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Solo F traveler, 10-15 days in Costa Rica, itin/tips help!

moosirin

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  • Added on: March 11th, 2010
Hey all, I'm well traveled in Europe by my lonesome, however South/Central America is alll new to me. I live in Maryland so the flights are around $300 r/t. I NEED a getaway. I don't know if I can afford a full 2 weeks but I would CONSIDER it. I think I'd be lucky to get 10 or so days.
I also was thinking of aiming for around mid to late April (I know, soon..) or early May.

I understand it will be on the shoulder of the rainy season then.. is this true?

So some basic questions: I haven't had too much time to read up on a lot of things to do, but I looove terme and would want to go sit in some hot springs. I also want to go lay on some sandy beautiful beaches and swim in sparkling water.. relax some, party with other backpackers a little. I'm not into drugs but I don't care if others are using them, I just don't want a 100% everyone is stoned all the time scene, if you know what I mean.
I need cheap accommodation. I wear ear plugs when I travel so noise usually isn't a problem.
I would enjoy meeting other travelers to hang out with wherever I am, though I don't mind spending some time solo.
I don't surf, though I suppose I could always give it a try.. I'm more interested in beach, relaxing, hiking with some beautiful views (I understand there's a great 2 hr hike to a beach from Montezuma (??)) having some good food, maybe a little culture.. maybe see the jungle one day. I've heard of butterfly places and a cloud forest though I'm not sure what those are.

Basically I want to be able to fit a bunch of memorable experiences--at least one per day with maybe a day or two off for nothing but lazing around--and relaxation in to this trip.

Things I don't know are--
1) how expensive are hostels usually, and how quickly do they book up? Do you need to book in advance?
2) how easy is it to get around via public transport.. I guess buses? And cost wise? How long from San jose to the arenals, down to montezuma, then quepos/manuel antonios?
3) I don't have a travel partner and I am a 27 yr old female. Is this safe? Are there things I need to consider here about not going alone?
4) I don't speak spanish. I do know french somewhat well but will this lack of spanish make getting around on my own extremely difficult/asking directions etc?
5)what's a good 'loop' that I could do, and will I be wasting a lot of time trying to visit 3 main areas in 10 or 12 days?
6) Will I need to stay in san jose at all / should I stay in san jose at all when I arrive and depart
7) I never actually had to 'backpack' in europe, meaning all the places has laundry/beds/sheets/towels etc. Are there items I should be prepared to bring to slum it in CR such as sheets/towels/fitting everything into a single backpack (I usually had a suitcase in europe since everywhere I went I could roll it..), hammocks or anything?

Thanks soooo much. I really appreciate any and all advice that can be given to me at this point!

Felix the Hat

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  • Added on: March 11th, 2010
I'm not a huge fan of Costa Rica, and have only been there twice, but I'll do my best here. I haven't been to many of the "must-see" sights there, so I can't answer everything. For what it's worth, my favorite place in the country is Puerto Viejo. It's on the Caribbean near the border with Panama, and well away from the big attractions to the country. PV is ideal for chilling out and unwinding. It has a much more Caribbean vibe than the rest of the country, and is popular in a low-key way with backpackers. There's a strong stoner presence there, although you won't feel out of place if you don't smoke. It's somewhat cheaper than places like Manuel Antonio and Tamarindo, on the Pacific coast.

moosirin wrote:1) how expensive are hostels usually, and how quickly do they book up? Do you need to book in advance?


Depends. $10-12 for a dorm bed is a reasonable assumption. You generally don't need to book ahead, unless you're traveling over North American spring break. If that's the case, you should go to Panama or Nicaragua instead.

2) how easy is it to get around via public transport.. I guess buses? And cost wise? How long from San jose to the arenals, down to montezuma, then quepos/manuel antonios?


Buses are cheap and comfortable in Costa Rica. Roads are generally bad to awful though. There aren't many places in the country that are more than 4-5 hours on bus from San Jose.

