Written by ripplefan2 on 09 Jul, 2007
While I was staying at the Costa Rica Backpackers House in San Jose, I decided to go for a gingerly walk through the city. While walking around, I found a small outdoor market near the government buildings. I was looking for some true Costa Rican…Read More
While I was staying at the Costa Rica Backpackers House in San Jose, I decided to go for a gingerly walk through the city. While walking around, I found a small outdoor market near the government buildings. I was looking for some true Costa Rican coffee for my mother (she is a true coffee fan) and here was my paradise. For the length of a football field, there were dozens of vendors selling all local trinkets and some of the weirdest things I have ever seen. Upon walking into the market, I immediately found what it was that I was looking for; a bag a pure Costa Rican coffee in a brown burlap sack with the Costa Rican flag printed right on it. The price was great, at only $4, but like any other street market, prices are only suggested and everything is negotiable. I ended up getting the coffee for $3 and then proceeded on through the market. Other things I came across were hand made souvenirs made from things like trees and coconuts from around the land. There were also guitars (which cost me a mere $28 for a handmade guitar and a case), drums, clothing, and accessories and a plethora of Costa Rican pride things. And one of the greatest things about this little market was the people. Everyone was very helpful and all told you the best places to go and the coolest things to see. One guy told me to come back that night for the fire-spinner’s celebration. Up and down the entire street were tons of people spinning what seemed like giant jump ropes, but they were covered in flames and lighting up the streets. As the evening went on, fireworks from all over the city shot up into the sky, illuminating the streets and awing the people. But, I digress. The market was a great place to hit up and totally worth a stop when you make your way down there. Be careful though, because there are two markets; one near the north part of the city and the other near the Coca Cola Bus Station. The one near the Coca Cola Bus Station is crime ridden and you are almost guaranteed to get pick pocketed there. So beware. This one is much more tourist friendly and the products are of a better quality. And don’t forget to ask a Tico for some advice on what to do, they love helping out. Enjoy! Close
Written by szaboa on 10 Apr, 2005
The first half of our trip was an all-inclusive package. We chose that since we wanted to go to Tortuguero, which is only accessible by boat or plane. It took a couple-hour boat ride to get to our resort - but you get…Read More
The first half of our trip was an all-inclusive package. We chose that since we wanted to go to Tortuguero, which is only accessible by boat or plane. It took a couple-hour boat ride to get to our resort - but you get to see a glimpse of how people live in the area. Tortuguero is in the rain forest, with monkeys right in the resort. It has amazing bio-diversity. You go on boat tours to spot the various wildlife, which is very abundant, and during the right season, you would be able to see the green sea turtle nest on the beach.
The second part of the package was Arenal Volcano - which can easily be done on your own. Arenal is an active volcano with Tabacon Hotsprings at the base. The hotsprings are a must-see. It's quite expensive but well worth it. It is a spectacular landscaping and setting. Apparently, across the road from the commercial hotspring is a natural hot spring which is much more reasonably priced but much more rustic.
After Arenal, we made our way back to San Jose - rented a car and headed out to Tamarindo. This is nice little town which will be the next hot spot. When we were there, a new large resort was being built, with a few more planned. It has a spectacular beach with hardly any people - it is a great place to go and eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner. There is small grocery store where you can purchase the items for your picnic. We kayaked out to the small island and had a guide with us to go snorkelling. It was a great experience, with him finding all kinds of neat things for us to touch and hold (blow fish, starfish, and a sea cucumber). We also had the opporunity to see a leatherback turtle nest. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which I would highly recommend - just remember that they are wild animals, and they are not posing there for you.
After Tamarindo, we headed to Poas Volcano - there is very little to no accommodations in the area, so plan your trip accordingly. The volcano is often clouded over, so pick your day carefully. In the area, we also went to Lapaz waterfall garden - they also have a butterfly garden, which was impressive to see. The last stop was Cafe Britt. They have a very informative tour and friendly staff - my only recommendation would be to buy your coffee in the grocery store, since it is significantly cheaper.
Costa Rica is a very ecologically diverse country, from rain forest to mountains to desert. It is a country that you can easily negotiate yourself, with very friendly people.
