Today is the last full day of our trip and we’re going into San José for some culture. We spent a day sightseeing in the city last week, but it was a Monday when everything is closed. So today we plan to visit the museum and art gallery.
We take an Uber into town and find a spot for breakfast; Restaurante el Patio del Balmoral. We order the del Patio breakfast – gallo pinto (fried rice and beans) with fried cheese, fried eggs, fried plantain and fried bread. In case that wasn’t sufficient calories, it comes with a side of sour cream! And a pint of orange juice.
Once we have consumed a zillion calories, we head to the National Museum, which is housed in the former Bellavista Fort, HQ of the Costa Rican army until 1948, when the army was abolished. It is peppered with bullet holes from the Civil War, also in 1948.
After paying the entry fee ($11 each) we enter through a glass atrium which is described as a butterfly house. There aren’t any butterflies flying around, however there is a rack full of chrysalises from which a couple of butterflies are emerging.
The museum details the history of Costa Rica. Some parts (the auditorium, jail cells) remain closed. This leaves the Pre Colombian History room, the History of Costa Rica room and two temporary exhibitions; White, Blue and Red 1821-2021 (which celebrates the bicentenary of Costa Rican independence) and Nests & Eggs (which is a collection of nests and eggs).
My favourite part (because I’m a big kid) is at the end where a series of time lapsed screens allow you, if you run from side to side, to appear on several screens simultaneously. The old man is not impressed…
Once I have finished running up and down the museum like an idiot, we walk to our next destination, the MADC (Museum of Contemporary Art and Design). It’s always risky taking the old man to an art gallery, especially if it contains the word ‘Contemporary’ in the title. He tends to walk round muttering; ‘Call that art?’ a lot. To be honest, this time he has a point. It costs $4 entry – cash only, no change given. So we end up having to pay $10 to get in.
The first exhibit we see upon entering is literally a bowl of rotting fruit. Seriously? We’ve paid $10 for someone to shove some rotten fruit in a recess and call it art? Much of the rest of the space it taken up with chairs hanging from the ceiling. There’s also a map with some stickers on and a room where everything appears to be made of cotton wool, which is somehow indicative of covid! I can think of better ways of spending $10. The best bit about the museum is the building (a 19th century former liquor factory) but when I try to take a peek outside, a security guard is quick to intervene.
After we have paid $10 to look at a rotten pineapple, some hanging chairs and a room covered in cotton wool, we return to the hotel where I get my afternoon sun/pool fix while the old man deals with that pesky candy.