Stay In San Jose or outskirts

Old Aug 16th, 2004, 11:38 AM
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KNJ
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Stay In San Jose or outskirts

Hello All, I'm trying to hammer out the last of the details of our trip to CR and I need some advice. Here is what I currently have set:
Nov 5th Fly Houston to SJO on Continetal, arrive 11:50 am, pick up 4WD head to Xandari
Nov 6th Drive to Arenal, possibly via Bajo del Toro, stay 2 nts Arenal Paraiso, Jr. Suite
Nov 8th Drive to Monteverde, stay 2 nts Sapo Dorado, Mountain Suite
Nov 10th Drive back towards SJO - Stay ?Where? Leave excess luggage
Nov 11th Fly from Tobias airpot to Drake Bay, stay 3 nts Drake Bay Wilderness Resort
Nov 14th Fly back to Tobias, arriving around 11 am, stay same place as 10th


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Old Aug 16th, 2004, 11:46 AM
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Here are my thoughts:
1. Drop car at SJO airport, take taxi to Counrty Inn & Suites in San Antonio. This is convient to both airports but, will there be anything to do on the afternoon of the 14th?
2. Drive into San Jose city, stay someplace moderate like Rosa del Paseo, near Sabena Park and drop car at in town office, walk around San Jose on afternoon of 14th (a Sunday), possibly go out on the evening of the 10th - Is driving in San Jose that bad?
3. Stay outside of San Jose but, someplace with at least gardens, like Bougainvillea Hotel in Santo Domingo

Will the car rental company come and get the car from the hotel? Do they charge for this? How much is a taxi from the SJO aiport to one of the airport hotels? The city?

Thanks in advance for any advice. Feel free to comment on the rest of my itinerary.

Kelly
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Old Aug 16th, 2004, 12:04 PM
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Someone more qualified than myself should respond to the majority of your questions, but I would like to comment about the driving in San Jose: In a word, it's terrible! Not as bad once you leave the city.

Driving, like everything else in CR is just different. One of our tour guides, an extremely calm woman originally from the US, commented that it's not difficult once you get into a certain mindset. You need to be fairly aggressive,or you'll never get anywhere.

Just my impression.
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Old Aug 16th, 2004, 12:56 PM
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Your idea of staying in San Antonio is a good one. Sometimes rental agencies will pick up a car at a hotel for no charge. I'd check with them. From San Antonio, you could explore around the suburb of Escazu, some call it the "gringo gulch" of San Jose. I think there is also a movie theatre fairly close. This would, however, give you less of a Costa Rican experience! You would need to rely on taxis on the 14th. To make the most of your Sunday afternoon, you might be better off with one of the other options.

If you decide to stay in San Jose, don't take a car into town. It isn't necessary. You can drop at the airport and it will cost about $12 for a taxi into town. Once in town, you can walk about anywhere you want to go, and taxis are cheap. The Hotel Don Carlos is a good location for walking tours of the main part of town (where what you would want to see is located). It is also convenient to El Pueblo, a "mall" of restaurants, bars, and artisan shops--good place to spend an evening. This is your best option if you really want to experience San Jose.

This is the option I THINK you would enjoy most. . . drop the car at the airport and take a taxi to Las Orquideas Inn in Alajuela. It might cost $10. Perhaps less. It is about a 10 or 15 minute drive from the airport. They will take care of your luggage, of course, while you are at Drake Bay. You COULD even wait and drop the car the next morning on your way to Tobias airport and have the rental agency take you to the airport. I don't think they will charge for this, but am not sure.

The reason I mention this is the proximity of Las Orquideas to a very nice part of Costa Rica--the little towns of Grecia and Sarchi. Both would be excellent places to spend the afternoon of the 14th. Sarchi is a great place for souvenir shopping. It is a little artisan town. Also, the Las Orquideas has a marvelous breakfast, and a great little bar. Lovely grounds as well. Only thing with this idea is that when you return from Drake Bay, you won't have a car. But, if this appeals to you, I think you could find a driver to show you around. Even a taxi. You could even take the 1:30 tour of the Doka Cafe Plantation which is about 20 minutes from Las Orquideas. I don't think you would have any trouble finding someone to tour you around on the afternoon of the 14th. The hotel could help you with that.

I probably haven't been much help. As you mentioned, you could do this several ways. But I do know that, having been in Costa Rica several times, I would choose either to check out San Jose (if I hadn't done that before) or spend time driving around through Grecia, Sarchi, and possibly even Zarcero and it's lovely church and topiary gardens.

Once you decide what sounds best to you, don't worry about the details too much. Everyone from the rental agency to the hotels (in my experience) will be happy to help you make the most of your time without a lot of expense.
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Old Aug 16th, 2004, 01:49 PM
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Shillmac, Thanks for your suggestions. I didn't really plan on driving the car around just to the main office on Paseo Colon. My thought was to save the taxi fare from the airport. If the traffic is really scary (like say Lima, Peru - my only other city experience in Latin America) then I would definately drop at the airport.

I plan on going through Sarchi and Grecia on the way from Xandari to Arenal. Have you ever gone on the road that runs through Bajo del Toro (runs just east of Juan Castro Blanco Park)? We will have the 4wd and I understand the scenery is really spectactular. I may do the Doka coffee tour on the 14th. I had wanted to do the Cafe Britt tour but they only have am departures in the green season.
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Old Aug 16th, 2004, 02:50 PM
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KNJ,
Getting your car to the office on the Paseo Colon shouldn't be much of a problem. It is not terribly difficult to make it this far. Getting around town, however, is another story. Haven't been to Lima, but I expect it is very similar.

Looking at the map, no, we have not been on that particular road. Bajos del Toro is very close to Zarcero. Try to work that in, if you can. Definitely worth it. We've driven on both main roads that encircle Juan Castro Blanco, but never on that road that looks as if it runs right along the park's edge on the east. If you do this, let me know how it works out. This entire area is one of the most scenic I've ever seen and we love driving it. Are you interested in San Jose? Some people would say "don't do it--there's nothing there", but we have found it interesting to walk around town, see the Gold Museum, the Jade Museum, the Teatro Nacional, the Plaza de la Cultura, the Mercado Central, etc. There are any number of boutique hotels in the $60-70 range that would suit your needs and put you right in this area. I mention the Don Carlos because we've always had such a good experience with them. They have an excellent staff, as I'm sure do most others of similar size and quality. I will be interested to know what you decide to do. You have a very well-planned itinerary. I am sure you will have a marvelous time!
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