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Spanish in Heredia

How to Spend Your Downtime in Heredia

At first glance, Heredia, a city just 10 kilometres north of the capital of Costa Rica, San José, could be easily dismissed as a small town with not a lot to offer. However, if you spend any amount of time here, perhaps whilst studying a Spanish language course, you will discover that this is far from the truth. Heredia is a pretty and intriguing place to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and it has so much to offer those who do.

Take in Your Surroundings

When you arrive in Heredia, the first thing to be done is to take a wander through the streets and main plaza and get a feel for the city. The city is compact and therefore very easily explored on foot. The central Plaza is a popular gathering place for many of the towns students (the University of Costa Rica has a Biology campus located here as well as a Veterinary school) and residents and gives off a friendly and sociable vibe. It is framed on one side by the Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción, built in 1796 and full of history and ancient paintings and beautiful stained glass. The church bells were imported from Cusco in Péru. This Parque Central is also home to a number of other interesting sites such as the music temple, the colonial tower, El Fortin and the Casa de la Cultura and at weekends everything comes to life with people selling food, handcrafts and lottery tickets as well as a local Farmers Market with fresh fruit and vegetables and sweet treats. Heading away from the centre up Monte de la Cruz, you can get spectacular views of the city and both the Volcanoes of Poas and Barva.

Flora, Fauna and Fresh Air

National Park

The city of Heredia is located right on the edge of the Braulio Carrillo National Park, 117,300 acres in size and home to various volcanoes and crater lakes and potential adventure and fun. On the eastern side of the Park you will find an aerial gondola ride that takes you over the rainforest canopy. Each gondola comes complete with its own guide, ready and willing to point out all the wildlife they can to you. There are also companies offering zip lining in different parts of the park and many tour operators leaving from San José or Heredia will make a stop off at some point in the National Park.

Costa Rica is world renowned for the quality of the coffee that it produces. Production began in 1779 and has been synonymous with the growth and wealth of some parts of the country. Heredia is no exception and here you will find a plantation of on of the country's most well known brands, Cafe Britt. Cafe Britt has been involved in numerous lawsuits over the years with the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia after developing an advertising campaign with the slogan 'Juan Valdez drinks Costa Rican Coffee', Juan Valdez being the fictional character who fronts Colombia's most popular brand of coffee. Needless to say this was not very well received. You can take a tour around the plantation and get an insight into the process of coffee cultivation from the plant to the final packaged product. It also has a gourmet cafe and restaurant and sells souvenirs of all things coffee and chocolate related.

Heredia is an outdoors city and between the National Park and the coffee plantations, you will be sure to get your fair share of fresh air. The wildlife of the area is of great importance and it is one of the reasons that the University of Costa Rica chose Heredia as the site for its Biology department. Ten minutes from the centre of Heredia you will find the interactive INBio Park, run by the National Diversity Institute of Costa Rica and home to all kinds of animal species, such as spiders, butterflies, snakes, turtles, caimans, iguanas, sloths, birds, deers and stingless bees.

Not too many cities can provide you with such diverse activities and scenery and still remain a peaceful place to spend some time studying Spanish, but Heredia manages it. In the morning you could be wandering about the stalls of a quaint Farmers Market or viewing the intricacies of the design of the Iglesia de la Inmaculada and in the afternoon you could be surrounded by waterfalls, toucans and greenery, without much effort on your part. This is an ideal spot if you don't want to be stuck for things to do in your spare time, but at he same time don't want the distraction of the big city in San José. Heredia provides the perfect backdrop for a healthy balance between work and play!