Written by Nanah D on 25 Mar, 2004
This is an excellent tour while staying in San Jose. This is close to San Jose and does not require long periods of driving. We started out early, picked up by van and taken to breakfast in mountains. We then travelled to Doka…Read More
This is an excellent tour while staying in San Jose. This is close to San Jose and does not require long periods of driving. We started out early, picked up by van and taken to breakfast in mountains. We then travelled to Doka Coffee Plantation, where we saw the various stages of coffee production and were able to taste the different varieties of coffee. We learned that 90% of the top grade coffee from the Doka Tres Generacions is sold to Starbucks in the U.S. (no wonder their coffee is so good ) We then went to Poas Volcano; another volcano near San Jose, with a large green crater lake and some steam vents in this still active volcano. This volcano last erupted only four years ago but is covered with vegetation that looks like your house plants on steriods. There really are our little houseplants and hot house plants that we baby in our homes to grow maybe a foot tall or so, that grow into trees here.
After the volcano, we had lunch at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens (included in our tour price) and then a tour of the butterfly gardens and then a hike to the waterfalls. This involves getting wet, so you must have raingear and it also involves some climbing of steel stairways around and under different waterfalls. You can opt out of the most strenuous part of the hike if you wish. Otherwise, you will walk along steel walkways and stairs over and under and through a rain forest and five waterfalls along the Trail of Falls. There are nine viewing platforms below and next to the water. The power of these waterfalls into the river gorge below is awesome and I believe, a must see. There is also an excellent handicraft shop here with handcrafted objects from all over Central America.
Written by ripplefan2 on 14 Jun, 2007
If you are in need of a vacation away from the ordinary and into the heart of the extraordinary, Costa Rica is the place for you. With lush landscapes, friendly people and cheap prices, the ambience can’t be beat. In 2005, I headed down to…Read More
If you are in need of a vacation away from the ordinary and into the heart of the extraordinary, Costa Rica is the place for you. With lush landscapes, friendly people and cheap prices, the ambience can’t be beat. In 2005, I headed down to Costa Rica in March for two weeks to visit some friends who were staying there for awhile. And what a place! I flew into San Jose, which is an experience all in its own. With it being the main city of Costa Rica, San Jose’s culture is completely different from the rest of the country. There is more of a business feel that one would experience in a major metropolitan area with a local culture that provides the backbone to the cities structure.
I stayed my first night in a hostel that I would not recommend to others (I can’t remember the name of that place, but it was right across the street from the market in the center of town). Although this place was cheap (about $4 a night) you really had to rough it. The whole place felt like an old warehouse that had plaster walls put up to make "bedrooms." The rooms were cold, the beds uncomfortable and the cockroaches were rampant. A place that I would recommend would be the Costa Rica’s Backpacker’s House in San Jose. This place was made for the active traveler and the prices are still on the cheaper side (about $10 a night). Here they had maps, activity guides, a pool, an outdoor garden, a recreational room, security, and a kitchen. After my first night in San Jose, I felt it was time to leave the bustling city and head to the smaller cities on the west coast. My first stop was to a city called Jaco. Jaco is a surfers paradise on the inlet area of Costa Rica’s western coast. I would not recommend more than a two night stay in Jaco because the town is different. There is a widespread, and open usage of drugs and a lot of transvestite prostitution. It is a fun bar scene for the conversations and the drinks, but not if you are looking for a singles scene.
After going for a dip in the ocean and having a barbecue that my hostel had provided, I left Jaco and headed north to Puntarenas, where I got the ferry across the water and caught a bus down to Montezuma. If you don’t want to take the long ride up to Puntarenas, you can take a speed boat across the water from Jaco to Montezuma for $60 or so. Now talk about a city! This was one place that felt like the Garden of Eden reborn in the lush tropics of Central America. Our residency for the following couple of days was in one of the hostels located at the intersection of the town near the beach (the name eludes me). This place was great at $10 a night for the two of us in a three person room with a private bath room and shower. There was also a balcony that wrapped around the entirety of the building with a bar upstairs. All that this town of Montezuma had to offer was a handful of hostels and hotels, a couple of restaurants, several bars, a library and a plethora of beaches. Our first night in Montezuma was one that was alcohol consumed that we felt reminiscent of a party at Robert Downey Jr.’s house.
