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Trip notes, 11/15 to 12/1

Martinsburg...
Level Contributor
467 posts
6 reviews
Trip notes, 11/15 to 12/1

Just returned from our trip to and around Costa Rica. I will be posting a trip report, as time permits (back to work in the am), in this thread. Some stuff will be specific, some not so much, as I took notes each evening for a while, then kind of stopped doing so.

This trip was me (47), my wife (not telling), our son (16) and wife's father (mid sixties). Wife, son and I were in CR in the same timeframe back in 2014. This was first time in CR (and I believe first non-cruise foreign trip at all) for father-in-law.

We stayed in motion, for the most part; it was planned intentionally, to get tastes of lots of different parts of the country. It works for our wishes, but if you are the sort that likes to get more thoroughly acquainted with each area, and likes more time to smell the roses, you won't want to copy. Bear in mind also, regarding the amounts of time I allotted at different places, that we were skipping the adrenaline type activities (other than a few that my son and I did alone).

There were occasions throughout the travels where we went against a few of the usual recommendations/warnings that are provided here - some of those were planned that way, and some just worked out that way. Don't take them as suggestions or recommendations or arguments; I'm simply telling our particular story.

87 replies to this topic
San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
53,045 posts
119 reviews
1. Re: Trip notes, 11/15 to 12/1

Dear Oliver ...in my case I do remember your name around...I can hardly wait to see and read your report...

For now take some rest...

Roadadvsior 100% Costa Rica INDIAN / Native...even CYBER BUllies hate that !!

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
11,218 posts
23 reviews
2. Re: Trip notes, 11/15 to 12/1

Keep it coming. Sounds like you had some great adventures we’d love to hear about.

Slovenia
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
20,488 posts
62 reviews
3. Re: Trip notes, 11/15 to 12/1

Excellent. Start with your complete itinerary so we could have better overview of th entire trip. Also do note those instances when you have went "against the flow" as it is important to learn. Looking forward to your first installment.

Martinsburg...
Level Contributor
467 posts
6 reviews
4. Re: Trip notes, 11/15 to 12/1

Per Xelas suggestion, which will make keeping track a bit easier through the thread, the overall itinerary was Turrialba (3 nights) --> Playa Cocles (3 nights) --> Tortuguero (2 nights) --> Sarapiqui area (3 nights) --> Tenorio (2 nights) --> Arenal (3 nights)

Left an icy (I found out the next morning we got 11 inches of snow at my house the day our flight departed) Pittsburgh on Spirit 577 which was scheduled for 7am departure, but we were a bit late as they were de-icing everyone and there was a bit of a delay for doing so. I was concerned a wee bit, as our connection in Fort Lauderdale was already on the short side. We ended up closer than I liked, but the gates were close together and the crew on our inbound flight did their best to let folks with tight connections (we weren't the only ones in that boat) off the plane first. Spirit 755, scheduled to land at 12:50pm local time at SJO, hit something pretty close to that.

Immigration was not too bad of a line for us, though I think another plane or two came in right about when ours did. We didn't race to the line, but we went as directly as possible. We noticed a few folks we recognized from our plane kind of dawdling off to a side messing with phones or something as we headed toward the immigration queue. Once we were in the line, it seemed to fill really quickly behind us. Those people we noticed from our plane that were messing around instead of walking, we saw about ten minutes later buried like six or seven really long serpentine rows behind us in the line. (Thus why I expect there was another plane or two contributing.)

I didn't keep track of the exact times, but we were in and through reasonably fast (see rental counter time below), with a short line for immigration and little to no line for customs. I took out some cash at the ATM near baggage claim, and tried to set up my phone at the Kolbi desk same area. Unfortunately, their systems were down so they couldn't help me at that place and time. Once we got outside, we easily found a Vamos rep with a sign whose names included ours. He made a phone call, and within a few minutes our ride picked us up and took us to the rental facility. My paperwork shows us at the Vamos counter at 2:15pm. So roughly an hour and a half from scheduled landing to rental counter. (For those planning drives the day of your arrival, I would say it might be possible to get through the airport *slightly* faster than we did, but not by a lot. I'd say it is also quite possible to have a much slower time of it, as likely the folks did who we saw arriving to the immigration line only five minutes - but maybe 150 people - behind us.)

Slovenia
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
20,488 posts
62 reviews
5. Re: Trip notes, 11/15 to 12/1

Thanks for those details about timing. Very useful indeed, although more on the "faster you cannot" side :-)). Very nice itinerary, interested to read about your experiences, and places you have overnight at.

