Hey you. Yeah you! Fancy traveler flying across the world only to sit in a swanky downtown hotel. Why are you wasting your time?
OK, let me cool off for a second. I’m not actually mad at anybody, but I constantly am running into people who do nothing by fly to a great country and waste their time in a large city near the airport. It disappoints me.
Here’s the story inspiring this rant:
A friend of mine, who will remain nameless, recently took a trip to Costa Rica where he spent all but one day in San Jose. He only spent one day out of the city. This is Costa Rica travel blasphemy.
Maybe I’m a bit biased based on my prior experiences. I’ve been to San Jose, Costa Rica three times and have yet to experience anything better than a mediocre dish of arroz con pollo. I saw prostitutes literally in the act on homeless men in alleys, heroin addicts shooting up on the sidewalk, survived a mugging attempt by physically overpowering the man who thought he could rob me, was ripped off by not one but two taxi drivers, and last but not least, caught a wicked case of bed bugs.
So if you can’t tell, no, I am not a fan of San Jose, though I have nothing but good things to say about the rest of the country and highly recommend Costa Rica–just beeline it out of the airport and avoid San Jose at all costs.
I’ll give the unnamed friend a break because he was there for a wedding and only had three or four days. Hardly enough time to truly experience a gem like Costa Rica so he did as best as he could and actually had a good time.
But my point remains. Nobody can answer what true travel is, but I can safely assume it is not landing in a large city (in nearly any country) and spending money on overpriced tourist meals and following what the guidebook says you must see. You must get out of the hustle and bustle, meet genuine people, and make experiences that aren’t what the tourist agency or guidebooks shape for you.
Headline photo courtesy of wirralwater (all good)’s