Upon reaching Costa Rica at 7 am after two connector flights and little to no sleep, we all hoped that the approaching day would be fun and worth the exhausting flights. The day did not disappoint! The view on the way to our hotel, Best Western Irazu, was rather picturesque—our bus passed fresh green hills and gurgling streams that ran within the city, which co-existed beautifully with billboards and buildings. We ate our first Costa Rican breakfast, being introduced to gallo pinto, the national staple consisting of rice, beans and herbs, which woke us up!
Then we set off to downtown San Jose, our destination for the day. We spotted several highlights such as the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica (National Stadium of Costa Rica, designed and created by China as a gift to Costa Rica), the National Theatre of Costa Rica (one of the only French-style architecture to be found in the city) and walked around the Central Market—which was a maze of shops, flea market style, with shops selling products of all kinds, from raw fish to spices and souvenirs!
After browsing the stores, we ate lunch at a Costa Rican food court—all menus were in Spanish!— in San Jose’s Central market, and walked two blocks to the Mercado Nacional de Artesanias (National Crafts Market). There were a hundred different stores, all selling hand-made crafts—ranging from jewellery to furniture—and cheaper souvenirs such as tie-dye shirts. After bargaining and buying several souvenirs for my family, we regrouped and headed back to the bus.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a local church, which was magnificently decorated with vivid stain-glass windows and intricate carvings. We offered our prayers and enjoyed few minutes of peace and faint lighting, before heading back out into loud, vibrant San José
Back at our hotel, me and a few of my friends decided to visit the large, inviting pool after a long day. We enjoyed the frigid cold pool (which was about as long as 25-yards!) and relaxing hot tub under the grey overcast skies. However, we had to run back indoors after a little while, as the clouds gave way to sheets of rain, blazing lightning and rumbling thunder.
The rest of the evening proved to be the relaxation we all desired—it included attempting to watch Spanish cable for more than 10 minutes at a stretch (we watched the show Quantico dubbed in Spanish!), unhurried unpacking, playing cards and watching the rain pour on while enjoying the aroma of fresh earth after rain.
Our day ended with dinner at Denny’s (yes, they have many of those in Costa Rica!) and retiring early to start our adventure in Costa Rica.