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looking for a Hipermas/Tico's and farmers market/ Casa Conde

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Denver
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looking for a Hipermas/Tico's and farmers market/ Casa Conde

We are arriving in Costa Rica just after Thanksgiving. We are staying at Casa Conde. I have read the directions and how hard it is to find Casa Conde at night. I wanted to see if there is a Hipermas close to Casa Conde or the airport.

Does anybody know if Casa Conde does a free shuttle to the airport?

I have also read that there is a great farmers market near San Jose on Sunday. I wanted to see where it is from the hotel. Also, what are the grocery prices there? Is it comparable to the US? What are my bargains, and what do you avoid? What should I bring from the US?

Paris, France
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1. Re: looking for a Hipermas/Tico's and farmers market/ Casa Conde

Casa Conde can be difficult to find and there really is not much to do around it (there is a park you can visit during the day). The company I work for often sends people to that hotel but provides them with transportation in and out. The hotel is off a section of roadway called the rotundas that once consisted of a series of traffic circles that are being replaced, one-by-one. The nearest supermarket would be Mega Super Desamparados, which is right off the rotundas. You will not want to have suitcases or other valuables in your car while visiting the supermarket. The nearest Hipermas would be in Escazu.

Speaking of Desamparados, it is an area of San Jose that you will have to travel through to get to your hotel. Desamparados is a very high crime area and I would urge strong caution traveling through that area at night. My recommendation would be that you use one the the orange airport taxis to get to the hotel and have a rental car delivered to the hotel the next day.

San Jose, Costa Rica
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2. Re: looking for a Hipermas/Tico's and farmers market/ Casa Conde

The best is to have Casa Conde to arrange a transfer for you guys...not easy place to find at all...and at night some not great areas to get lost...

roadadvsior

Tampa, FL
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3. Re: looking for a Hipermas/Tico's and farmers market/ Casa Conde

I agree with the others that Casa Conde is not an easy place to find. In fact, I would go so far as to say that is not even that easy to find during the day unless you've been there before. And I say this from direct experience because I had to drive there and first find it during late rush hour around dusk when I stayed there. I really think it will probably be best if you take a cab there if you're arriving after dark and have the rental agency deliver your car the next morning (besides why pay for an extra day or experience the extra stress?)

I also agree with Elgato that the nearest supermarket is the Mega-Super, which is on the edges of Desamparados (actually on the NW corner of the very intersection where you'll need to turn off the circumnavigacion for the Casa Conde), but that one is actually referred to as the Mega Super Parque de la Paz. There is also another Mega-Super inside Desamparados itself (much harder for you to find and not at all the one you'd want to visit). BTW, the autorotunda that WAS at that intersection is now completely gone.

As for Hipermas, there is actually one that is MUCH closer to the Casa Conde than Escazu and that is on the SE side of the autorotunda a couple before the Parque de la Paz exit (Autorotunda San Sebastian).

And as long as we're at it, there is also a Mas x Menos on the southern edge of Hatillo in the Centro Commercial Plaza America right off the N Side of the circumnavigacion at the autorotunda before that (assuming they haven't already finished building the bridge over the circumnavigacion that is meant to replace that one).

Of these supermarket chains, the Mega Super is probably the most expensive and, in fact, several of its stores have been fined for charging their customers even more at the register than is priced on the shelves. Hipermas is the least expensive (as is Pali if you want a real local experience). Mas x Menos falls somewhere in the middle, but is owned by the Great Satan US based Walmart, so let your conscience be your guide there. As for grocery prices, expect anything that has to be imported, particularly the US name brands you're most familiar with, to be very expensive. OTOH, local products, particularly nonprocessed agricultural products (and coffee) will be the cheapest (but cheaper still at a farmer's market rather than a grocery store).

As for farmer's markets (aka ferias) in San Jose, the Sunday one you've probably heard about is in Hatillo, which is not far at all from your hotel (in fact you pass it on the way in from the airport). But never having actually been there myself, I'm not exactly sure WHERE in Hatillo it takes place. There are also good Saturday ferias in the SJ area in Pavas, Tibas and Escazu.

Winnipeg, Canada
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4. Re: looking for a Hipermas/Tico's and farmers market/ Casa Conde

Good info from the two posters above.

