Grecia to Puerto Viejo

Recently we took a trip to the Caribbean (Puerto Viejo) for the first time. We decided to go by bus for economic reasons – it cost about $10 each/each way. Having been in CR only 2 months, and not speaking Spanish, we were a little overwhelmed by the process, but Rob Evans is our hero. We found this site invaluable, and Rob is patient answering thousands of questions. We had exact instructions from Rob prior to leaving our rental in San Luis de Grecia. We took the local bus to Grecia at 6 A.M. Once in Grecia, we caught the 6:30 bus to San Jose. We arrived in SJ about 7:40, took a taxi over to Atlantic North terminal, and our plan was to buy our tickets for a 10 A.M. departure to Puerto Viejo. We planned to go have some breakfast while we waited. To our surprise, there was an 8 A.M. bus, and we were able to get on that bus, and be on our way. (This was a MEPE bus). The bus went to Limon, where it stopped for a potty break at the terminal in Limon. We were there about 15-20 minutes (long enough to get some breakfast at a soda in the terminal), then on the way to Puerto Viejo.


We arrived in Puerto Viejo right about noon. Our plan was to return on Monday morning, so we got up early and headed into Puerto Viejo to buy our tickets. The bus was to depart at 8 A.M. to San Jose. The ticket office did not open until 7:45 – I’m not sure if that’s the scheduled time or not – and there was a little bit of a line waiting when they opened.

The agent advised that both the 8 o’clock and 10 o’clock buses were full, that there would likely be standing room only. Here’s some advice – go to the ticket office the day before and buy your return ticket, instead of waiting until the day of travel.

The agent advised that we would be “stand-by”, or the last to load. We watched as the bus loaded, fearing that we would be standing all the way back. When we were down to the “stand-by” group, we were called up to load. A young lady who had purchased her ticket before us complained to the agent, and he replied to her “don’t you see how old he is” (62, FYI), referring to me (not my wife). Man, I love this place. We boarded the bus and found two of the remaining seats (not together though) for our trip home. The return trip was just like the trip down – stopped in Limon, then on to San Jose. Couldn’t have been any easier, because we had all the info we needed, thanks to this group, and especially Rob. Our total cost, including all transfer buses and taxis, was less than $50. We are thankful for Rob’s work, and looking forward to our next adventure. Pura Vida!




San Jose to Grecia and back

San Jose to Grecia

Today, we went to visit friends in Grecia which is about an hour west of San Jose.  It was an easy trip.

The first step in any bus trip is to find the right bus station.  In Costa Rica, a bus company applies for a monopoly to provide transportation between point A and B.  They negotiate a fare with the government and build a bus station.  As a result, there are many bus stations all over San Jose, and the trick is to find the right one.  The Grecia station is located conveniently in the middle of San Jose with many other important stations near by.  I marked the station with stars on the map below.  Normally, you can just tell a taxi driver you want to go to “terminal Grecia” and they will get you there.

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You can see from the schedule below that there is only one option between Grecia and San Jose, that the route is owned by Tranportes Grecia, and the buses run every 30 minutes and take an hour between points.

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Here is what the San Jose-Grecia bus station looks like.  Just head to the back hanger.

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The schedule is posted on the wall.  Note the individual schedules for Monday to Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Generally, there are only slight variations with a few missing times on low traffic days, especially Sunday.  Overall, you can see the bus is leaving frequently.

Once you get to the hanger, there are a number of benches to wait for the bus.  I think there was a queue, but since I was not anxious about the bus filling up, I waited at the end.  I figured, why piss people off trying to get up front?

Here is the bus, which was quite modern and comfortable.  There is no AC on this bus, so if air is important to you, secure a seat with a window which will actually open.  Of course, I love those huge side mirrors poking out in front of the bus which remind me of bug antennae.

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I had not seen the little scanner by the driver before which is used to scan the cedulas of senior citizen who get a discounted fare.

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Here is the route from San Jose to Grecia, which under ideal conditions should take 58 minutes.

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Boy, did I make a mistake on the fare.  Five, 50 and 500 in Spanish still confuse me.  The San Jose to Grecia fare is c1055 **.  I thought is was c1500 and gave the driver c2000 which freaked him out and he told me to move on which I later learned was because he did not have enough change at that time.  Once everyone was on, the driver collected my correct change and came to my seat and gave it to me.

The bus made several stops after leaving the San Jose station, and eventually it had standing room only.

Next time, I might consider getting on part way.  I noticed that the bus stopped near my home by the Crown Plaza which would be more convenient than going all the way into town to the station.  But, I will mention, there were fewer seats open by the time it reached even this early stop.

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Another main midway stop for most buses is Hospital Mexico stop on the Pista.

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Finally, the bus stopped west of the airport on the Pista.  For anyone flying into SJO, you could take a taxi to this stop and catch the bus here instead of going all the way into town.

A note of caution: I saw a woman try to flag down the bus along the way and the bus driver passed right by–because either he was not allowed to stop there, he could not be bothered, or the bus was full.

Once you arrive in Grecia, my advice is to initially head to the main church and the central park to get your bearings.  Traditionally, the church will be on the east side of the park, giving you east-west bearings.  Similar to most Costa Rica towns ,there are two bus stations – long distance and local.  I came into the long distance station north of the park shown on the map below.

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Here are some photos I took of the long distance station with the schedules posted on the walls.  Facebook Album

Returning to San Jose

The Grecia long distance station is easy to navigate.  I have taken the bus to Naranjo which is  on one side and the San Jose bus parks on the other side.

Look for this sign to get on the right bus to San Jose

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Again, the fare is c1055** and it takes an hour to get back to San Jose.  Important note for some is the bus stops at the airport in case you want to catch a flight.

I wanted to show the change in elevation traveling from San Jose on the right to Grecia on the left.  So, the bus goes from about 3200ft to 3800 ft.  The airport is at the low dip between the end points.

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** fares can change over time.