BootsnAll Travel Network

Day 16 – San Jose

The Orquideas Inn is also home to a tour company so we had one of their drivers take us into San Jose ($20 each way) and dropped us off at the Plaza de la Cultura which is next to the Teatero Nacional (national theater) and also contains the Museo de Oro Precolumbia y Numismatica (Gold museum) located underneath the plaza. We decided to check out the gold museum first. There is heavy security as you enter (it is a gold museum) that requires visitors to go through a metal detector and you also have to leave your backpacks in a locker at the entrance. The museum is located behind a tick vault door and consists of three underground levels. The first level contains old Costa Rican postage stamps currency and the lower two levels contain lots of pre-Columbian gold artifacts from the indigenous peoples of Costa Rica. All the exhibits are in both Spanish and English. It was interesting but the museum is kind of small (we were through there in ½ hour) and I didn’t think it was worth the $6 admission price.

Next we wanted to see the inside of the National Theatre. We got into a line for tickets but it seemed to be taking a really long time for the line to move so we decided to leave and come back later. We then walked up to the pedestrian mall on Avenida Central and made our way to the Mercado Central. This place has something for everybody: knick-nacks, appliances, meats, vegetables, live chickens, DVDs, you name it and you can probably find it there.

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From the Mercado Central we walked back east to a park where we could sit and get our bearings. It turned out that we were right near the Jade Museum which we wanted to check out not so much for the jade but the museum is located on the 11th floor and supposedly offers a great view of the city. When we got to the entrance we saw that cameras were not allowed so we decided to skip it and go get some lunch instead.

We walked back south to the Aveneda Central and after consulting the LP guide, we went to the News Café which is located on the ground floor of the Hotel Presidente. It seemed to be a popular place with Americans and Tico business people. The food was very good and surprisingly reasonably priced. We did see one American “knucklehead” type to had a scantly clad women with him and his buddy. Someone from the restaurant brought her a coat so she could cover up. I’m assuming she was a prostitute.

After lunch, we headed to the Museum of Contemporary Art which is located in a 150 year old building that once contained a liquor factory. The museum ($3) was my favorite place in San Jose and had some really great exhibits.

From there we walked to the Plaza de la Democracia where we found an open air crafts market. It was mostly the same stuff we saw in all the souvenir shops around the country but much lower prices.

Our next stop was going to be the criminology museum which was located in one of the court buildings. We got a little lost but eventually found out way to the cour house complex. We weren’t sure which building the museum was located so just as we started to look around it started to rain really hard. Even though we had umbrellas we had to take shelter in a doorway for one of the court buildings with other Ticos. We had fun watching people brave the rain to make the dash across to the other buildings. Whenever someone would make it people would cheer. After waiting about 30 minutes the rain finally let up and we then learned that the museum no longer existed!

We walked back to the National Theatre and found that the slow moving line we were in before was the line to but tickets to performances and not to tour the theatre itself. We got our tickets, went inside and someone from the theatre gave a brief overview and history of the building. We were free to walk around and check out the beautiful rooms and murals. Cameras were allowed but no flash photography.

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