Travel in Costa Rica: Extend Your Stay in San José

Personally, I didn’t plan to spend much time in San José.

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pretty pastel mansion in San José

I thought I’d stay for one night, then head towards the beach on the Caribbean coast.

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elegant architecture in downtown San José

That being said, as soon as I stepped foot in this city, I felt such good vibes, I decided to extend my stay. At first for one night, then two…In total I spent over a week here! 😮

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charming church in San José

Why Did I Extend My Stay in San José?

At first, I fell in love with my accommodation, Hostel Bekuo. The atmosphere was so cozy. They made me feel right at home. 🍳☕

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complimentary pancake breakfast

The decor looked like someone’s home from the ’70s, plus they had an adorable bunny named Tranquis in the garden. 🐰

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Hostel Bekuo’s living room
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Hostel Bekuo’s common room with books, musical instruments, and free pool
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Tranquis, which is short for traquilo, or calm

Then I was really digging the weather. Since the city is surrounded by the mountains, there was such a wonderful, temperate climate. The air was chilly with a light breeze, and there was an occasional shower in the afternoon.

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Finally, I can enjoy a cup of coffee without sweating! 😂😂

Then, when I finally ventured out on the town, I fell absolutely head-over-heels for the architecture! 😍😍

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modern architecture and colorful stained glass

I loved this city’s mix of both a modern and more colonial-style buildings.

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pastel pink colonial-style building

I spent many mornings cafe-hopping around different neighborhoods in the city, with the highlight being Barrio Amón, a very green neighborhood near Parque Bolivar, home to many beautifully restored mansions.

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old mansion in Barrio Amón
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park near the zoo

Another beautiful area was Barrio Escalante, which had very vibrant and colorful homes, along with some modern art galleries. 💙

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vibrantly painted modern building
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art gallery
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baby pink residential home
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lime green residential home

Then, to go along with that beautiful architecture, I found many urban spaces, full of fun and funky street art.DSC_3961DSC_4005DSC_3981DSC_3982I honestly felt like every day I found something wonderful and unique. For example, one day I found this Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree, which has gray bark that reveals neon shades of orange, green, and blue as it peels away. 🧡💙💚DSC_3952Later I found this elaborate cemetery, a final resting place for many famous artists and political figures. Just gorgeous! DSC_4021DSC_4022DSC_4026Another day I checked out one of these sodas, which are vintage, 1950s-style diners, located all over the city. For around 6 bucks, you can have a home-style meal, like this rice, beans, and pan-fried fish.

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Soda Tapia reminded me of the restaurant, Ed Debevic’s 😀
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fish, beans, rice, avocado and papas (fries)

Another day I went wandering with an Aussie from my hostel to this Feria Verde, or Green Market, which sold homemade bread, cheese, and chocolate, among other local favorites.

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organic coffee at the Feria Verde
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trying out Agua de Sapo- a popular Costa Rican drink made with natural sugar, lime, and ginger

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sourdough bread with fruit and nuts
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fried plantain bowl filled with beans, cheese, avocado and tomato

Another day I took a free walking tour of the cityBecause of this country’s relatively non-violent history, our guide provided us with lighthearted, fun facts about the city she calls home.DSC_3937For starters, they don’t have a military, and their old military base is now used as a museum.DSC_3940We also learned about how this man created “Aguinaldo”, or a mandatory Christmas bonus given to all employees nationwide! 😮
DSC_3935I even found out this city has a Chinatown, and in 2013, they made it into the Guinness book for cooking the world’s largest fried rice. 🥡
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During the tour, we even ran into the president at the national theater! Our guide said last time she saw him, she even asked for a photo with him! He’s so beloved that security was at a minimum. I couldn’t imagine our prez doing this sort of thing without a gaggle of guards. 🤔

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national theater in San José
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being a paparazzi and snapping pics of the president 😉

Above all though, what made me most want to extend my stay in San José was the people. San José, unlike the rest of Costa Rica, is not a tourist destination. It still remains an authentic city, full of mainly locals, who are nothing but welcoming and genuine.

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street music in downtown San José

‘Pura Vida’ is a popular saying in Costa Rica. It translates to pure life, but also simple joy.  I believe pura vida is not only a saying here, but also a way of life. People here live simply, are happy for what they have, and enjoy the simple pleasures in each day. I think I found such good vibes in this city, because of the people who live in it.

As such, one of the things I focused on this week was not seeing all the sights in Costa Rica, but embracing the pura vida, simple life, and interacting with its people. I finally cracked open my Spanish grammar book I packed on this two-month trip, and practiced the lingo with the locals. 📚🍺😉

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Spanish grammar and cerveza (an IPA local microbrew)

Now whether you are extending your stay in San José or elsewhere in the world, I think the bigger take-home message is to slow down when traveling, and take time to appreciate the things that others are overlooking. By extending my stay in San José, I found satisfaction not in visiting every part of this country, but in really getting to know one particular place, finding beauty in its details, smiling each day, and livin’ the pura vida. 🍍🌺😄

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4 thoughts on “Travel in Costa Rica: Extend Your Stay in San José

  1. You know what intrigues us is the elaborate cemetary. Seems to be a “phenomena” in the Hispanic Americas and it extended to the Philippines too where the Spaniards were colonial masters for well over a few hundred years!

    Liked by 1 person

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