I probably should have left Baños three days ago but I’ve settled in for a longer than expected stay and enjoyed the slow pace of the town during the week and a lively night life on the weekend. The touristic aspect of this town has not bothered me in the least. Touristy, yes. Overbearingly so, no. It’s only to be expected that this town will draw in tourists when it is surrounded by mountains, situated beneath a waterfall, has thermal baths plus opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, white water rafting, zip lining, bungee jumping and canyoning all near by.
During the week there is hardly anyone here and it feels as if I have the town to myself. The white water rafting, mountain biking and the infinite other activities had no interest to me while I’ve been here so I’ve ignored those completely. There are, however, a few things that have made my stay enjoyable and a few aspects of the town that aren’t mentioned in any guidebook so I’ll bring them up here.
The Central Market – It’s overpriced. $1.00 for a juice where it should normally be $0.50 and $3.00 for lunch when the standard price for a market place lunch is around $1.50 – $2.00.
Casa Hood – For the same $3.00 you could spend on lunch in the market you can spend it in Casa Hood for a far superior lunch special. Soup, Main course, dessert and a large juice all for the same price. Everything is fresh, full of flavor and includes vegetables your not hesitant to eat. The free daily movie at 4:30 is nice as well and their book exchange is huge.
La Cascada Cerveceria – A new and unexpected surprise in town. I gave my review of their beer here but I didn’t mention the food. The ribs are the best I’ve had in years. This place has their head on their shoulders.
Lodging – I don’t understand how the hostels get any business in this town. Maybe its because they’re mentioned in the guidebooks and the people who stay there don’t bother looking at other places. It boggles my mind that the hostels will charge you $7.50 for a crappy bed in a room with three other people when you can find a private room with a private bath, cable TV and WiFi for the same price. If you’re paying over $8.00 a night for this then you’re paying too much. Three places worth mentioning are La Princesa Maria, La Chimenea and El Castillo. There are lots of cheap and decent places to stay near Calle 12 de Noviembre.
Thermal Pools – So here’s one of the reasons people come here. There are two pools. Piscina de la Virgen in town and Pisicina el Solado 2 km outside of town. Don’t even bother with Piscina el Solado. Maybe it’s a little nicer but the pools in town are cheaper, sit beneath the waterfall and have chairs for you to lay out on.