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Cabarete2 Document Transcript

  • 1. Getting AroundE-mail Print Planes, trains and automobiles - well not quite as there are no train stations in the DR, however there is an excellent bus service, small island aircraft service and gua guas (public buses) as well as car hire companies. Bus Service caribe-tours-metro The two main bus companies are Metro (tel: 809 566 7126) and Caribe (tel: 809 221 4422) tours. Both services offer clean, regular and air conditioned buses into each major city and towns throughout the DR. Timetables and costs are printed in all depots and the buses are generally extremely punctual. These buses cannot be flagged down by the roadside and if you are wishing to catch the early bus (usually departing around 6.00am) then a reservation the day before maybe required. Fares are very reasonable and for getting from the north to Santo Domingo (the capital) or vice versa then there is no better way. Plenty of luggage space and toilet facilities on board! Try and get to the bus station an hour before departure to ensure your seat. Public Buses or Gua Guas Chugging along or puffing out smoke – you’ll find gua guas running up and down the highways and roads all around the Dominican Republic. An informal bus system, these mini vans, people carriers have all seen better days, however they offer a cheap and somewhat regular bus service too. Cheaper than the Metro and Caribe tours, the gua guas can be flagged down by the side of the road and a young boy will scoop you in and squash you up next to the local goat herder or bank manager. Everyone uses the gua gua system, cosy but not comfortable and a great way to get to know you fellow countrymen in a compact kind of way. Usually a ride will cost around RD$10 -20 depending on journey length, gua guas can be found running every 20 -30 minutes along the main roads. Usually on public holidays the service is limited and gua guas do not run after dark either….
  • 2. Public Cars Can be flagged down by the roadside too. A regular car with a box on the roof saying “Publico” you can spot the cars quite easily as they are normally run down battered old bangers. A public car will squash around 5 people on the back seat and usually 3 people on the front seat. You can pay RD$50 to reserve the front seat for yourself. Expect dare devil driving and break neck speeds, loud music and loss of hair due to your stress levels rising at an abnormal rate on knots! Public cars travel the main towns and highways from dawn and during dark hours to with journeys usually costing no more than RD$20. Taxis Real and regular taxis do exist and can be found outside any hotel or at taxi ranks through towns and cities. There will usually be a tariff displayed on a board outside and they are a great way to get out and about to sight see or venture out to restaurants etc.,. Agree your price beforehand and your taxi driver will drop you off at your destination, he will come back for you at a specified time (waiting time can be pre arranged at no extra charge) and remember to pay for your journey when you get back. Don’t pay for your return leg of the journey until you have had it! The local taxi drivers are normally great guys and will wait for around 3 hours if you want to go out for dinner! Motor-Conchos The cheapest and most popular form of transport for locals but the most dangerous and accident prone! Motorbikes all over the Dominican Republic are used as a taxi service from town to town. Hop on the back and off you go, often you can see Grannies sitting side saddle or a mother with 3 kids dangling off the sides of the bike, builders transporting building goods, ladders, farmers carrying livestock, washing machines – if fact you name it ! A cheap and fast way to get out and about but not recommended. Journeys cost from RD$5 – RD$20. An essential part of local life but as a tourist or bystander just visiting
  • 3. the DR, take your photographs and leave it at that. Car Rental Car rental is generally quite expensive in the DR, but you can always book in advance via the internet or the The Real DR car hire section, as most main car hire companies have concessions over here like Hertz, Dollar and National. Rates are roughly US$45 upwards per day. Do get full collision insurance. Note all dents and scratches before you drive off in you rental car as you surely will be charged for them when you return! Remember driving over here is on the right hand side of the road and conditions are often quite treacherous, many people do not pay attention to traffic lights/stop signs, over-take when you would not normally even think about it eg.,. round a blind bend, entering a dark tunnel etc.,. and if you are involved in an accident then everyone (even if it is not your fault) is taken away to the local police station for questioning. Sounds like a fun way to spend a couple of days during your week long vacation? Take care if you hire a car seriously! Plane Air Santo Domingo offers an island service which will get you from the north to south and east of the island with journeys lasting no more than an hour. Tel: 809 683 8006. title txt: Travel essentials - Getting Around Food and Drink Dominican food is a mixed blend of African, Spanish and Taino Indian influences, and if you just stick to your meals in your all-inclusive hotel buffets then you will not get a real taste of the island flavours at all. The food whilst not heavily hot spiced like neighbouring islands of Jamaica and Trinidad draws a different range of spices to tingle and tempt taste-buds with plenty of fresh herbs, garlic and tangy sauces. Rice & Beans!
