Thursday, November 18, 2010

Informative Morning

I had a very, uhm, informative morning...

I left the house at 9:30, with the sun shining, and a list of errands.  I had a nice walk, then caught the bus to the Yamuni, hoping to finally find a nice coffee service.  Quite some time ago, I wanted a wildly colored set, including coffee server, several sugar bowls, and a few creamers.  Since that time, I got my rolling buffet that is brightly-colored tile, and so I decided that a white coffee service would be perfect!  And Yamuni had them!  (And, of course, *no* place had my previously-sought-after wildly-colored service.)  After looking at them (and the c8000 sticker for the cafetera alone), I decided to modify my "needs" a bit.  I did get enough for a nice cafecito, and figured no one is going to miss the extra milk option I had in mind.  I started to get some cloth while I was there, but after waiting about 15 minutes with a bolt of cloth in my hand, and no one even glancing my way to sell me some, I left.

My next stop was a cluster of shops - I looked for a framing shop that I knew about, and had just never stopped in.  Now I have some art I want framed, so I am "slow-shopping" around, trying to find out what is a good rate.  So far, one art store in downtown San José will frame a small-medium piece, with matting and glass, for c20,000.  Well, I walked right past where I thought the shop was.  So I crossed the street, looked at my notes, and looked back across the street - at the closed storefront, with a missing sign.  It's officially closed down.  (By the way, that is an excellent method for finding a store that you *know* is very near - cross the street and scan for it from the other side.)  Well, I know of another place to check, so I'll get some more data points eventually, and hopefully some framed art!

Since I was right there, and since I had given up on cloth at Yamuni, I walked into a Quilt store (where I was *immediately* helped).  Times have sure changed!  It used to be that you could buy the end of a bolt for a much reduced price.  The clerks used to automatically add several inches to what they measured, just to make sure you got all you paid for.  And you could buy "fat quarters" of any material, *especially* in a quilting specialty store.  Well, no more.  I found the cloth that I think will work for my project, also found a bolt end "on sale," waited (typical of a fabric store, no matter where you are), and then found out that the bolt end wasn't a great deal, *and* I couldn't buy less than a meter of the other cloth!  Very strange, but not bank-breaking, so I got my meter of cloth (about $2).  This place *does* have beautiful material!  I am sure I will go back for another look, and I'm sure I will need more than a meter :-). (The store is called "Quilts," and is 200 m East, 100 m South, of Banco Nacional San Pedro.  And they do sell fat quarters, but they are in packets.)

Next, I walked to a photography store, hoping they would have a way of using my pictures to make a calendar.  No such luck.  They would print it, but couldn't make one up, and couldn't bind it either.  So, I will have to put one together myself.  Maybe. Not holding my breath.  But I do have some nice pictures all picked out!  BTW - Guilá in Sabana would be able to print and bind, but also couldn't make it in software.  This photo store did have the ability to make a custom coffee cup - they will put your photo or logo on a cup for c4000 (surprisingly for Cost Rica, they did offer volume discounts).

I decided to finally ask about getting my shoes resoled.  There is a very busy shoe repair place in the same neighborhood, so I stopped in.  I had already asked about getting my shoes fixed at a shop in downtown San José, and he said he plain couldn't do it.  So, I didn't hold out much hope.  However, this fellow said they could do something about it, and what they suggested sounded just fine to me.  They quoted 2 days, and c8000.  The timeframe sounded good, but I checked with my housekeeper about the price, and she agrees - it's a bit much.  c6000 seems more like it.  Again, I know of a few other places to check.  Again, it will take me a while to get there. :-)

On the way home, I decided to forgo shopping for a small fan - that's been on my list for a long time, and I don't really need it for a couple more months.  I did a little grocery shopping, and got some take-out for lunch.  I was home with my swag and eating lunch with Rick (by far the best part!) by 12:30.

I always get a little laugh now when people say "you can find a good deal, you just have to shop around."  That's fine, if you have an easy way to get around, and (*most importantly*) you know where to go to look!  Hopefully, this bit of information will help others in their quest for comparison shopping.

This was a pretty good morning!  I did almost everything on my list, and found out a lot of valuable information.  Of course, it helps if your list is not so specific as to say "get shoes repaired" instead of "check on price and possibility of getting shoes repaired" :-D

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

San Jose Tour - art supplies!

Yesterday, I met several friends (old and new), and we toured San José - our quest was art supplies!
Some came from Puriscal (South-West, some from near Grecia (North-West, and I cam from San Pedro (East).  We all managed to meet near the East side of La Sabana park shortly after 9 in the morning.  I count that as a minor miracle, given that we all bussed there, some for the first time...

