Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 85
May 15, 1998

Last Update 16 May 98 1200ET

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BAHAMAS : SOUTH OCEAN GOLF AND BEACH RESORT BY SUE PARNELLA

(Response to Mike Leib's article in the March 98 CTR.)

Regarding  the  article by Mike Leib about South Ocean Golf & Beach
Resort,  I  have been to the Bahamas many times and stayed in Cable
Beach,  on  a cruise ship and found South Ocean to be GREAT! I even
liked  it  better  than the gorgeous hotel we stayed at in Aruba. I
have  never been so close to the water! The hotel was fantastic and
lit  up  at  night  with  lights  in all the palm trees. Absolutely
beautiful!

The  room  was  a handshake away from the ocean, very clean and the
grounds  were  beautiful. We ate the breakfast buffet every morning
and  rented  a  car  and  drove  to  dinner  every night. The staff
recommended  restaurants  and  we had the most wonderful food every
day  we  were  there.  It's  too bad Joe had such a bad experience,
because  for  once, our experience was GREAT!!!! I can't wait to go
back there again.

Yes,  the beach had washed away from the steps, but then again what
beach  hasn't  washed away lately with all the storms, but I didn't
let that ruin our trip.

Our  friends  bought  the dive package and have gone diving at many
islands  and  found  Stuarts  Cove  to  be convenient, fun and very
reasonable.  Why  would  you  spend so much time sitting at a hotel
when  there  is  an  entire  island  out  there to explore and have
dinner?  It  is a great place to relax, but as soon as the sun when
down,  we  left the hotel and went exploring. I thought South Ocean
Beach was rated A+.

BARBADOS BY MINDY ZOGHLIN

Trip 4/98

We're  just  back from 8 days in lovely Barbados. 4/4-4/12 We drove
from  Rochester  to  Toronto  and  stayed overnight at the Valhalla
Inn(about  45$  US  which  includes  free  parking and free airport
transport  to  and from.) On 3 adult and 1 child's airfare we saved
750$  plus  the flight was nonstop instead of going via JFK. That's
enough  money  and  convenience  to  make  me drive to Toronto. Air
Canada   was  quite  good.  Smooth  flights,  free  movie,  and  on
schedule. We were 5/5 on checked bags, none lost or damaged!

Rented  a  van from Corbins. It was about 400$ for the 8 days. They
met  us at the arrival gate with all the paperwork in hand. The van
was  a Suzuki 5 speed with the wheel on the right (eg. wrong) side.
Drive  on  the  left and assign a family member to scream keep left
whenever you put the car in 1st gear. (worked for me!)

We  stayed  at a private home in an enclave called Castle Close. It
is  adjacent  to  Sam Lord's castle which is a Carnival resort. The
house  had 4 bedrooms and 3 baths. It had a great view of the ocean
and  1 flight of steps to a small beach. The water on the southeast
side  of  the  island  is a bit rough so we didn't swim much there.
The  owner  has  an agreement with Sam Lord's for his guests to use
their  facilities so we did use their pool and poolside bar. (about
a  5  minute  walk  from  the  house.) I tried to snorkel off their
beach  but  there  isn't  much  of a reef and the undertow makes it
tough  to  get  back  in. (even for a strong swimmer with fins) The
location  is  a  bit out of the way but we made good use of the car
to  get  to  the  west coast beaches and other sites. The roads are
not  great  and  not  always  well  marked.  Get the "Barbados in a
nutshell"  booklet  and map and stick to the numbered highways when
possible.  Many  locals  walk  or  ride  bikes at night, making the
night  driving  a real adventure. I still prefer the flexibility of
having a car vs. taxi transport.

Activities:

We  did  enjoy  some  beach time. Calmer water on the west coast at
Mullins  Bay.  Nice snorkeling at Folkstone beach but only a narrow
strip  of  sand.  This spot is hard to find, just off the main road
between  Holetown  and  St. James church. Dover beach was very nice
in  terms  of  sun  and  sand,  with  mod.  surf. Watersports stuff
available there.

We  visited  the  Flower Forest (great), Gun Hill (very interesting
with  great  views  of  the  island), Heritage Park and Rum Factory
(very  new,  beautifully  maintained,  interesting,  some  shopping
there,  one  free punch or rum punch per admission) We did go in to
Bridgetown  one day to shop. Some bargains but crowded and hot, not
my  thing.  We  visited  the  synagogue in Bridgetown, a worthwhile
stop  for historians, jews, or ,as in my case, both. We looked for,
but  never  found  the  entrance to Welchman Hall Gully. We spent a
day  sailing on the Heatwave. This catamaran has a great crew, open
bar,  nice  lunch with grilled fish, chicken, and delicious salads,
2  snorkel  stops  with  equipment provided. (70$ adults, kids 35$)
They  even  had  a  spray  of  ginger  extract  to  help  my  son's
seasickness. Within 5 minutes he was fine!

