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  • Lorenz

San José- a city of clowns, markets and concrete



As travellers, we do not often hear good stuff about San José, the capital of Costa Rica: It´s dirty, loud, dangerous and there is a lot of traffic. Also, the ticos, the residents of Costa Rica, do not really recommend their capital. Even though, I have thought about visiting San José since I had arrived. So, at the last weekend, I went to the bus station and took a bus to San José. I visited the city for the first time at Friday after a short day at school and firstly left the bus too early and had to take another one which I left in the busy centre. During my first ten minutes, I walked completely shocked through the streets and amazed by all the people, the traffic and the noises. At this point, I wasn’t sure, if I would like the city or not. My first stop, at this day was the national theatre, which offers tours inside it in English or Spanish every hour. So, I bought a ticket for 10 dollars and waited in the foyer for the tour to start. We were a group of just 6: A Belgian and an American couple, me and our guide, who has showed us around the museum for 45 minutes and told us a lot about the building but also about the history of Costa Rica. For example, has the artist never been to Costa Rica, who did the paintings at the inside, even though he painted “typical scenes” of the Costa Rican life. After a second look, this fact becomes clear, because the actions of the painted people don’t seem right: For example, how one man carries bananas semmed super weird and not really practically. After the tour, we were allowed to continue walking around the building on our own and snap as many photos as we wanted.


For lunch, I walked down the super busy Avenida 1, where all the tourists are and entered the Central Market. On my way to it, I also witnessed a clowns-parade, which was super funny to look at. In generally, there are always street musicians or people who are offering leathern wristbands. After strolling through the market hall for 10 minutes, I sat down at a random stall and ordered a “sopa de mariscos con arroz”, a seafood soup with rice, which was definitely not a bad choice. After my late lunch, I returned to the bus station and went home.


I returned the following day and took the bus to La Sabana Park, which is a big green area, with a lake, sport grounds and huge space to relax or do a picknick. The national stadium of Costa Rica is also in it and it´s surrounded by a lot of modern hotels and high-rise blocks of flats. From there I walked back to the centre which needed around ten minutes. Back at Avenida 1, I walked down to the Jade museum, but decided not to visit it, because of the ticket price of 15 dollars. But the building is really impressive and looked nice from the outside. Instead of a museum, I walked to China Town which is not very Chinese but the high, concrete buildings around it got my attention immediately. From there I wandered back to the Central Market and started looking for the Borbón Central Market, but didn’t find it immediately so I´ve walked more or less lost for 20 minutes through San José but spotted a beautiful graffiti on my way. Anyway, the Borbón Market was worth looking for it. To make it clear, it is next to the Central Market and finding it would have been super easy. But what made this place so special for me? After entering, I felt like being in a different world. It was silent, cooler than at the outside and the air smelled like fresh herbs. I have no idea, why this place isn’t as busy as the streets in front of it and the other markets around it, but it was very relaxing. The funniest thing was definitely the way the stall owners sold animal food. It was put into big plastic bags and you could buy how much you wanted.


After my market stroll, I walked to the Barrio Amón, where I wanted to visit some galleries, but hardly found one. But I found a small second hand/vintage book store, which was filled up with English books and a “Bernie for president” plate at its door.


After 2 days in San José, I would stay, that the city isn’t a classic beauty, but visiting it is great fun because of all the people and the many stuff you can explore there.


The theatre hall in San José



Took this photo of a street musician, before he started playing

The national Stadium of Costa Rica and the lake of La Sabana Park

A snack stall in the streets of San José

The concrete tower photographed at the entrance of China Town

Same tower- different view


Spotted this graffiti, while looking for the Borbón Market

A band playing at Avenida 1

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