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Costa Rica

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Chat' started by Vegas Twosome, Feb 5, 2013.

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  1. Vegas Twosome

    Vegas Twosome Tourist

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    We usually go to Vegas over Thanksgiving, best week in college football, but thinking Costa Rica this year. No resorts. Area not chosen and perhaps not important? Would appreciate input from experienced travelers.
     
  2. Foos

    Foos Low-Roller

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    Manual Antonio is one of the nicest beaches on the Pacific side, although it is touristy. It is 5 miles from Quepos which is a medium size town with banks, supermarkets ect. It also has one of the nicest national park areas in the country.
    Check out the forum: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g309274-i2022-Manuel_Antonio_National_Park_Province_of_Puntarenas.html

    Puerto Viejo is a laid back town on the Caribbean side and is much more rustic and much closer to the Costa Rica of 20 years ago.
    Forum: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g309265-i4753-Puerto_Viejo_de_Talamanca_Province_of_Limon.html

    I go to Costa Rica almost every year, but this year I am going to Pattaya Thailand instead.
     
    Four Queens 7 Nights at $25 Per Night Including Friday And Saturday
  3. Vegas Twosome

    Vegas Twosome Tourist

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    Hotel advise?
     
  4. Foos

    Foos Low-Roller

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    I prefer to fly by the seat of my pants and find hotels when I get there.
    I also tend to stay at places that middle class Costa Ricans would stay at, as opposed to the many tourist areas and hotels, that way I am immersed in the local culture as opposed to just being with other tourists.
    Tourism is way down and many deals can be had when you are there, on the net you will never see the deals available.
    The forums have people that actually live there answering questions about what hotels, bus service or transportation options are available.
     
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  5. Foos

    Foos Low-Roller

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    In Manual Antonio I have stayed at http://hotelflorblanca.com/en/about.php.htm
    it is a nice family owned hotel with AC, refrigerator and a pool. It is located 3 miles from the Manual Antonio beach and national park, a 50 cent bus takes you to and from the beach (and also Quepos in the other direction). About $55 per night including traditional Costa Rican Breakfast. I find that rate to be rather expensive considering the vacancy rate of about 40% in the area. It is secure and a nice place though (middle class hotel)
     
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  6. dewey089

    dewey089 Guru of Value

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    I found the humidity at Manuel Antonio too much to bear and we cut short our stay. Otherwise the area was fun. Great monkeys.
    For beaches I best like the farthest west coast, Playa del Coco for example, and in fact, when I go again, I'll fly into Liberia and skip the capital altogether. Guanacosta region was much more dry. I can't deal with heavy humidity. My whole body shuts down.
    I'd like to tour from Playa del Coco South but it is hard without a car and there is no way I'm driving there. Some do well doing that. Not me.
    A cab to Playa Ocatal was just $5 with tip. I liked that beach in the morning before the music started. It was great for swimming and some snorkeling.
    The diving is not the best in costa rica as the water is often turbid.
    but I rented snorkel mask and flippers for something nutty like $10 a week in Playa del coco and for $35 someone in a boat took us out to see islands and reef areas. I loved it. I could stand the intense summer heat in the dry air of Playa del Coco.
    For weather, some hate it, but I best like the off tourist rainy season. It is not so hot. At Jaco beach just out of San Jose one rainy season there were no tourists and places were very cheap. It "rained" once a day, easy soft rain. I swam in some of it. The one busy bar was full of local fishermen telling stories and drinking. That was fun.
    But it really depends on what you want.
    If you have some Spanish, you will find it just wonderful. The Tico and Ticas are very accomodating. And old guys don't experience the age differences. They have a different attitude toward age there. Locals might want to practice English, but they also will help you practice Spanish. I have had fine conversations where I only spoke Spanish and they only English.
    They like us in Costa Rica and the Spanish spoken to tourists is clear and easy to understand. None of that fast Puerto Rican Spanish with the words cut in half.
    Nicaraquans are also there and have very clear and easy Spanish. Just delightful. And unlike Spain in modern times, you won't have to worry that as soon as you stumble everyone will revert to impeccable English. It is so hard to practice Spanish in Spain now, not like it was back in the 60's before they became so cosmopolitan.
    I liked to spend a month, try to avoid all Americans, try to not speak any English or even think in it. And it helped. I am terrible at learning languages but by the end of a month I could tell a joke. Maybe. I wish I had that much Spanish now.
    Head to to the Barnes and Nobel and read some travel books, take notes, maybe buy one. I like the Lonely Planet books and the Inside series books. Also, start reading the Tico Times. You can get that on line, but A hard copy subscription gave me a great flavor of the country, the people. the politics and some good suggestions on where to stay.
    And even though it weighs down the luggage, bring a few books including a grammar and a good vocabulary book and some book with verb conjugation.



