Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Already Planning for the Weekend? - My Recommendations

As you start planning for the weekend and watching the clock at work, make sure you put these events on your agenda. 
I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change - Off Broadway's longest running musical is being performed by LTG here in Costa Rica. I laughed so hard my face really hurt when I saw it last weekend. It's about relationships--something we all, well, 'relate' to. It's my top recommendation of the weekend. Fri., Sat. at 7:30, Sun. at 2:30. 4,500 c, 2,000c for students. 

United for Hope Piano Concert - One of Costa Rica's beloved young pianists, Pablo Esquivel, is one of 11 playing a benefit concert at the North American/Costa Rican Cultural Center, Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. This concert will benefit the younger sibling of Esquivel's friend who is in dire need of a life-saving heart surgery in the U.S. Also playing is Cynthia Soto who was this week's mediodia performer at Teatro Nacional. 
Cost is 10,000 c. 

Blues Devils - Costa Rica's best blues band will be playing in La Sabana at Mac's American Bar, Saturday, at 9:00 p.m. These guys not only play great blues, but are fun to watch. They can even sprinkle in some AC/DC (who as a complete side note are doing the entire soundtrack for Iron Man II also opening this weekend).  This is a free show and a great chance to let loose, do some dancing, and definitely some drinking. 

Now Offering Restaurant Discounts with Barrio Bird Walking Tours

I am so happy to say that we are growing, and that means we've got more to offer tourists, backpackers and expats in downtown San Jose, Costa Rica.

In addition to new group and student pricings, our restaurant discounts allow our clients to discover new cuisine in San Jose, amongst the stories living on in historic architecture, parks and churches.

When you take any of our tours you can receive between 10 - 15% discounts at some of the finest Mediterranean, French, Asian and Tico/Gringo restaurants for lunch.

Reserve a tour now to discover the best sites and tastes in San Jose, Costa Rica. Call 89269867 or email

Pura Vida,

French & Argentine Food in San Jose, Costa Rica

Barrio Amon in San Jose, Costa Rica is boasting 2 new restaurants, growing international cuisine options for visitors & locals alike. 

Arte y Gusto Cafe opened a few months ago and is definitely among the top 5 in the city for ambiance. Old pieces of driftwood, a fountain, soft lighting and purple hues gives this downtown gem an 'earthy, deserted night on the beach with a lover sharing a bottle of wine' feel. 

The owners bring their culinary skills from southern france, creating a menu with french influenced preparations of meat, fish, soups and salads. A nice variety of imported wines and beers are available. My personal recommendation is to try this place for lunch. They offer a 3,300 c executive plate that typically includes a starter, main dish with a side, a dessert and a fresh juice. Because the food is so good I consider this the best lunch deal in town, and a downright steal! Cash only. 12 - 10 M - F, 6 - 10 Sat. closed Sun.

Pachamama has moved directly west of the Holiday Inn and offers some classic Argentine dishes. The atmosphere is quaint and they've done their best to work with glaring white walls. The owner is very sweet however. I have yet to eat at this location but I am stoked about the milonesa and hope their empanadas are authentic to Argentina and not the overly greasy, overly doughy, lacking meat empanadas that abound in Costa Rica. Prices are between 1,000 - 5,000 c. Accept credit cards and have wi-fi. 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change - San Jose, Costa Rica

I will disclose at the beginning of this post that I am a member of The Little Theater Group of Costa Rica. And, I will provide posts on new shows and activities the group presents. This group is a great way to meet others living in Costa Rica that share the love of theater. It's only 5,000 c/year to join and you can volunteer for acting, directing, stage management, production, costumes and more. 

The group is also very involved with community projects, such as helping to rebuild a school affected by the Jan. 2009 Poas earthquake. 

I highly recommend seeing the latest show put together by the group, "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change". I had the good fortune to work with 3 of the 4 cast members in the last show, "No Sex Please, We're British" and can personally vouch for the high caliber of talent. Not to mention this is a show about the modern day dating game, so we can all relate to that. 

