Monday, February 21, 2011

Costa Rica - San José

It was Sunday. We decided to have another go at spending time in San José, hoping for a better outcome than our traffic accident of the week before. This time we took the bus.

We had been unable to arrange another tour of old San José, but figured we could invent our own as we went along. We started by heading for the plaza beside the lovely old Teàtro building. On the way we passed this line-up outside a pretty kiosk.

It was a bank and the line was people waiting to use the ATM. (This is a common sight in Costa Rica, and we too have stood in line to withdraw funds. On one occasion in Atenas, we were two people from the head of the line when the machine ran out of cash.)

Just past the bank, we found a delightful statue.

The plaza was flanked by restaurants and glitzy stores on three sides and by the imposing old theatre on the fourth. We used a store window to make one of our traditional "mirror shots". I wonder why Michael chose this one.

The Teàtro was closed, but I managed to shove my camera through the railings to record the facade,

yet more topiary,

and another,more slender, bronze lady.

Beneath the plaza is the bunker-like state gallery and museum. The current exhibition was of ancient coins and we gave it a miss. However, the small but good gift shop offered an array of pretty necklaces incorporating reproductions of some of the coins. Michael bought me one as a souvenir of our holiday.

As we left, we admired a clever fish sculpture made of axle springs that was not displayed to advantage in a dim corner of the foyer.

Our guidebook was not complimentary about San José, recommending that travellers get out of it as soon as they could, but we enjoyed what we saw, particularly a few of the old coffee barons' houses, some restored...

...some not.

The contrast of old and new made for an interesting streetscape,

as did the colours of some of the more modest little buildings.

Several buildings had decorative tile floors in their lobbies...

while others had interesting exterior wall decorations.

We walked through a city park where a little boy was dancing unselfconsciously in the central rotunda, watched by his parents...

...and an imposing conquistador.

I had hoped to capture a modern-day young man lounging at the base of the statue, but he courteously moved out of the frame. In contrast to the guidebook warnings, wherever we went, we found the Joséfinos to be polite, obliging and friendly. (I have to say that since Lonely Planet was sold to the Brits, its tone has become wary, and a snide and superior attitude to the locals has crept in. Bring back the more adventurous, and more generous, Aussie writers!)

On our way back to the bus station, we passed yet another dramatic piece of sculpture outside a government building.

Perhaps if we had gone on a weekday, we would have found the city noisier and more crowded, but as it was we had a most enjoyable day.

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