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Do you actually need to drive through San Jose to get to Orisi and surrounding areas?

Do you actually need to drive through San Jose to get to Orisi and surrounding areas?

Old May 24th, 2006, 08:26 PM
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Do you actually need to drive through San Jose to get to Orisi and surrounding areas?

1) From Alueja / Heredia OR

2) If I'm coming from Manual Antonio, is there a more direct route without going back up north to San Jose?

I guess generally I don't want to have to drive through the city just to go to the south eastern areas.
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Old May 25th, 2006, 08:10 PM
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I know. It's a problem and inconvenient at times! There IS a way, but you'd have to really want to do it! Actually, it would afford you a very nice view of a very different part of the country.

Get out of Manuel Antonio early, drive that "bad" piece of road south to Dominical, then head inland (east) to San Isidro. Do this early in the day to avoid fog on the highway north of San Isidro. From San Isidro drive north and you'll arrive in Cartago (after about 2.5 or 3 hours). From there you can travel to the Orosi Valley and no San Jose! Stop the car and get out at Divide, and you'll find yourself in freezing temperatures! In Costa Rica! It's amazing. . .and there are all kinds of little restaurants along the road (sodas, they are called).
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Old May 25th, 2006, 09:28 PM
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Getting there from the south is an interesting idea but, unless you plan on driving back to Manuel Antonio and then back around to Alajuela, you are going to have to drive through San Jose one way or another. It is a pretty area but I would just stick to your original plans for sightseeing north of the city unless you want to hire a driver. If you hire a driver for the day you could even visit Irazu volcano and possibly the Basilica in Cartago (I have been there a couple of times).

The driver I hired at Orquideas was about $100 for the day and that included horseback riding in the coffee fields, a tour of Grecia, shopping in Sarchi plus a tour of the shop where they make the ox carts. It may be higher now with gas prices going through the roof. I made up my own day rather than take a boxed tour.
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Old May 26th, 2006, 02:57 PM
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Is it really only around $100 for a driver for the day, because that is much cheaper than a tour for 2 people?! Did the driver recommend horseback through the coffee fields? How come it was included in the price?

Honestly, how bad is it actually to drive through San Jose? My husband seems to think that if we are going to tackle Monteverde, that we would be able to handle San Jose. What is the worst thing about the drive?

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Old May 27th, 2006, 07:02 AM
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Those who visit CR a lot have to eventually drive through San Jose if they rent a car, and certainly everyone can learn to do it--takes time and patience!

There are no street signs which is the main problem. So basically you have to know a little bit about some of the buildings in town to use as landmarks. For example, the Teatro Melico Salazar--you turn left there to find highway 32 to Limon.

Or the hospital San Juan de Dios. You pass it on your right if you are heading into town the way you should be!

Teatro Nacional and the el Gran Hotel Costa Rica are also important landmarks. As is the tall insurance building (only a couple of high rises) and the Holiday Inn Aurola.

What worked for us was buying a map ahead of time (Berndston and Berndston) and I (the navigator usually) studied it for weeks before we actually arrived in San Jose. I had the layout of the city in my head (as far as the avenidas and calles, which were odd, which were even, and which streets and avenues were in each of the four quadrants). That little bit of knowledge made a huge difference. That didn't stop us from having to wander around a few times, but we were always able to find our way fairly easily. Once in awhile you'll see a street name on a corner building. Always nice to come across one of those!

Of course anyone can do it, but those tips will help.

There are areas where I would not want to be, so we try hard to stick to the main streets that get us in and out of town and to the hotel.
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Old May 27th, 2006, 11:27 PM
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I just told him I wanted to go horseback riding and he took me up in the mountains near Grecia where his family lives. He explained how his family sold the coffee to a coop and showed me where the storage was. He explained the different grades of coffee. That part was $40 for a couple of hours. We also hiked down to a waterfall during the ride time. Then he just charged me $10 an hour for the rest. I was traveling alone at that time so it could be it was cheaper because of that. Still, it probably won't be any more than a full day tour for the two of you and you would get to stop and look at things just as if you were driving. All you have to do is tell the driver you want to stop. That was about 2 years ago and with gas prices up now it could very well be more

If you should drive, be careful around the even numbered streets in San Jose. The streets (calles) are not numbered odd/even, they are all evens or all odds.
There is a loop you can use that makes it easier. I particularly hate those traffic circles.

The average Costa Rican is not known for their great driving. That is when the Pura Vida seems to go right out the window. The drivers/guides that you hire are really good but other than that.....yikes. Pretty typical latin american drivers. Downtown can get really congested. Pedestrians do not have the right of way as they do in the states btw.

We ran into a poor guy down on the Osa that had rented a car. After several hours of trying to get out of the city he hired a taxi to lead him out. You could always do that ;').

The Orosi valley is a lovely area and the Basilica in Cartago is pretty interesting. All those silver charms that represent miracles are fascinating. Irazu is down that way as is Lankester gardens. Not just orchids. There are plant groupings that represent many areas of the world. If you have a full day it would be worth going down.

Honestly, I would gladly do the drive up to Monteverde rather than having to drive in the city. There is no comparison for me. The ride up to Monteverde from the Pan Am is twisty, narrow and unpaved for most of the ride but the views are beautiful. The trip up from Arenal via Tilaran can be strewn with rocks or landslides but I would still choose that over the city. I live in the country now and hate most city driving so that could have something to do with it.
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Old May 28th, 2006, 10:46 AM
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Suzie and Shillmac have excellent advise, as usual. I would just like to add that the
tour guides (drivers) at the Orquideas Inn are fabulous. As for San Jose, I just spent 3 days driving around there picking up things and running around for our buisness, and I hated every second of it. Too crowded, too confusing. Thanks goodness my husband was doing the driving as he knows the city better than I do. But I will say that if you are just trying to get from one side of the city to the other, it's not that big of a deal. Good luck and have fun on your trip!
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Old May 28th, 2006, 08:24 PM
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I was thinking of staying at Orquideas Inn anyways, so i will definitely be looking into the drivers!

Thanks for the advice.
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Old May 29th, 2006, 06:00 AM
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You could use the CIRCUNVALACION (San Jose Beltway) to bypass downtown San Jose. Heading toward San Jose from the airport, look for the Best Western Irazu and Denny's on your left (10 mins. from A/P). Across from the Best Western is the access to the circunvalacion. Take the RIGHT ramp BEFORE the overpass in order to head in the proper direction. Look for the aYa water company sculpture, it's a large ball with water flowing from it and as you drive up the ramp it will be on your left. Stay on this bypass until you reach Zapote where you will see signs to exit for Cartago. If you miss the Zapote exit, the next one is San Pedro which is more congested but fine also. The circunvalacion has stop lights and traffic circles so it's not exactly a straight shot but it beats going thru SJ downtown. Lisa in M. Antonio
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