Delta, Canada
Level Contributor
528 posts
30 reviews
6. Re: Trip notes, 11/15 to 12/1

Yes, looking forward to your post about Turrialba, wish we'd spent more time there when we were there in April. But then I can say that about all the spots we visited in Costa Rica!

San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
53,045 posts
119 reviews
7. Re: Trip notes, 11/15 to 12/1

Thank you Oliver I really like the paragraph about costums at arrival etc ...some people for unknown reason keep talking about hours at Costumes and migration...even four jumbo jets in front of the arrival flights...OMG

I just come abck from SJO even that were some flights we did not have to wait to much for our passengers...

Once again OLIVER Gracais and Pura Vida!!

roadadvisor 100% Costa Rica INDIAn / Native...even CYBER BULLIES hate that !!

Martinsburg...
Level Contributor
467 posts
6 reviews
8. Re: Trip notes, 11/15 to 12/1

Picked up our car at Vamos, as noted above.. In and out pretty snappy, all handled quite professionally in my opinion. The representative did explain everything he was doing and what I was signing. He went rather fast, but I knew the ropes so to speak, and what I wanted and didn't want. I can see where it could be intimidating though if you didn't know the process. I believe (but can't say for certain) he would have slowed down and taken extra time with everything if someone were to ask - they weren't overwhelmed with check-ins or anything; I think he was more interested in getting things handled quickly in terms of not wasting extra of our travel time, not so much his time.

The car was a large, 7-passenger Montero Sport (diesel) with somewhere in the 41,000 km range (I forgot to write it down, and oddly it is nowhere on the rental papers either). Clean car, but numerous minor nicks and scratches and a small crack/tear in the plastic bumper cover at the drivers side rear corner. Just to be safe, my son video'd the exterior and I took photos of specifics. I honestly don't believe it necessary with Vamos, but still, spending what - a minute? - to possibly save a headache later just seems wise. Tires were rugged and were very good tread.

I used my AMEX Premium rental insurance ($24.95 one time for entire rental period), so only was paying Vamos' basic rate with included TPL. (On a previous trip, I used my free Visa coverage. Now that I have this AMEX coverage, I used it as it has a much higher vehicle $ limit, and in general seems more robust of a product.) Vamos only placed a $2,000 hold on my card, which is on the low side compared to other firms I've seen, for a premium level car and no in-house CDW. (I wasn't concerned that much about the hold, as this card has a decently high limit, and was only a backup other than using it for the rental, but I mention the figure anyway as I know the large deposit is sometimes a concern for people.)

The rate for 16 days was $820.64, which is exactly what they charged when I turned the car in (more later on turn-in). My original quote was $1003, which was the best I found back in the spring and which I was happily prepared to pay for months, until about August when I was poking around (oddly, doing research for someone's forum thread) and found a better rate with Enterprise. It was for the same vehicle and dates, same insurance, so I emailed Vamos and asked if they could tweak their rate down any. Turns out they have a price match offer (details are on their website) and they asked me to forward them the details of my competing quote. I didn't strictly meet the terms of their match offer (dates are limited) but they matched the Enterprise quote anyway. (Honestly, I would have been happy even with splitting the difference, but this was even better.) I realize that instead of price matching I could have just rented from Enterprise, but I wanted to stay with the people (Vamos) I have used before and trust, and who generate so much good reviews from others here, rather than switching to Enterprise (a big chain name, but not much info on here about their CR workings) and risking a rental from less of a 'known quantity' company just to save $180.

Slovenia
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
20,488 posts
62 reviews
9. Re: Trip notes, 11/15 to 12/1

Oliver, did Vamos required a written proof of your AMEX coverage? Have you noted all those nicks and scratches on the rental car agreement/contract?

Martinsburg...
Level Contributor
467 posts
6 reviews
10. Re: Trip notes, 11/15 to 12/1

Xelas,

I had previously confirmed with Vamos that I would need a copy of something that showed my insurance, but the agent didn't ask for it when picking up the car. I told him I had it but he didn't ask for proof. (I gave the page to him anyway for their records.). Also, for what it's worth, there was no hard sell (actually no 'sell' at all) of their coverage. Perhaps because they knew I was a prepared renter account of price match and previous insurance discussion?

Also, yes, the defects were marked on their inspection form, at least the significant ones.

(Side note - yay, I finally figured out how to log in on my mobile for the forum!)

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