Dining:  Excellent  meals  in  the expensive category at Pisces and
Bellini,  both  in  the  St. Lawrence gap area. The Steak House, in
the  same  area  was good. The Crane Beach Hotel's restaurant was a
disappointment  but  the  view from their balcony on a full moonlit
night  was  phenomenal.  We ate at two places nearer to Sam Lord's.
The   Pot  and  Barrel  and  Castle  view.  Both  were  casual  but
delightful  with  simple but delicious Bajan food at half the price
of  the  fancier places. We also enjoyed the dinner show, "1627 and
All   That".   The  65$  US  per  adult  (35$  for  kids)  included
transportation  to the show (on the grounds of the Barbados Museum)
a  buffet  dinner,  open bar, and an entertaining musical and dance
show  featuring  aspects  of  Bajan  history  and  culture. I would
recommend  it  but  if you're staying far from the museum, drive or
take a taxi; the bus ride was awful.

We  did eat in for breakfasts and a few lunches. This is one of the
reasons  we  prefer  to have kitchen facilities. The have some well
stocked  grocery stores and some convenience stores. We bought some
fresh  fish  and  had  our  own  home  cooked  feast one night. The
freshness  of  the  catch  made up for a lack of other ingredients.
You'd  be  surprised  what  you  can do with Italian dressing and a
little  mustard. Fish provided by Derrick, a local who swims out to
the  reef  and  spearfishes. I decided that this is not an easy way
to  make  a  living,  in  spite  of  the pleasant work environment.
Derrick had fish and plenty of philosophy to share.

All  in  all,  we  enjoyed  Barbados. A lot to see and do. A little
more   distance   to   cover  than  some  of  our  other  Caribbean
destinations.(St.  Maarten,  St.  John)  I know I didn't leave much
out but feel free to ask! Bon Voyage.

CANCUN BY SANDY O'DONNELL

Trip 12/97

  We  just  returned  from  a  wonderful relaxing trip to the Royal
Solaris  Caribe  hotel  in  Cancun  Mexico. We arrived on Wednesday
12/3  without  much  ado  on  American  airlines at 6:30 PM, it was
already dark.

We  had been to Cancun once before in 1991 and enjoyed ourselves so
decided  to  try  our  luck again. We breezed thru customs and made
our  way  over  to  find  our  luggage when we were approached by a
smiling  gentleman  asking  to see our transfer documents. I should
have  known better. These people ( Best Day) had nothing to do with
Olympus  (  our  transfer company) they were tour operators looking
to  sell trips to every ruin and boat ride/dinner cruise, whatever,
you  name  it. They checked thru my transfer and hotel documents to
get  my  name  and  hotels  name  then  smiled, said something like
everything  is  in  good order, asked us if we were interested in a
tour.  (Ahh  hah  I  said,  we  shouldn't  have shown him anything,
weren't  we  the  dumb  tourists). We said we weren't interested in
anything  but  relaxation,  he smiled then sent us on our way. Sure
enough  the  next  morning  at  10:00 am we get a call in our hotel
room  (  gee  how  did he know where we were staying duh) from Best
Day  tours,  asking  did we want to go somewhere. A stern answer of
No  and  that  was  the  end  of them thank goodness. They are very
tricky  tho  demanding  your  attention  while  gently  taking your
documentation  to  check  if  things were in order. At least 3 more
smiling  gentlemen at the airport tried to do the same thing but we
had  wised  up  at that point and just said everything is all right
we know where we are going.

We  had  a lovely air conditioned ride in a new suburban van, a far
cry  from  the  old school bus transfer back in 1991. We tipped the
driver  a  couple  of  ones. I was advised ahead of time by someone
here  on  the net to bring a wad of ones for tipping, it was a good
idea.

  When  we  pulled up to the Royal Solaris my heart sank. There was
no     pretty-road-front-long-winding-drive-with-pretty-palm-trees,
the  2  parts of the hotel look enough like all the pictures but it
was  so plain sitting there in the dark with old Volkswagens jammed
in  the  parking  lot  . No main road presentation at all. I cursed
Don  kc  and  Dave  from  New  Orleans  and others from the net who
recommended  this  place.  The price was somewhat low in comparison
to  other  all  inclusive  in the area so I was a bit nervous about
the  quality.  I  said  to  my husband, oh no, I'm not impressed at
all,  what  have  we  done. Visions of diarrhea and cockroaches ran
thru my head.

