Day 8: Depart San Jose

Our last day in Costa Rica, we get an early start and taxi to Mercado Central. We have four hours to explore the vibrant city before leaving for the Juan Santamaría International Airport.

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Three SJO ¡Vive!, San José Lives, signs can be found throughout San José. In 2017, the new branding was created in hopes of the city becoming a tourist destination, not a stop along the way.
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Mountains rise above the streets of San José.
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The streets of San José
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A series of six iron dog sculptures are displayed in the center of San Jose bringing awareness to the high number of stray dogs in Costa Rica. The artist himself has adopted over twenty strays.
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The artist feels Costa Ricans and stray mutts have many similarities, both are of mixed origins, intelligent, hardy, and street smart
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La Chola, created by Manuel Vargas, is a bronze statue to honor the Costa Rican mothers. (left) As part of a movement to create a more pedestrian friendly city in 2008 the Cow Parade was brought to San Josè. Over 100 artists were given the opportunity to decorate a glass, white cow that would displayed in the city. (right)
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Near the center of San Jose, at Banco Central, stands a group of bronze statues. The Presentes, created by Fernando Calvo in 1982, represents the everyday people of Costa Rica. The statues are here, unmoving, regardless of what happens around them.
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Jose M Castro Madriz, served two terms as president of Costa Rica from 1847 to 1849 and 1866 to 1868.

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Circulo de Arte Santos Catolicos (right), San José

Mercado Central

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The Central Market, Mercado Central, taking up one city block, is the largest market in San José, attracting more than 20,000 visitors each day.
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The narrow walkways of the Mercado Central in San José.
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Fresh produce for sale at the Mercado Central. Feeling adventurous, we purchase 3 pink, hairy Mamón Chinos, also known as Rambutan. (right) Peeling away the outside, a white fruit similar to a green grape surrounds a hard brown pit.
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Requiring seafood and meat to be sold from glass refrigerated cases helps control the amount of insects in the market.
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Cases filled with crumbled, shredded, sliced, and cubed white queso for sale at the Mercado Central in San José.
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Weaving through the maze of narrow walkways, we enter a food court. After taking our breakfast orders of Gallo Pinto, the waitress clips the paper to a string. Using a pulley system, our order is delivered upstairs to the kitchen. Waiting for our food, tortillas, bags of rice, and other items are tossed back and forth between the restaurant and kitchen through a hole in the ceiling.
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The scent of fresh flowers fills the market as we encounter vendors selling freshly cut arrangements.
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Herbs for sale at the Mercado Central in San José.
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Dried herbs for medicinal purposes and cooking can be purchased in neat packages, dried bundles, or in bulk.
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Much more than produce and meats are for sale at the Mercado Central. Vendors sell shoes, backpacks, hats, traditional Costa Rican clothing, coffee, kitchen gadgets, ceramic pots, and more.
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There is even a pet store inside the Mercado Central where visitors can purchase rabbits, chickens, a variety of birds, and fish.

Streets Outside of the Mercado Central

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Outside of the Mercado Central, vendors sell their produce along the street.
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Vendors without a shop sell their produce in crates, buckets, pallets, or cardboard on the street.
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Distracted by the colorful produce, I jump as I almost bump into a skinned pig being carried from the butcher shop to a nearby store.
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Drawn by the smell of sweet bakery items, we order a couple of cream filled pastries.
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As we begin to wander farther from Central Avenue, a man leaning against a light post advises us to be careful with our belongings in this area. Greatful for the advice, we abruptly return to the more pedestrian friendly area.

Parque Central

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In 2003 this bronze street sweeper statue was placed in Central Park to honor the city workers of San José.
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Parque Central, San José.
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Parque Central, San José.
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Joaquim José da Silva Xavier in Parque Central, San José.

Plaza de la Cultura

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In the 1970’s three architects worked to create a space locals could gather. Arriving at the grand stage in Plaza de la Cultura, preparation for a performance is underway. We watch three men flip and jump off a platform onto a trampoline and gracefully bounce back up to the stage.
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Located below the Plaza de la Cultura is San José’s gold museum, Museo de Oro Precolombino
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Located in Plaza de la Cultura at the center of San José, the National Theatre is one of the most treasured historical buildings in Costa Rica. Construction began in 1891, initiated by coffee growers for a place to gather. The three statues on top of the building represent dance, music, and fame. Consuming food inside the theatre is forbidden. Guided tours are available Monday – Sunday 9:00am – 4:00pm.

In four hours we feel we were able to see most of San José. We return to Hotel Casa Las Orquídeas, say goodbye to our G Adventures group, and begin the journey home.


* For more information on our tour check out: G Adventures Costa Rica on a Shoestring.

  1. Day 1: Fly into San José
  2. Day 2: San José travel to La Fortuna
  3. Day 3: La Fortuna
  4. Day 4: La Fortuna travel to Montezuma
  5. Day 5: Montezuma
  6. Day 6: Montezuma
  7. Day 7: Montezuma travel to San José
  8. Day 8: Fly out of San José

April 2018