Back in San Jose, Costa Rica, we decided to stay at Hotel Tica Bus for one night, although we paid for 2 nights since the Tica Bus to Panama was not leaving until midnight the next night. The hotel is attached to the terminal. Although simple and somewhat small, our room had a double and twin bed, TV, AC, & private bathroom-all for $37 the first night and $34 the second night. The only thing was that we were on the first floor next to the snack bar; so we heard all the noise. Nevertheless it was clean and okay for one night as well as being centrally located and known for the taxi drivers.
The first night we found an great Argentinian restaurant. It being a Monday night, we didn’t think we would need reservations. We were definitely wrong about that, but we were invited to have dinner at the bar. Although expensive (everything is expensive in Costa Rica and everyone, including the Ticas, agree), the dinner was delicious. It was fun watching the people around the restaurant. A young Costa Rican man named Gustavo sat next to Mikkel. He spoke English and we engaged in pleasant conversation about who each of us were and how we liked Costa Rica. Gustavo imported trucks, motorcycles, and cars from the U.S. to Costa Rica. He apparently loved riding motorcycles, but as a result, he had a cast on his arm from one of several accidents he has been involved in. Anyway, Gustavo had actually ordered take-out, and after a having a couple of glasses of Sangria, he left wishing us well. Soon after we asked for our bill and the bartender then informed us that our “friend” had paid all of it. WOW! We were astounded. We had no idea and now we couldn’t even thank him or see him ever again. Amazing! We decided we will have to pay it forward some day.
We had a full day to spend in San Jose, so I looked online and found a “On/Off” bus, “City Square Tours, that took us around San Jose to many of the cultural and historical sights. The bus picked us up at the hotel and took us on a private 2-hour tour of the city first, showing us many places of interest and explaining the Costa Rican history and culture. We were very fortunate because it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. The only thing is that I forgot to take pictures because we were so fascinated by what we were being shown and what the tour guide was saying. We saw lots of parks, statues of famous people in Costa Rican history, different kinds of architecture from all over the world, several museums, the President of Costa Rica’s condo (he does not live in a palace or mansion) and several parts, both good and bad of the inner city. In the background were the “Three Marias” (3 mountain similar mountain peaks in a row) and the volcano looking over the San Jose valley. It was well-worth the cost. Some have said that San Jose is a “dirty” town, but we were amazed how much of the culture and history has been preserved, more-so than Panama other than the canal. Afterwards we walked around the center of the city and visited some of the sights we had previously been shown, including the National Theater, Central Avenue (shopping street several blocks long closed to vehicles), and Central Market (an indoor square block of 222 vendors-food, meat, souvenirs, clothing, etc.). It was like a maze inside; at times I felt I was lost, but did find our way out eventually after purchasing some Costa Rican coffee, chocolate, and a few other items. When we wanted to go back to the hotel, the tour bus drove us to the front door. Later, for dinner, we took a taxi to an Asian/Thai/Indian restaurant. It was a great way to end our stay in Costa Rica. With a few exceptions, we had a wonderful time.