But Pali is also owned by Walmart... As is Hiper Mas (Or at least some share of of both of them)

http://walmartstores.com/AboutUs/9763.aspx

raquel

Edited: 08 November 2010, 01:26
Denver
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5. Re: looking for a Hipermas/Tico's and farmers market/ Casa Conde

Hipermas is also owned by WalMart. In addition, it owns Pali, Maxi Modegas and Mas X Menos. I am concerned about finding a market where I am not going to come out and my tires or car is going to be gone. We don't arrive until 2030 on Saturday night, so any directions to the hotel as well as the directions to the farmers markets are appreciated.

I am having surgery there, so the best places not to get food poisoning where I get groceries would be a plus. How are grocery prices there compared to the US?

What time do the stores close there? What time does the farmers market open and close there. I figured with it being a Catholic nation, there would be nothing much open on Sunday as was the case in Cozumel years ago.

I am going to bring certain things from the US. I have been told peanut butter, jam, cheese and cereal are recommended. No fresh fruit or veggies it is not allowed and theirs are better anyway.

What are prices like at the market? OH! I need to find an ATM and is it open on Sunday close to the hotel?

I appreciate everybody posting to this as it is helping me. Are there new directions to Casa Conde? How different is it to get there now that the roundabouts are gone?

Thanks everybody!

Denver
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6. Re: looking for a Hipermas/Tico's and farmers market/ Casa Conde

Since you are the expert of San Jose, where can I go to get a pedicure, you know all prettied up? I know there are salons in the major hotel chains, but I want to get out in the common areas. So long as I am safe, that is.

I have going to a hair/nail place there is cheap compared to the US. Are they open on Sundays or Mondays? Is there a close area relative to the hotel or UNIBE clinica? I will be there on Monday the 29th of November.

Thanks

Amie

Denver
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7. Re: looking for a Hipermas/Tico's and farmers market/ Casa Conde

How do I get in touch with Casa Conde? I have been online and have no idea and have not found an area to email them and contact them.

How much are the shuttles to and from the airport that the hotel have?

Thanks

Edited: 08 November 2010, 07:04
Winnipeg, Canada
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8. Re: looking for a Hipermas/Tico's and farmers market/ Casa Conde

The Casa Conde web site has a pag with all sorts of email addresses and phone number.

www.grupocasaconde.com/en/cc/contacto.aspx

To give you an idea of pices Mas x Menos has their weekly flyer online

http://www.masxmenos.co.cr/folleto.htm

And so does Hipermas

http://www.hipermas.com/ofertas1.htm

And Maxi Bodega

http://www.maxibodega.co.cr/ofertas1.htm

From my experiences - Costa Rica has some excellent cheese (Monteverde and Dos Pinos brands) It is not cheap though. All sorts of cereal is available - including the brands you are familiar with. There is a local brand called Bioland that has good granola and other products. There are nice jams and jellies made with local tropical fruits. Peanut butter is available - but from what I hear can be hit and miss, not everywhere or at all times.

pura vida

raquel

San Jose, Costa Rica
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9. Re: looking for a Hipermas/Tico's and farmers market/ Casa Conde

I think you better do your shopping at any Auto Mercado...they have everything you are looking for...and many times a lot better quality than any American or Canadian Market...

roadadvisor

Tampa, FL
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10. Re: looking for a Hipermas/Tico's and farmers market/ Casa Conde

SEE!!! It's even worse than I thought. The Great Satan really IS taking over the world. Its getting so that its hard to shop anywhere else.

Safe parking? Ideally, you'll want to park only in guarded lots (btw, the Casa Conde is completely walled in and guarded). I think your car should be reasonably safe parked in regular supermarket parking lot provided you don't dilly-dally in the store, lock your car securely with all the windows up and don't leave anything of value in the car itself, particularly not exposed like a purse on the front dashboard. But if by chance your car does wind up getting broken into, don't say you heard it from me that things are ever completely safe. This is one of the reasons why I never rent a car while I'm staying in San Jose. Driving and parking in the city is a pain, there is always an added security concern and taking local cabs and/or buses is so convenient and cheap (e.g. it would cost you just a buck each way to take a cab to/from the local market and you wouldn't have to even worry about this issue).

Store hours? I imagine pretty similar to the ones you're used to at home. I couldn't find posted hours for all the stores but just for an example the Mas x Menos near you is open until midnight on Saturday and from 7AM-9PM on Sunday. And the farmers markets start going even earlier, with vendors first setting up their stalls by 6AM or even earlier and runs until they run out of stock or business slows down enough for them to decide to pack up and call it a day (mid-afternoon). I've heard 2 schools of thought on these things, get there early to beat the crowds and get the best pick of items or go later when things slow down and you might be able to negotiate the best deals.

