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Ciudad Quesada de San Carlos
Ciudad Quesada, or simply "San Carlos" to the locals, is one of the nicer towns in Costa Rica. Although it is usually a gateway town for most tourists en route to La Fortuna to see the Arenal Volcano, Ciudad Quesada has some attractive characteristics. For one, it has a nice, cool climate and nice scenery of green hills surrounding the center. It is also conveniently located in the fork between the two major highways that head north to Los Chiles and Upala. Consequently, Ciudad Quesada has a bus station with buses heading just about everywhere. Also, they have a movie theater at the bus station that can make you feel right at home, only with Spanish subtitles.
Other things to do in Ciudad Quesada
If you care to explore the nightlife in Ciudad Quesada, I would recommend going to Club Iguana, located just down from the central park. A more low-key joint is La Yunta that is one block up from the central park. If you're looking for a souvenir to bring back home, skip the souvenir shops on the beaches (your friends already have t-shirts and bead necklaces) and go to Ranita for anything from horse saddles to wooden arts and crafts. My personal favorite is the cowboy belt that the store's owner, Verny, puts your name on for no extra charge. How to get to Ciudad Quesada: In San José the bus terminal is near the Coca-Cola bus station. I recommend taking a taxi to the terminal because it is in a bad part of town. A 6'3" German fella with capri pants doesn't quite fit in with the local fare and a group of American tourists is about as subtle as a herd of stampeding buffaloes. So, just tell the taxi driver "la parada de San Carlos" and they'll know where to take you. Buses start at the butt crack of dawn and leave every half hour or so. Some of them (6:15 and 8:40) continue to La Fortuna, the tourism mecca of Northern Costa Rica. Even if the buses don't go to La Fortuna, you can always take another bus from the Ciudad Quesada bus terminal. I recommend taking the express buses right next to the ticket window. They are much faster than the normal buses because they make few stops and they don't go through the center of Alajuela. These express buses require a ticket, so get in line in front of the ticket window and buy your ticket (a little over $2 in 2007) that has your assigned seat number. If you are starting out in Alajuela, make it to the bus stop that is on the edge of town at the start of the highway that goes to the airport. From here you can take only the regular service buses from San José (not the express buses that don't go through Alajuela). If you intend to bypass Ciudad Quesada for La Fortuna, I recommend taking the bus that leaves San José at 8:40 AM and passes by Alajuela some time between 9:00 AM and 9:15 AM. Otherwise, buses are passing by all the time. You're not likely to spend more than a half an hour waiting at this bus stop.
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