Ahh  I  love  to  be  wrong when right is no good. We walked up the
ramp  to  the  Royal  Tower  and  there  was this gorgeous polished
marble  lobby  with  a  long shiny marble desk. We received our all
inclusive  bracelets  signed  a paper or 2 and were whisked away to
our  room which I had requested be in the Caribe Tower. I had heard
from some nice net people was the quieter of the 2 buildings.

Over  to  the  Caribe tower we went in a rickety ole Volkswagen bus
with  our  luggage  in  tow.  The  lobby in the caribe tower is not
nearly  as  impressive  as  the  royal tower but it was very quaint
with  ceiling fans and light green wicker furniture. We got our key
and  the  bell hop brought us thru winding tunnels of white thickly
plastered   walls  trimmed  with  a  dark  wood.  The  floors  were
patterned  with  shining  tiles  (deadly  when  wet) Very Mexican I
thought  to myself Up the elevator down 2 more winding corridors to
a  room  tucked  away  in  the  corner.  The air conditioning was a
welcome  blast  as  we entered the room. The room decor wasn't much
to  write  home  about  but it was neat and clean and that's all we
ask  for. The floors are all tiled but not a polished tile, sort of
a  deep  brick red color, white thick plaster walls and a dark wood
trim.  My  delightful  surprise  came  after  the  bell hop left, I
walked  to the window, drew back the shade and there was the ocean.
An  ocean  front room. Ahh I opened the window and took in the warm
wind  and  the  smell  of the ocean and sound of the pounding surf.
Just gorgeous.

The  hotel  may  have  no road front presantation, all of it was on
the other side.

We  went  to  dinner  in  some restaurant, I cant even remember the
names  of  them all there are so many. The buffet room over looking
the  pool  in the Royal tower. There is a restaurant just above the
buffet  room, sort of like only a step level above, I cant remember
the  name  of  it but this is the restaurant that was closed due to
construction. No big deal. No noise.

My  favorite  restaurant  was the Marco Polo which has a dress code
and  is  in  the  caribe  tower.  Dim  lighting,  lots of ambiance.
terrific  shrimp  salad  and  onion  soup. We didn't do the lobster
dinner  for  the extra $13, the food in the buffets was always good
and  we were happy with that. We ate 3 times in the MP, once in the
Italian  (dress  code)  and  the  rest  of  the nights in what ever
buffet  was  open.  Sometimes my husband just didn't want to put on
long  pants  to  eat  so  the buffet was it. We didn't care for the
Italian  rest.  My husband ordered chicken parmesan and it was just
a chicken leg with red sauce, blah.

My  favorite  place  for  breakfast was the big palapa place on the
water  in  the  royal  tower.  The  best  place  for  lunch was the
Bogavante  on  the beach in the caribe tower. We didn't even notice
this  restaurant  until the last 2 days of our visit, too bad as we
would  have  eaten  there every day. 4 course meal for lunch. while
in  a  beach  cover  up,  yum.  I  had baked chicken both times and
always saved enough room for dessert.

The  hamburgers  and  hot  dogs  at the pool snack bar were kind of
yuk.  The  hamburgers  were never cooked fully even tho I asked for
very  very  very  x 100 well done. This seemed only to be a problem
in the pool side snack shack tho.

My  husband  was  very  unhappy  with the beer situation. They open
what's  similar  to  a  quart size bottle of beer and leave it sit,
opened  in  ice  and  fill  the  plastic  cups  from that as people
request  it.  This  led to flat beer 90% of the time. We noted this
on  our  evaluation  form  at  the  end  of  our  stay.  My  banana
daiquiris,  dos bananas please were marvelous. So were the millions
of other drinks I happened to sample. Did I say millions???

