La Fortuna, Costa Rica
At first, San José may frustrate the tourist eager to experience Costa Rica’s beauty and charm. Modern concrete structures encroach on the city’s surviving examples of elegant colonial architecture. Smog and grime dominate the country’s capital, while piercing car horns never stop blaring. During the summer rainy season, travelers should expect daily downpours.
Despite these frustrations, however, San José is filled with the energy of a young and bustling city. As irritating as the fast-food joints on every corner may be for someone attempting to escape civilization, the neon facades demonstrate how rapidly the city is modernizing. Internet cafes have sprung up on nearly every corner. Luxury hotels and restaurants offering international cuisine provide the discerning traveler with a plethora of culinary options.
For those seeking nightlife, bars and clubs in the city’s center, El Pueblo and San Pedro are alive with energy and music until the wee hours of morning. Most of San José’s populous could probably show you up on the dance floor—the speed and elegance of salsa takes most gringos by surprise. Don’t be too intimidated, though, as you will quickly discover the friendliness of Costa Ricans. If you look too lost or confused, someone will stop to ask if you need help.