At one of the centrally located bars, there was a unique layout with an atmosphere that was even stranger but definitively entertaining. When you first walk into the bar, there is a wrap around bar, then an open dance floor that had a small stage set back, some pool tables, another bar behind the tables and then a group of tables, seats, and tekkie torches placed along the water. On the stage there were two barely dressed girls dancing to reggae tone with hoards of drunken men around them forming a circle of drunken, horny energy that could have lit up a small country. I wish that I could be more descriptive about what our night entailed, but my lack of memory should be proof enough that the night was great. The next day we hiked ourselves over to the nature trails that led to amazing waterfalls. What a better way to help overcome a hangover than to lay in a pool of lukewarm water with the most crisp water falling on your head from hundreds of feet above. This was one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had the pleasure to have.
After our dip, we headed back into town to grab some lunch and a drink. All of the restaurants in Montezuma are great and the price can’t be matched. I think that the average meal was about the equivalent of $10 and the plate was more then enough. Unfortunately, we decided that even though it was midday, it was a perfect time to start our night’s worth of drinking. Our hostel was perfectly positioned between the two late night bars, so we hoped between the two all day and well into the evening. At the last part of the evening, as the bars were closing, we found some locals (Tico’s) who were liberating the beer refrigerator upstairs and we helped them out. Then, we loaded our tub with cold water, ice and beer, and wine. Sadly enough, the next day was my last in that town, so I couldn’t finish all of the refreshments. I therefore packed them up and brought them back with me to San Jose. After arriving in San Jose, I stayed at the Costa Rica Backpackers House again and actually ran into a friend of mine. Immediately, we broke into my stash of alcoholic beverages. Having this stash made us instant celebrities among the other travelers. Also, on the way to San Jose, I purchased a hand crafted guitar, so having this and the drinks, we ended up attracting almost everyone there.
We stayed up all evening almost until sunrise playing music, learning Costa Rica songs, drinking wine and whiskey, and laughing. It was an amazing night with people exchanging their war stories from their travels. Several people had been pick pocketed in the surrounding countries or in the northern Costa Rican towns. A lot of people were waiting for the US Embassy to open so they could get their new passports and leave the country. However don’t let these stories scare you, the country is beautiful and each of those people with horror stories could wait to head back to Costa Rica. So, pack your bags and head south for the time of your life. Pura Vida!
Written by PNelson on 31 Aug, 2006
While waiting for my flight, (I have to be at the airport at least three hours before take off.. I know personal problem right??), I had the opportunity to visit the VIP lounge in the San Jose Airport..Unlike the Admirals club or some other…Read More
While waiting for my flight, (I have to be at the airport at least three hours before take off.. I know personal problem right??), I had the opportunity to visit the VIP lounge in the San Jose Airport..Unlike the Admirals club or some other exclusive lounge this one offers a single day pass for $18 USD. While the airport is clean, has wireless access, and includes many shops to buy souvenirs, this Lounge was a welcome retreat. It allowed an escape from the crowded terminal and a peaceful opportunity to check email and read.My favorite part was the local art being displayed. The pieces displayed during my visit were eye catching and ranged from cannons to impressionist faces, and even a few statement minded pieces that related to technology in our current age.The wireless access was secure and included in the entry price. I had a laptop enabled with WiFi so I took advantage of it, (I did have to ask for a user name and password). Other “lounge-mates” were using the computers supplied by the VIP Lounge.Close
Written by dannynosleeves on 07 Feb, 2005
Ow. What the hell was that? Did something just stab my foot? I try and lift my leg up enough to see what this piercing pain in my ankle is, but it’s no use. These dilapidated bus seats are too small to do much more…Read More
Ow. What the hell was that? Did something just stab my foot? I try and lift my leg up enough to see what this piercing pain in my ankle is, but it’s no use. These dilapidated bus seats are too small to do much more than sit up straight and look forward. So I rub my hand across my ankle to rub the pain from it. I bring my hand back to my lap, only to discover my own blood smeared across my finger tips. Oh great, I'm in a health hazard of a bus in a third-world country and I'm bleeding. That’s just great. What the hell could have done that? Contorting myself into quite a bizarre posture, I manage to get my head down enough to peak under the seat. "SSSQQUUAAKK" Whoa, crap. What the... As soon as I peak under the seat, my face is the prime target of the chicken tied up in a burlap sack stuffed under my seat. My twisted position barely lets me escape its beak in time. The guy behind me kicks his man-eating beast to get it to shut up. Once I convince myself that the man behind me keeps kicking the chicken and my feet for my own safety, I sit back and think to my self that this 2-hour bus ride is off to a great start and can't get much worse.
