Around San Jose

Old Jul 18th, 2007, 07:41 PM
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Around San Jose

We have had a change in plans. We got a great deal from Marriott and will be staying at their property in San Jose for 2 days and then 2 days at the Los Suenos Marriott Property at Herradura Beach. During our two days in SJO we would like to take a day trip into the surrounding areas. Would Arenal be too far a drive for a day trip? Any recommendations? Also, we wanted a nice restaurant in San Jose that is a great example of traditional Costa Rican fare but with a gourmet twist. Any recommendations would be awesome!

Thanks All.


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Old Jul 19th, 2007, 03:12 AM
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Well, Arenal is about a 3 hour drive from San Jose, so that would be 6 hours of driving in one day - not something I would want to do personally, but it is doable if you're willing to be in the car that long. Not sure if you realize it, but Arenal frequently gets socked in by fog, so you may or may not get to see it during your day trip. We usually saw it late in the evenings.

We had an excellent gourmet meal at the Grano de Oro Hotel in San Jose - their restaurant is really well known. Their web site may have a menu if you want to take a peek.
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Old Jul 19th, 2007, 03:55 AM
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You could do the Ecoscape Highlights tour. It's an all day tour, don't remember the cost, somewhere between $60-$80 I think. You get to see a variety of stuff - breakfast at a coffee farm, La Paz waterfall (from the road), lunch at Selva Verde, a stop for snacks with a view of waterfalls & hummingbirds, a river boat tour, and Poas volcano. Really nice trip and you get to leave the driving to someone else.
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Old Jul 19th, 2007, 02:52 PM
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Hmm. I am trying to picture a gourmet twist on fried plantains and gallo pinto. Might be tough! Traditional Costa Rican fare is rustic and basic home cooking. I don't think that it lends itself well to a gourmet treatment.

Restaurant Lucas in el Pueblo is a pretty decent Argentine steak house, and their honeyed plantains are a trademark dish. But I really would not consider them gourmet. El Pueblo also offers some fun discos if you like loud meringue and salsa. Quite a young crowd though.

I agree about the restaurant at Hotel Grano de Oro. It is excellent. But I don't think that I would consider their cuisine to be Costa Rican.

As far as the day trip, you might consider whitewater rafting. If you have a car, you could also go to Poas and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. I also mentioned Hotel Rio Perlas the other day. You can get a day pass here that includes lunch and use of their swimming pool, which is fed by a natural hot spring. The nearby town of Orosi has a great old church,and museum. You could combine this with a visit to the Tapanti cloudforest and Lankester Gardens in Cartago.

Hope this helps! Let me know if I can offer more advice.

Warm Regards,
Pat Hewitt
(Travel professional)
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Old Jul 19th, 2007, 03:09 PM
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To give you an idea of Grano de Oro's menu, I had a Chilean sea bass encrusted with macadamia nuts, so rice and beans it ain't, but it was darn good! The hotel is built in an old mansion and quite charming - excellent service too.

Typical Costa Rican is more like casados - beef or chicken with rice/beans/plantains, etc., so I'm with Pat in trying to wrap my brain around the gourmet twist on Costa Rican. If you find a great place, let us know.
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Old Jul 20th, 2007, 02:27 PM
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Hi Andy,

The other folks have given you some great ideas. I'm starting to look at Central Valley day trips as well for my next CR visit in December.

I'll have 2 days free and have been considering Grecia, Sarchi, and either Bosque de Paz or Los Angeles Cloud Forest as one possible day trip option. For our other daytrip, we will likely go to Poas volcano and La Paz Waterfall gardens. We visited La Paz last year and absolutely loved it. We'd like to return this year to check out the recently completed aviary. Tully's Ecoscapes suggestion would give you a taste of La Paz and Poas (as well as a bunch of other sites). Lots of people really seem to enjoy that particular tour. Pat's Orosi Valley suggestion sounds intruiging as well... Okay, so I'm not much help in narrowing things down, am I? ;-) Basically, all of the ideas have merit, so you won't go wrong whatever you choose.

