, hence we participated in water aerobics classes for the first time ever.

One of many monkeys in the trees. By Boris R.One of the highlights of the trip for me was going down the beach and seeing semi-wild monkeys in the patch of the adjacent forest. Daniel’s dad, the explorer he is, brought me and the children there after discovering them on his own. We saw two different kinds of monkeys up close.
Arosha on a trail.
They were not afraid of people at all — in fact, they were used to people feeding them and taking pictures of them. One of the monkeys was eating a hard boiled egg, and children found it to be pretty amusing. Unfortunately for Danя, when we made another trip to watch the monkeys in his company, there were none to be seen.

Giant leaf Arosha found in Arenal National Park.We also encountered different kinds of lizards and iguanas both on the beach and on the resort’s grounds.

On a trail at Arenal National Park.It was sad to leave this wonderful country and splendid resort. The children are begging to go there again in the future. I hope we’ll be able to.

Riu pools from the top floor.
1
1

Leave a comment

O.o teeth mrgreen neutral -) roll twisted evil crycry cry oops razz mad lol cool -? shock eek sad smile grin

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Costa Rica 2017

Riu Palace Costa Rica.We are back from our trip to Costa Rica and I’m happy to report that it went well. Actually it was pretty great with a couple of small exceptions. It was a nice change of pace from our usual very active trips and it was quite refreshing not to rush anywhere and just relax.

Breakfast at the buffet.And if after our usual exploration vacations we’re pretty tired and are happy to get home, the downside of this one is that I could easily do another week of doing nothing. It was a little too short.

Breakfast juices.The exceptions came in the form of my mom getting what seemed to be a food poisoning which made her stay in bed for a day and our excursion. More about that later.

Now a little bit about everything.

Resort


Pools.Last time we stayed in Hilton all-inclusive. It was somewhat mediocre. One of those rare cases when Hilton really disappoints. This time we decided to stay in place that is famous for doing all-inclusive correctly — Riu. And Riu Palace at that. I checked up on Hilton and the property was actually sold to some other chain. Riu Palace was also in Guanacaste Province as was Hilton, but a little bit to the south of our previous stay.

Our room.When we were assigned our rooms we had to make quite a walk to the far end of the hotel from the front desk. My mom was actually upset that it was so far. However as it turned out it was the best location possible for several reasons. It was the place from where the walk to the pools and the beach was the shortest.

Riu Palace.All the eateries were also easily accessible. It was on a ground floor — no stairs to climb. Rooms faced the back gardens away from the pools and the theater which made them very quite — very good for kids who need to take naps and go to sleep relatively early.

Omelet cook.As far as food goes there were breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets, 4 thematic restaurants and a mid-day pool BBQ, all of which we have visited. And as usual there was a countless number of bars serving all kinds of drinks one could desire day and night. There were a couple of things that I enjoyed from the restaurants, but mostly the food wasn’t very memorable.

Ocean beach.The temperature of the pools was amazing. We actually sampled one on our very first night in and it was the warmest pool I have been in. You just walk in and enjoy — no need to use any power of will to actually submerge. There were at least 5 pools and there were always empty chairs and beds available. The beach was the same in many respects. There was always space available in the shade of the trees and the water was also very warm — same deal — just walk in and enjoy.

Our water gymnasts. By Boris R.The ocean was often quite wavy though. Kids enjoyed playing in the sand, but we had to hold them very close to us when in the water. On the very first day Alёna got knocked over by a wave and lost her $500 prescription sun glasses. My dad lost his hat towards the end of the trip. There were several cases when breaking waves were several feet over my head. So we would usually relocate to the pools as the day progressed.

Lina.Our Anna is a very proficient swimmer in her floating pads and she would torpedo all over the pool for hours. Arosha refuses to use any flotation devices for years now, so all the practice made him a decent swimmer as well — self thought. We probably should sign him up for some swimming lessons so they would teach him some correct techniques.

Riu Palace.All in all Riu Palace Costa Rica was a great resort to stay at. We can highly recommend it.

Fitness


Us.A day before the trip Alёna and I exchanged watches. She didn’t want to take her Apple Watch with her, much preferring our indestructible Casio Pathfinder for this kind of vacation. Yet hers was the waterproof Series 2 watch, while mine was Series 0. I’m glad we did that. I spent hours upon hours with my Apple Watch in the water.

