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Thread: So, let's talk about the land of ticas. San Jose 28 -31 August 2016

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    So, let's talk about the land of ticas. San Jose 28 -31 August 2016

    Okay, I'm actually leaving the morning of 1 September to go to the selva. Arriving Sunday at noon.

    I'll be staying at the Sportsmens Lodge (first time there, actually). Sunday 6:30 PM in the bar - I'll be in a "Keep Calm and Smoke a Cigar" t-shirt.

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    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Your experience will, most likely, be vastly different from the experience on the following Sunday... September 4. Sunday evenings at the Sportsmens Lodge (SL) are typically quiet. However, September 4 is the center-point of Labor Day Weekend. There will most likely be some serious partying going on inside of the SL on September 4.

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    Yes, I always miss Fridays and holidays - but the novia is meeting me at the aeropuerto and for her it's Navidad in agosto - which means it's a fiesta por me.

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    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MM54 View Post
    Yes, I always miss Fridays and holidays - but the novia is meeting me at the aeropuerto and for her it's Navidad in agosto - which means it's a fiesta por me.
    Well, then... Screw Labor Day!

    You already got your party on!


    --------------

    I had a similar conversation with a friend a few years ago. I was visiting a few places in Eastern Europe during the second week of July. My friend asked me why I wasn't going over the Independence Day weekend, one week earlier. He had a valid point... Even though the 4th of July is a U.S. holiday, the girls come out in Eastern Europe, Central America, and everywhere else that Gringos go to party on vacation. I just answered him, "Oh... It's still a holiday. It's Christmas in April." He asked me, "What do you mean... Christmas in April? it's the second week of July." I said, "I know. But the name of the girl that I'm meeting in Budapest is 'April.' I'm going to be 'IN' April, which makes it seem like Christmas for me. Get it?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy1 View Post
    Well, then... Screw Labor Day!

    You already got your party on!
    Si! And we had a distinctly tica WhatsAPP conversation about it (in Spanglish).

    So, I'm coming in at noon and our normal livery service is getting me (as they do our guests). Immigration may take a while and I really don't want to have mi novia have to go through the hassle of schlepping out to SJO and waiting, etc.

    But, she offered. "My taxi amigo can bring me."

    Me: "It could be a wait. Just meet me at the SL."

    Her: "If I have a book it's no problem. I want to know the thing. Am I your novia?"

    Yes, she stomped her pretty little size 4 foot at me.

    Me: (sigh) "I will ask him to pick you up. Bien?"

    So I do the three-legged WhatsAPP coordination with the driver, whose my usual guy, and it's all arranged.

    Her: "Bien, novio."

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    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MM54 View Post
    Si! And we had a distinctly tica WhatsAPP conversation about it (in Spanglish).

    So, I'm coming in at noon and our normal livery service is getting me (as they do our guests). Immigration may take a while and I really don't want to have mi novia have to go through the hassle of schlepping out to SJO and waiting, etc.
    I always use the Orange Taxis for transportation at arrival. Most drivers hate picking up people at the airport for exactly the reason you mentioned... it's impossible to say how long it's going to take a passenger to clear immigration and customs. Most drivers charge $5 or $10 more for an airport pickup than they do for a dropoff, for exactly that reason. The orange taxis are by far the most efficient way to move after an arrival at SJO. From the time I hand my customs form to the customs guy, it's usually less than 90 seconds until I'm on Pista #1. The orange taxi guys are efficient, too, because they usually have to get back to the airport in order to pick up another fare.

    I can get a better price than the orange taxis, but I've never found any other way to get downtown from the airport that is as fast as they are. My all-time record from stepping out of the airplane boarding door to walking through the front door of the Sportsmens Lodge is about 25 minutes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy1 View Post
    I always use the Orange Taxis for transportation at arrival. Most drivers hate picking up people at the airport for exactly the reason you mentioned... it's impossible to say how long it's going to take a passenger to clear immigration and customs. Most drivers charge $5 or $10 more for an airport pickup than they do for a dropoff, for exactly that reason. The orange taxis are by far the most efficient way to move after an arrival at SJO. From the time I hand my customs form to the customs guy, it's usually less than 90 seconds until I'm on Pista #1. The orange taxi guys are efficient, too, because they usually have to get back to the airport in order to pick up another fare.

    I can get a better price than the orange taxis, but I've never found any other way to get downtown from the airport that is as fast as they are. My all-time record from stepping out of the airplane boarding door to walking through the front door of the Sportsmens Lodge is about 25 minutes.
    Different situation. We have a livery service that picks up all our guests and they work for me.