3) I don't have a travel partner and I am a 27 yr old female. Is this safe? Are there things I need to consider here about not going alone?


You'll be fine as a solo female. All kinds of females travel there on their own.

4) I don't speak spanish. I do know french somewhat well but will this lack of spanish make getting around on my own extremely difficult/asking directions etc?


Costa Rica's number one industry is tourism, and most tourists there are English speakers. The more Spanish you speak, the richer the experience you'll have, but Spanish is by no means necessary. Your French won't get you anywhere in CR, except with French backpackers.

6) Will I need to stay in san jose at all / should I stay in san jose at all when I arrive and depart


The best I can say about San Jose is that it isn't nearly as bad as most other Central American capitals. Panama City is the only one that is worth visiting on its own; San Jose is not terrible or terrifying like Guatemala City or San Salvador. Whether you'll need to stay there depends on what time your flight arrives/leaves. There are a handful of excellent hostels in San Jose, if you do find yourself there overnight.

7) I never actually had to 'backpack' in europe, meaning all the places has laundry/beds/sheets/towels etc. Are there items I should be prepared to bring to slum it in CR such as sheets/towels/fitting everything into a single backpack (I usually had a suitcase in europe since everywhere I went I could roll it..), hammocks or anything?


Buy a sarong when you're there. Everywhere will supply sheets. You'll want the sarong for a towel, since many hostels will not provide that. Don't bring a terrycloth one, as they take forever to dry, and are bulky.

moosirin

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  • Added on: March 12th, 2010
Super, thanks for the tips!

One more question... what kind of footwear/clothing would be appropriate. I don't want to pack too much either. For 2 weeks should I just bring a day pack (30L) ? I guess swimsuits, a couple light pair of pants, some tank tops (are these inappropriate in costa rica for women though?), t shirts, beach shorts, maybe a sundress... then flip flops, good walking sandals, some kind of shoes/tennis shoes?
A rain jacket I presume..

Felix the Hat

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  • Added on: March 12th, 2010
moosirin wrote:Super, thanks for the tips!

One more question... what kind of footwear/clothing would be appropriate. I don't want to pack too much either. For 2 weeks should I just bring a day pack (30L) ? I guess swimsuits, a couple light pair of pants, some tank tops (are these inappropriate in costa rica for women though?), t shirts, beach shorts, maybe a sundress... then flip flops, good walking sandals, some kind of shoes/tennis shoes?
A rain jacket I presume..


Sounds right. As many swimsuits as you want, a sarong, and a few changes of clothes. If you spend the night in San Jose, be aware that it's chilly, due to elevation. A sweatshirt or hoodie will be more than enough. You'll want it for buses too, which can be super air-conditioned.

Tank tops are completely acceptable for women. Costa Rica is a liberal society. You won't have many (any) occasions where you need to dress up, so I wouldn't bother with the little black dress or smart shoes.

Don't worry too much about Costa Rica. The visitor infrastructure is outstanding, and it is a very easy place to visit.

When you're looking for flights (although $300 return sounds hard to beat), check charter flights into Liberia too. This is in the far northwest of the country, a short cab or bus ride from the beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula. At the end of winter, you can often find stunningly cheap flights there.

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  • Added on: March 12th, 2010
Well I booked my flight just a moment ago, at $350 return from Baltimore, in/out of San Jose.

Now it's just down to determining which coast to visit.. I have 2 full weeks.. I'm thinking of going directly up to St Elena / Fortuna / Arenal / Monteverde first (not sure which precise place to start at?) for several days of that... then maybe down to either the Montezuma area and possibly Manuel Antonio?

I want a chilled place where I can get to know some people and relax, but not one that is 90% stoners either. I have heard good things about the caribbean coast but I'm really not looking to get high, so I'd prefer something more along the lines of my tastes. Not that I'm totally opposed to it, I just don't want to jeopardize my job prospects in the govt sector any further.

