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Restaurants near Finca Rosa Blanca?

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Colorado
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Restaurants near Finca Rosa Blanca?

We're thinking of staying at Finca Rosa Blanca but the fixed price dinner at their restaurant doesn't look kid friendly. Are there restaurants in the nearby town of Santa Barbara? We'll have a car.

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1. Re: Restaurants near Finca Rosa Blanca?

I'm not sure I'd call Santa Barbara a real town. Its more like a crossroads of 2 small country roads with small homes and fincas in the general vicinity. In terms of commercial centers it is much more a satelite or "suburb" if you will of Heredia which is only a few kilometers away. You might be able to find a small local soda in the immediate area but your best bet would be to drive to Heredia or down to the Pan Am Hwy where you will find many restaurants (particularly as you get closer to SJ). Finca Rosa itself is only 15 minutes from the airport and probably a similar distance to the outskirts of SJ and even closer to Heredia and Alajuela. BTW, I realize you'll have a car but you might want to have them call a cab anyway as you might find it difficult to find your way back to the hotel after dark. The Finca Rosa is supposed to be a wonderful (albeit expensive) place to stay (particularly their tower room with 360 degree views and waterfall in the bath) but you begin to see the down side of staying at more remote hotels.

Colorado
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2. Re: Restaurants near Finca Rosa Blanca?

Thanks, Prolijo. How long does it take to drive from Finca Rosa Blanca to Heredia? Are we talking 5-10 minutes?

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3. Re: Restaurants near Finca Rosa Blanca?

Certainly no more than that and if worst comes to worst they have your regular McDonalds, BurgerKing, Pizza Hut and the CR version of chain-style fast food Rosti Pollo, which actually is pretty good. Most kids will go for any of those. For something a little healthier, I've been recommending Las Fresas near the University on the other side of town from Santa Barbara. The food is fairly basic but the fruit smoothies are awesome. There are also a number of chinese restaurants in Heredia that I've heard recommended including one on the south side of central park, but I haven't been too impressed with the chinese food in CR in general. In Alajuela, which is also only 5-10 minutes from the Finca, there is a steak place that is supposed to be pretty good on the south side of their central park (El Cenerro?), but I'm not too big on CR steak either. The best meals in CR are usually their roasted chicken joints, which often use coffee roots to cook over. You can't go too far wrong with any of those. Its usually served with the obligatory rice and beans and fried plaintains, which your kids should like since its nice and sweet. Another possibility if you tire of arroz con pollo is a really good Italian restaurant, which I seem to recall is right off the PanAm Hwy not too far from your exit (its name escapes me at this instant but I could look it up). As long as you have a car and don't mind driving, you might want to go just a little farther for a wider selection of really good restaurants. Look for recommendations by others here of places in Escazu which is also west of SJ but on the other side of the Hwy.

NY
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4. Re: Restaurants near Finca Rosa Blanca?

Please be aware that driving in Heredia is not the easiest thing. The main streets are one way, one lane, with 2-3 lanes of traffic, including buses, and most streets with no signs, so you don't even know which street you are on or which street you need to turn to. At least that was my impression from our one time in that city. I printed a street map of Heredia before we went there but it was useless. The people we asked for directions were very friendly though. Prolijo - I would be curious to see if you could give some tips to first timers on how to find your way in Heredia. Thanks!

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5. Re: Restaurants near Finca Rosa Blanca?

I could try but it will be kinda hard without being able to point at a map. Driving through any small city in CR can be tricky due to one way streets, lack of street signs and traffic. The good news is there are a few general tips that might help in any of them.

The one universal in CR "urban planning" is that every town has a central park with a church right next to it, usually on its eastern side. If you can find that or spot the steeple you can orient yourself. The other thing is not quite so universal and not always so helpful and that is that odd numbered streets and avenues tend to be to the east and north respectively of the central ones and vice versa for the even numbered ones. Also the Central Calle usually runs between the park and the church and the Central Avenue usually borders the park on one side. This is true in Heredia, Alajuela, Liberia, SJ and a few other of the major towns. Puntarenas and Limon are a bit different, but what gringo drives much in either of them anyway. The other big exception is Cartago which has the even and odd streets and avenues on the opposite side than they usually are and doesn't even have a Calle or Avenida Central. Also it should be noted the central park and church are still in the center of town but it is the RUINED church and NOT the Basillica, which is on the east end of town. Also, as I'm sure you're aware, aside from these variations in layout, this info is of somewhat limited usefulness because so few streets are marked. However some ARE and if you count blocks after you spot a street sign you should be able to keep track of where you are.

