Day 2: Discovering San Jose
San Jose is the Capital City and yet it’s very small: you can go around the city center within 45 min. From my first impressions, it’s very Americanized: American brands, fast-food, trends everywhere, people speak very little English so I reckon to learn Spanish before you go there, or else, it’s going to be difficult…
I had to change my money first which was quite a challenge because I checked many banks and “bureau de change” but their rates are not very interesting. The best I found was “Banco Central de Costa Rica” where I had to queue to get in. Another thing: Costa Ricans are not in a rush. If they mentioned “Opening Hours: 8:30 am to 17:00” and they open at about 9:00-9:15 am that’s all right)
Second the road trip, I came to Central America with literally no plans whatsoever. So I use my good old technique: I find a 5-star hotel, I ask for the concierge and they recommend me all the best plans. From what I learned San Jose has nothing to offer, but the added value is the surroundings: volcanos, lakes, jungle, wildlife, Pacific coast, Caribbean coast… Long story short, the guy recommended me 1 week discovering the S.R. surroundings, 1 week in Monte Verde, 1 week in the National Park of Corcovado which was well proportioned to the 3 weeks I’m supposed to stay here. In the end I bought a 5 day-package for $575 which included 1 day tour to “Parc National Braulio Carrillo” with cable tour and zip-lining, 1 day to Volcano Irazul and the Sarapiqui River, 1 day tour to Tortuguero, 1 day tour to Park Manuel Antonio, 1 day tour to “Isla Tortugua”. All sums added it was much cheaper to purchase this 5 day package rather than renting a car and deal with the extra costs. I was happy with this choice and right after I got myself a Costa-Rican sim card with 1 month unlimited internet for $15, good deal again.
On my way back home, I found an unusual street food complex: very kitsh, maybe hipster… They have containers they painted in different colors and they transformed them into take-away places and open bars. I really liked the concept and if you are interested, this complex is called “Mercado Escalante”. As I reached home, I told Marco about my plans, he agreed it was a good idea for the package and the price was fare, considering it is the low-season (rain season). In the evening, we went to a local bar and a local nightclub, it was a bit messy with all the students in the streets on a Saturday evening but it was cool.