Directions to the Hatillo market? Again, I'm not exactly sure but it is supposed to be HUGE so any cabbie can take you there (and that would probably be much easier than driving and trying to find secure parking nearby).

Directions to Casa Conde? IF you decide to rent your car first and drive there, it is probably much easier (and faster) to get there now that the roundabouts have mostly been removed as those were always the places where traffic would slow down and a gringo could easily accidentally make a wrong turn, particularly during the confusion of rush hour. Basically, from the airport you'll need to take the PAH east towards SJ, immediately after you pass the Best Western Irazu, you'll want to turn south on to the Circumnavigacion (Rte 39? may also be marked Rohrmoser/Hatillo). After a while you'll pass through or under 3 rotaries and after about 8-9kms(?) you'll come to the exit for Parque La Paz (you should see the Mega Super on your left at that point). Take a right there and then your 2nd left, then left again and Casa Conde should be on your left. Unless they've somehow changed things, their entrance is NOT on the main street so you'll have to go around it. Also, I forget about one-way streets in that area, except that they have them, so my directions may be off due to that.

Food poisoning? Items in grocery stores should be perfectly safe. Items bought at ferias? I'd be very wary of buying meat at such a place having seen how it is laid out with flys a buzzing and limited refrigeration, but many ticos do get their meat that way. Any produce should naturally be washed first before consuming just as it should anywhere, but fruit that comes in rinds, such as bananas or rambutans, can be peeled and eaten right on the spot.

What to buy and not to buy and how much should it cost? As raquel said, the local peanut butter can be pretty bad, so if you like that you'd best bring your own or else be prepared to pay the inflated prices for US brands at the local stores. Local jams and jellies are a whole other story and should definitely be tried, especially for the more exotic varieties you simply won't find in the US. BTW, one of my favorite local fruits, which makes great juice is the Cas (not sure if they also make it into jelly). IMHO, you should definitely try that. And with some other staples like ketchup, IMHO the local brand may be even better than what you're used to in the US. Another thing you might want to bring with you is a small supply of some of your favorite spices or seasonings because a) depending on the item they can be pricey, b) you're not staying that long and won't be needing the full container you'd need to buy in CR and c) they won't take up much space in your bag any way. Here is a good link with more on the subject of food shopping for gringos in CR therealcostarica.com/living_in_costa_rica/co…

ATM's? I wouldn't worry too much about them. They are all over and most of them are accessible 24/7 (although it may not be advisable to be seen coming away from one off the street in SJ late at night). I'm not sure how late the bank at the airport is open, but I've also used the ATM there at the top of the stairs in the parking garage to get some local currency before catching my transportation into town.

As for hair and nail salons, I may be a San Jose "Expert" but, being a guy, beauty salons are not exactly my real area of expertise. However, I can suggest one place that some of my friends swear by that is inexpensive and actually not too far from your hotel and that is Peluqueria Maritza on Calle 11 between Avenida 10 y 12 (west side). That is only about 15 blocks due north of your hotel or about 4.5 blocks before you get to Avenida 2 which is the main drag through town. They normally go for the full 30-45 minute pedicure and foot massage, manicure, 45 minute facial, style cut and more, all for about $27 (although prices might have gone up since I first heard about them). They tell me that Maritza and her 2 sisters provide a wonderful and very professional service. Unfortunately, I'm not sure of their hours or whether they're closed on Sundays and/or Mondays. Of course, there may be other places around town or even closer to your hotel that provide similar quality service at similar rates, but this is just the one I know about and can pass on a recommendation for. And, of course, like you said you could also always just use the beauty services that can be provided through your hotel but I'd imagine they'd probably charge a bit more and it won't be the more "local" experience that you say you're looking for.

BTW, I hope you realize that the UNIBE Clinica is located between Moravia and Tibas way over on the other (north) side of town. Unfortunately, I have even less knowledge about that area or what hair/nail salons might be up there.

What else? Prices on hotel shuttles to/from the airport? Casa Conde says they have "prescheduled" ones (whatever that means, preset schedule or needed to be reserved in advance) but no mention of whether they're free or how much they cost. I'd imagine that at the very least they'd charge you something for any non-prescheduled one and that it probably would not be any cheaper than taxi service you could arrange on your own (but I could be wrong and it certainly wouldn't be the first time).

I think that covers everything you have asked about.