Pura Vida 2017 (3/8) – The Other San Jose

Pura Vida 2017 (3/8) – The Other San Jose

  1. Introduction
  2. Costa Rica Logistics
  3. The Other San Jose
  4. Arenal & La Fortuna
  5. Horses & Waterfalls
  6. Hanging Bridges & Toucans
  7. Food
  8. The Big Day


The capital of Costa Rica is San Jose.  Like the Bay Area city by the same name, it’s economically significant but not an overwhelming tourist destination.  We spent half a day here.

We stayed at Aloft, a hotel “close to the airport” per the map but totally didn’t feel like it.  Due to traffic and the convoluted road system alleyways, the 3-mile trip consistently took us over 30 minutes.  It was reminiscent of South Central in Midnight Club: Los Angeles, when the GPS took us on dirt paths, over unmarked railroad crossings, and through semi-truck parking lots.

Aloft San Jose room

Aloft San Jose breakfast buffet, included in the 3,000 SPG points for our night’s stay
Pure awesomeness

Driving toward the airport to meet up with family for dinner was like this.

The hotel itself and the surrounding area were the closest to the modern civilization that we were used to.  The nearby Maserati and Porsche dealerships were an interesting sight considering the quality of some nearby roads.  Our hotel building was sandwiched between a McDonald’s and a complex housing Walmart’s corporate office.  Across the street was a mall that had a variety of American designer stores and fast food joints.  There was even a Taco Bell, something that seemed as insulting as a Panda Express in Hong Kong.  We had lunch at Johnny Rockets, immersing ourselves in the 1950’s United States atmosphere with a team of Latina waitresses dancing to oldie hits.

I was tempted to try Auto Mac, but did not.

Johnny Rockets in San Jose.

Manager and waitresses cheerfully dancing to a song representing an era when blacks and Latinos in the United States had no right to vote.

The heart of San Jose was half an hour away in the historic downtown district.  There was an old church (de la Merced), a 140-year-old market, a bunch of museums exhibiting pre-Columbian artifacts, etc.  Due to the afternoon heat, we only walked through half of it.  The Central Market being closed on Sundays was a major bummer.

Iglesia de la Merced

Mercado Central

Street vendors selling fruits, socks, toys, and pirated economically packaged DVDs

Plaza and a water fountain

Last but not least, we visited a Costa Rican Walmart.  It was in a gated area with fences around the perimeter of the parking lot.  The store was on the second floor with ramps that allowed you to (manually) push shopping carts on.  Inside of the store was exactly what you’d expect, except maybe with narrower aisles than their U.S. counterparts.

I love Walmart

Not so different from the U.S. Walmarts

The Money Center!  Figured some of my friends (sibling) might get a kick out of it.
No I didn’t see a Kate.

While there wasn’t a ton for tourists to see in San Jose, we definitely enjoyed our stay.


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