| San Jose
San Jose, the Capital of Costa Rica, is the hub of all transportation that takes place in the country. For that reason, it is usually the first place that you visit while in Costa Rica. Founded in 1737, San Jose is located 3,773 feet above sea level and the entire central valley where the capital is located has a population of about 1,200,000. It lies between three Volcanoes.
There is a large variety of hotels, parks, restaurants and attractions for medical tourism visitors. The first thing noticed about San Jose is the local friendliness. The city is set up on a pretty logical grid system. When on foot and touring the capital, Costa Ricans are always willing to lend a hand with directions. Always remember though, locals use landmarks not street names for directions, and if you just can't figure out where you are, find a local church. Every church in Costa Rica faces west.
While in the Capital, medical travel guests have access to the best public transportation in all of Central America. However, if you prefer not to take busses, Taxi's are also available 24 hours a day. Most Taxi's are equipped with meters, so you get a fair ride.
Activities in San Jose
Please be advised that you may not be able to participate in certain activities as a health tourism patient. Your doctor will be able to advise you on the appropriate activities in which you can participate.
You really get to see the city, the people, and the sites when you walk instead of taking a taxi. Go at a leisurely pace and enjoy the culture with this suggested downtown San Jose walking tour.
Intricate Woodworks, Silver & Gold, The Farmer’s Markets, The Mercado Central, Handmade Guzman Guitars since 1833 - these are just a few of the local goods and products you'll find shopping in San Jose. Also, San Jose now has many fine malls, although the prices here will be higher, due mostly to import taxes that have gone down, but still exist.
National Museum: Best known for the variety of pre-Columbian artifacts on permanent display, the National Museum also has exhibits dedicated to Costa Rican religious art and the history of the country since the Spanish conquest. The building itself has historic significance since it was once a military fortress and after the abolishment of the army, following the Revolution of 1948, was converted into the museum.
The museum is located on calle 17, between avenidas central and 2, hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Phone: 257-1433.
Gold Museum: Operated by the Central Bank of Costa Rica, this museum houses an extensive collection of pre-Columbian gold in which the level of artistry achieved by native craftsman working with this precious metal is easily appreciated.
The entrance to the museum is on calle 5, beneath the Plaza de la Cultura, hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Phone: 233-4233.
Jade Museum: Although the numerous pre-Columbian jade pieces on display are among the most impressive anywhere, the museum also features excellent examples of indigenous craftsmanship in stone, ceramics, and gold. Housed on the 11th floor of the National Insurance Company (INS) building, the view of the city and surrounding mountains is an added attraction to a visit to this museum.
Located on avenida 7, between calles 9 and 11, hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Phone: 223-5800, ext. 2581.
Costa Rican Art Museum: Rotating selections from the permanent collection together with temporary exhibitions showcase the artwork of Costa Rican painters and sculptors in a building that was once an airport terminal. The Sabana Metropolitan Park which stretches west behind the museum was formerly the international airport landing strip in the days prior to jet planes.
Located at the western end of Paseo Colón (avenida central), hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Phone: 222-7155.
Children's Museum: Many hands-on exhibits designed to make learning fun are a highlight of this museum which brings science, culture and history to life (or at least nearly so through the use of robotized Costa Rican personalities). One of the country's newest museums (inaugurated in 1994), it occupies what was once a prison.
Located at the northern end of calle 4, hours are from 9:00 a.m. to noon and from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Phone: 223-7003.
Museum of Entomology: If bugs are your thing, or you're just looking for a different way to spend a rainy afternoon in the city, then you'll enjoy trying to find this museum.
Located on the University of Costa Rica campus in San Pedro, this vast collection of insects is on display in the basement of the Musical Arts Department (Escuela de Música) -- of all places! Hours are from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Phone: 207-5647.
Theater & Cinema
The National Theater: San José's foremost architectural showpiece, the National Theater is a source of pride to Costa Ricans everywhere. Inaugurated on October 19, 1897 with a performance of "Faust" by the Paris Opera Company, the building's origins date to 1890 when the Italian opera singer, Angela Pelati, gave a number of performances in Guatemala but refused to come to Costa Rica due to the lack of a proper theater. The members of the country's coffee elite proposed that a theater be built in San José to correct this situation and agreed to contribute five centavos per exported sack of coffee to finance the construction.