I was laughing non-stop at the preview performance and can't wait to see the show tonight. Tickets are 4,500 c, 2,000 student, 7:30 p.m. tonight and 2:30 p.m. tomorrow. Final San Jose shows run next weekend.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

4/21 Art City Tour Review in San Jose, Costa Rica

Last night's Art City Tour was a great success. There were over 20 galleries with a variety of visual, performing and mixed media works on display. We were able to visit 6 different spaces. Special thanks to Des Pacio for delicious sangria!

If you have yet to do an Art City Tour I highly recommend it. It's a lovely way to see some of the national museums for free, meet fellow art fans, and see the sophisticated side of downtown San Jose. We finished this tour at the afterparty at El Steinvorth.

Photos are of different exhibits at Des Pacio, Jade Museum, MADC, Teor/itica, and the free bus transportation in between galleries.

Guitars, Flutes, Earth Day Rally today in San Jose, Costa Rica

Guitars: The 3rd annual guitar festival at University Veritas starts today and runs through April 25th, every night at 7 p.m. inside the Auditoria Roberto Sasso Sasso. Tickets are 4,000 c general, 3,000 c students, 5,000 c closing show. Thurs. is classical, Fri. is Flamenco & Latin Jazz, Sat. is classical and world, Sun. is Latin.

Flutes: The 6th International Festival of Flutists continues today at 5 p.m. Flutists from 7 different countries will be performing Thurs., and Fri. at 5 p.m. in the foyer of the National Theater. These shows are 1,000 c. a nice price to see a show in Costa Rica's most beloved theater. Get your ticket early. You will not be let in after the show starts.

Earth Day: For those of you who don't know. Mining in Las Crucitas, Costa Rica is about to begin. A protest event, nicely timed with Earth Day, will take place all day today. Concerts, speakers, and nature lovers will surely pack the day's agenda. This is happening in front of the Superior Courts. If you've been wanting to get more involved with environmental groups, today is probably a good day to start.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Over 20 Art Spaces Open for Free Tonight - San Jose,Costa Rica

The second Art City Tour of 2010 is already here and is about double the size of the first one. Today, the 21st, starting at 6:00 p.m. you can visit over 20 galleries in the downtown area for free. Buses start out of MADC. My recommendation is to start at one of the gallery clusters away from MADC as the wait for a bus was about 45 minutes last time. You must prioritize because the event only lasts until 8:30 p.m., way too short to get to even half of the galleries.

I think the most interesting exhibitions will be found at Kalu, Fundacion teor/etica, and Casa de Cultura J Figueres.

Delicious Asian Food in Downtown San Jose, Costa Rica

The eastern side of downtown offers two exceptional and varied restaurants to satisfy your 'antojos', cravings, for Asian food.

The newest of the two is Wok & Noodles. It's a cozy and peaceful space tucked away in Barrio La California, next to Area City. And while the space is small, it's packed with a number of things that make it lovely. The menu offers a variety of asian fusion plates including soups, salads, dim sum, rice, noodles and more.

I've taken 5 different guests here and each plate has been excellent. I've enjoyed everything off of the Dim Sum menu. Additionally, the owners are planning to open a tea bar in the upstairs space, and the walls are open to artists interested in displaying their works--just contact the owner Roberto for details.

This restaurant accepts credit cards and has wi-fi access. Menu items range from 1,300 c - 5,000 c. 2233.6212

San Jose's classic and famous amongst locals Chinese restaurant, Wong's, is a must for travelers in need of a break from casados. Across from the National Museum, they serve up fresh, flavorful plates late into the night. I have had about 15 different menu items and each melts in my mouth everytime. I cannot dine here though, without having the carne empanadas. I wake up some mornings craving them.

Most plates are 3,000 -5,000 c, but can easily be enough to share. Credit Cards accepted.

