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Should I stay in San Jose, Costa Rica or in a nearby town?

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Should I stay in San Jose, Costa Rica or in a nearby town?

Old May 21st, 2002, 04:40 PM
  #1  
Jay Weinstein
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Should I stay in San Jose, Costa Rica or in a nearby town?

I am planning a trip to Costa Rica. I will be flying into San Jose and white water rafting on the Pacuare the following morning. I have heard that San Jose can be unsafe and that it may be better to stay in a neighboring town. If so, which town should I stay in and where? And will I still be able to get a ride to my trip on the Pacuare?

What should I do?

Jay
 
Old May 21st, 2002, 04:48 PM
  #2  
David Cook
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There are good hotels near the airport (Hampton Inn) but the people you are going rafting with can probably recommend more convenient places to stay. Not all areas of SJ are dangerous, just the real cheap ones!
 
Old May 22nd, 2002, 04:52 AM
  #3  
Ally
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I always stay at the Orquideas Inn in Alajuela. Small friendly hotel with fun bar, good views, pool, clean rooms, and a huge buffett breakfast included in the price of the room. I'm sure tour company's pick up there.
http://www.worldheadquarters.com/cr/...orquideas_inn/
 
Old May 22nd, 2002, 09:05 AM
  #4  
Iza
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I would suggest you stay outside of San Jose. Two places that we liked are Xandari and Vista del Valle (both on the expensive side). Hampton Inn may be fine as well if you arrive late in San Jose (it is located very close to the airport).
As far as I know, all tour companies organizing any tours from San Jose pick up guests from hotels outside of the city. Check with your rafting tour organizer.
 
Old May 22nd, 2002, 09:34 AM
  #5  
ALF
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I agree with the above posters that Alajuela is a good choice. We really like the appropriately-named Hotel Buena Vista, located on a hill a few miles from the airport. Spectacular views, quiet, clean and comfortable, and a well-appointed restaurant and bar.
 
Old May 22nd, 2002, 10:17 AM
  #6  
Jay Weinstein
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Are there things to see or do in San Jose? How about shopping?

Are the rumors true that San Jose can be unsafe?

Has anyone had a positive or negative experience in San Jose that he/she would like to share?

Jay
 
Old May 22nd, 2002, 12:12 PM
  #7  
Ally
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As in any large city, there are areas that are dirty and unsafe, and areas that are somewhat pretty (little town squares/small parks) and safer.
But, there is just not that much to do in San Jose that would warrent staying there. It can be very crowded, loud and busy. Most of the petty crime happens in the city too.
The best shopping in Costa Rica is in Sarchi, which is much closer to Alajuela.
 
Old May 22nd, 2002, 01:04 PM
  #8  
Jay Weinstein
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Should I stay in Sarchi then?

I would really like to buy some artwork in Costa Rica. Where is the best place to buy it? Perhaps there is a museum in San Jose or elsewhere.

Jay
 
Old May 22nd, 2002, 02:49 PM
  #9  
Iza
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I have not heard of any good places to stay in Sarchi. Alajuela or Grecia will have more to offer by way of accommodations.
What kind of artwork do you want to buy in Costa Rica?
 
Old May 22nd, 2002, 03:51 PM
  #10  
Jay Weinstein
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Native Costa Rica painting, mural, etc. that I can put on my wall. Any suggestions?
 
Old May 22nd, 2002, 04:36 PM
  #11  
Iza
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No, not really. Sarchi is mostly touristy stuff, although they have some nice tropical wood items. The only places selling paintings that I happened upon in CR was in Manuel Antonio at a gallery next door to Si Como No (http://www.sicomono.com/store/store.php) and some gift shops/galleries in Tamarindo.
I am sure that SJ has art galleries and nice gift shops, so if you are really into that it may be worth staying there. Heard good things about Hotel Grano de Oro.
 
Old May 22nd, 2002, 04:57 PM
  #12  
Jay Weinstein
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Now there's food for thought. I think I'll look up the art galleries in San Jose. It seems reasonable that San Jose would be my best bet for art. Thanks!
 
Old Jun 4th, 2002, 03:12 PM
  #13  
E
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Jay, I can recommend a small bed and 'bring your own' breakfast. You can find it at www.kapsplace.com. The owner, Karla is a friend of mine, so although I'm biased, it is a good place to land in San Jose for the night. Karla can also help you with ALL your travel plans, tours, and transport to and from the airport. She's a great hostess, and real handy to have around to assist in your adventure. Good luck!
 
