“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

TravelHaven Journal – Costa Rica Adventure 1

Arrival in San Jose

A non-stop Jet Blue flight from Orlando to San Jose, Costa Rica only takes us (a married couple with two teenage daughters and me, the 50+ tour guide) about 3 hours. It couldn’t be easier to travel to this eco-Paradise.

The customs/immigration process is soon over and we’re met by a Costa Rican Trails representative, who directs us outside to meet our driver. Sure enough, there he was holding the usual sign with our name on it! Eddie Sanchez would be our guide for the next 5 days – how nice to know we’d be with the same person throughout. Eddie has been a guide since he was 20 years old—about fifteen years, except for a three year stint in the U.S. when he worked with a travel agent selling Costa Rica trips. His English is excellent and he seems to know everything about Costa Rica.

We get to the Hotel Britannia at 1:00 p.m. – a bit early for our rooms to be ready. So we check our luggage with the front desk and walk about six blocks to the Opera House area for lunch at the Hotel Costa Rica. Though we didn’t have the “tipical (typical) plate” – also called casados – (as we would throughout the rest of our trip), the food was very good.

After lunch, we walk back to the hotel and check into our very large and clean rooms. While some of us just relax from the trip, a few go to learn more about San Jose. San Jose really isn’t very touristy because most visitors just treat it as a stopover as they enter and leave the country. There are very few souvenir shops and, as you walk along the streets, you meet mostly locals. There is a neat pedestrian walkway about eight blocks long with department stores, lots of shoe stores and various American fast food outlets.

Also on the pedestrian walkway is a “central market,” taking up a whole city block with many little shops—selling everything from spices and medicinal herbs to purses. There are also a few souvenir shops and a pet store that sells baby chicks, bunnies, cats, and, believe it or not, roosters!

Since it was now early evening, we venture off the pedestrian walkway in search of a place to get something stronger than soda, but before we find a little neighborhood bar, we come across a butcher shop with whole pigs’ heads on display! Eddie later told us that the Ticans use the heads to make soup, but admitted that he doesn’t eat pig’s head.

We find a little local bar and order a couple of beers. We had been warned not to drink the water or eat the ice unless we were in a large hotel. So beer it was! We soak up a little local ambiance and music, and then head back to the hotel. We eat dinner in the hotel. The food was okay, not great, but Marvin, our server is great and we get a nice bottle of Chilean wine for $21.

We go to bed thinking – tomorrow our adventure in Costa Rica really begins.