We had a plan, and that plan included a *lot* of flexibility - something we had all cultivated in our years of living in our new home :-).  Here is the map that we used:

  • A,G = Alajuela / Grecia bus stop coming into SJ
  • P1 = Puriscal bus stop coming into SJ
  • A1 = ARCR offices; meeting place
  • Y = Yamuni store; landmark
  • * = selected stops for Sabana Cementerio (SC) bus
  • G1 = Guilá art store
  • LU = Librería Universal
  • L = Lazaro fabric store
  • PSJ = PSJ notions and craft supply store
  • C = Caja; central office for the caja health system; major stop for buses
  • NT = National Theatre
  • SP = San Pedro bus terminal (no building)
  • r = Chinese restaurant where we had lunch
  • L = Lehman's art store
  • U = Universal downtown
  • s = Soda Maxi (good food, cheapest casado I've found in downtown, at c1700)
  • e = art gallery that also frames art for you (enmarco = frame)
  • AF = Alliance Française; art gallery in their central salle 
  • G = Grecia terminal (building)
  • P = Puriscal terminal (building)
  • A = Alajuela terminal (building); Tuasa and Station Wagon are a block apart
The red lines are the routes from Puriscal and Alajuela / Grecia on the West, and from San Pedro on the East.  For this tour, the folks from the West got off before the terminals.

The blue line is the Sabana Cementario route # 2 - a very useful route to know!

We started out at Guilá.  This is a nice new branch of the chain store; the one in downtown is now closed, and all their stock moved here.  At first, it looks like you have to ask for everything, as all their stock is behind the counters.  However, as soon as you ask (or evince an interest) for anything, they invite you behind to look for yourself.  It is a very nice set up, and a very good selection.  Item of interest: 100% cotton, 180 lbs pressed watercolor paper, 32 x 41 cm - 20 pages for about c21,000.

We next went to Librería Universal.  This is a *huge* department store, with several aisles of art supplies.  Item of interest: medium tube of cadmium yellow acrylic paint c8000. (Note: bathrooms available)

Next, we got on the Sabana Cementerio bus (unusually long wait; they are usually every 4 minutes), and stopped at PSJ.  It appeared closed, but there is a button to push, and they let us in.  This is definitely the store to go to if you are outfitting a wedding party!  They had an entire wall full of packages of zippers in a rainbow of colors.  They had a huge selection of various embellishments, ribbons, thread, embroidery thread, and knitting yarn.  Then there were the items such as bells, plastic fasteners (such as used for fanny pack belts), and 12-inch wide spools of elastic.  The odd thing was that they had a minimum sale requirement - you couldn't buy anything unless it totaled c10,000 or more!  We pooled our shopping, and did it, but this is the first time I've heard of such a thing here.  We decided to skip the fabric store, Lazaro, that was right next door.  Most of us had been there before, and we were a bit short of time.  Lazaro is not just your typical fabric store - they have upholstery material, sunbrella material, and a host of specialty items.

We hoped to get to the National Theatre in time to see the MedioDía concert, but this was not to be.  The SC bus was again later than normal, and we finally got the theatre at exactly 12:10 - the concert had started, and it was too late to get in.  So, we decided to go to a Chinese restaurant a few blocks away.  The food and service was good, and I will go back again.

After lunch, we met another friend, and continued shopping.  We went into Lehman's, a department store with a large art supply section on the second floor.  Items of interest: the same watercolor paper (different brand) as Guilá for c20,000 (about $2 cheaper), the same acrylic paint as Universal for c8,250 (about 50 cents more), a very large plastic portfolio for about $15, and a *huge* selection of paper - crepe, tissue, corrugated, etc.

We decided to skip the downtown Universal, since we had already been to the Sabana store.  We walked up to the Alliance Française and looked at the art on display, then had a coffee at the cafeteria there  (Note: bathrooms available).  At 3, we decided to call it a day.  I had previously asked about framing at the art gallery down the street - they want c20,000 for framing a medium-sized watercolor with glass and matting.  I know of two other places that I want to check for pricing, so haven't done it yet.

From the Alliance Française, we walked to the SC bus stop.  The Alajuela-bound folks got off at Mercado Borbón and walked about 3 blocks to the terminal.  The rest of us got off at the Puriscal bus terminus.  The Puriscal folks caught their bus, and I caught the (other route) SC bus at Paseo Colón back past La Merced, walked up to the Escalante terminal, and was home by 4:15.

It was a very nice day, full of new experiences, chats with friends (lots of catching up!), and interesting purchases!  I can't wait to try out some of my new stuff!

----  some useful art shopping terms ----
  • paintbrush - pincel
  • paint - pintura
  • watercolor - acuarela
  • acrylic - acrílico
  • canvas - cuadro, lienzo, tela (although, I think the fellow at Guilá used a different term)
  • paper - papel
  • cotton - algodón 
  • frame - enmarco
  • matting - maria louisa
  • glass - vidrio