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Alejuela on Juan Santamaria Day

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Alejuela on Juan Santamaria Day

My family of 5 is arriving at SJO for our first trip to CR at 4pm on April 10th. We had planned on spending that night plus one more at Hotel Buena Vista before an early departure on 4/12 to Dominical. Will things be closed or it be too busy in Alajuela on the holiday for us to drive ourselves to Poas crater on the 11th and then perhaps Doka and/or Sarchi? Will there be holiday festivities that our family would enjoy on our own? Finally will there be excessive traffic in the morning on 4/12 leaving Alejuela and heading towards Dominical? We are wondering if we should rent a car right after we arrive at SJO or hire a driver/guide for our time in Alejuela and to bring us to Dominical. Thanks!

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1. Re: Alejuela on Juan Santamaria Day

If I were you, I would hire a driver.

There will be celebrations and parades and lots of traffic on the 11th. Many things will be closed. Hire a driver to take you to Poas or wherever you want to go on the 11th and then pick up your rental car and drive to Dominical on the 12th. On the 12th, things should be back to normal.

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2. Re: Alejuela on Juan Santamaria Day

Why not do the parade on Juan Santa day with the family - it is huge and sometimes hilarious (depending on how you feel about marching bands in odd uniforms) . . . also from Buena Vista you do not need to go through town for Poas,

Berni

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3. Re: Alejuela on Juan Santamaria Day

I agree with Berni! Seeing the parade would be a great experience.

I was just recommending hiring a driver if you are planning on going somewhere that day rather than driving yourself.

You might go as early as possible to Poas and then return for the Parade. Keep in mind that no matter what time they say it is, it will be late getting started. You know, there's "gringo time" and "Tico time!"

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4. Re: Alejuela on Juan Santamaria Day

Thank you Hattie and Bernie! I have taken your advice and hired a driver/guide to take us to Poas and for the day. Is 8 a good starting time? I am having trouble deciding how much to try to fit in that day.

We would like to see the crater and then take the short hike to the water filled crater. Is there anything else there that we (including kid 10, 12 & 14) would enjoy? How long should we plan on at Poas?

Is there a way to find out the schedule for all of the Juan Santa festivities? I thought I had read that there is bull fighting. Are there any rodeo/ranch or other experience that you would recommend? Had thought of a coffee plantation visit. Not sure how much time the kids would want to spend leaning about coffee . We had also heard that there will be fireworks. I thought it might be possible to watch them from our balcony at the Buena Vista. We reserved a villa which is supposed to have views overlooking the city. Does that sound like a good plan for the day?

We only have the day of the 11th in Alajuela so we want to make the most of it. The driver will take us to Dominical with stops along the way after breakfast on the 12th. We will drive ourselves back to Alajuela on Saturday, March 19th. We planned to stay at the Residence Inn Escazu. Our flight out is at 12:20 the next afternoon. Do you recommend that we stay at the RI? I read something about noisy construction? Will we be disappointed there after a Buena Vista and a seaside villa in Dominical?

Thanks so much for reading this and for any advice you might have!

Alisa

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5. Re: Alejuela on Juan Santamaria Day

Oh dear, I suspect Type A tendencies . . .you may want to slow it a bit . . . me, I'd go to Poas leaving at 7am and be at the gates at 8am . . . you'll be outathere by 10 or 11am and straight to the parade in Alajuela centro - don't get there later than 11 or noonish . . . we do not use schedules here and few use watches so as Hattie sez any time it may say it will be late which is why they don't say much. After that just see what happens.

No bull fights . . . any you may hear of are the opposite anyway - they are teenager fights (the bull chases the young boys). I doubt there'll be much fireworks but you never know.

On the exit, I think you mean April 19th - caution on the burning of Judas - you do not want to be out that night in some areas of the country - it gets messy. Why stay at a mass market place - seek out something locally owned and operated in the reviews?

Berni

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6. Re: Alejuela on Juan Santamaria Day

Thanks Berni we will take your response into consideration!

We are just so excited and only have a little over a day in the area. We have a driver who will pick us up at 8 from Hotel BV (not morning people, will we still have a good chance of viewing the crater?)

I don't think we will enjoy the parade. We are not big on crowds. Will there be other entertainment besides parades, music & food?

Will the other tourist destinations be open that I mentioned (Poas park, Doka, Sarchi)? Will our kids even enjoy Doka or other coffee plantation tours?

Thanks!

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7. Re: Alejuela on Juan Santamaria Day

"Will there be other entertainment besides parades, music & food?"

Nope . . . we are a pretty modest little country . . .

Yes most tourist things are open, Berni

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8. Re: Alejuela on Juan Santamaria Day

Maybe you don't like crowds - but this is your chance for a cultural immersion in a foreign country and chances like this don't come along that often.

Even if you spend 15 minutes walking around, watching the parade and grabbing some of the excellent food, you will have an experience that lots of people would love to have.

Of course, if you are only interested in "touristy" things - then that's OK too. It's your vacation after all!

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9. Re: Alejuela on Juan Santamaria Day

Thanks for the quick replies Hattie and Berni! I think it would be nice to spend an hour or so at the festival but if we head up to Poas first thing (is the 8 am departure too late?) would we be too late for the holiday festivities? If it ends early, would we be able to get in to town, park and get out? Ideally, we would like to go to Poas and Sarchi before coming into town but could come to town then head back out? Perhaps a quick visit at Doka in the late afternoon (would our kids even enjoy a full tour or can we just visit for an hour?)

Thanks for any advice!

Alisa

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10. Re: Alejuela on Juan Santamaria Day

Chances are, the parades and food and festivities will be happening mid-day and afternoon.

Maybe go to Poas "early birdy" - you should plan on BEING THERE at 8 am for the best chance of seeing the volcano. Then Sarchi and back to Alajuela. Park and walk around a bit and enjoy the festivities. Keep in mind that there will be traffic "issues" since some streets will be closed. Perhaps you can park at your lodging, depending on where you are staying - - or just ask them for recommendations. You might even just park on the outskirts of Alajuela and take a taxi into town.

As for Doka -- check their website and see what they have to offer. I don't know if you can just have a "quick visit" and wander around. You may need to email them about this.

Edited: 3:12 pm, April 06, 2014