The third general tip sounds a little stupid and is also not exactly perfect but seems to work more often than not for me. And that is to simply follow the other traffic. If everyone turns left when a road suddenly becomes one way in the other direction turn with them and most likely you'll see where they turn again a block later. More often than not this is the most direct route through town.

I hope this info helps others, but you were asking specifically about Heredia. There are basically 3 ways into and out of town that you'd probably be taking. If ALL the info that follows doesn't cover what you need, let me know. I just don't want to bore everyone with even more details than I already am.

The first is way into Heredia is from SJ. This route turns into Calle 9 on the east end of town and will take you by the University on the right. If you want to go to Alajuela. which is also probably be the way you'd go to Santa Barbara and Finca Rosa you take your 3rd or 4th left after you cross the river on Avenida 4. If you go too far, just take a left and look for the central park. Once you spot that bang a left (south) on the first street going your way and Avenida 4 will be one block south of the one running south of the park. Bang a right and you're back on track outta there. BTW, there is also a small park and church on Avenida 4. Don't confuse this with the central park which has a gazebo.

Coming from Alajuela or Santa Barbara it is a little more confusing (too many streets to count). You'll be diverted on to Avenida 6 instead of Avenida 4 as in the other direction or TWO blocks south of the Central Park. You'll probably be passing through to SJ in which case you basically just take the avenue to the end and turn right.

If you want to head north to say Poas or Barva you'll need to head north on Calle Central, which is 2 blocks past a park you'll pass on your right. The problem is I don't think you can go all the way through on Calle Central from there so you'll have to count blocks and work your way over to it and hope your math was right. Frankly I've never passed through Heredia this way myself and am not sure why anyone would go to Poas from Alajuela by way of Heredia anyway. So ignore everything I just said.

If you're passing through Heredia on your way to Poas from SJ (a more likely scenario), the street that takes you out of town is once again Calle Central North only this time it is easy to find. You just turn left anywhere north of Avenida Central. I usually turn at some point AFTER I pass the University so I can avoid most of the center of town traffic. Then you just count 5 blocks (Calle 7-5-3-1 and Central) then turn right on Central and you're back on your way north to Poas. Coming back you'll be diverted on to Calle 2 so its a little different though basically just the reverse. You again take a left on any street that allows it but this time EARLIER is better and then just go to the end or SIX blocks this time to Calle 9. This is usually as far as you can go anyway since not too many streets cross over on to the other side of that street. Then just bang a right and you're back on your way south to SJ or the PAH.

Written down in words. I've made it sound more confusing then it really is. As I said before somewhere, the real problem is not driving in Heredia itself. If you take a wrong turn or go off track you just circle around at the next block. Where I have more of a problem is navigating the various small crossroads north of the city. They aren't usually marked that well and if you take a wrong turn you can go a ways before you realize it. As I said earlier, one might want to take a cab to go out for dinner from the Finca Rosa as they might find it difficult finding their own way back to the hotel, particularly after dark.

BTW, a few last points. Its probably easier to get to Alajuela from Santa Barbara since one of the roads leads right to it whereas you'd have to turn either in Barva or San Joaquin depending on how you go to Heredia. Also, I must correct an earlier statement I made. Evidentally, "downtown" Santa Barbara is a little larger than I thought it was, comprising 10-15 "city" blocks. So maybe there are more dining options within easy distance than I gave credit, though I still suspect its mainly residential with perhaps a tienda or soda or two

NY
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6. Re: Restaurants near Finca Rosa Blanca?

Thank you, Prolijo. I wish I thought to ask this question before our trip. We got stuck in traffic on the main street and tried to go around it but then couldn't figure out our way out of Heredia to go to Santo Domingo.

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7. Re: Restaurants near Finca Rosa Blanca?

Not that it helps you now but to get to Santo Domingo you work your way over to Calle 9 (the last street to the east that fronts the University). Take a right (south) and just as you get out of downtown (after you cross a bridge over a river but before you get to the train track crossing) you'll see a major road crossing off to the left. That's the road to Santo Domingo. Don't feel too bad. A lot of people seem to get lost going there. Did you stay at the Hotel Bougainvillea? I've been wanting to try that place out as it gets excellent reviews (on everything but directions on how to get there).

NY
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8. Re: Restaurants near Finca Rosa Blanca?

Yes, we stayed at Hotel Bougainvillea. It is excellent except the directions there. Basically, hotel's directions include an incorrect exit off the highway, which then leads to 2 confusing intersections, and no help navigating the grid town of Santo Domingo to get to the other side of it. While we were there we learned that Ivan at the tour desk provides great directions which for some unknown reason hotel reception doesn't use. If you want good directions there let me know. I am going to try to scan the map Ivan gave me and post it with directions in the Hotel Bougainvillea review, maybe within the next few weeks.

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