We started our time together in San Jose staying with one of Lisa’s friends Ashli and her lovely family. Ashli was kind enough to pick Lisa up from the airport and give us a place to crash while we planned the first leg of our trip.
We explored the neighborhood where they lived on foot so that we could get a taste of Tica culture. Our hostess unbiasedly claimed that the church in San Rafael is one of most beautiful in all of Costa Rica, so that is where we decided to have breakfast and start our tour.
From the church we wandered from San Rafael to the neighborhood of Heredia and got caught in the day’s downpour.
Because we are both seasoned travelers we know that the best way to strengthen our GI tracts is to eat a plethora of street food and drink tap water 😉 (Lisa: yes, I know this is not medically sound advice but I’m sure it will make for a more interesting trip). We started this culinary adventure by finding a food stall that made choreada (parecido a guirila para nuestros fanaticos nica, pero ellos las comen con crema en vez de cuajada), a slightly sweet corn pancake. Thankfully we are both still at full health.Overall the highlight of our time in San Jose was playing with (and being entertained by) Lili, Ashli’s 4 year old daughter. With Lili we got to practice piano, play balloon volleyball, do puzzles, and run races
From San Jose we took a scenic 5 hour bus ride through the mountains to arrive at La Fortuna, a small tourist town at the base of the volcano Arenal. It is a lush landscape with two volcanos towering on the horizon. Arenal is known for its adventure sports such as rock climbing, zip lining, and hiking the volcanos. Unfortunately, we only had one full day at Arenal so we decided to hike to a waterfall and visit one of the local hot springs. The La Fortuna Falls was beautiful and well worth the 5k walk, each way. The swimming hole at the base of the falls was a perfect way to cool off after the hike.
Hot springs, however, might be a bit of a misnomer, the water was naturally heated and then pumped into 25 pools, ranging in temperature from 93-116 degrees Fahrenheit. It was more of an adult playground than a serene natural spot, with mood lighting, music, and heated water slides that boasted speeds up to 45kg/hr.
The hostel we stayed at, Arenal Hostel Resort, was an incredible find for just $12 per night a person. It had a swimming pool complete with waterfall and swim up bar, unlimited coffee, hammocks as far as the eye can see, friendly informative staff, and a free multi-colored welcome drink at the bar.