Sunday, October 28, 2012

Costa Rica: Day Nine

Sunday, October 28, 2012

This morning felt like the beginning of the end. We ate our breakfast and took a cab back to the Quepos airport to catch our flight to San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica. We had a very early flight on Monday back to the states, so we decided to stay one night in San Jose. Our flight was shorter this time and in about twenty minutes after taking off, we were landing in the middle of the city. It was surprising to see the vast differences in some of the neighborhoods, even from the air. Some were made of scrap metal and with dirt roads, while others were stone and stucco houses with pools in the back yard. It was very interesting to see the neighborhoods change as we approached the airport.

Costa Rica coastline from the air
The beautiful mountains and countryside of Costa Rica
Various neighborhoods as we approached San Jose
San Jose was actually a pretty large city - this is only a small part of it
Once we were off the plane, we had to collect our luggage and stand in a line on a small patch of grass while dogs sniffed our persons and luggage for drugs or other contraband. It was a bit of a different experience because no one spoke English and they just pointed and grunted, so I wasn't sure what was going on. I have no idea if they do this to every flight or just suspicious ones, but the good news is that no one on our flight had anything bad, so we were released. From the airport, we hired a cab driver to take us to our hotel.

Driving in San Jose was a real eye opener! There were people EVERYWHERE! It didn't matter how many lanes the road was or the speed of the cars, people of all ages just walked where ever they wanted, whenever they wanted. I was terrified that we were going to hit someone, but I guess you get used to these kinds of things, because our driver skillfully navigated us to our hotel.

Hotel Grano De Oro was converted from a Tropical Victorian Mansion into a 40-room hotel. The hallways were lined with period photographs, original art and tropical flower arrangements. The hotel felt so luxurious with exposed wood beans, sweeping staircases and elegant furniture. I felt like such a scrub in my hiking pants and keen sandals, that I was eager to shower and change my clothes. We were tired and ready for a nap, but considering how early in the morning our flight was and the fact is was already 3:00pm, we decided to eat a late lunch in the hotel restaurant before calling it a day.

Our room with a view out onto our veranda
Our wonderfully white bathroom, I loved the all white!
The lunch menu was so appetizing that I wanted to order everything! I finally settled on a starter of sopa negra (a black bean soup) and a sandwich pollo clasico (a grilled chicken sandwich with marinated roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, spinach, grainy mustard mayonnaise served with root vegetable chips). My meal was so good that I couldn't help but say "ooohhh, yyyuuummm" as I took bite after bite! We decided to order desert, I mean why stop now! I finally settled on the Pavlova (meringue, passion fruit mousse and fresh fruits) which was amazing! It just melted in my mouth, leaving me wanting more.

Sopa Negra with a hard boiled egg
Sandwich Pollo Clasico

Joel's tres leches, also very, very good!
After our amazing lunch we retreated to our separate rooms to relax and get some sleep before our early wake up call. I spent my time dozing, reading my book and watching some TV with Joel.  Our rooms here were smaller than our rooms in the other two hotels, but equally welcoming and comfortable. Joel and I even had a private veranda. For once on this trip, Joel and I ended up in the better room, but the differences were so minor and our stay so short, that it didn't seem like much of a consolation. Jackie and Chris claimed that when you are repeat world travelers you get secret perks and upgrades that are not given to beginners. I can't wait until Joel and I become upgrade to this secret VIP status!

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