Monday, February 2, 2015

San José, Costa Rica

Happy New Year from San José, Costa Rica!

Day 12 of the Silverman / Karlin +1 Simmons Adventure

December 31, 2014:  Today is New Year's Eve!  We drove into San Jose from Jacó.  As we approached the city, we noticed that as per usual with cities, everything got more industrial, there were more recognizable brands around, and chain restaurants showed up.  Did you know there's a P.F. Chang's in San Jose?  I guess you could call this less "authentic", or you could just enjoy what they've put in their city and go with the flow.  I was in more of a "go with the flow" mood.

The Carnival
We dropped our stuff off at the hotel, and headed to a carnival.  There was some confusion about our New Year's Eve plans.  First, we hopped into cabs and drove off to the other side of the city, where we were denied entry into a party that turned out to only be for city employees.  Then, the cab drivers offered to take us to this carnival near our hotel that was way back on the original side of the city.  About an hour later, we arrived at a place with carnival rides and flashing lights.  It felt like Buffalo Grove Days plus Spanish plus churros plus bull fighting.  Sort of an odd mix.

"pura vida"

After learning the history of bull fighting on a trip to Valencia, I do not watch bull fights.  I sort of respect that it's a cultural thing, but not really.  I'm very against bull fighting.  Anyways, the point was moot because the tickets for it were sold out.  Oddly, the carnival ended around 10:30...suggesting that it might not have actually been a New Year's Eve event that the cab drivers brought us to.

We were all a little confused, and eventually managed to pile into cabs and get back to the hotel.  We did our own countdown to midnight, toasted with our bottled water, and watched the fireworks from the hotel window.  With a group of ten, you can really make your own party.  No need to join someone else's event.

Fireworks seem to work a little differently in San Jose than in Chicago.  In San Jose, everyone sets off their own fireworks all over the city.  In Chicago, setting off your own fireworks is illegal.  As we gazed out the hotel window, we saw little pops of fireworks all over the city, as far as we could see.  One to the left, a few to the right, one really close to our hotel - all over the place.  It was sort of pretty watching the individual fireworks pop up, and it made us wonder if San Jose actually had a central New Year's Eve party going on anywhere.

Day 13 - January 1, 2015

On January 1st, everything was closed in San Jose.  We went to check out the public park and were interested to come across a giant menorah.  The park had a local charm, and was obviously not built to be showy for tourists.  People played soccer in the many, many fields, and ice cream trucks showed up at every corner.


We wandered over to the lake in the middle of the park, split into groups, and enjoyed paddle boating around.  Actually, I didn't paddle.  I sat in the back and just enjoyed the nice view.  After boating, we strolled over to the national soccer stadium and ate lunch at Rosti Pollo.  Rosti Pollo was where we ate on the first night, and it had become a Costa Rican favorite of ours.

Early Birthday Celebration at Rosti Pollo :)
National Soccer Stadium
Teatro Nacional
Day 14 - January 2, 2015

On our last day in Costa Rica, before we left for the airport, we decided to stroll through the old town to check out the shops, architecture, and everything we could walk to.  We passed the Teatro Nacional that I toured with my grandparents in 2009.  Many of the streets that had been highly littered the day before (New Year's Day) when all the shops were closed, were now clean, and the shops were open.  The streets were filled with people out shopping.

Mercado Central
We went through the central market and checked out the tchotchke souvenirs and soccer jerseys, along with spices and fresh meat.  Most of the women's clothing stores had attire that you can only really wear in Central America.  Back home it would just look to short, too neon, and too tight.  The group described it as "ladies of the night" attire...sort of like the merchandise at some of the Chinese shops around Madrid.

Soccer Jerseys
To clear out our remaining colones, we decided to stop at Pops Ice Cream for a snack.  Our chefs in Jacó told us Pops had the best ice cream (we agreed), and it seemed like the perfect last stop before beginning our long journey back to Chicago.

 ¡Adiós, Costa Rica!  
It's been fun!

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