  • 4. The most common plate eaten by everyone here is rice and beans. From toddlers to old folk this is pretty much the staple of every meal being highly nutritious and tasty. The dish is called the Dominican Flag and the beans (red kidney beans) are cooked in a pungent herby tomato sauce, this dish usually comes with fried chicken or pork and a basic salad (cabbage is used here a lot instead of lettuce as a salad base). Do not be surprised to see "green" tomatoes in a typical Dominican salad - they are crunchy and very tasty! Garlic, tomato and green peppers are all key ingredients in Dominican cooking (La cocina Dominicana) and are the base for most of the sauces used here. Some like it hot! For something spicy try the stewed goat or chivo picante (picante means spicy/hot). Goat tastes very similar to lamb for the uninitiated but is known to be a little boney. This is delicious and comes served with rice, tostones (Fried plantian chips) and salad. The goats are grown in the west of the country and are fed fresh oregano which grows in abundance in the countryside giving their meat a unique and sweet flavor. Favourites Sancocho is one of the most famous dishes in the DR. Originated from the Spanish housewives who colonized here in the sixteen hundreds this dish is made from 5 different meats, an amazing selection of tubers, vegetables and spices. Served as a hearty stew/soup fresh avocados (when in season) are sliced on top. Fish & Seafood Fresh seafood and fish are specialities in most restaurants here, from sea bass, parrot fish and tuna all locally caught, fried, poached, grilled or baked, plain or served a la criolla (spicy tomato sauce), with garlic or con coco (with coconut) in certain parts of the
  • 5. country. Shrimps, lobster and crab can be found in most restaurants and are served simply to let the natural flavours speak for themselves. Some of the best places to taste sea food are the small shack type restaurants found on beaches where you can see a barbeque in place and pick what you want off the grill. Served with salad and French fries, the coolest beer you can imagine sit back under your palm tree and watch the waves as you tuck into your Caribbean tropical delight! Word of Warning A lot of the food, especially in hotels, is deep fried using coconut oil - so a word or warning when you first arrive is not to stuff too much at once and ease your delicate tummies into the buffet line gently. Coconut being a natural laxative is a main cause for most tummy upsets over here. Fruits Real home grown organic fruits are readily available in not just your hotels but in supermarkets, outdoor markets and street vendors everywhere, fresh and sun-ripened and all those tropical colours and flavours ready to explode in your mouth – delicious. Pineapples, passion fruit, mango’s, papaya’s, oranges, star fruits, bananas, and many more are often used fresh in smoothies/milkshakes or "batida’s" as they called in the DR. What to Drink The aforementioned drinks are in chronological order from waking up to disco dancing and then going to bed! Breakfast time – Dominican coffee ranks as one of the number one coffee’s in the world. Most Dominicans take it in small doses literally smothered in sugar – this is called a café cito. However you like it, black or with milk it is delicious coffee and you should always make sure you take a couple of packs back home with you to remind you of your fabulous vacation. Mid Morning – A freshly squeezed juice is available just about everywhere, from inside
  • 6. your hotel to most cafes and bars offering a staggering selection of juices. Fresh orange juice is cool and refreshing just about anytime! Lunchtime – Bottled water is a must to re-hydrate yourselves but as it is now after 11.00 you couldn’t go far wrong with a cool Presidente, the number one selling beer on the island. Other brands of beer are Bohemia and Brahma. Afternoon – Cocktail time has arrived already – choose from a pina colada, bana mama or melon ball the choice is yours – just remember the amount of coconut milk used could have you running to the loo more times than you really want too! Sodas are widely available over here, not much choice in the range of diet sodas but the main sellers like Pepsi and Coca Cola can be bought nearly everywhere. Interesting to note that a soda is usually more expensive to buy than a shot of rum! Evening – Wines are imported into the DR, making them costly when eating out and a limited choice usually. Rum is made on the island and comes in a confusing amount of ages and tastes. The main brands are Brugal, Barcelo and Bermudez. The rums are darker when aged, however you can also buy white rum too. Watch out for 151 rum as it is 100% proof and great as a take home present for your mother-in-law as it will have her out for weeks after just one sip or for soaking your dentures in! Most people drink their rum with coke this is a cuba libre or with sprite a santo libre! You could always ask for a “servicio” which is a small bottle of rum, two cokes and a bucket of ice with some lime slices, when out in a local bar! Don’t forget to try the local aphrodisiac which is called “Mama Juana” a hard to stomach concoction of rum, honey, barks and leaves. Which is made in a large bottle and then put away for 3 months or so. Once potency has been fully reached it is served in little shot glasses usually after dinner! You can buy the dried form of leaves and barks in most supermarkets and add your own rum honey or special blends back home! Enjoy……!!!!!
