24 Hours in Costa Rica

By now we must have mentioned that Spirit Airlines is our go-to airline; especially for weekend get-aways.  In October, I spotted a free ticket from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to San Jose, so I jumped on it and invited my son.

I booked a Friday departure for May 8, 2015 departing FLL at 11:29 p.m., arriving San Jose at 12:18 a.m. The return flight was booked for May 10, departing San Jose at 1:07 a.m., arriving FLL at 5:57 a.m.  The times may not be the most convenient, but it was a free ticket.  Well, almost free.  I paid 10,000 miles and $94.86 for the two round trip tickets.  Word of caution, as of this writing, the Costa Rican departure tax in NOT included in the ticket price.  Be ready to pay $29 in U.S. cash per person before you check in for your flight home.

I still had to get to FLL and back so that required more flights.  Before I go any further, please understand it is VERY risky to break up a flight booking like this. If the airline is late and you miss the connection that you book on a different reservation, you are responsible for the cost of the missed flight; not the airline.

I found a free ticket from Detroit to Fort Lauderdale for 5,000 miles and $11.20 for the two tickets.  I wasn’t so lucky for the final leg of the trip.  From Fort Lauderdale to Detroit I had to pay $194.18 for two one way tickets.  Overall, I paid $150.12 for each person’s airfare:  Round trip Detroit-San Jose.

We were arriving late to San Jose, and since my son is only 12, I pre-booked a room at a high end hotel with a pick up service.  I couldn’t risk my son’s safety in a third world country at 1:00 a.m. in a random taxi going to a neighborhood I didn’t know anything about. We stayed at the Hotel Grano de Oro which I booked via Travelocity for $163.85.  That price included all the taxes.   I even called the hotel directly and I could not beat Travelocity’s price anywhere.


The garden court leading to our room at the Grano de Oro.


Interior of room.

Since this was a 24 hour trip, and we had to vacate the room in the morning, we would be sight seeing all day which meant hauling our luggage with us (I didn’t want to have the hotel hold our stuff in case we didn’t have time to get back there), we didn’t even take a carryon on this trip.  This was a SCOTTeVEST trip.  If you haven’t heard of SCOTTeVEST, it may be worth your while to check out their products. Freddy turned me on to them, and I rarely go on a trip without my SCOTTeVEST.  Here is a link to their site.  SCOTTeVEST

My son and I basically wore the same clothes for two days in a row.  In the cargo pocket of the SCOTTeVEST, we packed something to sleep in and sweatshirts in case we got chilly.  In the front pockets, we packed our toiletries.  We were set:  a light load that we could wear all day.

For about $8, we took a taxi downtown and spent the morning sight seeing.

We went to the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum.


The Fine Arts Palace


Attended Mass in the cathedral.


We walked the city for a good bit and had lunch at a historic hotel across from the Palace of Fine Arts before taking a local bus to Sarchi.

We spent the afternoon in Sarchi and enjoyed looking at the local art works.


We returned to San Jose for a nice dinner at an upscale restaurant before heading back to the airport.

Upon arriving at the airport, it wasn’t long before we got the all-too-common Spirit update.  Our flight was delayed.  Oh boy!  That created stress for me because I had booked our connection on a separate reservation.  That meant the precious one hour twenty minute connection time I had was fleeting and I was afraid we wouldn’t make our connection.

I was pleased when we landed to learn that the pilot made up a good amount of time, but I still had just under an hour to clear customs and security and make the connection.  Could it be done?  Yes, I was confident I could do it.  I bolted to the front of the plane as soon as we landed.  When the door opened, a US customs agent boarded the plane and we were told that four flights had landed and there wasn’t room for us to queue up.  After much begging, the flight attendant was able to get people with connections off the plane.

Thank goodness my son and I each have a Global Entry card so we were able to zip though immigration and customs in a matter of minutes.  We asked to cut in line for the security checkpoint and made it to our gate just in time.  Oh, that was all before we soon read our flight update.  Our final flight to Detroit was—-DELAYED.  Thanks, Spirit.


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