A.M. Costa Rica
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This report first was published Monday, Jan. 14, 2002
A good place to start with your new visitors. A flower market right in the center of San José
 

 

A.M. Costa Rica/Patricia Martin

 
Page One
Patricia's special report: When visitors arrive here

 
A.M. Costa Rica/Patricia Martin
Another good start is the Cafe Britt tour in Heredia which takes visitors on a romp through the coffee hills and then into the theater where actors like those above present the history of coffee.
 
 
 
 

A.M. Costa Rica/Particia Martin
No visit is complete without a glimpse of Arenal Volcano, which stands 1,633 meters (5,307 feet) high and spouts lava and smoke.
 
 

A.M. Costa Rica/Patricia Martin
The ox carts at Sarchí make tourists wonder if they can get one on the plane without paying overweight charges.
By Patricia Martin
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

I recently had five of my old female friends from Canada and the U.S. join me for a grand reunion in Costa Rica, where I now make my home. What a fabulous time we had catching up on the missing years with incessant talk and uproarious laughter! No wonder we still refer to ourselves as "the girls."

We act just as crazy as we did back in our schooldays, and intend to keep growing old disgracefully. 

As it was their first time here, I was able to see the country afresh through their eyes and felt very pleased that they were all favorably impressed with the glories of Costa Rica. The itinerary was left entirely up to me, presenting the challenge of arranging experiences and scenic venues over a two-week period with an eye to variety. 

Those of you planning a similar trip here may pick up some good tips.

YOU CAN´T SEE EVERYTHING

It´s best not to overdo it, I advised my friends, but to leave something for another trip. If they tried to see too much at once, it would all become an exhausting blur. We spent the first few days at my place just outside San José, sunning on the deck and making frequent trips downtown. Between visiting the glorious National Theater, people watching at El Presidente´s new sidewalk café, prowling the pedestrian mall, and dining at the top-notch Oriental restaurant Tin Jo, the girls had seen enough for the time being and opted for excursions outside of town. 

Tursa Tours, in the lobby of Gran Hotel Costa Rica (tel. 223-2319; tursatours@hotmail.com) not only had a good selection at reasonable prices, but as a bonus, would pick us up at home. Another good bet is the Four in One tour operated by Expediciones Tropicales, which presents a similar agenda with as much variety a national park, rainforest, volcano and river ride. They can be reached at 257-4171 or expetrop@racsa.co.cr. 

TOURS FOR ALL TASTES 
AND TIMETABLES

Three Tursa tours were chosen for different days, allowing for rest periods in between. The first took in Poás Volcano amid the mountainous coffee farms, then La Paz Waterfall. After lunch at Salsa Verde Jungle Lodge came the boat trip down the Sarapiqui River to view aligators, sloths, monkeys and birds. Another day was devoted to the highly entertaining tour and theatrical performance at Café Britt plantation in Heredia, where the girls eagerly stocked up on bags of coffee in the gift shop. 

Arenal Volcano and the Tabacon Hot Springs were next on the agenda, with stops at two charming towns along the way. In Grecia, the old metal church is something to behold. In Sarchí, furniture factories, native crafts and decorated ox carts are the main attractions. Once at Arenal, the visitor should ideally take a few days to experience the explosive volcano, the thermal waters, and the scenic drive around the man-made lake. But thanks to guide Edgar and driver Carlos, who were enthusiastic and informative, the busy one-day trip felt more pleasurable than pressured. 

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A.M. Costa Rica/Patricia Martin
The steaming mouth of Poás volcano is a great show for visitors, here viewed from the rim of the crater.
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