Friday, November 25, 2016

Costa Rica Day 3: Downtown San Jose

Today's planned outing was whitewater rafting, which was canceled outright due to the hurricane. We improvised with a downtown San Jose walking tour that I think worked out really well.

While the day was fun it wasn't all roses. It seems that the country's federal workforce decided to take the day off due to the (at this point barely existent) storm. As a result all of the national museums were closed, as was the Teatro Nacional pictured here.

The cool dome and columned building is the Templo de la Musica in Parque Moraz├ín. We strolled through several really cool parks with quirky statues and other monuments.

A statue of Simon Bolivar, who liberated a large part of Latin America from Spanish rule. My understanding is that Costa Rica and the rest of Central America didn't have to fight Spain for independence, and that they just sort of declared independence after Spain lost the Mexican War of Independence. Costa Rica did have a civil war though, over whether to become a sovereign nation or to join Mexico.

We stopped to eat in San Juan's Barrio Chino (Chinatown) at a really good place called Restaurante Tin Jo. They had really good food from multiple Asian countries and even had a pretty solid vegetarian selection. Rivaling the great food was the opulent decor of the place. I think they must have had a room themed after each of the styles of cuisine they had on offer.

The women's restroom was inside like a temple mountain looking thing.

Sometimes when Lydia gets really hungry she gets all "Incredible Hulk" and starts pushing people around. You don't want to see her angry.

One company seems to have an effective monopoly on Costa Rica's domestic beer production, so it was nice to see some small amount of craft presence. I was happy with my Libertas Tropical Golden Ale. You can sort of tell they must be doing something novel when the company is named Costa Rica's Craft Brewing Company.

Had a little fried tofu for an appetizer.

Went with something more local for dessert when we all shared some tres leches cake.

The John Lennon statue near Chinatown is entitled "Imagine all the people living life in peace".

We then wandered away from the touristy parks and museums into the realer parts of town. We wanted to see some markets. This was Black Friday after all!

The Central Market was a maze of little shops and food stalls. We wandered around a bit and got lost in the hustle-bustle. Our guide book said that the oldest ice cream shop in Costa Rica was somewhere in this maze but I was damned if I could find it and the book didn't even bother to provide its name. I could hear Lydia's biceps flexing angrily again and I had to think of a solution quick. Well I unleashed my poor, poor Spanish on an unfortunate coffee shop owner. Not only did he help me, but a patron at the shop set down his coffee and led us over to the place.

He even refused the tip that we offered once we got there. Costa Ricans are the best.

I could tell la Sorbetera de Lolo Mora was serious about their craft when they only had one flavor of ice cream for sale: a very cinnamony custard-like flavor that we liked a lot.

I tried this blackberry milk concoction. Their shirts say that the business was founded in 1901.

On our way out of the maze we stopped at a fruit stand and picked up a few unfamiliar treats.

We got all kinds of stuff and the total came out to $2.

There were a ton of people with these little tables selling lottery tickets.

It was definitely an occasion to be out shopping but businesses seemed to be in a pickle deciding what to call this magical materialistic time period. Black Friday, Black Weekend, Black Sale, Black Month, black balloons everywhere and all the salespeople are wearing black t-shirts. It looked like the whole of San Jose had been shopping in the "over the hill" section at Party City.

For dinner we walked from the hotel to Soda Tapia, which is a sort of 50s style Costa Rican diner.

I ordered this sub-sandwich looking thing with refried beans spread on the bread like a condiment. The bread was dry and crusty and the whole thing was all around atrocious. I'm still really glad I checked the place out though. That's just part of the risk of trying something new.

We experienced some more weird weather in this pretty serious fog on the walk home.

There was this psychedelic pedestrian bridge.

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