Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bom Vidos Brazil

The Embassy of Brazil is behind the opening of a Brazilian Cultural Center at Calle Hermanos Deligne 52, in the Gazcue neighborhood. Brazilian Ambassador Ronaldo Edgar Dunlop cut the opening ribbon last week with Culture Minister Jose Rafael Lantigua. The cultural center is sponsored by the Brazilian construction firms Norberto Odebrecht and Adrede Gutierrez, which have been granted several mega contracts in the Dominican Republic. As reported in El Caribe, the center will offer Portuguese language courses, sponsor cultural activities, promote Brazilian cuisine, show Brazilian movies, and in general will focus on sharing Brazilian creativity. It will also run courses in samba and capoeira. Ambassador Ronaldo Edgar Dunlop invited the public to attend the Santo Domingo Book Fair, scheduled for 20 April to 3 May, which this year features Brazil as the guest country.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Break Fantasy

I was not remotely interested in taking this cruise for spring break. The last thing I wanted was to be a 30 year-old professional surrounded by a bunch of college students gone wild. I reluctantly gave in when my friend reminded me I owed him a birthday trip since he vacationed with me on my 30th birthday.

I felt sure the only pleasure I would get from the trip was the day-long dock at Wayfarers Cay, our second port of call. It's a private island off the shore of Puerto Rico. While most travelers would be interested in the beach activities, I would be adventuring to the North Coast with its cliffs and wildlife. Not a huge attraction for the college-aged bunch I was cruising with.

The first couple of nights were pretty uneventful, toga party and pajama party. I returned to my bed early on both nights. I was trying to catch up on my sleep. Not just because of the different time zones, but I had also been having this strange dream. In the dream I was lost on a deserted island, I would find my way to shore and just before I would dive into the sea to swim to what I hoped would be safety a man would stand in my way. He appeared to be what perhaps was the last of the native inhabitants, possibly cannibal. I would awake before discovering my fate.

That next day we docked at Wayfarers Cay and I set out on my adventure. My friend, who is 5 years younger than I, decided to hang at the beach with the wild bunch. I was about 3 hours into my trek when I felt a bit overcome by the heat. I looked around, but everything appeared the same. It was jungle and sky everywhere. I thought I heard the sound of water and walked toward it.

As I approached the shoreline with its awesome cliffs I noticed someone who appeared to be sunbathing. When I moved closer to the figure I heard quiet chanting and saw the guy was nude. I immediately thought of my dream and panicked. I turned to retreat, but the sound of a breaking twig got his attention just as I twisted my ankle. When I looked up I stared into the face of the man from my dream, he had the same cat-that-ate-the-canary grin.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring Break

Time for a spring break and here is some incentive!

Spring Break Costa Rica

Costa Rica's rain forests, volcanoes and other natural wonders have made it one of the hottest adventure-travel destinations in Latin America. Now Gate 1 has made visiting this country affordable with this new Fly and Drive package that includes accommodations in 3 cities, airfare and week-long SUV rental. At $499, this deal is at least $200 less than similar packages in the market.

The Fly and Drive package includes:
Roundtrip airfare to San Jose, Costa Rica (please see departure cities below)
6 hotel nights: 2 in San Jose, 2 in Arenal, 2 in Monteverde
7-day 4x4 SUV mini / manual car rental with unlimited mileage
Daily breakfast
Airline fuel surcharges

The $499 special is valid for departures on April 30; May 7, 14 and 21. Other dates through October are +$20 & up.
Departure cities:Miami ... $499; Boston, Chicago ... from +$18; Washington ... from +$28; New York ... from +$48; Los Angeles ... from +$200.

Note: These are the current best available add-on prices and are subject to availability at the time of booking. Call Gate 1 for more information and assistance with booking from other departure cities.
Click here for full details and to book with Gate 1 Travel. Or call 800-682-3333 to reserve over the phone. Additional airport taxes of approximately $63 apply. Costa Rica departure taxes of $26 and car rental taxes and fees are extra and payable locally.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Punta Cana For Less

BookIt.com just announced an incredible deal for travel this spring and summer at the upscale, all-inclusive Occidental Grand Punta Cana. Stay in a Deluxe Room for just $59 per person per night from April 15 - May 26. That's 60% OFF regular rates!
You can also stay from May 27 - Aug. 31 for just $10 more per person, per night.

For 2 Days Only (book by March 12): Get a free upgrade to a Grand Concierge Deluxe Room including a bottle of wine, free Internet access at the hotel’s Internet cafĂ©, a fruit basket, turn down service and 10% off spa services.

This price includes all meals and drinks, taxes and gratuities, daily and nightly entertainment and nonmotorized water sports like windsurfing, kayaking, snorkeling and sailing.
Note: There is a 3-night minimum at this resort.

Book by March 17: Call 888-782-9722 or click here to book online. Note: The $59 rate reflects an instant rebate coupon applied by BookIt.com.
About the Resort: Located on the pristine white-sand Bavaro Beach, just 30 minutes from the Punta Cana international airport, the resort has 9 restaurants, 7 bars, 3 lagoon-style swimming pools and a full-service spa .

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Barbados Is Back

CheapCaribbean's Best of Barbados sale is back!

Starting at $399 per person, these week-long Barbados specials include air and hotel plus extras like daily breakfast, island attraction and shopping discounts. Plus, a $100 debit card (per booking) is included, valid anywhere in Barbados.

Valid for travel in September; also travel May 1 - July 15 and Oct. 1 - Dec. 18 starting at $50 more.

Allamanda Beach Hotel, located on Barbados's south coast ... $399 per person

Additional resorts and length of stay packages are available (for example, the all-inclusive Mango Bay is available for 5 nights at $669)

Departures for the above deals are valid from Miami. However, over 70 cities are on sale starting from just $50 more. See Web site below for details.

IMPORTANT: When booking online or by phone, be sure to use promo code stated on CheapCaribbean’s Web site (code varies by package). The pricing above already reflects this discount (based on double occupancy), but prices as they appear on CheapCaribbean.com's page will not yet be discounted -- just enter the promo code at checkout.

Book by March 11: Click here for more information on the Best of Barbados sale and to book online through CheapCaribbean.com. Or call CheapCaribbean.com at 800-915-2322

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I'm Back...

What a great trip! The weather was pleasant, not much rain at all. It was cool most evenings.

I was surprised at the absense of the usual buggarones. I only saw one familiar buggie hanging out at Pacos, which is now called Grands. I also saw only one at JayDees Disco Bar on Sunday night. Speaking of JayDees, Sundays has always been a bit slow. Perhaps having some type of show or activity will draw more people.

There has been an addition to one of my favorite places to eat, Villar Brothers on Avenida Independencia. The new Garden Cafe is beautiful and brings back the open-air dining experience since the adjacent buffet has been enclosed.

There is also a small restaurant at the entrance of Hotel Discovery which gives you views of the hustle and bustle on the street that runs past the Conde and Independence Park.

Speaking of Independence Park, it was truly swamped on Friday as many Dominicans came to pay respects to Duarte on Independence Day.

I went out to Playa Caribe on Saturday since carnaval would be on Sunday. A much better experience than the over-crowded beach at Boca Chica.

Carnaval was a spectacular event! This years theme was underwater or sea life. The floats were nice and there were many traditional carnaval costumes. I was amazed at the number of people that filed into the streets to view the processional. The crowd itself was something to watch! There was a constant stream of spectators walking the sidewalks vying for attention (and getting it). It was like a mini carnaval.

All in all, it was a great trip!