I agree with volcanogirl that Arenal is too far away for half a day. That area is really deserving of 3 or 4 dedicated days because there's so much to do, and more days increases your chances of the seeing the volcano in action.

Good luck with your plans. Ahh, Costa Rica! Can't wait until December!
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Old Jul 20th, 2007, 02:42 PM
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I agree with the La Paz Waterfall Gardens suggestion - we loved it there. There are 5 gorgeous waterfalls you can hike to, and also a ranarium, aviary, serpentarium and butterfly house. Another great thing is the hummingbird garden - loads of them flitting around you, and you can even feed them at certain scheduled times of the day. Really amazing place, and we got great pictures here. They have a restaurant at the Peace Lodge and also a very casual outdoor Trout Bar that had great homemade nacho chips and homemade guacamole, as well as good casados. Be sure to get a couple of Imperials too.
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Old Jul 21st, 2007, 10:18 AM
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Rafting the Pacuare is a great day trip from San Jose. It is very beautiful and a blast when there is plenty of water. We are going back in November.

Grano de Oro has wonderful food, but if you want a fun place where you can relax and spend a couple of hours trying new things, try the Peruvian place a couple blocks from Grano de Oro. They told us about it and we just walked from the hotel. It's on Paseo Colon just north of the KFC. It is called Machu Picchu and it is a kick. The "sharing plate" is one of their special items. It costs about $30 in US and it is enough food for 3 people. You get fish, shrimp, conch, lobster, and potatoes. The seafood is cooked various different ways and piled on a big platter. They have a large menu although much of it is seafood. Can wait to go back!

If you just have a few hours, Zoo Ave. is nice. Lots to see and a very beautiful setting. Bring your camera.
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Old Jul 21st, 2007, 10:54 AM
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There are other tours besides the Ecoscape one. The others actually spend time in the waterfall gardens. They are called 4 in 1 or or something like that. Here is one http://www.2costarica.com/adventure-...sta-rica.shtml

It is almost identical to the Ecoscape
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Old Jul 21st, 2007, 02:27 PM
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Linda, what company did you use to raft the Pacuare? That's something I would love to do on our next trip. Is it an all-day excursion? Sorry to hijack your post, andy.
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Old Jul 21st, 2007, 02:48 PM
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Try the Grayline Costa Rica website for tours.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2007, 09:02 AM
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Hi:
I socond the suggestion on Grano de Oro's. We have stayed there several times and the food is fantastic. The menu is on-line hotelgranodeoro.com.

We went on the overnight trip on the Pacuare River with Rios Tropicales.
Excellant operation with hotel pick-up at San Jose hotels. You can do the same trip in one (long)day with them. We really liked the two night trip. It was a blast.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2007, 10:49 AM
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Volcanogirl

We had Hotel Grano de Oro arrange our one-day raft trip. I believe we ended up going with Costa Rica Expeditions - you kind of get moved around depending upon what company has room for you. That process takes place the day before and then everything gets confirmed the evening before. We got a phone call in our room telling us the exact pick up time (5:30 a.m. for us) and all the details of what to bring, etc. There is also a two-day trip but it isn't much longer than the one day. Most all the companies do the same thing and have the same types of rafts and life vests so I don't think it matters much who you go with if it's one of the bigger companies. They all do breakfast on the way and lunch along the river. It is REALLY a fun day! Let me know if you'd like to see some photos. We bought the CD they put together. The van that has your dry clothes makes it's way down the river (on small dirt roads that run parallel) so between the van driver who appears here and there along the river bank and the kayak guy / photographer, you end up with the option to buy some fantastic photos. They catch each major set of rapids plus all the great waterfalls, birds, etc. My e-mail address is: [email protected] if you want to see some photos.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2007, 11:21 AM
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Rios Tropicales also offers a x-fer rafting trip from San Jose to Puerto Viejo (or close), that we are considering doing next year.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2007, 12:28 PM
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Thanks for the info. on the rafting trips. We've been to CR twice and STILL haven't done it, and I would love to. Definitely on the to do list - I've seen people's pics before, and it looks really great! Thanks again.
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