Matching dresses.Originally I thought I would have to visit the gym daily to keep up my exercise and calorie burn streak going, but it worked out even better. Every day at 11:30am there was a water aerobics class in the pool that lasted for about 30 minutes. It provided enough exercise minutes and even though the calorie burn was moderate the rest of the day easily put me over my goal of 400 active calories per day. It was a nice change of pace.

Kids.I also attempted to do a swimming workout on my first day there only to realize that doing a swim for 15 minutes is a LOT harder than doing an hour on our spin bike. I did manage to eek out my 15 minutes, but that was my one and only attempt.

Excursions


Our van. Hyundai H1.This part was a very expensive and very epic fail of our vacation. During our last trip to Costa Rica we enjoyed our visits to local national parks. This time things didn’t go as smoothly. First of all we needed a big car — there were 7 of us. Chevy Suburban just doesn’t exist in Costa Rican rental places. I also wanted to get the car with full insurance considering that my regular insurance doesn’t cover anything overseas and realizing that stuff like bison vs Suburban can happen.

Lago Arenal.After finding what seemed a decent option for a car that was supposed to fit 7 people and 4 suitcases we realized that the 3rd row of seats was more of a gimmick than an actual set of seats that even kids wouldn’t fit into comfortably and there was no space left for our bags. So we had to get one rental place to shuttle us to another one. At that other one we ended up with a cross between a full-sized van and a minivan — Hyundai H1.

On a trail.This van had no proper seat belts nor did it have any latch anchors for kid car seats. It did have a lot of space and a lot of size which made it’s puny engine very noticeable. The damn thing could barely climb any kind of incline. All that came out to $856 for 8 days — crazy expensive. But that was the least of our problems.

Lava fields by Arenal Volcano.On our second full day we decided to revisit Arenal since we didn’t get to actually see the volcano because of all the fog last time. The trip was extremely long end tedious. The roads were bad and umarked. At one point we had to drive down a dirt hill where they suddenly forgot to put any asphalt down. We met zero animals of any kind which was a sharp contrast to our previous trip.

Arenal Volcano.When we got to the park we were charged $85 to enter — they charge per person not per car. In United States I can get a pass to ALL of national parks for $80 for all of us.

Lava field.Arenal National Park had two short trails. We took the one up to the lava field which was a mile each way. Lava field turned out to be a collection of large black boulders — much less impressive compared to what we saw in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. And the view of the volcano itself was better from the road to the park, not inside. Anyhow.

River.We also stopped by the river that was mighty impressive on our last trip. This time it was your usual mountain river — quite bland and empty. On our way back we wanted to get some late lunch at the same German place that we ate at the last time, but by the time we got there the kitchen was already closed. It wasn’t even 4:30pm yet. So we ate at a nearby Italian place.

On a trail.And then the scary part. It was already quite dark outside when we got back to that dirt-road patch that I mentioned earlier. And when we attempted to drive up that road our car started sliding down. Every attempt seemed to make things worse. At one point it actually got caught by the underside on some dirt pile and just would not move in either direction. Everyone had to get out. The car just wouldn’t go up and the width of this road was about the length of our car with cliffs raising (luckily) on both sides. Everyone got really scared and stressed out. Getting completely stuck in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere with little kids.

Giant tree.I managed to pull off a U-turn without any regard for the bumpers at this point. We had to take a long detour back to our hotel. This day completely took the wind out of our further excursion plans and we had no desire whatsoever to go anywhere else. We just hoped that this car would be able to take us back to the airport when the time came without any additional stress. Which it did.

Lago Arenal dam.So there you have it — $856 for the car, $85 for the park, $60 for the gas plus credit card currency conversion fees and you have a very expensive epic fail. Not doing that again in the future.

Our Day


Riu Palace.Our days were great. We would wake up at somewhere from 7 to 8am and go eat breakfast at the buffet. Then we would go to the beach and play with the ocean. By around 11:15am we would move to the pools and do our water aerobics until 12pm. Then we would get some lunch and go back to our room for a couple of hours of nap. After nap we would again return to the pool and stay there until 6:30pm after which we would go get some dinner. And then back to bed for a good night of sleep. Rinse and repeat.

On a trail.Towards the end we started going to the theater where kids would participate in a kid show and games on the stage at 8pm. And then there was a show done by the hotel crew at 9pm. It’s no Cirque du Soleil, but some of these shows were quite fun to watch.

Swimming in the ocean.That was a very nice routine. I could easily do another week of this. I am already feeling some nostalgia for our Costa Rican stay.
1
1

Leave a comment

O.o teeth mrgreen neutral -) roll twisted evil crycry cry oops razz mad lol cool -? shock eek sad smile grin