For Immediate Release                                                                        
April 10, 2011
Contact:  Judy Duran, CTA:  720 270-5767;
durandenver@msn.com
Centennial, CO. 
 

Centennial, CO.  Travel partners Trypp, the Traveling Elephant, and Judy Duran, Professional Travel Planner, returned recently from their 13-day trip to Costa Rica.  Both declare the “Pura Vida” destination a nation with wide appeal for visitors.

    

San Jose landmarks, from left:  Gran Hotel, Catedral Nacional    

“‘Pura Vida’ is the expression the ticos use to greet one another,” explains Duran.  “It means ‘Pure Life’ in reference to the country’s dedication to protecting its natural resources.  But the great diversity in this tiny country makes it a destination with wider appeal than just eco-tourism.”

Costa Rica is well-known as a eco-tourism mecca, with 18% of the country preserved as national parks and another 13% as privately-owned sanctuaries.  It’s bio-diversity is unrivaled:  In just under  20,000 square miles it boasts 12,000 species of plants, 1,239 species of butterflies, 838 species of birds, 440 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 232 species of mammals.  One protected strip of forest runs uninterrupted for 40 miles through nine ecological zones from sea level to 12,500 feet above.

“About the only species noticeably missing are pachyderms,” noted the Elephant.

Duran says that a wide range of options exists even within the country’s eco-tourism choices.  “You can go for adventure, like white water rafting, zip-lining or SCUBA diving.  Or you can take a more passive route, enjoying the abundant native flora and fauna from the comfort of an air conditioned motor coach, easy hike or placid boat ride on one of the many lagoons or rivers through the rainforest.”

“But Costa Rica is not just about eco-tourism.  Its major city, though relatively small by world standards, is a bustling metropolis.”

Duran describes the streets of San Jose as teeming with people seven days a week.  Several small parks and plazas throughout the downtown host political speakers, live performances, celebrations and street performers. The busy Avenida Central is a hodgepodge of colorful shops and street vendors.

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SAN JOSE STREET SCENES

    

         
From top left: 1st Row –  Ticos stroll the Avenida Central mall on a Sunday morning, colorful stores & street vendors line the mall; 2nd Row – Typical fast food restaurants are a downtown staple, street performers pose for pictures along the Plaza de la Cultura, Trypp investigates Plaza de la Cultura pigeons with young tico friend
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“San Jose’s pigeon population doesn’t take a back seat to any city in the world,” observed Trypp.

Of the variety of museums and attractions she cites the Teatro Nacional as one of the best.  “It doesn’t look like much from the outside,” Duran says, “but it goes on forever on the inside. And the ornamentation is breathtaking.”

The neo-classical theater was built in the 1890’s by coffee barons who taxed their own product after a European theater group snubbed the Costa Rican capital because it lacked an adequate theater.  Today the theater is home to the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional.  For a modest admission charge audiences enjoy several performances a week from classical music, theater and dance to more modern presentations.

A charming theater café offers refreshments and light meals throughout the day. The popular open-air  Plaza de la Cultura, adjoins the theater and the Museo del Oro, featuring pre-Columbian gold artifacts.  The museum occupies a space just behind the theater below street level.

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TEATRO NACIONAL

              

From top left:  1st Row – Exterior & foyer; 2nd Row – Ceiling mural & ornamentation, gallery

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Right across the street from the Teatro Nacional is the Grand Old Dame of San Jose, with the befitting name of Gran Hotel de Costa Rica.  The 1930’s structure “Oozes elegance,” states Duran.  “It can certainly hold its own again the other grand dames of the world:  the Ritz, the Brown, Claridge’s.”

“I planned the trip with my husband to celebrate our 40th Anniversary,” says Duran, “So Trypp graciously opted to remain at our suburban hotel while Pat and I enjoyed our last day in Costa Rica without her.”  They enjoyed an al fresco breakfast on the Gran’s front terrace adjacent to the open air lobby.  Later in the day, they returned to the terrace for a cool and calming respite from the heat, humidity and humanity of shopping in the busy central city.

“We just couldn’t pass up the appeal of a cold Corona Michelada from the comfort of a leather love seat while enjoying the music of the Gran’s Sunday afternoon pianist.”

“From eco-tourism and city-tourism, there are plenty of other options to appreciate in Costa Rica,” according to Trypp.  Among the many tourism choices the pachyderm cites are rest and relaxation at the many beachfront resorts; more than five active volcanoes; hot springs; cities of historical significance; coffee plantations; whale watching; indigenous cultures; surfing; and volun-tourism, including monitoring Costa Rica’s sea turtles on both coasts.

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From top left:  1st Row – Poas Volcano signage, steam flume; 2nd Row – Secondary crater at Poas,  Sarchi oxcart on road to Poas; Trypp inspecting coffee at Doka Estates plantation & mingling with pachyderm friends at Poas souvenir shop

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While Duran usually prefers independent touring to organized trips, she says the trio wanted to get the most complete picture possible of the country in the few days they had to tour before their cruise.  “It’s common knowledge that Costa Rica’s highways are pretty primitive and driving is challenging.  Pat took one look at the situation and decided we’d be better off with organized tours.”  Among the options chosen were tours to the Poas Volcano National Park and the Doka Estates coffee plantation.

“We used three different tour companies purposely so that we’d be able to make the best recommendation to our clients,” says Trypp.  “All of them had well-informed and entertainingbi-lingual tour guides.  But the one company that stood out for having the most comfortable transportation was Swiss Travel.  Their motor coaches were the most accommodating for adult human and pachyderm statures.”

“We were able to get a good picture of the interior from our base near San Jose and of the Pacific Coast from the ports-of-call on our cruise,” Duran commented.  “We did not get to the Eastern provinces, which we understand have a more Caribbean flavor and ethnicity.”

“We’ll be back,” adds her pachyderm partner.  “One trip is simply not enough to enjoy all the many choices Costa Rica offers.”

“We won’t say ‘Adios’ to this spectacular destination, but ‘¡Hasta luego, Pura Vida!’”

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