I should have known that it is only after you think nothing more could possibly go wrong that that is when things, in fact, do get worse. The road we are traveling down is like driving over rows of dead petrified bodies. It’s so bumpy that, even at our unbearably slow speed, I have managed to slam my head against the window several times. We are only going a dozen miles or so to the next town, but these road conditions and numerous stops make our trip a true test of endurance that even a triathlete would cringe at.
At one stop, a young girl gets on with a small dog and takes one of the only empty seats left next to me. Actually, she places the dog next to me and herself on the outside of the seat. Great, now I have some flea-covered dog beside me and a carnivorous chicken underneath me. Maybe I should warn the dog? Perhaps not. I suppose if the dog really pisses me off I can feed it to the chicken and no one will be the wiser.
I know its raining a little outside and the window on the seat ahead of me is open, but it’s not raining hard enough for me to be wet. So why is my butt wet? I look down at my seat, only to see the dog first with its wet tail and a puddle under its seat. I stare at the dog and scream profanities at it in my head. Where’s that damn chicken when you need it?
It's raining harder now and I'm starting to get wet from the rain blowing in from the window in front of me. I lean forward and say, "Pardon," to the man in front of me.
Nothing. No response. Surely he can’t be ignoring me, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was. Nobody else on this bus seems to care about my well-being. Why should he? How could he not know I was getting soaking wet because his window was down. It’s the only window on the whole bus that’s down.
Again I lean forward and say, "Pardon." This time tapping the man on the shoulder.
The man turns his head to look at me. Not knowing much Spanish at all, I simply use the universal language of pointing. I point at his window and motion my hands in a upward motion implying I want him to put the window up. He shakes his head and nods. Okay, good I thought, he’s going to put the window up and maybe I will be dry by the time we get to the next town. He reaches for the window and messes around with it for a minute and then stops. The window is still down. What’s the problem? I tap him on the shoulder again. This time he shakes his head no and rambles off something in Spanish. I give up. At least the rain will wash away this dog piss I'm sitting in.
I am officially soaked all the way through. The dog is at the edge of the seat and the girl is standing up in the aisle so as not to get wet. I supposed I could do the same, but by now it wouldn't matter. Again, I give up. As I try to doze off in my drenched clothes, head banging against the window, I wish my friend, the blood-thirsty chicken, would have finished the job he started earlier.
Written by dannynosleeves on 07 Nov, 2004
I think it might be day five of our journey. I'm not really sure, though. I lost all sense of time by the first night really. It’s dark now. That’s not saying much, though, seeing as how it gets dark around 5pm. I’m writing by…Read More
I think it might be day five of our journey. I'm not really sure, though. I lost all sense of time by the first night really. It’s dark now. That’s not saying much, though, seeing as how it gets dark around 5pm. I’m writing by candlelight on the beach and watching thousands of leaf-cutter ants work endlessly. There must be a line of them at least 3m long moving in both directions across the beach. Talk about a sustainable living community. The speed and uniformity they work at is crazy. If you were to put a rock in the entrance of their hole, they would simply drop the leafs they have, go back out for more, and stock pile them until they could get back in.
I stepped on a sea urchin yesterday. It sucked for a while-well, until I got drunk, then it didn’t hurt any more. But then when I woke up and tried to walk, I was painfully reminded of yesterday’s actions. If you go walking on the reef, make sure to wear sandals because they are like land mines that cover the reef. They are everywhere. They are a huge pain to try and get out of your foot. I spent hours trying to get them out. There were probably a half-dozen little spikes in my foot. I spent the rest of the day recouping from my hours under the knife by sleeping the better part of the day in a hammock.
Last night J, the owner, took the whole hostel out to town to play Edward 40 Hands and to watch the football game. It was rad. We went to the liquor store and bought two 40-ounce bottles of beer. Then, on the way out of the liquor store, J took duct tape and taped the 40s to our hands. This means you can’t go to the bathroom or put the beers down until you are done with both of them! Then we showed up in town to watch the game. I can only imagine what the people must have thought when all these gringos showed up with beer taped to their hands!