Old Jun 5th, 2002, 06:22 AM
  #14  
Sandy
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My vote goes to stay in San Jose for a day or two. I've been twice, once traveling alone (I'm female, mid-50s) and I don't think it's necessarily more dangerous than any big city. You just have to use common sense.

SJ has a lot of things to see/do--Teatro, Jade Museum, Gold Museum, it's well worth a little time.

I can recommend a good, safe, clean hotel right downtown--Plaza Hotel, on Avenida Central, which is a pedestrian-only street. (Hotel Plaza, Apartado 2019-1000, Frente Boulevar, San Jose, Costa Rica, ph. (506) 257-1896, fax (506) 222-2641, email: [email protected]). It's right next door to a Subway sandwich shop.

It was $43 including taxes and breakfast or $37 w/o breakfast. The rooms are a little small but had two twin beds, color tv/remote, carpet, phone, pretty rooms, and great location. Gabriel, the desk clerk was very helpful and knowledgeable. He even loaned my friend his leather jacket when we went out to dinner, as it was cool and raining and she didn't have a coat.

Have a great time, you will LOVE Costa Rica!
Sandy
 
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 02:45 PM
  #15  
Barbara
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Let me get this straight Jay, you're from NYC and you want to know if San Jose is safe?

Just got back and stayed near Allajella (I'm not spelling it right) the first night and San Jose the last night. You'll be fine.

I went by myself to the Gold and Jade Museums--no problem.

You're a big city guy and I would assume 'street' smart--you'll be fine.

The gold museum is being remodeled, so they have the best 200 gold pieces, a small art exhibit (traditional, modern, sculptures, etc) coins and coffee token exhibits--worth seeing. The Jade museum is re-opened, a lot of the tour books said it was closed.

I stayed at the Grano de Oro in San Jose and they had a wonderful restaurant.

PS: We did the Pacaure raft trip out of Turrialba, but most of the people on our trip were picked up in San Jose. BTW, we really enjoyed the raft trip. You'll be picked up early from your San Jose hotel, so why not stay in San Jose. I don't understand your reluctance. The tour books make it sound much worse than it is. I can only imagine what it says about New York!
 
Old Jun 8th, 2002, 06:52 PM
  #16  
Terri
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Barbara,

I'm going to Costa Rica on June 16th and would love to do the Pacuare while there. The only concern I have is that I have never done whitewater rafting. Should I looks a tamer river (like, say the Sarapiqui?). I'm 41, in good physical condition and have no fear of the water. Secondly, which rafting company did you use?

Thanks!

Terri
 
Old Jun 9th, 2002, 09:04 AM
  #17  
steve
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We are also fans of Xandari (free airport transfers) and Vista del Valle. Both wonderful properties and with such character. Both hotels will set up rafting trips for you with p/u at the hotel
 
Old Jun 9th, 2002, 11:31 AM
  #18  
Barbara
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Message: Terri

We used Tico Tours, a smaller local company from Turrialba. The majority of people in our 2 rafts had never been on a river raft trip, I don't think you'll have any trouble. They gave us (as I'm sure they all do) a short course on the paddle commands, safety issues, rescues, etc. Our guide was Giovanny and he was very good. The two largest raft companies are Rios Tropicales and Adventuras Naturales. They each had about 4-6 boats on the river the day we went. The rapids are rated 3 to 4+, which are a lot of fun. The Pacaure is also nice, as the rapids are evenly distributed and there are not long spaces of non-activity. It is noted that they had stopped running the river for safety reasons about 3 weeks prior to our visit, as there had been a lot of rain in early May.

I think all of the companies give you plastic helmets and life vests and I think they are pretty conscience of safety. I don't know if it was a Rios Tropicales or Adventuras Naturales' boat where one of the kids got pitched into the water, but he was rescued without incident, it seemed.

They'll serve you lunch, which wasn't bad. Our guides cut up a bunch of fresh fruit and vegetables (pineapples, watermelon, red bell peppers, cucumbers, & hearts of palm). They made fresh guacamole. Served with bread, sliced meats (I passed on those), and cheese for sandwiches; cookies, coffee, & juice.