Some parts of the theater were crafted in Europe and shipped to Costa Rica for assembly, such as the metal framework which was cast in Belgium and many of the statues, murals, and ceiling frescos which are the work of Italian artists that never saw Costa Rica. The stunning baroque design features ample use of 221/2 karat gold overlay and Carrara marble.
The National Symphonic Orchestra season runs from March to November with performances on Thursday and Friday evenings and again on Sunday mornings. Periodically, other activities ranging from the Moscow ballet and Chinese acrobats to state dinners and Costa Rican theatrical presentations are also scheduled. The coffee shop adjoining the main lobby is a wonderful place to sit and watch the world go by. During the day the building is open to the public for viewing from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Phone: 221-1329.
Simón Bolivar National Zoological Park: This small zoo is operated by the National Park Service, and although it is not on a par with modern zoos in more developed countries, it does provide an opportunity to view numerous species of native wildlife that are not all that easily seen in the wild, even after a week or two of walking trails through different national parks.
Admission Policy: The zoo is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., and on weekends and holidays from 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Getting there: From the Morazán Park, take calle 7 north for three blocks and turn right on avenida 11. Bear right at the T-intersection and you'll come to the entrance gate.
Los Cusingos Neotropical Bird Sanctuary (Dr. Skutch's farm): This small forest reserve has been the private home of Dr. Alexander F. Skutch since 1941. When Dr. Skutch first purchased the land, the cleared area around the house was one of the few clearings in the entire valley of San Isidro del General. By the close of the 20th century, his property has become one of the last remaining forested patches in this now agricultural landscape, where he and his wife live much as they did when they first settled the land -- without motor vehicles, electricity, or telephones.
Visitors to the farm may walk the trail into the forest or along the Peñas Blancas River to personally view some of the many plants and animals, especially birds, that Dr. Skutch has written about over the years. The author of more than twenty books and contributor of countless articles published in the scientific literature, Dr. Skutch is undeniably the foremost naturalist living in Costa Rica.
A highlight of any visit to Los Cusingos is sitting on the porch and watching the birds that come to the feeding tray across the yard. Among the most frequent species at the feeder are Scarlet-rumped Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, Buff-throated Saltator, Bananaquit, and Speckled Tanager. Most every afternoon (and sometimes in the morning) a male Turquoise Cotinga -- a stunningly plumaged bird -- can be found sitting in the big mayo tree visible from the porch.
Admission policy: In 1993, the Tropical Science Center (the same private organization that owns and operates the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve) entered into an agreement with Dr. Skutch to take over the management of Los Cusingos. They now handle reservations for interested visitors through their San José office (tel: 253-3267 / fax: 253-4963). An entrance fee of $8 per person is charged (as of March 1995), and visitation is limited to 15 persons per day.
Getting there: Solicit directions from the Tropical Science Center when making your reservations.
In San Jose, you’ll find practically every type of cuisine represented.
Restaurants will satisfy your most demanding tastes. “Tipico” food in Costa Rica is varied and distinct, simple and delicious. Following is a sampling of some you’ll come across .
- Arreglados - Sandwiches, usually made of meat, on a tasty but greasy bun.
- Arroz con pollo - Rice with chicken and vegetables.
- Cajeta de coco - Delicious fudge made of coconut, tapa dulce, and orange peel.
- Casados - Includes gallo pinto, salad, meat /chicken /pork, and fried plantains.
- Ceviche - Marinated sea bass with cilantro, onion, and red pepper.
- Empanadas - Corn turnovers filled with beans, cheese, or potatoes and meat.
- Gallos - Meat, beans, or cheese between two tortillas.
- Gallo pinto - The national breakfast dish: rice and beans fried together with spices.
- Tortilla de queso - A large, thick tortilla with cheese mixed into the dough.
- Tortilla - Means the Costa Rican thin, small, corn tortilla.
- Patacones - Fried, mashed plantains, served like french fries with meals.
- Picadillo - Ground meat, potatoes and chayote fried together with spices.
- Sopa negra - Soup made from bean gravy, with hard boiled egg and vegetables added.
- Tamales - Cornmeal usually stuffed with pork or chicken, wrapped in banana leaves and boiled. A Christmas time tradition.
- Torta chilena - A many-layered cake filled with dulce de leche.
- Tortas - Sandwiches on a bread roll.
- Ensalada de palmito - Salad with lightly pickled heart of palm.
SAN JOSE Specific Links
|| | |