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    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MM54 View Post
    Different situation. We have a livery service that picks up all our guests and they work for me.
    I understand. We have 3 vans and drivers we use for our VIP clients. They pick up and drop off our clients, but I don't use them for my own transport from the airport, only to the airport. They're nice for the clients, because they're on vacation and the vans have club seating and mini-bars, but all I care about is speed, and nothing beats a small four-door sedan sitting right in front of the arrivals exit whose driver's only mission in life is to get back to the airport as fast as he can. The van is effectively only the cost of the gasoline, but it can't match the efficiency of the taxi.

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    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Diverging slightly from the original point of this topic, and continuing with airport transportation...

    Ground transportation to and from SJO is something that most travelers and hosts have to face, although, unfortunately, most travelers are unprepared for it. Many travelers miss out on the opportunity and advantages of catching a connecting domestic flight to or from SJO, chartering private air transportation, and flying in and/or out of Oduber Quirós/Liberia (LIR).

    The two primary issues with ground transportation to/from SJO are:

    1) The distance between SJO and San José and the traffic.

    2) False assumptions about the wisdom of moving between SJO and San José.

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    Number 1 is easy to explain... SJO is not located in San José, or really, anywhere near San José, by Costa Rica standards. The trip between the airport and anywhere inside the Circunvalación can take 20-30 minutes or even longer. As I stated earlier, sticking with the orange taxis, at least when traveling From SJO, is your best bet at staying closer to the 20-minute mark.

    The timing of your international arrival and departure is critical to your transit time. If you arrive on a weekday between about 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., or between 5:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., there will be hell to pay, getting into San José. Pista #1, Paseo Colón, and most of the roads downtown can become one huge 20-square-mile parking lot during these times. My usual 8:30 p.m. arrival from Houston usually results in a relatively delay-free trip into San José.

    Orange taxi rates have gone up, slowly but steadily during the past few years, while the regular red taxi rates and the rates for private/hotel drivers have remained about the same during the same period. Some drivers have even reduced their long-range rates during the past 3 or 4 years. The truth is that none of the drivers' expenses have really gone up that significantly. Gas is significantly cheaper here than it was a couple of years ago. However, the time spent in transit increases every year, as the traffic continuously gets worse.

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    Number 2 is a trap that many travelers run into... assuming that they should head into or through San José after an arrival, or stay in San José the night before a departure. If you really do want to spend some time in San José during your visit, then, by all means, go for it. For many people, however, the best bet is get a free hotel transfer or a very short and cheap taxi ride into Alajuela or one of the many hotels near the airport, some of which offer free airport shuttle service.

    If you're heading away from San José anyway, it's usually best to arrange for a late morning or early afternoon arrival, then long-range transportation to your first destination. For this, it is usually better to arrange for a private driver with a minivan... the guys with the yellow "Turismo" sign on the rear and/or side of the van. There are tons of these guys who are easily found on the Internet. A couple of quick inquiries will help you to be sure to find a trustworthy and reliable driver. If you're heading to Jaco, for example, the traffic usually becomes a non-issue as soon as you get away from the airport. The bad times for this trip don't have anything to do with rush hour. Rather, you need to avoid times near major Costa Rican holidays, when all of the Ticos clog the roads heading towards the Pacific beaches.

    If you're going to Manuel Antonio, Drake Bay, Arenal/La Fortuna, etc. you won't even have to worry about ground transportation, if you buy a domestic airline ticket. I recommend allowing about 3 hours between your international arrival and your domestic departure from SJO. This gives you plenty of time, just in case there are long lines at Immigration and Customs. If you speed through these areas and still have 2.5 hours or more to kill, go ahead and check in for your departure and just relax. You even head over to the Fiesta Casino, which is practically across the street from the airport, for an hour or so, to get into vacation/party mode. Waiting around for an hour or so at the airport beats the frustration of riding into San José, and there are plenty of shops and meal options inside the terminal which are fun time-killers. If you are planning to use the domestic airlines, you'll need to travel light... a carry-on size bag and a purse or small backpack, and keep the weight down. This is easy for Costa Rica, as there is no sane reason to travel with more than that for up to a one-week stay.

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    EDIT: I forgot to mention that the domestic airfare is usually much cheaper than the cost of ground transportation, and of course, it's much quicker. For example, the cost to fly from SJO to Quepos is about $80 - $85 per person (including taxes, airport fees, and a taxi from Quepos to your hotel). and takes a total of about 35 minutes. The cost of a ground transfer is about $120 - $140 for up to 4 people. The air option is definitely better for 1 or 2 people.

    Charter air transportation takes more time and effort to arrange, but is a great option for groups that match the capacity of the airplane. For example, 5 people in an airplane that can carry 5 passengers can find a charter for about $60 - $80 per person. This is usually better handled through a travel agent or concierge working in Costa Rica.
    Last edited by Speedy1; 08-27-2016 at 08:23 PM.

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