Andrea Nolon, entrepreneur and mom of 2 teen boys

I’d love to have our readers get a sense of who you are…
What are 3 words or phrases that describe or are important in the way you travel
1.     wanderer
2.     immersive traveler
3.     nature seeking

Please share one of your favorite travel experiences.
It is very hard to choose.  If I had to pick one, it would be Costa Rica.  I was actually raised in Costa Rica and grew up between there and the US.  My dad is an American and my mom is Costa Rican.

For a little background…my father, an avid outdoorsman, had fallen in love with Costa Rica (and my mother) because he thought it was the most beautiful place on earth.  Growing up my dad used to wake my brother and I in the middle of the night to take us on long marches through the forest to experience the dawn.  There is something magical about being in the forest just as the light hits from a new day.  There are noises, cacophonies that you hear from the animals and insects that are not present any other time of day.  He also took us to our remote little home on the beach in between the ocean and an estuary, where we kept an old-school ocean kayak.  When we were babies my dad would take us out in it and he’d point out birds and wildlife.  We’d be out there all day.  “Someday you’ll appreciate this” he would tell us at the time.

I inherited his love of the outdoors.

This particular experience was just after college with my parents and one of my friends.  The trip begins with an eruption of clapping by everyone in the airplane cabin as the plane lands.  The arrival in Costa Rica has always been like this, and it is a way people thank the pilots for a safe trip and their gratitude to be in Costa Rica.  I thought over the years this tradition would have dissipated with globalization, but it’s still as strong as ever.

On this trip we took three weeks to drive around the country visiting places I’d never been before – Irazú Volcano near San Jose, the hot springs near Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Rainforest, Peninsula Nicoya, Tortugero, Cahuita and, the Osa Peninsula.

What is your favorite memory from this trip? 
We went hiking through the Monteverde Rainforest and saw so much wildlife – jaguars, sloths, toucans and huge butterflies the size of grapefruits.  It felt so untouched and the variety of biodiversity was just amazing.  We were completely surrounded by and immersed in nature, which was such an incredible feeling.

What tip would you give your best friend if she were going to Costa Rica next week?
There are so many beautiful places to visit that I always have difficulty suggesting a specific destination (although Osa Peninsula is my absolute favorite).  I’ll focus my recommendations on traditional food.

If you’d like to have a truly authentic Costa Rican experience, visit sodas which are little restaurants throughout the country that serve typical Costa Rican food. They call the food casados which means “food from home.”  It is rice and beans, platanos maduros (cooked banana), a side salad and picadillo which is chopped up veggies with your choice of protein – chicken, fish, pork or meat.

And of course, the coffee.  Café con leche is the traditional way of drinking.  The “Tica way” is light and sweet (you put in your own sugar).  Fun fact – people from Costa Rica are called Ticos (male) or Ticas (female).

If you are near the ocean, ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime juice with peppers, onions and cilantro) is a must.  And the variety and freshness of the fruit is amazing!  If you see a new fruit and don’t know what it is, you must try it, as it is all delicious!  There are these little fruits called nances – tiny, yellow berries that I can’t get enough of when I’m there.  (Although I’ll admit everyone’s taste buds are a bit different and my husband does not join in my love of nances).

What’s on your bucket list?
It may be obvious that I appreciate all of those adventures my dad took me on and therefore it is no surprise that my two big bucket list trips are hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc hut to hut (with a stay at a pampering hotel in Zurich at the end) and hiking Patagonia in Argentina.

Extraordinary Experiences for
Adventurous Families

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