A few suggestions to follow in my next post
 
Old Jun 9th, 2002, 11:35 AM
  #19  
Barbara
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Message: Terri con't

Rafting things I wish we knew about beforehand: It goes without saying, you are going to get very wet, and this includes your shoes. In my case, my hiking boots, which were on the heavy side before they were wet. I tried to pack light and only took flip flops and my hiking boots. They don't recommend that you wear flip flops for safety reasons (if you went over board you'd lose them and they wouldn't provide much protection...)It took about 3 days for my boots to dry out completely. My husband's tennis shoes seemed to take only a couple of days--remember it's really humid in CR. Several people had Tico type sandals with straps. Just be prepared to slosh around a few days in your shoes/boots.

Also, at the end of the raft trip they stopped at a 'soda' where you could change into some dry clothes (which we did not have) and I think they also had showers. Bring some money (something we also didn't have) to buy a beer (I liked the Bavaria better than Imperial) or drink at the 'soda' and to tip your guide(s) if you like or to buy a T-shirt at the soda, or purchase the photos that your tour company sells (one guy goes ahead in a kayak, takes pictures of the rafts going through the rapids, they also let the guides know which side to take the rapids, and they act as a rescuer). Our company had a driver with another vehicle that met up with us at the end of the trip with people's stuff that they didn't want to get wet. So, you could pack a small backpack with a change of clothes, which would have been nice. Take along some Deet and sunscreen, or at least put some on and leave it in your backpack. I took along a water-proof disposable camera. I haven't gotten the pictures back yet, and don't know about the quality of photos they produce, but there are some nice waterfalls you'll see and the overall views are lush and wonderful.

Info wise, they also have 2 day raft trips, though I don’t think I’d use Tico Tours for that, as they just have tents for the overnight portion that were pretty basic. Also, there is a canopy tour only available via the river that you can take on some of the 2 day trips. In a way, we were glad we did just the one day trip, as the 2 day trip goes along the same 18-20 miles of the river, they just break it up over 2 days and we were glad to have the extra day to see Tortuguero Nat’l Park.

As an aside, don't put off doing the Pacaure. There is talk about them building a dam there, and it would be a shame to miss it.

Hopefully you'll have some young strong guys on the trip to help paddle. The guides try to arrange the boats with a cross of experienced and non-experienced people in each raft. Before you go, you might try to do some free weights to strengthen your upper arms (or use soup cans). Also, try to use your whole body (bend forward, using the leverage of your legs and stomach) instead of just your arms, you shouldn’t tire as easily. And, when they say 'paddle hard', you need to dig in and do what they say, when they say it. You'll do GREAT!

Hope this helps and doesn't scare you off. I’m older than you are and while I’ve had other rafting experience, I certainly would not describe myself as an expert.

Have a wonderful trip next week!


PS: We paid $90 p.p. and I think the Rios Tropicales was booked at $95 p.p (tour groups of 15-20 people use them a lot). Price should include the pick-up from your hotel in San Jose and lunch (they picked us up from our hotel in Turrialba). The photos, which we haven't received yet, cost $20 for five 6x8" photos.
 
Old Jun 9th, 2002, 04:31 PM
  #20  
Barbara
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Message: Jay

Regarding artwork to buy...

I really liked the artwork in the Distinctive Hotel chain, of which several of their properties have been mentioned in this dialog:Grano del Oro in San Jose had the best quality of art I thought (check out their restaurant for both food and art), also Casa Turire in Turrialba (though the artist was from San Jose--unfortunately I don't remember the name).

I don't know your taste in art, but perhaps you could contact the person who selects the hotel's artwork and see how you can purchase it. I know the Grano del Oro in San Jose sells art, but I bet it's pricey. If you are looking for a steal, I doubt you'll find it there. Again, I don't know your tastes or price ranges. Costa Rica was more entrepreneurial than I expected and they may be a bargain compared to Hawaii and the Caribbean, but dinners in the nicer hotels were $20 to 35 pp (excluding wine) which I thought was pricey for CR. Souvenirs for the most part, were also expensive given a 13% city tax that is tacked on or is included in the price(s).

We also stayed at Villa Caletas, but I don't remember any art work that stood out in my memory.

Good luck!

PS: Someone mentined a gallery next to Si Como No, which again is another one of their properties. Check out their web site something like www.distinctivehotels.com

 

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