That being said, are there nice areas with GOOD beaches--like fine white sand, clean water, clear water... and a good vibe and people to chill with? A good hostel?

I'm going to have to take cheap buses around and tend to get motion sickness on realllly windy up and down hill paths and on very rocky boats. If I take dramamine I feel knocked out for a full day, it hits me hard. Any suggestions on a different motion sickness pill to try?

A specific route that would cost less / be less travel time yet still get SLIGHTLY off the beaten path? I'm hoping to band up with some other travelers and maybe tag along, so this is mostly a guide for me in case I don't do that at all.

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  • Added on: March 12th, 2010
moosirin wrote:A specific route that would cost less / be less travel time yet still get SLIGHTLY off the beaten path? I'm hoping to band up with some other travelers and maybe tag along, so this is mostly a guide for me in case I don't do that at all.


You could check into Costa Rica Backpackers (I've stayed there - it's an excellent hostel) or Hostel Pangea (more of a party hostel, also good) in San Jose for your first night, make some friends, and go where the wind takes you. Unless you are a complete social leper, you will meet people heading to the beach at both hostels. Both places have enormous amounts of information about Costa Rica (and Panama and Nicaragua too).

My recommendation for a slightly off-the-beaten-track loop would involve a dip into Panama (slightly wealthier than Costa Rica, similar costs, not quite as touristy): Puerto Viejo - Bocas del Toro (Panamanian islands on the Caribbean) - Boquete (coffee-growing town in the highlands) - Volcan Baru (volcano hiking with likelihood of quetzal sightings) - Dominical (Costa Rica Pacific surf beach) - San Jose. The border crossing is really easy and hassle-free, both at Sixaola and Paso Canoas. The roads on this route aren't that tortuous either, and the only boat trip is from Almirante or Changuinola to Bocas del Toro.

I realize that doesn't include any of the places you mentioned in Costa Rica, so I'll shut up and let someone else say something.

Markus

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  • Added on: March 14th, 2010
The buses here can be pretty bad if you're trying to get out of one of the smaller towns and go a long distance. The major hubs (SJ, Liberia, Quepos, etc) are all good, but to take Tamarindo as an example, your only choices for getting to SJ on a public bus are to leave at 3:30 or 5:30 in the morning. It's all Interbus or Greyline if you don't want to take 4 different buses to travel in the neighborhood of 200km anywhere. To get to La Fortuna from here by public bus is a trip that starts at 3:30 and ends sometime in the early evening after two or three bus transfers. If you had a rental car, it'd probably be a 5 or 6 hour drive.

To be clear, the buses and costs aren't that bad, but scheduling to where you want to go might not be that great. For that reason, I wouldn't plan to go to TOO many places in two weeks, because each change of location could eat up most of your day. Three sounds like an okay number and keeps the possibilities open to visit areas that are maybe only a two or three hour busride away.

I don't love San Jose, but if you have an afternoon to kill, there's an okay central pedestrian walkway with some parks and museums right along it. I had to spend a night there when my girlfriend flew home after a two week visit (she spent the whole time in Tamarindo surfing, minus 3 days in Manuel Antonio), and found that all the 'attraction' prices were way off her Lonely Planet. I went to the Jade Museum ($2 in LP) while killing time before my Tamarindo bus the next morning, and was shocked to find it out it was $8 to enter. Having seen similar (and far better) installations of pre-columbian art and artifacts in Santiago last year, I was a bit disappointed. If it's all new to you, then it's worth a peek.

Santa Theresa and Mal Pais are pretty chill, but the waves were fairly sizable when I was last there, and I don't know if there are quiet places to swim.

I really like Manuel Antonio and think the park is worth a day's visit (closed on Mondays).

I don't stay in hostels unless I can help it, so I can't recommend any, but if you ask around once you get in-country, I'm sure you'll get good recommendations.

