Costa Rica has always been in my girlfriend’s bucket list of travel destinations. As for me, I felt neutral about it but I was more than happy to take my girlfriend there. My impression of Costa Rica since going there is that it’s pretty much like the United States. There’s Americans everywhere (which is not a bad thing, I do like Americans). However, if I wanted to be with Americans, I would just go to the USA. And while I did like the weather in Costa Rica, I don’t see any reason for me to return here again unless it’s for a connecting flight. It just didn’t have what I was looking for in a travel destination.
Travel destinations I normally enjoy includes those that are affordable, places I can see myself living in, a unique adventure, seeing a world wonder, or wildlife viewing (especially predators). Unfortunately, none of those factors was present in Costa Rica so for me, it was just another generic travel destination full of mainstream tourists. I don’t have anything against a travel destination just because many tourists frequent there. Thailand is a country that is overpopulated with tourists and I still love that place. But Costa Rica just didn’t have any attributes I look for in a travel destination and so I put this country dead in the neutral category. At the very least, I liked it slightly more than Panama.
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Flying from Panama to El Salvador to Costa Rica
Costa Rica is the final destination of my trip during my first trip out of Canada since the pandemic started. I specifically picked Costa Rica as my last stop because it would be easiest to fly back home from there. With the pandemic still present, travel is still a hassle and I wanted my path back home to be as least difficult as possible.
Since I was using my Aeroplan points to book my flights, flying to Costa Rica to Panama required Karen and I to connect through El Salvador. While in the El Salvador airport, the country gave us some good vibes and a part of me wished we explored El Salvador instead.
Immigration issues in the San Jose airport
After we arrived in the San Jose airport, we tried going through immigration only to find out that there’s something wrong with our online health declaration form. They made us go another screening process where they double checked our vaccination documents before being able to finally go through immigration. The whole process was a hassle. And, it took us a lot longer to get out of the airport than originally planned.
PCR test in Costa Rica
After exiting the airport, we located the shuttle stop where a bus would take us to the facility where they were doing the PCR testing. We decided to get a PCR test done before going to our hotel. Our goal was to save us time and hassle from having to get it done later on. To my pleasant surprise, the PCR test was well organized. And, the person administering it was gentle enough that I didn’t feel like they were stabbing the cotton swab all the way up my brain.
After the smooth PCR testing process, we called an Uber to take us to our hotel. Our Uber driver was a bit weird and he was jacking up some weird 70s and 80s music. His car was also really cramped because his baby seat was on the back. I wonder why he didn’t put it in his trunk?
Nice hotel with a robbery happening outside
Karen and I decided to stay at the Aloft hotel in San Jose. And, it’s probably the best accommodation we stayed at during our entire trip. The place was relaxing and it was close to a local grocery and other places to eat.
Karen and I took the chance to get some Burger King nearby before heading to this grocery store to buy some souvenirs. On our way to the grocery store, we saw a wild chase and it turns out someone just robbed an individual just outside the grocery store. Two mall security guards were chasing the thief but they couldn’t catch up to him. Clearly, the thief has done this several times before and he was a professional.
I felt bad for the guy that got robbed. I guess San Jose, Costa Rica lives up to its hype of having a lot of theft.
Before leaving our awesome hotel the next day, we enjoyed a tasty breakfast. And, I also got a chance to use the fitness centre before heading to our final accommodation.
Beautiful hotel with an off putting vibe
I decided that for the last night of our trip, I would use my Marriott e-certificate and book a nice hotel. We ended up staying at the Marriott Hotel Hacienda Belen. This turned out to be a bad decision. Mainly because this hotel was cliquey as fuck and I absolutely hated my time there.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a pretty hotel. But, the people there was so cliquey and off putting, I just couldn’t stand it. Karen shares the same sentiment as me.
One of the two saving grace this disgusting cliquey hotel had was it had a really good fitness centre.
New Year’s eve celebration
At night, Karen really wanted to watch the insanely obnoxious New Year’s countdown party. So, I took her to see the show.
I’ve been to a lot of parties when I was in my 20s. And, I’ve always hated big parties. But, Karen was relatively sheltered in her teens and 20s and never partied. So for her, it was an exciting sight to see.
Great food and service despite the terrible vibe
The second saving grace this hotel had was the food. For breakfast, the food was really good. On top of that, the service was also top notch. The servers there was real down to Earth and genuinely friendly which I appreciated.
Lounge in the San Jose airport
The final part of our trip is to fly back home from the San Jose airport. Since I used my eupgrades and got bumped up to business class, they gave us lounge access in the airport. Sadly, the lounge in the San Jose airport was not comfortable at all. The seats hurt my back and there was barely any food in that place. At least there’s plenty of water and staying hydrated is something I value a lot when travelling.
Many people might say I should have left the capital city to really explore and get to know Costa Rica. And those people are probably right. But I am collecting countries. And, since Costa Rica is not in my bucket list of travel destinations, the country only has one chance to make a first impression. And honestly, it’s just another checklist country for me much like many other European countries I’ve visited in the past.
For people who love this place, good for you, to each their own after all. As for me, I won’t be going out of my way to visit again unless it’s for the purpose of a connecting flight. I will do everything in my power to avoid the Panama airport when travelling in Central America. So, if it means going through Costa Rica, I will happily do that.