Hello Costa Rica!

After my Italy trip fell through the cracks at the last minute, I booked a ticket to go to Costa Rica 5 days prior to leaving.  I was surprised it didn’t cost me more considering it was less than a week ahead AND it was 4th of July weekend when I flew.  Anyways, after a short connecting flight in Fort Lauderdale I landed in the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose.

My first impression from the plane was that Costa Rica is mountainous, green, and very lush, which turned out to be completely true.  When I walked out of the airport, I was greeted by what seemed like hundreds of shady cab drivers trying to get my attention.  After a little negotiation, I decided that a cab to the center of San Jose (about 25km away) was still too expensive, so after asking a couple people at the bus stop around the corner I hopped on a local bus for about $1 (compared to $20 for a cab).  People on the bus were very friendly and pointed me when to get off at the main bus station, which was only a little bit of a walk from my hostel.  I stayed at Aldea Hostel, which turned out to be a great choice because it was a great hostel and I met a lot of really awesome people there.  Before I left, I had only booked my first 2 nights in San Jose and figured I’d determine the rest as I went.  I believe this is the best way to travel so that you’re never tied down to specific plans in case you find somewhere that you fall in love with and want to stay longer, or vice versa, if you hate somewhere you can leave when you want.

When I got to San Jose in the middle of the afternoon, it was raining pretty hard.  It turns out that when I went is the winter season in Costa Rica, as well as the rainy season.  What this means is that, for the most part, all day is sunny and beautiful until around 2-3pm when it begins torrential downpouring for a few hours.  This happened just about every day of my trip.  This definitely helps bring down the humidity, but also put a bit of a cramp on my exploration plans a few times.  I ended up just hanging out at the hostel for the rest of the evening and playing some card games (King’s Cup anybody?) with some people I met there.  One thing that’s worth mentioning is that the cheap beer in Costa Rica is way better than a lot of the beer we have in the US.  The 2 big ones are Imperial and Pilsen, and both are extremely tasty.

The next day I got up relatively early and went out exploring the capital and here are a few pics of what I found.

San Jose is surrounded by mountains.  From inside the city I could see them kind of, but I wanted to get closer.  I wandered for quite a while out of the city to attempt to get a decent shot of the mountains and above is about the best I got because it was really hot out.  Also while I was wandering, I came across a school where they were having a huge kids soccer (football for everyone outside the US) tournament.

Wandering back into the city, I got a few more pics before the rain started for the afternoon.  I also stopped at Mercado Centrale, which is the huge marketplace in the middle of the city, and got some lunch.  This was my first experience of how good the fish and seafood are in Costa Rica!  Then after lunch, since all the guidebooks talk about how popular Churros are in San Jose, I thought I would indulge.  If you haven’t had sugary churros filled with caramel, I definitely recommend it because they are delicious!!

I came across a section of wall divided into sections and painted by different artists.  It reminded me a lot of Berlin and the painted sections of the Berlin Wall.

Next: On to Puerto Viejo!

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