San José

Few visitors to Costa Rica return home with gasp-inducing tales of the beauty of San José. The reasons are simple enough: it is not particularly beautiful, and any sharp intake of breath will probably have more to do with an attempt to avoid the pollution. By day the city streets are packed with traffic as heavy buses barely moving beyond second gear crawl through the streets and keen-eyed kamikaze taxis look for the raised arm hailing business. At street level a general theme of clutter and chaos prevails with vendors selling fruit, cigarettes and other daily necessities as an endless stream of immaculately dressed
Ticos
scurry to and from work. By night, streets lit by the rhythmic flash and glow of neon slowly empty as the
Josefinos
hurry home or out to bars, restaurants and clubs.

After almost two hundred years as capital, the city still seems unwilling to take the lead. Attractions and activities awaiting the visitor come across as reluctant suggestions rather than vibrant 'must-sees'. With San José you may have to put in a little more effort and imagination than with many cities but love at first sight does happen and some are certain to become infatuated with the city after a couple of days exploring its understated secrets.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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