Thursday, January 20, 2011

My thoughts on San Jose

I think San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica for those unaware, is the kind of place I would like to live, but not to visit. The thing is, I've spent time in the downtown area of San Jose for a total of about 2 days, and I already feel like I've seen all the major tourist attractions.


Some of the gold sculptures in the Museo de Oro, in downtown Jose, which
is coincidentally also where my host father works.

I think living near New York City for my entire cultural life has raised my expectations of every other city that I encounter. I expect them to be bursting with historical museums, art exhibits, concerts, and shopping districts. San Jose has all of these elements, but I would not describe the city as "bursting" with them.

The national post office for Costa Rica.

That's not to say that I haven't enjoyed what I've seen. The national theater is very beautifully decorated, and the gold sculptures in the Museo de Oro were quite interesting. The national post office is one of the most elegant buildings I've ever seen, although perhaps that is just because it stands in contrast with many of the other buildings in San Jose and the surrounding area.

But as Sam also observed when he visited, being here doesn't really create a desire to go sight-seeing or go to museums. It's much better to spend the day in La Sabana park, for example, which is a huge park at one end of the city that is literally the most pleasant place I have ever been. I think this is really what I'm trying to get at when I say that this would be a pretty great place to live, but not to visit. The biggest touristy thing that the city has going for it is that it is in Costa Rica, and therefore serves as a base camp for travel elsewhere in the country.

The one thing I will note that San Jose has that very few other cities have is a huge amount of urban parks, and even where there is no park there are usually a plethora of trees lining the streets. These trees are not the wimpy token New York City trees, but real trees that tower above buildings. It's incredibly refreshing on a hot day to stumble across an area of greenery among the metal buildings, beautifully landscaped and highlighting the biological diversity of this country. It's a country of a strange dichotomy, though, as I think the picture below demonstrates... they have so much biodiversity and natural land left to show off to the world, yet their government leaves their main city constantly in a seemingly worse-for-wear state.

Taken in La Sabana park, which is currently my favorite place in the city.

I dunno, just some thoughts. As usual, more photos on my flickr page... more posts about my exciting weekend soon!

1 comment:

  1. I've been there, and I agree. Except for the living part. I would hate to live in San Jose, I'd get bored too quickly. My parents were possibly moving there a couple of years ago and I almost cried when I heard the news. PS: LURKIN ON YER BLOG <3