I feel that this post is missing some good sushi coverage. Please leave recommendations. Thanks and buen provecho.

Monday, April 19, 2010

String Quartets and Flutes This Week - San Jose, Costa Rica

Flutes take over this week in San Jose, while the Alma string quartet finishes things off on Sun. 

The 6th International Festival of Flutists starts today at 5 p.m. Flutists from 7 different countries will be performing Tues., Thurs., and Fri. at 5 p.m. in the foyer of the National Theater. These shows are 1,000 c. a nice price to see a show in Costa Rica's most beloved theater. Get your ticket early. You will not be let in after the show starts.

On Sunday you can enjoy free string quartet performances from ALMA. Their pieces will include Pavana, by Benjamín Gutiérrez, one of Costa Rica's most famous composers. This show starts at 5:30 p.m. in the gardens of the Children's Museum. I recommend arriving by car as the surrounding neighborhood is rough and will be abandoned on a Sunday evening. 

Photo from Teatro Nacional 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Orchid Expo Review

This was a nice way to bring color to a rainy, grey afternoon in San Jose. 

The expo itself was packed with different orchid varieties, sure to please an avid orchid fan. For an a average observer like myself, it was nice to see the more unique flowers, some pictured below. 

My favorite part was shopping for my first orchid plant. The shopping section is free if you don't want to pay for the whole expo. I am pictured below with my new encyclia cordigera. Wish me luck in keeping it alive! 

This expo is also a great chance to check out the new Old Aduana. Open until 7 p.m. today and from 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. tomorrow. Price 2,000 c. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Festivals: Video, Orchids, Queens & Guitars --San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose is Queen (seriously, there is queen's fun included) of festivals this time of year. These festivals are either free or relatively low cost and fun for families, dates, or relaxing after fun at the beach. Enjoy!

Festival de Video Joven La 240. This free festival began on Sunday and runs all week showing video shorts by central american youth in the open-air theater at CENAC (old Fanal). 60 works will be shown today thru Fri. at 7 p.m. and the festival will end Saturday with an awards ceremony at El Lobo Estepario, which is a bar themed after a movie theater and one of my downtown favorites. 

National Orchid Expo. Love orchids and great urban architecture? Visit the National Orchid Expo this weekend inside the newly opened, Old Aduana this 16th - 18th. Hours are Fri. and Sat. 7 a.m. - 7 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. Admission is 2,000 c general and 1,000 c old folks and kids--celebrate those discounts!

The Queen's Rock 'n' Roll Birthday Party. While not downtown, we can't pass up a rock n roll party for the Queen of England (and several other places) at the British Ambassador's residence, just north of Plaza Los Laureles in Escazu. All sorts of British food and drinks will be served as well as raffles for air travel and resort stays. Prizes for best costume. Sat. April 17, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Proceeds to benefit local schools in need. 2,500 c is general admission at the gate, under 12 1,000 c. Looking forward to rocking purple nail polish at this one. 

Guitar Festival. The 3rd annual guitar festival at University Veritas will be this coming April 22nd - 25th every night at 7 p.m. inside the Auditoria Roberto Sasso Sasso. Tickets are 4,000 c general, 3,000 c students, 5,000 c closing show. Thurs. is classical, Fri. is Flamenco & Latin Jazz, Sat. is classical and world, Sun. is Latin. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Videos and Horses are Today's Events in San Jose, Costa Rica

This morning you can catch the International Horse Parade. It begins in La Sabana at 11 a.m., and makes its way to Parque La Merced. My recommendation is to stand somewhere near the end and at some point make a stop into La Iglesia Merced. It was recently remodeled, of neogothical style and very unique to architecture in downtown San Jose. 

