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Costa Rica, it’s where the mountains cradle sexy volcanos, monkeys frolic in the forests, and surfers roll in the harsh white foam of the Pacific Ocean. So when I had the chance to take a last minute trip to San Jose recently, I couldn’t help but say, “Pura vida!”

The Pacific Ocean coast of Costa Rica is a popular destination for romantic getaways and adventure seeking. But it’s somewhat overdone by vacationers. The mountainous capital of San Jose, on the other hand, has it’s own unique romantic and adventurous charms.

In San Jose, you’ll see embassies and ambassadors. You’ll find lovely mountain top restaurants at the end of rough, cracked roads. San Jose, and especially the neighboring town of Escazu, have the vibe of a big city mixed with traditional, local flavor. It’s where gritty and authentic meets lush and upscale.

One of the things I adore most about the San Jose area is the food. Fresh. Organic. Fruit-full. Always prepared with the utmost care and passion. Whether you’re eating Italian, Japanese, or authentic Costa Rican, each meal seems channeled from the heavens.

Here are three, can’t miss, must do’s if you make it to the San Jose area.

1.  Have brunch at Hotel Grano de Oro. Old world charm. Classic, Spanish ambiance.  Lovely and romantic, it won Travel + Leisure Magazine’s World’s Best Award for 2013.

02_entrada_del_hotel2. Eat lunch at Lorenzo’s Italian Steakhouse in Plaza Itskatzu. Order the tomato soup that’s not on the menu, and be sure to make friends with the pizotes. A gang of them hang out behind Lorenzo’s.

iphoto-library3. Eat dinner at Tiquicia. Dirty rice and beans (gallo pinto) are the epitome of romance when enjoyed at old wooden, candle lit tables overlooking the lights of San Jose. It’s a bit touristy, but the views make it worthwhile. During the daytime, you can see three volcanoes from this mountain top perch.

When you’re through with all that, drive around and take in the scenery. Watch out for the potholes though, and the wide culverts with on the sides of the road. Getting around can be tricky. There are few road signs and even fewer addresses. Locals describe their location something like this, “ten kilometers east of where Juan Lopez’s horse died in 1867.” And they speak Spanish, of course, which makes finding that restaurant even more of an adventure for an English speaking tourist.

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Overall, San Jose is fun and sexy. It’s the perfect place to be adventurous and do a little Karousing. So pura vida, my fellow Karousers. Pura vida.


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