City’s unique bistros are subject of historical tour

A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp
Graffiti on the exterior of Bar La Flota and the interior of the now-upscale El Morazán.

Architect-historian Andrés Fernández will take 10 persons on a microbus tour of some of the oldest and most unique cantinas in San José Thursday evening.

The tour will start with three bars in Barrio Amón near the headquarters of sponsor Alliance Française and make a semi-circle around the west side of central San José and conclude with beer and hors d’oeuvres at La Bohemia at Calle 5 and 12th Avenue.

According to Mathilde Vanmansart, director of Alliance, the objective is to give a glimpse into San Jose’s past – a past that still lives in these cantinas.

“There are few places like that that people are still visiting,” said Ms. Vanmansart. “Few places still work like that.”

Alliance sponsors a tour every two months, each time guiding participants through San José’s history.

Fernández has been running these tours for two years, and each time he uses a different theme to demonstrate how the city has changed over time, sometimes through specific kinds of buildings like houses, mansions or churches and sometimes through specific barrios.
According to a press release from Alliance, Fernandez hand picked these bars as representations of the city’s past. The cantinas are Bar La Flota on Avenida Central east of the legislative complex, El Morazán east of the downtown park of the same name, El Limón at Calle 1 on Avenida 7, El Ballestero at Avenida 9 and Calle Central, La Paola on Calle 3 between avenidas 5 and 7 and La Bohemia.

Ms. Vanmansart said that some of these bars are very small, and therefore the organization needed to limit how many people could go, which is why this tour is only open to Alliance members. Most tours are not restricted only to members. “Because of this limitation, we cannot organize it for more than 10 people,” she said.

However, there are still spots open on the tour and anyone can become a member of Alliance then sign up for the tour. Or they could just visit the cantinas on their own.

Additionally, Ms. Vanmansart said that Fernández and Alliance would be willing to arrange more tours in the future if enough people request this.

The cost for the tour is 35,000 colons and the tour starts with an introduction by Fernández at Alliance’s facility in Barrio Amón at 5 p.m. Thursday.

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