San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, sits in the Central Valley region with the Talamanca Mountains to the south and volcanoes to the north. The city is distinguished by its Spanish colonial architecture, such as the ornate neoclassical National Theatre of Costa Rica.
Day 1 , 14
We never actually made it to the historic part of San Jose. The Juan Santamaria Airport (SJO) is located in the City of Alajuela, about 20 miles north west of San Jose. We learned early on that driving in Costa Rica was going to be an adventure. In Alajuela there here were deep gutters along the sides of the roads to catch the torrential rains. The crazy Ticos on scooters were impatient and would regularly weave in and out of traffic and even go into oncoming lanes to pass. Just turning onto a road was a challenge. There were very few road or street signs so we had to rely on GPS to get anywhere and sometimes that was not too reliable. The Wyndham hotel where we stayed was close to the airport and had a very nice breakfast buffet.On our return trip, we stayed at Villa Margarita, a bed-and-breakfast run by Margarita, a very nice Dutch lady who also was running a dog rescue. There were about 10 dogs running around. We still were not too adventurous driving around so we went to a close-by restaurant for dinner. While we were there, a lost Canadian couple came up to our table to get directions to Jaco where their daughter lived. They had just flown in that afternoon, rented a car (they were shocked at the extra $20 per day insurance charge), and headed out on the road. They had no map or GPS. It was already dark as the sun sets at 5:30 pm. As they drove down the road, they started to get worried because, as I mentioned, there were no road signs. They decided they’d better turn around and get directions. We didn’t know the route off hand and told them that we were advised not to drive at night. We called Margarita and brought them to the Villa where they stayed the night. Next day they followed us back to the car rental agency where they turned in their car and hired a driver to take them to Jaco. Renting a car for a month, even the tiny one they had, would have been very expensive. Moral of the story: it pays to do your homework before you leave home.