After the Costa Rica rainforest tour, I stayed in San Jose for two days before starting our Costa Rica adventure tour in the Pacific Coast. In the meantime, I visited some touristic points in downtown San Jose, including the Mercado Central (or Central Market), right in the heart of the city. Located on Avenida Central Boulevard, it is a huge building housing an indoor market, where products such as fruits, flowers and clothes are sold.
When you came into the market some of the first things that you’ll notice are the variety of fresh odors: flowers, meat, food spices. It’s common to see people bargaining here, and the sellers also compete to get most of the shop-savvy customers.
Keep walking over the narrow corridors and you will see more products: leather-goods, traditional handcraft items, postcards, handmade toys, guitars, etc. If you feel lucky, try your bargaining skills and make your Costa Rica budget vacation. Some Spanish may help. People are warm but outspoken, especially sellers, but don’t get intimidated, they treat tourists very well.
After my shopping session, I was starving, so I decided to try one of many small restaurants, called “sodas”. A soda usually has a traditional menu, from entries to desserts. I tried the “casado”, made up of rice, beans, green salad, plantain, meat of choice like fish, chicken or beef, and natural fruit juice. Good enough to satisfy my hunger. If you are coming in the morning or afternoon, you can also have a cup of delicious costarican coffee with some bakery, or get the “helado sorbetera”, a soft ice cream made in the place. Judging by the number of customers, it is very popular here.
As in any city these days, the touristic spots are safe, but keep an eye on your belongings and don’t carry much cash with you. Put your wallet and documents on a safe place, or better, leave them in your Costa Rica hotel. If you have issues or questions, look for one the market guards, or a member of the touristic or regular police on the street.
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