Traipsing around the town...Why visit Atenas?

This morning when I perused through our photos to see what to post, I stumbled across this funny photo showing my hands and camera in the rearview mirror while taking the photo of this rug vendor walking along the street.  Vendors don't pester passersby, asking only once if interested.
"Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica"
Cattle sheltered under the shade of a massive tree during a sunny morning in Atenas.
Walking through the town of Atenas is quite entertaining.  The endless array of shops lining the streets, many worn and tattered on the exterior but bustling with energetic business on the interior, creating a fascinating peek into the daily lives of "Ticos," the acceptable and unoffensive nickname for the locals.

Few tourists are to be found when walking through the town although it's reported there are about 1500 expats in Atenas of its population of about 5000.

Although an older comment, this quote from a contributor on TripAdvisor provides a good explanation about Atenas.  We can't imagine it's changed much over the past six years. (See quote below this photo).
A sign announcing a the Patron Saint Festivities from October 14 through 24. 

Re: things to do around Atenas
Atenas is a quiet town, authentic Costa Rica, and it could be used as a home base.

Many "well to do" Ticos who work in San Jose choose to live there and commute. Kind of like folks living in CT and commuting to New York in the USA.
No crime to speak of, lots of farms, some great locally grown coffee. The area produces 5 different varieties, only 3 of which are exported (they save the best for local consumption)
Personally, I really dig it. I used to live in a very busy tourist town here, when I left the coast Atenas is the town I moved to for a time, I was looking for a town that had zero tourism and found it, I then bounced over to Grecia, but now live in between the 2.
IMO an interesting choice but a good one. No tourist crowds, down to earth pricing compared to towns more tourism oriented. Not much in the way of local attractions, Poas mentioned by ex-beachers is probably one of the closer ones, the metal church in Grecia is something to see and not far away, also there is a great little central park full of green parrots in the town center of Atenas. 
If you are looking for an authentic Costa Rican experience then it is a good choice.
This is our kind of town, quiet, interesting, friendly and filled with a variety of treasures that easily keep us entertained and engaged (including many birds) during this extended 113-night stay. 

In almost every case, when we chose an extended stay over 90 days, we encounter visa issues.  We're inclined to avoid such extended stays when possible.  But, when we opt for a long stay, we do it for a reason, often to accommodate the next leg of our travels.

However, the time spent here has definitely been worth the hoopla of having to leave in nine days to fly to Nicaragua to get our passports stamped.  Besides, with our five-year anniversary on October 31st, we've usually done something special to celebrate...a mini vacation...a special night out, etc.  The two-night stay in Managua will fill the bill.
Don Juan Pharmacy where I purchased a bottle of contact lens solution for US $20, (CRC 11,401) usually priced at around US $7.95 (CRC 4,932).
We'll be back at the villa on the 30th, most likely staying in and celebrating here at the villa on our actual anniversary date on October 31st.  It will be easy to celebrate in this outstanding property which far exceeds any five-star hotel we've seen to date. 

Would other travelers be content in this small town?  Yes, in many ways.  Its central location makes it a good base for sightseeing and if one enjoys traveling on mountainous roads the scenery is exceptional as we've shared in many posts. 

Atenas is conveniently located to the airport.  There are seven hotels listed in Atenas, at this link with more in surrounding areas, some modest and unassuming and others more deluxe (none are five-star rated).  Most are well under US $75 (CRC 42,752) per night. 
We've heard parrots may be seen in the trees in the park.  We've visited several times to no avail.  We'll keep trying.
There are 39 restaurants listed in Atenas which may be found at this link.  These restaurants don't work for my way of eating but for most, they'll be ideal with fresh local ingredients and flavors commensurate with local tastes and customs.

Of course, for those interested in the privacy and convenience of a vacation/holiday villa, nothing can beat this exceptional home with three large bedrooms, each with an en-suite bath, plenty of storage space, ceiling fans and ultra comfortable beds and bedding.  We love the "screening room" with large flat screen TV, surround sound and comfortable seating.

The granite and stainless steel gourmet kitchen with a second "clean up" kitchen is over-the-top with every imaginable amenity and kitchen tool and gadget.   Well, I could go on and on but most of you have read our comments in past posts about how much we've loved this property and location.
Nothing is as pleasant as a blue sky during the rainy season.
The downsides are few in this area.  However, if dancing until dawn is your "thing" you may be better off staying in the "big city" of San Jose which has every type of nightlife one can imagine.

Although there are a number of clothing, souvenirs and "sports" shops in town in the area, if shopping is high on your list of priorities, a trip to San Jose would satisfy even the most enthusiastic shopper.  Atenas is definitely lacking in this area.

Also, for the longer stay, one must consider that its best to arrive in Costa Rica with every possible item you'll need during your stay.  Prescriptions cannot be mailed into the country, although non-narcotic items can be purchased at most of the several pharmacies without a prescription.  Keep in mind that brand names and many common doses for many items are impossible to purchase.
There are many tall trees at the central park.
Shipping supplies into the country will result in long delays due to customs with high tariffs on items that may not be worth shipping into the country with the added expense.  From what we've  been able to perceived to date, Costa Rica is very protective as to what enters their country for a few primary reasons.

One, they don't want any hazardous products entering their country possibly affecting the delicate ecological system.  Two, they prefer to sell locally grown and manufactured products offered by their own vendors.  Three, they are able to collect taxes on locally sold items.

As a result, expats, used to shopping on Amazon, for instance in their former lives, may become frustrated knowing they have to return to the US or their home country to load up on supplies. 
A water fountain at the park.
We particularly understand these restrictions when we realized I'd run out of my one of my regular prescriptions (I take three) while we were here when unable to purchase an alternative in any close proximity to the original dosage.  Thus, I am spreading what I have left, missing one pill every fourth day to no ill effects so far.  This plan will get me to Florida where my prescriptions will be waiting in our box of supplies at the hotel.

I could go on and on about Atenas and will add more information over our remaining days in Costa Rica until we depart on November 22nd. For those considering moving to Costa Rica, we'll discuss more on this topic in future posts.

Have a lovely day! 

Photo from one year ago today, October 19, 2016:
In Bali, a large visitor came to call after high tide during the night.  Check out those eyes!  For more photos, please click here.


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