This evening at 7 p.m. you can take a look at what young central american videographers are up to at the Festival de Video Joven La 240. This festival will run all week and show the video works in the open-air theater at CENAC (old Fanal). 60 works will be shown today thru Fri. and the festival will end with an awards ceremony at El Lobo Estepario, which is a bar themed after a movie theater and one of my downtown favorites. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

April 8, Art Openings -- Great Energy in San Jose

International and Costa Rican artists were out in full force last night amongst several exhibit openings. Barrio Bird first took a look at Efraín Méndez's (Costa Rica) 'Quimera' at the French Alliance. Consisting of 8 acyrlic pieces, Mendez explores fantasy, best displayed through children's games. View until the 22nd of April. 

Second stop was to see Ralph Jarvis's (Canadian) work on display at the Sophia Wanamaker Gallery in the Costa Rica-North American Cultural Center. Jarvis's work feature a technique new to me and many others, and is any man's dream---Blow torching. Jarvis focused on nature found between Newfoundland and Costa Rica, with some Peruvian materials throughout. On display until May 3. 

Our final gallery stop was to the Jacob Karpio Gallery. The space is large and full of work from John Juric(Costa Rica) who appears to work with several media and focuses on paint, installations and murals. I really get a creepy vibe from Mr. Karpio, but he put together a great party, with great pieces from this artist. The music was outstanding and I'll be looking to see this artist's work, and the band again. And maybe overtime I'll get to know Mr. Karpio's uncreepy side. 

A great, free way to catch all of these exhibits is to come out for the next Art City Tour, Wed. April, 21. Follow GAM for details. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April is the Month of Free Local & Foreign Films in Downtown San Jose

The weather is wonderful, arts are plentiful and free movies are here to enjoy. This month you have several opportunities to enjoy the best of both Costa Rican filmmakers and foreign films. 

Every Tues. this month you can view 'Movies on the Stairs' outside at the Bank Museums located at Plaza de la Cultura. Showings are compilations of 8 Costa Rican shorts, different each week and total run time is about 1 hour. This event is free. 

Following the free, one-day a week in April theme, the French Alliance is showing French films on Fridays. Left to catch are 'All the Mornings of the World' April 16, 'My Life in Pink' April 23, and Seraphine April 30.

And last but not least, all Costa Rican movie theaters, Cinemark, Cinépolis y CCM, will begin showing this Fri. April 9 a new film by Costa Rican director, Hilda Hidalgo. The film is a story paying homeage to  Gabriel García Márquez, famous Columbian author. Normal movie ticket prices apply. 

Viva Film!

Historic Architecture Renovations; La Aduana & More- San Jose, Costa Rica

The new Aduana, which has had many roles including customs, and minting money, is officially open today to the public as a new 8,800 sq. meter public art space, with almost the same in private use space. Parts of the building have been restored while others have been added with new construction. 

This new facility encompasses, Teatro de La Aduana--home to the national theater company, Casa del Cuño--a new space for cyber arts (tech&art) and possibly a cafe/restaurant on the 2nd floor, and the hall space which can be used for private or public functions, fairs, concerts, etc. Call to obtain events schedule as website has no useful calendar, Teléfono (506) 221 2154. 

In addition, the abandoned building across the street from the famous site of murder of Costa Rica's Chief of Army, Jose Joaquin Tinoco (his execution was the beginning of the end for dictatorships in CR), is under renovation. It will be a mixed used space with residential maybe a new bar or some retail space. Here you can see the beginning exterior paint job. 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Beautiful, Empty San Jose, Costa Rica

Now while I love San Jose and its irratic madness, it's just as enjoyable empty. This is the Holy Week so of course the best place for Ticos to think seriously about their faith is THE BEACH! This leaves San Jose with only tourists, thieves and police. 

Fortunately there were plenty of police out today so I felt comfortable walking around. would have been a 'carry everything in my bra' day. Here are some photos of empty San Jose.

Semana Santa Procession to Calvary

These are some photos from today's procession downtown. There will be more of these around the country tomorrow and Sunday as well if you are looking for an 'authentic' Costa Rican experience.