"Costa Rica's unconvincing gateway" San José by Assenczo

San José Travel Guide: 15 reviews and 25 photos

Costa Rica was a promise of riches as the name suggests. One easily forgets that the name was given by early European explorers who were more than generous in decorating their achievements with beautiful names. Columbus was no exception to the rule and here we have Costa Rica. Flying over the countryside approaching the international airport on San Jose offers a different picture. Shacks and their corrugated iron roofs are the norm. Once on the ground the picture changes little. Most of downtown San Jose is a whole lot of mediocrity jammed within several blocks. The ultimate achievement of the bygone era, the theatre, looks miserable and insignificant. The modern hulks of concrete are equally unconvincing. A bit outside of the center in direction to the zoo starts the area where the rich and famous ticos live. Nice big stately houses huddle together for a little while till the explorer hits the opposite side of the coin – namely the have-nots in the society. The proximity of these less fortunate fellows maybe the reason for the heavily fortified houses of the well-to-do citizens (In general, barbed wire is so widespread that it could be one of the most successful businesses in the county).

The best about urban centers in Costa Rica as a whole and San Jose in particular are the gardens. These wonderful islands of tranquility and beauty are soothing the sores made by the honest ugliness of the rest of the metropolitan area. One can enjoy plants sometimes familiar from home but in their original form as huge trees covered with exuberant flowers and populated with exotic birds. The flora is tamed by the expert gardeners who have let the visitor admire it from different viewpoints amongst the many lanes leading from time to time to nicely sculpted fountain or a bench.
San Jose is a must due to its central location and international airport. You might make the best of it as well by visiting the theatre or the jade museum as long as they are open. The Christmas holiday period is definitely the wrong time of year for that purpose. Amazingly enough, the tourists on whose dollars much of the Costa Rican economy supposedly dwells, are more likely to visit during this particular time. Somebody has missed the point.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Sold as safe
  • Cons:Too much barbed wire
  • In a nutshell:Buffled by the name
  • Last visit to San José: Dec 2008
  • Intro Updated Feb 24, 2009
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“Myths Annihilated”

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