As for clothes, I'm sitting in an open air restaurant at 10:30 in the morning and sweating. After two months here, I'm still sweating and feeling the heat when the winds die off. My girlfriend brought one pair of pants (which she didn't put on again until she got on the plane) and said that she'd wished she'd brought another light sun dress on top of the two she had. Most of the girls in the surf/beach towns just walk around in bikinis all day, or shorts and a bikini top, or a light dress over a bikini. It's a popular theme.

If you're the type to really feel the heat and sweat a lot, you might end up changing clothes two or three times a day. Bring a couple of extra light tops. Key here is light, airy.

I forgot that it can actually get a bit chillier in the mountains and even in San Jose, so you'll want the pants for those areas. When it's 29°C (84.2°F) in the water, it's hard to remember that it actually gets cold other places.

Also, I was forced to buy a sarong as a towel in Thailand a few years back, and I absolutely hated it. The damn thing hardly took any water off me, and it didn't dry quickly either. It's so sunny here that after washing my full sized 100% cotton towel and hanging it in the sun, it was completely dry in about three hours. Just my personal experience, and since I'm surfing every day (only four days I haven't gone in the ocean out of the 60 or so I've been here now) I didn't sacrifice on the towel.

I had 20 days here on my first trip in 2007 and I just made it up as I went a long. I zig-zagged a bit, but managed several days of surfing in Tamarindo, a stop in Manuel Antonio, a few days in Santa Teresa, then up to Montezuma, La Fortuna, and back to San Jose.

Oh, and watch your bag on the popular bus routes. I (stupidly) had my bag stolen from the overhead luggage rack on the La Fortuna to San Jose bus. Just keep an eye on it. And while San Jose might not be as bad as other Central American capitals, it's still on the thievey side, so take the usual precautions of not flashing a lot of money around.

Sorry I don't have much more advice on actual places to go. I'm just here to surf for three months and have only left to go to Manuel Antonio because it was my girlfriend's first time in CR. My past needs for a beach were also different. Good swell rarely makes for mellow swimming.

Markus

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  • Added on: March 14th, 2010
Ugh, it's abnormally hot here today, and I'm just half way through my first cup of coffee, so I think I was abnormally incoherent in all of that rambling.

Listen to Felix, he's a knowledgeable guy... or girl... it's hard to tell on the internet, and I shouldn't make rash assumptions :lol:

moosirin

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  • Added on: March 15th, 2010
Thanks for all the helpful tips. I've started preparing what I need to pack.. I think I'm going with a 50L internal frame and a day pack for the beach/hikes.

I'm planning on bringing a pair of flip flops, some water shoes/sandals, and a pair of light xtrainer / trail shoes that dry quickly. I'll probably bring a couple swimsuits, a couple coverups/sundresses, a couple pair of super light shorts, and a pair of convertible hiking pants and a pair of capris. Not sure if I'll need more pants than that..
I haven't figured out what tops I need yet, probably some tanks but I'm not sure if I have many that are really light.. mostly cotton in my closet.. ug. I have an underarmor top and one wicking tank for hikes, and a long sleeved super light /stretchy long sleeved zip up with hood. I've been told I'll need a fleece for the mountains, and I'll bring an ultra light rain jacket.

I have a small/medium sized pack towel for the shower but I hadn't decided what to do for the beach yet.. they would sell towels in town right? I could just buy one when I get there? I don't like the idea of having to carry one but.. we'll see how full my pack is.

I'll have to look into the bus schedules again. I would prefer to shoot straight up to a hostel in la fortuna or st elena, whichever comes first...
My route (tentative) may be like this:

airport-> La Fortuna/Arenal ->Monteverde /st Elena -> Montezuma/Mal Pais -> Manuel Antonio/Quepos->Puerto Viejo->airport

If anyone thinks this sounds insane let me know.. I arrive on a sat at 2 pm and will leave two weeks later on a saturday (will have to spend the last night in san jose I believe), so I should have 13 FULL days and 15 nights (am I counting right?) Of course once I get on the road, it could all change. It may not be worth the trip to puerto viejo, but I hear it is just so different from the pacific coast.

