Sunday, April 16, 2006
San Jose to Santa Elena
We stayed for two nights at Costa Rica Backpackers Hostel in San Jose. What a nice place! I really don't know why people would shell out $75.00 - $125.00 per night to stay at a chain hotel, with all the charm of a funeral parlor, when you can stay at a great hostel for $26.00 per night and have much more support for travel within the country, plus an instant network of people who are also travelling and know what places and activities are really good.
The trip to Santa Elena is via roads that gradually become bad and then worse as you approach Santa Elena. The pot holes have (insert joke here --- zip codes, names, their own provences...) and I wasn't up to taking the bus (which is very inexpensive). One reason is that the week before Easter is a national holiday and Saturday is the first day when business as usual commences. This means that the bus would be very crowded, and we might not get a seat. Also the busses have a reputation for thieves taking your luggage from the overhead bins. So the hostel booked us a ride on the "Inter Bus" which was a minivan shuttle service. The cost for the Inter Bus was @29.00 per person and it was very comfortable and it took less time than the bus. The bus driver was very friendly and professional and an excellent driver over treacherous roads.
We arrived at Pension Santa Elena and were greeted by Ran Smith, who is owner "on good days". He gave us a tour of the place and the key to our double room ($20.00 per night).
The Pension Santa Elena has a laid back atmoshpere, lots of free coffee and a kitchen available for communal cooking. This place feels like home. Right now the place is fairly full, with people in the common area on the internet, playing backgammon, chess or cards, talking over the latest adventures in the Cloud Forest canopy and trading information on what to do and where to go.
Ran went out of his way to make us feel at home, he is an encyclopedia of information about the area, what activities people like and where to get a decent bite to eat.
I need to remind blog readers that hostels are less polished than hotels. The hot water may be in name only, and rooms are often very small, but what they lack in commercial polish they make up for in atmosphere. ( I need to add that the water temperature at Pension Santa Elena is first rate and there is pressure enough too.)
If you are traveling to Santa Elena / Monterverde Costa Rica, I recommend you give Pension Santa Elena a look.