- Sue Stipek
New Adventure in Costa Rica
We flew nonstop from Dulles to San Jose International airport in Costa Rica. There is only one nonstop on United from Dulles per week, but a 4 1/2 hour direct flight is much better than flying through other cities.
The terminal is good sized and was very busy as many flights come in on a Saturday. Our reserved car was from Europcar who only has a offsite location. I knew the cost of the vehicle was cheap - but I should have realized that something was up. They try to upsell you insurance and the cost is twice the price of the car. When I said that we have insurance through our credit card company, they said that was ok, but you would need a letter from the cc company and they would hold $30,000 just in case. We booked the cheapest. Insurance is mandatory for rental cars by law. We took the cheapest option and headed out to downtown San Jose to our hotel.
In Costa Rica your cellphone service on most plans is good. Thank goodness as I need the GPS on my phone to find the hotel. The only hard copy map we had was in the guide book. We ended up on a drive through many neighborhoods around the airport since I hadn't started the Google Map directions correctly. Traffic is heavy as you get closer to the downtown and the streets are narrow. Luckily they do drive on the right and signage is OK (but in Spanish) so having Google tell you when to turn was important. I was driving, but Larry was having white knuckles in the passenger seat.
The hotel had advertised free parking, but that was a challenge. We found the entrance to their garage, but the navigation in it was difficult. We parked for the three night stay and hope we do not need to go out until we leave for the coast on Tuesday.
Hotel is very large and rooms are huge. Nice bed but sparsely furnished for the size. Our room does over look the mountains and volcano in the distance. Though located right in the center, San Jose seems a bit shabby and rundown. The many small parks are nice but there is a large police presence on the pedestrian mall. There is a casino next door to the hotel with an entrance from the lobby so we will try to lose some "colonies" before we travel on.
Speaking of colonies - the local currency - we stopped at an ATM to withdraw some. The guide book says that US dollars and credit card are used almost everywhere - so we only took out a few - 10,000! That translates to approximately $20 UAD. So far there is really little need for the local currency and we can get USD from the ATMs as well. It is not a currency that you can exchange back readily, so what we take out we need to spend.
Sunday morning was peaceful but picked up as the day progressed. We went to the Banco de Costa Rica museum in the center of town. This is an excellent museum that houses the bank's extensive collection of Pre-Colombian gold and other artifacts. As well it has a great archeological display and a numismatic exhibition with the history of Costa Rican money. After a small snack we then headed to the National History Museum hoping to see there butterfly exhibition, Unfortunately that exhibit was closed.
Tomorrow we will explore more of San Jose before leaving for the Pacific Coast on Tuesday morning.