Poor Serina feel into the ditch on the way back from town last night. She got beat up pretty bad, and J had to drive her to the hospital drunk. Then he kept hitting on her while she was lying on the hospital bed in pain. Ha. J has no shame in his game. Later on we will find out that Serina wouldn’t be the last to fall into this shallow grave.
Written by Claire on 21 Sep, 2000
I never get tired of this ultimate cultural experience. The market happens every Sunday morning from earlier than most of us think of getting up, until about noon. We usually arrive about 8 a.m. We head first to the food stands for breakfast -- gallo…Read More
I never get tired of this ultimate cultural experience. The market happens every Sunday morning from earlier than most of us think of getting up, until about noon. We usually arrive about 8 a.m. We head first to the food stands for breakfast -- gallo pinto with eggs, or chicharrones (bits of fried pork) fried up right in front of you. You can order strong, sweet coffee or get fresh squeezed orange or carrot juice from the stand next door. The market is a riot of color - fruits and vegetables from aguacates (avocados) to zanahorias (carrots). There are mountains of tomatoes, chayotes, bananas of all shapes and sizes. Garlic sellers stop to tempt you with long braids of garlic. You can buy fresh cut flowers, potted plants, and plastic accessories to hang in your closet. It is a great place to bargain for the best buys, practice your Spanish and just absorb the atmosphere with all your senses. The best way to get their would be a Zapote bus from San José, or a taxi.
Written by jodellebobelle on 09 Nov, 2005
My heart melts every time I recall this trip to Costa Rica. I went with my church group on my first overseas mission trip. We went into some very remote villages in Puriscal, San Antonio, and others to give out bibles to the people in…Read More
My heart melts every time I recall this trip to Costa Rica. I went with my church group on my first overseas mission trip. We went into some very remote villages in Puriscal, San Antonio, and others to give out bibles to the people in the villages. We met some beautiful souls and got to share with them how awesome God is. And even when the rain poured down upon us and soaked us to the bone, God brought the people out of the homes and let us share with them. The people there are searching for God, and they loved the bibles we gave them. The landscaping and the views we saw while we walked knocked our socks off. The beautiful foliage and banana trees and the smell of coffee everywhere you go is so telling of how this much greatness in our universe can only be fashioned by two hands, the hands of God.
When visiting Costa Rica, if you just shop and look around, you will truly miss Costa Rica. Get to know the people; they are very receptive, and you learn so much from their culture. It's truly a simple but inspiring culture. Some of these people live in tin houses with dirt floors, but they live with 20 other family members in one house, and that is their wealth, their family. They highly regard family and friends and traditions. We could learn a lot from this culture.
We drank like pirates last night! We saw that "Pirates of the Caribbean" was playing at Hot Rocks, the local movie theater/restaurant, so we decided to make a night of it-a drinking night to be exact. Once we had decided that we were going…Read More
We drank like pirates last night! We saw that "Pirates of the Caribbean" was playing at Hot Rocks, the local movie theater/restaurant, so we decided to make a night of it-a drinking night to be exact. Once we had decided that we were going to take shots every time they said "pirate" or "savvy" in the movie, we had to decide on the proper pirate drink to consume on our night of plundering. So I thought to myself, "If I were a pirate, what would I drink?" Rum of course! And to keep true with our pirate roots, we went with the cheap rum-$4 for a liter.
Serena and EB left today. It was sad to see them go. I think Serena may be back in a few weeks. Who knows? She offered to put us up in Australia if we ever go there. How convenient since Australia and New Zealand are in my top three places of where I want to go!
Anders, this crazy kid from Sweden, decided to nickname himself "the captain." We all told him that you can’t make up a nickname for yourself. Yet, in a matter of 10 minutes, we were all calling him the captain. For the rest of his trip, he only referred to him self in the third person. "The captain is thirsty" and "You can’t talk to the captain like that," he would say. The best part is that we would go into town drunk with the captain at night, and then the next day we would be walking around town and completely random strangers would walk by and say, "Eh, how’s the captain?!"
The captain is already a legend. We spent weeks telling stories about him. We still talk about the captain on a regular basis. Not a day goes by that we don’t mention the captain in one way or another!