  • 7. Money and Costs Money The Dominican Currency is the Peso. The peso is divided up into 100 centavos, and the symbol for the peso is RD$ - not to be confused with the US dollar! The peso comes in a variety of forms from coins of 1 pesos, 5, 10 and 25 coins to banknotes of 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000. Please do not accept any notes with rips, stuck back together with sellotape or that have writing on them (in biro or ink). The 50 peso note and the 200 peso note are both purple-ish in colour so be very careful when you first arrive and also the 500 pesos note and 2000 pesos notes are similar as well. The paper money is generally quite old, grubby and smelly as a lot of locals do not have bank accounts and keep their money in other "safe places" ie.,. inside their socks or underwear! American dollars are a widely accepted currency in the whole of the DR, however if you pay for something in US dollars then the change given back to you will be in pesos, so watch out if you are not too quick on the exchange rates. The Dominican pesos is still classed as a "closed currency" meaning that it is pretty much worthless back in your country of origin, so remember do not exchange all your dollars or pounds for pesos as if you have a lot of pesos left at the end of your holiday - you will probably lose out with the exchange rate in your home country Changing money should be done either at your hotel, a reputable bank or a money exchange office. Costs The Dominican Republic is regarded as the Caribbean on the cheap and offers trememdous value for every kind of traveller wishing to visit here, from fantastic package deals on "the all-inclusive" slant to budget rooms and bed and breakfasts for the independent traveller to rent. Whilst saying this there are high end options too from Casa
  • 8. de Campo in the east, some mega 5 star international hotels in the capital Santo Domingo and luxury hidden away villas and mansions to be rented in the north at places like SeaHorse Ranch, in Sosua. Where ever you are though bartering is a quintessential custom here and super fun. Please remember not to bargain in places like restaurants and casino's - prices are fixed just like home! You wouldn't walk into Burger King and start bartering over the price of a Whopper now would you - or would you?! Beach vendors, markets and souvenir shops are great places to start and the general rule of thumb is at least to halve the vendors price and start from there - good luck! Eating and drinking out in the DR is reasonable and won't break your budget. Some things are expensive over here especially imported items like electrical stuff and cars - but hey how many cars are you going to buy on your vacation! Crime and Safety Aside from the poorest neighbourhoods in Santo Domingo and Santiago, the Dominican Republic is a relatively safe place - though women travelling solo need to stay on their guard even here. In cities, take the same precautions that you would anywhere else: don't flaunt your wealth with fat rolls of pesos, leave your expensive jewellery at home and avoid walking alone late at night. Corruption is rife throughout the police force ; many officers do little besides collecting small bribes. Nevertheless, you shouldn't give an officer a bribe unless he first asks, albeit rather obliquely; if he does ask, you're probably best off complying, provided he doesn't ask for more than RD$20 or RD$30. The good news for you is that police are routinely instructed not to ask bribes of foreigners, and their only other focus is crime against tourists , which they are adamant about quashing; dial 911 in case of an emergency. Penalties for drug use and possession are extraordinarily stiff, and Dominican prisons are notorious. Drug possession is the one crime you won't be able to bribe your way out of; whatever you do, don't carry any with you into the country. Though violent attacks against women travellers are rare, many women find that the constant barrage of hisses, hoots and comments comes close to spoiling their vacation. Whatever you do, don't be afraid to seem rude; even the mildest polite response will be considered an indication of serious interest. Chances of trouble depend to an extent on where you are. Avoid walking alone on city streets late at night and you'll circumvent much of the risk; it's also a good idea to opt for private taxis over motoconchos and
