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And So It Begins: Day One | The Time to Go Is Now

And So It Begins: Day One

And So It Begins: Day One

After our red-eye flight and taking a taxi into town we were able to check into our hostel early. After a nap to catch up on sleep from staying up most of the previous two nights we headed into town. We stopped by the bus station to pick up our tickets for the next day so we didn’t have to deal with it in the morning.

View from the Parque Nacional in San Jose
View from the Parque Nacional in San Jose

If I’ve learned anything from Tony Bourdain it is if you aren’t sure where to go and are unfamiliar with a city the best place to start is the central market. It was a Wednesday afternoon and to the best of my knowledge it wasn’t a special holiday but the main pedestrian shopping area through the middle of San Jose was hopping. We ducked into the Mercado Central which takes up a city block and is jam packed with food stalls, butchers, fish mongers, and all kinds of retail vendors selling everything from art and knickknacks to spices and dog food by bulk.

National Theatre in San Jose
National Theatre in San Jose

At one food stall we saw a customer enjoying a large bowl of soup with massive chunks of vegetables in it, like whole red potatoes and a half ear of corn. I immediately knew that’s what I wanted. We took a seat at the counter and ordered. I was still in post flight decompression mode so I wasn’t even thinking about taking pictures so I’ll just have to describe it the old fashioned way using words. A big bowl filled with a well-seasoned chicken broth with half a large carrot, several whole potatoes, a half ear of corn and a big fatty piece of beef. I wasn’t quite sure how to tackle it until I realized that everything was cooked just well enough that I could cut it up with the spoon. I was a bit worried about the beef but it had been cooked for so long that it just sort of melted when I put it in my mouth.  Julie had a shredded barbecue beef stew with tortillas. It was a good cheap meal and a good way to start the trip.

Julie in the Parque Nacional
Julie in the Parque Nacional

We then spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around San Jose.  I really have nothing to compare it to as it is my first trip to a major city in Central or South America. It is a city like any other city. We walked down Avenida 2 at rush hour.  Jaywalking seems to be a bit of a sport and we managed to not get hit by any buses.

Church of Our Sister of Mercy
Church of Our Sister of Mercy

It still feels like vacation and getting into the groove of taking time to write regularly is going to take a little time. We only spent one night at our first hostel and didn’t really have the chance to settle in. We should be in much better shape next week after a couple more days of getting into a routine. No major revelations at this point other than my Spanish needs a lot of work. Once we move out of the tourist areas we won’t have any choice but to get better at it.

18 Responses to And So It Begins: Day One

  1. Awesome guys! I really can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to going on this journey with you through your pictures and words.

  2. Oh, hey, you might find this info useful–pedestrians do NOT have the right-of-way in Costa Rica! The easiest/safest way to cross the street is to do so in the middle of the block b/c you have a couple of seconds head start on the cars who were waiting at the traffic light.

    Make sure to get to Manuel Antonio and Quepos on the Pacific Coast–beautiful, laid-back and popular with the natives. All the tourists usually end up going to the Nicoya Peninsula. We didn’t get a chance to go, but I heard that the Isla de Tortugas was great, too. And apparently there are great spas near Irenal Volcano? (or so I heard) If you can, be sure to visit a coffee plantation, too (our school took us to Cafe Britt’s tour). Fascinating stuff!

    ¡Buen viaje!

      • Excellent! We stayed at a hotel called “Costa Verde” (I think that’s it?) when we were there. I just remember being grateful for the plumbed hot water (vs. the electric water heater directly attached to the shower spigot at our host family’s bathroom). How’s the gallo pinto? Enjoy the fresh fruit!

  3. This website rocks! I am so excited for you guys. Live it up for me please, as with the baby coming I will not be able to live the dream vacation for a while. Can’t wait to see what’s next! Keep describing all of that good food you are eating too 🙂

  4. Looks like u guys are off to a good start. Be glad u are not here, the weather is a nightmare. Have fun, be safe. PS could u send some more meatballs, they were delicious. lol

  5. Just caught up reading your January blog and Twitter entries, and glad to see/hear/read that your adventures are underway! Rebecca and I will be following your posts and traveling vicariously along with you! Way to take a BIG bite oot of the apple of life – enjoy!

  6. Leaving for Peru in about 10 days, sorry we won’t be there the same time. My schedule is pretty tight. I will be in Piura 5/09-5-16 and in Lima on 17th.
    Hope you are enjoying the sites. I agree Peru food is different. I saw the ginea pig. Not my favorite! Teresa

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We're Mark & Julie

We quit our jobs at the end of 2013 to backpack around the world. We're sharing our stories, travel advice and hopefully some inspiration. Read more...

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