Personally, I didn’t plan to spend much time in San José.
I thought I’d stay for one night, then head towards the beach on the Caribbean coast.
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! 😮
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. 🍳☕
The decor looked like someone’s home from the ’70s, plus they had an adorable bunny named Tranquis in the garden. 🐰
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.
Then, when I finally ventured out on the town, I fell absolutely head-over-heels for the architecture! 😍😍
I loved this city’s mix of both a modern and more colonial-style buildings.
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.
Another beautiful area was Barrio Escalante, which had very vibrant and colorful homes, along with some modern art galleries. 💙
Then, to go along with that beautiful architecture, I found many urban spaces, full of fun and funky street art.I 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. 🧡💙💚Later I found this elaborate cemetery, a final resting place for many famous artists and political figures. Just gorgeous! Another 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.
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.
Another day I took a free walking tour of the city. Because of this country’s relatively non-violent history, our guide provided us with lighthearted, fun facts about the city she calls home.For starters, they don’t have a military, and their old military base is now used as a museum.We also learned about how this man created “Aguinaldo”, or a mandatory Christmas bonus given to all employees nationwide! 😮
I 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. 🥡
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. 🤔
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.
‘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. 📚🍺😉
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. 🍍🌺😄