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Toni Stewart

New York, New York Travel Agent

Seeing Things for Yourself

One of my favorite travel experiences was a girlfriend getaway to Costa Rica. We were a group of four, and we went for five truly fantastic days. The trip taught me a crucial lesson, which is that you have to experience a destination in person to get a sense of the reality, not the myth.

Many false perceptions persist about particular places, based in no small part on what prospective tourists see on television. For example, many believe Russia is still an impoverished dictatorship with bread lines and citizens paying a premium on the black market for blue jeans. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was there for nine days, and it bore no resemblance to the popular misconceptions, but I would never have known this had I not gone there myself.  

Costa Rica was similar. Some tourists shy away from this destination, believing it to be a third world country and therefore extremely dangerous. Again, this is not the case. When I was there with my friends, we were given such a warm welcome, we felt almost like cherished family members.

We went zip lining and visited the jungle to see monkeys, but what really took me by surprise was when we were covered in mud from a nearby volcano. The spa staff brings it and coats you from head to toe, and then after a little while, you are immersed in the sulfur baths. Those are pools of water, and each one is a different temperature, so whether you prefer hot, cold or in between, you can always find exactly the right one for you.  I had a fantastic experience; the country was beautiful, and the Costa Ricans were unbelievably friendly. I loved every minute, and I would go back in a heartbeat.

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