Keep in mind I want to SWIM and maybe boogie board, maybe snorkel, but I don't dive and I don't surf. I do want to chill out, have some fun, do some different types of things. Maybe a horse back ride, some hikes in the mountains, see some waterfalls and wild life, and relax on the beach for several days.


Thanks for the tip on Manuel Antonio being closed on Mondays.

Markus--when you said it was stolen from the overhead--do you mean the overhead luggage INSIDE the bus, or is there one on top of the bus? Is it possible to always keep your bag in sight while traveling or do some buses require you put your pack down below? I plan on keeping my most important items on my person (moneybelt) and in a small bag that won't leave my side even when I sleep (I cuddle it) haha.

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  • Added on: March 15th, 2010
Actually I'm looking at bus schedules and it appears no buses depart from san jose later in the afternoon/evening to go to La Fortuna.. does anyone know what site I can verify this on?

Is there a bus from the airport that would go to Quepos? I could do that route instead..

sjo->quepos/manuel->montezuma/mal pais->monteverde/st elena ->arenal/la fortuna->poss. puerto viejo->sjo

Markus

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  • Added on: March 15th, 2010
Yup, overhead inside the bus. A lot of the buses have a back door, and someone must have snatched it and popped off the back of the bus while I was staring at the window. You can probably squeeze your 50L pack by your feet on some of the buses, but a lot of the buses are old and cramped, so that might not be a possibility. If you can't fit it under the seat, it probably won't fit in the inside luggage rack either, so it'll have to go under the bus. This is generally pretty safe, but you know, bad stuff happens now and again. Just be especially careful on the Fortuna area to SJ routes.

This site seems to be fairly reliable for bus info. It's what the girl at my first hotel in Liberia used to get the times for me: http://www.costaricaweb.de/crweb/es/san ... ose-es.htm

I don't know when you get in, but if you want to catch a late bus, be warned that there's always a slight chance the bus will fill up ahead of time. Most of the buses I've taken here have only had one or two empty seats, so showing up 5 minutes before COULD (not likely) be disastrous. Have a hostel backup near the bus station if you're trying to do it at night, and arrive early in case the times are a bit off.

My bus from Quepos to SJ stopped at the airport, but I don't know how it works the other way around. Some people prefer to just pay the $100 (or less) to fly because it's a 3.5 hour (direct) or 4.5 hour drive along windy roads to Quepos. Check out http://www.natureair.com/ or http://www.airline-sansa.com if you think you might want to go this route. Nature Air flies from a different airport, about a $15 cab ride away from the international airport, but my girlfriend was able to get a Sansa flight to Tamarindo from the International airport after her flight was cancelled because of snowstorms in Dallas. She told me not to come to SJ to meet her, because she didn't know if she'd get out, so I missed my bus and found out she was only 6 hours delayed in the end. Rather than putting her on a bus after her 3:00 am arrival (5 hours of the delay was spent sitting on the plane), she hopped on a flight to Tama and got here in a little over an hour.

A cab from the airport to the bus terminal in SJ (make sure you go to the right one, they're all close together) shouldn't cost you more than $22 USD. There's also a city bus you can take from in front of the airport that should take you very close. It's pretty cheap, but I took it from the station in Alajuela early in the morning back in 2007 and don't remember the details of how often it runs. Staying in Alajuela (the town where the airport actually is) is an option if your flight gets in late and you don't want to go straight to SJ. You can take the public bus into town the next morning.

One thing I've learned about public buses is that non-locals (ie: ex-pats and tour companies) either drive, fly, or use the expensive Grayline and Interbus shuttles. They never have an accurate clue as to the public bus times.