  • 9. guaguas after dark. Holidays & Festivals The Dom Rep has a bewildering barrage of festivals . On every day of the year, there seems to be some kind of celebration somewhere, the majority of which are regional fiestas patronales , held in honour of the city's or town's patron saint. These traditional fiestas are one of the great pleasures of a trip to the DR. JANUARY Virgen de Altagracia January 21, the most important religious day in the Dominican calendar, including a several-day pilgrimage to Higuey. Duarte Day Holiday in honour of the Father of the Country, with public fiestas in all major towns on January 26. FEBRUARY Carnival The pre-eminent celebration of the year, held on every Sunday in February and culminating on February 27. The biggest festival is in La Vega, with Santo Domingo a close second. Independence Day Celebration of independence from Haiti and the culmination of the Dominican Carnival (Feb 27). The place to be is Santo Domingo. APRIL Semana Santa The Christian Holy Week (variable, usually early to mid-April) is also the most important week of Haitian and Dominican vodú . Festivals take place in the Haitian bateyes and in Haina. MAY Espiritu Santo Huge celebrations in the capital's barrio Villa Mella, pueblo Santa María near San Cristóbal and the El Pomier caves, and San Juan de la Maguana - held seven weeks after Semana Santa. JUNE San Pedro Apostol
  • 10. A magnificent Cocolo festival in San Pedro de Macorís on June 29, with roving bands of guloyas performing dance dramas on the street. AUGUST Festival of the Bulls Higuey's fiesta patronal (Aug 14), with processions coming into the city from all sides - some from as far as 30km - with cowboys on horseback and large herds of cattle. DECEMBER Christmas Guloya festivals in San Pedro de Macorís, Haitian Voodoo celebrations in the Haitian bateyes and rural groups of Caribbean-style Navidad carollers in the campos (Dec 25). Festival of the Bulls Traditional cattle festival in Bayaguana (Dec 28) Here are the published holidays for 2010 here in the Dominican Republic 1January - New Year's Day 6 January - Dia de Reyes (Epiphany) 21 January - Dia de la Altagracia 26 January - Duarte Day (Juan Pablo Duarte) - Will be celebrated on Monday January 25th 27 February - Independence Day 21 March - Viernes Santo 1 May - Labor Day and Ascension Day 22 May - Corpus Christi 16 August - Dia de la Restauracion 24 September - Dia de las Mercedes 6 November - Constitution Day 5 December - Discovery Day 24 December - Christmas Eve 25 December - Christmas Day Need a Visa ?
  • 11. Almost all non-resident visitors to the DR will need a passport and almost everyone will require a tourist card. The tourist card costs US$10 and can purchased on arrival into the country prior to passing through immigration. Depending on the amount of flights on the ground at the time of your arrival the lines can sometimes be lengthy. The tourist card will then be surrendered after your passport has been stamped. PLEASE NOTE - The tourist card can only be purchased with US Dollars cash - no Euros or Pounds or Pesos accepted Citizens of the following countries do not need a tourist card:- • Argentina • Chile • Ecuador • Iceland • Israel • Japan • Peru • South Korea • Uruguay. Your tourist card will expire in 90 days and if you overstay your limit when you exit the DR a fine will be imposed on you. For further information on tourist card extensions you may call Immigration, Huacal Building in Santo Domingo, telephone no: 809 685 2505. It is however a lot EASIER just to overstay and pay the small fine levied at the airport. Also, please remember that you will need to save US$20 per ticketed passenger for your departure tax for when you leave the DR. Some airlines have this tax already included in the air package, but if you are travelling on a charter flight, then you will most probably have to pay this tax before boarding your return flight home. All North Coast Excursions The Dominican Republic North Coast resorts offer the visitor an exceptional range of high quality, great value for money excursions. So why not leave your luxury all- inclusive hotel and explore the REAL Dominican Republic on one of our superb adventures. Our range of Dominican Republic Excursions will ensure that you see the true side of Dominican life as well as experience the beauty of our fascinating country.
  • 12. Once you purchase any of our superb Dominican Republic excursions below, we will send you, via email, one voucher per excursion. These vouchers show your purchased excursion(s), your selected excursion day/date, the collection time from your hotel and top tips on how to best enjoy your day(s) out. Please ensure that you print your excursion vouchers before travelling and keep them with your travel documents. Your excursion vouchers must be handed to your excursion guide on collection from your hotel.