    Hotels depend on what you can be comfortable with. Solo I went for cheap as I do in Vegas, so I stayed in places most on this board would not consider. Some as cheap as $15 a night with gallo pinto breakfast included.
    It was a while back and some of my favorites are no longer there.
    With my wife I had to upgrade a bit on hotels and take American tourist buses. Deadly experiences to travel with people who know nothing about the country when just outside the window are native costa Ricans.
    I would have appreciated those folks in Iowa, but in Costa Rica, they just were deadly.
    While Tico buses are hard to figure out and buy tickets and don't have bathroom breaks, they do have the regular folks. In one the driver brought his own box and played boleros all the way from San Jose to Playa del Coco. Amazing! I had a new favorite music.
    I don't know the east coast very well. I just decided to stay in the western half. some of it was to minimize the threat of mosquito carried diseases.
    Do you want to see nature? Cloud forest tours are great. Monteverde. Do you want volcanoes? Arenal. Do you want beaches?
    If you want to do a zip ride like that over downtown Vegas you will get a real ride not just one short spurt. I think there were eleven different sections i the one I took, working from above the canopy down to the bottom. I did mine somewhere near Monteverde, I forget the small place we stayed in to seek out birds. It was near there.
    There are really so many choices that even with my limited knowledge it is hard to give recommendations. And so much has changed since I was last there.
    However, getting out of San Jose is a great goal. It is not much of a draw. It shuts down at night except for cabs. don't be out at night there. but in Playa del Coco and such places night time is just fine. However, it can be hard because all the buses go from San Jose to other places.

    I loved Alajuala and Heredia, but some of that may be that I have a good friend in Heredia who I met on a Tico bus and stay in Facebook contact with even now. She considers me her adopted grandfather, and on my second visit, she and her partner drove me all around the Heredia area to all the tourist and local places. In exchange I mailed her the English music she loved, including the CD with the song "I love the flower girl" that she could never find because it is really named, "the Rain, the Park, and other things." I found the original Cowsills CD in a used record shop. She was delighted.

    Gambling was not so great. However, if you are in San Jose or even Playa del Coco, try the game of Rummy, a blackjack derivative game that is great fun and will attract Costa Rican players rather than Americans. And play with colones not dollars for low staked play.

    You are a target for theft so you have to keep your stuff with you. don't put it under a Tico bus. it may be gone before you get out. Be smart in crowds with your money. Don't leave stuff in a locked car. It is all nonviolent theft, pic pocket stuff. I did carry a throw away wallet with some money, some faked credit cards, an ID that was not my license and did not identify me. but I never had to throw it one way and run the other as instructed. I saw guys looking at me in crowds in San Jose, but I had my hand on my wallet. I carried only a zerox of the passport. The rest of the stuff was locked up in the office of the hotel.
    Unlike Mexico, there is very little violence and you don't have to worry about being kidnapped and held for ransome.

    Unless you like beer with ice, learn to order it "sin hielo"

    Unlike the rest of Central America, you can completely and easily avoid the poorest areas and there is a really vibrant middle class, not just rich and poor. I loved it there. I want to go back, especially now after writing so much about it.
    Enoy. ¡Pura Vida!
     
  7. Foos

    Foos Low-Roller

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    Yes it can be VERY HUMID in Manual Antonio.
    The area around Tamarindo and Playa Flamingo is much drier but Tamarindo is a tourist trap, but Playa Flamingo is very nice although quiet. You can always take a cab to Tamarindo for the night life.
    I "like Dewey" stay in inexpensive places mostly, in San Jose I stay at the Hotel Nuevo Johnson for $15 per night, not many Americans would stay there, but it is safe and secure (always use a cab at night in San Jose)
    I take the public buses and they are very cheap (8-9 dollars from San Jose to Manual Antonio), I put my luggage below the bus on directo (direct) buses as most now give you a ticket that you must have to get your luggage back.
     
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  8. HoyaHeel

    HoyaHeel Grammar Police & Admin

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    We've been to Costa Rica a few times now - my in-laws even bought a couple houses (in the middle of nowhere up by Lake Arenal and if I never visit their place again, I'm ok with that)

    Manuel Antonio was our FAVORITE trip - we spent a long weekend (5 or 6 days) at La Posada - the cutest place, little cabins, small pool, nice breakfast, sweetest guy owns it (American expat) and it's right next door to the national park. They found us guides to do the stuff we wanted to do - guided tour of the park, mangrove tour, surfing lesson. Walked to dinner most nights in MA, took the bus (30 cents?) to Quepos for dinner one night. Had to eat at El Avion:ssst: We did NOT rent a car on this trip, and we traveled in October. We took a puddle jumper from San Jose to Quepos because of the short length of our trip.

    If you decide you want to visit Arenal, we stayed at a really cute place there -El Silencio del Campo- again, little cabins. Onsite hot springs, walking distance to a wonderful family-run (and QUIET) hot springs with dinner we did one night. Hiked the volcano park one day - was great! We rented a car on this trip because we were staying in BFE most of the time. This trip was this past July - escaping some of the bad heat & humidity in NC, and timing it with one of the trips my in-laws were making.

    Our first trip to Costa Rica was when we did a Panama Canal cruise in 2008 - it was our favorite port and we've been so happy to go back and explore more in depth (and that's actually what we like to do with cruises- get a quick overview of areas we've never visited to see where we want to go back and explore more....)
     
  9. Vegas Twosome

    Vegas Twosome Tourist

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    Thanks so much for the replies. We will be working on the trip over the next few months. Much appreciated.
     
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