Also be warned that there are about 10 street signs in all of San Jose. Be prepared to ask for directions if you need to get somewhere. A map will be useless until you figure out where you are, and this can be difficult at times. You'll want to know landmarks and things that the locals would know. Anyone should be able to point you to the Coca Cola bus station (where the Quepos bus leaves from, I think. Double check this.)

Popular beach towns (Tamarindo, Quepos, Manuel Antonio) will have a bunch of options to buy towels. I don't know how much they are, but you can probably expect prices to be just like home if you're shopping on the beach.

I worry I'm making the bus situation seem rather dire, but it's not as bad as all that. It's just not a good a system as I've experienced in other countries, and that first bus can be a source of frustration if you don't get the times right. Once you're at your first destination, you'll have little problem getting from place to place after that. Your first bus should be smooth sailing as well, but you may get conflicting information. I know there's an 11:30 SJ to Tama bus, I took it at the end of my girlfriend's trip, but the guy at her hotel (she wound up in an overpriced room at The Hilton her first night because it was so late and she was so exhausted) swore up and down that there was no such bus for her to take to meet up with me.

Oh, and I only have cotton t-shirts. It's not so bad, they dry quickly if you can hang them in the sun for a bit.

If you're in San Jose for an afternoon or evening, find the pedestrian walkway (I think it's called Avenida Central) between Calle 8 and Calle 7. (it stretches about 7 or 8 blocks) You can stop at the nice plaza around the Teatro Nacional (home of the Gold Museum and a couple of other things), and if you find an SJ tourist map, you can hit some of the other parks and Museums in the area. If you walk towards the Mercado Central from the Teatro, there's a large bingo hall looking gambling place across from a surf shop with a big fake wave awning. Next to the surf shop is a restaurant with one or two small stands selling churros filled with dulce de leche for about a buck. Buy one, they're warm, gooey, and fantastic. The highlight of my afternoon in SJ.

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  • Added on: March 15th, 2010
Wow great information thank you!! So thorough!!!

I arrive at 2 pm (barring delays) in SJO. I thought since the buses only take a few hours I could get into the next town in the evening, but I can't find much info on late afternoon buses to Fortuna. I have seen buses heading to Quepos/MA as late as 6 or 8 which I could make it to. I don't have the $ to fly or use expensive buses all around, besides I want the adventure .... right? haha.

So I was going to reroute to quepos first but seeing that MA is not open on Monday, and I was expecting to relax for 2 days there... But is one day in MA enough? And then is there anything else to do there? I'm sure I won't want to hop RIGHT back on the road to go to montezuma so soon.

Do interbus or greyline pick up at the airport or only hotels downtown?

Is there any reason to bring anything dressier than flip flops and tshirts? Do backpackers dress up at all?
What about a hair dryer.. my hair looks like crap without one (it's chin length and just gets all kinky looking) and I do like to use it, but I don't want to be the only jerk in the hostel trying to look good.
haha.

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  • Added on: March 15th, 2010
There's a beach in Manuel Antonio that's similar to many other beaches. The one in the park is quieter and nicer, but if you just want to chill with a book on the beach, you could kill Monday in the actual town of Manuel Antonio. Two days is nice in the Park, but it's also $10 entry per day.

I just asked my girlfriend over chat, and she confirmed my thinking that the two days in the park would be worth rearranging your schedule. We both really enjoyed the park. The MA free beach is okay, but it's not that special. There are the usual canopy/zipline/ATV/snorkeling tours run out of Quepos.

When you do go, the entrance to the park is oddly situated now. They've moved it in the last year or so, and I think most guidebooks haven't updated their info. Keep an eye on the left side of the road (opposite the beach) and there's a pathway and a small sign above head height. When you get on the path, keep a close eye on your left for the long trail of leaf-cutter ants. I was amazed by them, and they might still be trucking right along their little path. They were right by the wire fence.

You should also be able to see several monkeys near the beach: http://www.markfeenstra.com/blog/2010/0 ... o-monkeys/

Interbus and Grayline will pick up at hotels near the airport, but I don't know about the airport itself. They run on a limited schedule as well, often only once per day, so you probably won't be able to get anything on the day you arrive if you were thinking that.

Flip flops and a sundress will get you just about anywhere moderately fancy. Some people dress up to go to the clubs, but a lot of people just wear what they've been wearing all day. Shorts and tees are fine for absolutely everything but restaurants you probably can't afford. Like I said, if it's beachy, a lot of people don't even bother with the shirt. It's laid back pura vida all the way here.

If you're talking about a compact travel friendly hair dryer, I say go for it. I showered off from surfing about an hour and 20 minutes ago, and my shoulder-length hair is still pretty wet. The salt water does wonders for controlling my curls, knowing I was coming here is the only reason I didn't cut my hair 6 months ago. The vast majority of outlets accept north american plugs, but if your hair dryer has the third ground prong, you might run into more problems. Some outlets only accept the two prong plugs. Honestly, people will look at you funny when you bust out your blowdryer, but it's a good excuse to laugh it off and start up a conversation about how unruly your hair is. It's a friend-making tool too then :D

Ah crap, restaurant overrun by spring breakers. I'm outta here.

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  • Added on: April 21st, 2010
Things I don't know are--
1) how expensive are hostels usually, and how quickly do they book up? Do you need to book in advance?
Usually around $10 bucks.

2) how easy is it to get around via public transport.. I guess buses? And cost wise? How long from San jose to the arenals, down to montezuma, then quepos/manuel antonios?
Buses are great here (super hot but takes you almost everywhere). They dont go to Montezuma because the roads are so bad so you have to get private transportation or hitch hike. The place is absolutely my favorite. You have to go there...nice art cafes, great hiking to waterfalls etc.

3) I don't have a travel partner and I am a 27 yr old female. Is this safe? Are there things I need to consider here about not going alone?
Dont ever go on the beach at night in touristy towns, dont wear expensive jewerly, dont hitch hike. Over all everyone is very friendly and like to help out the tourists.

4) I don't speak spanish. I do know french somewhat well but will this lack of spanish make getting around on my own extremely difficult/asking directions etc?
So many people speak in English in the toursity towns and if not im sure there are some americans living there!

5)what's a good 'loop' that I could do, and will I be wasting a lot of time trying to visit 3 main areas in 10 or 12 days?
I did a trip in 2 weeks and went to Arenal, Tamarindo, Samara, Mal Pais and Montezuma. Tamarindo is probably too touristy so i would do Monteverde which is so beautiful!

6) Will I need to stay in san jose at all / should I stay in san jose at all when I arrive and depart
Yea I would fly into San Jose and go straight from there. Theres buses all the time and you can even take small community shuttles through tropical tours or grayline.

7) I never actually had to 'backpack' in europe, meaning all the places has laundry/beds/sheets/towels etc. Are there items I should be prepared to bring to slum it in CR such as sheets/towels/fitting everything into a single backpack (I usually had a suitcase in europe since everywhere I went I could roll it..), hammocks or anything?
I would bring a towel for sure.

Let me know if you have more questions.

Wild Jasmyne

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  • Added on: June 19th, 2010
I just wanted to say spending a night in San Jose can be a good time, I don't know why it gets such a bad rap. I think it is beautiful with the hills and greenery and there are some nice public spaces and great markets to get trinkets for your souveniers. I LOVED the Tranquillo Backpackers Hostel, it is still one of my favorite hostels of all time and there are some fantastic restaurants within walking distance. Also there is a Jade museum you would have to google or check in Lonely Planet which is on a high floor of a big building and provides beautiful views of San Jose. When I was there I spent 2 days in SJ and then went up to La Fortuna which was amazing but ALL of the accomodation was completely booked so you may profit to call ahead a few days before to your top few choices to make sure you won't be sleeping under the stars in the park (like I did). That's all, I didn't read most of the thread because it was too long but you are going to have a great time.



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