We  had a great laugh on the Concierge from Hell, as we dubbed him.
We  never  went  to  a concierge as I knew they were the time share
people  as  well  as  a traditional concierge. One of the young men
took  a notice to us and tried on many an occasion to get us to sit
and  talk  with  him.  His  desk  was always in the walk way of the
caribe  tower  which  led to the royal tower. This was the only way
to  get  back  and  forth from the 2 buildings unless you wanted to
walk  by  way  of  the beach. We would do our best to put our heads
down  and  hope  that  he  didn't  notice  us. When he did we would
mutter  no thank you and walk as quickly as possible by him. It got
to  be  a  game  to see how fast we could get by him without making
eye  contact.  The  newspaper  was  always  at  his desk tho and my
husband  wanted  that  newspaper  every  morning,  don't  get  that
newspaper  Id  say  to my husband, no said my husband I want it, he
would  grab it quickly and just as we thought we had made it by him
we would hear.. Senor!!!! ugh..

The  day before we left he saw us coming, we groaned oh no there he
is.  He  shouted  Senor!!!  to  my  husband, who is your concierge,
luckily  I  knew  the  name  of  one so I shouted Jose to him and I
think  I  broke  his  heart. We continued to walk fast, heads down,
but  he got up and followed us out side on the walk way. Oh Nooo we
groaned,  he  asked  did we get our free t shirts from the tour, we
said  No  we  aren't  interested, leaving tomorrow, blah blah blah,
any  excuse  we could find, all the while we never stopped walking,
he  kept  following  us until finally he gave up and we were safely
away.  We  laughed  so hard we were bent over double trying to make
it  up the stairs to the RT. He was always polite and never rude so
to  speak,  just overly ambitious and very hyper. He was comical in
a  sense.  Anyway,  I  wouldn't  have  minded  the tour as they all
seemed  like  decent folk there, we just always had other plans and
we didn't want to change them.

On  Friday  12/5 it poured buckets. I was very upset about the rain
but  decided  to  do  some  souvenir shopping and get it out of the
way.  The  flea  markets have really taken a turn for the worse. It
wont  be  long  IMHO  before  they  are  gone  for good or at least
greatly  reduced  in size. When we went in 91 it was fun to bargain
and  browse.  This  time  we  were  instantly  devoured by the shop
owners,  it  was  claustrophobic to say the least. Browsing was out
of  the  question.  One  man made a sexual gesture to my husband we
had  enough  at that point and just walked out. There is a rudeness
in  the  markets now that I hadn't seen before. I wanted to make it
into  Cancun  central but we never had the chance, I wondered if it
was the same there.

The  best  mall  IMHO  was  the  Kulkucan Mall. Great prices on all
souvenirs  without  the  bargaining and rudeness. The Characol Mall
was  a  bit  pricey, and there was another mall the one that houses
Planet  Hollywood  which I thought was also a bit pricey. The malls
will take over I think.

We  didn't  do  too  much  partying. Funny how this age thing keeps
getting  in  the  way.  Our favorite place by far was the Hard Rock
Cafe.  It  looked  brand  new and was housed in a smallish shopping
center  called  the  Rain  Forest  Mall.  The  Rain  Forest Cafe is
something  else  to see. We didn't eat there but did go in and look
around. Don't miss it.
We  spent  2  nights  in the Hard Rock Cafe 1 night in LaBoom and 1
night  walking  around  bar  hoping  to  Senor Frogs ( got the yard
glass)  Baja,  Cats  and the Hard Rock. We didn't get to DadyO's or
Dady   Rock  because  we  weren't  interested  in  paying  the  $20
cover/all  you  can  drink for men only. A lot of places had a high
cover  charge  and since we are frugal ( yeah yeah cheap) we didn't
go  in.  We  went  to LaBoom on a Monday night which is free cover.
LaBoom  is  wild, dry ice, laser show, dancing waiters. Techno gets
a  bit  redundant  tho  so  we  left around 1 am. There are so many
clubs, I wish I had more time to go back and try them all.

I  liked  Baja,  (across  from  Cats  and  above  Tequila  Rock) It
reminded  me  of  how  Senor  Frogs  used to be. Senor Frogs is too
crowded  and  over commercialized. In 91 senor frogs was unique and
wild,  now  its  just  riding on its old reputation. By the time we
went  to  Cats  I  had had 1 too many Dos Aquis (sp?). We had met 2
other  couples  at  our  bus  stop  and  we  all did the bar hoping
together,  it  was  alot  of  fun. Unfortunately we were so beat we
didn't  go out for the next 2 nights. Geez it was only 20 years ago
I could stay out until dawn and still make it for a 8 am class.

The  only  tour we opted to do was the Jungle Tour $40 pp, thru the
Marina  Del  Rey.  Our  tour  person  at  the  hotel recommend them
instead  of  aqua  world.  We  ended up having a private tour as no
other  couples showed up. We got our wave runner (motor underneath)
drove  thru  the  lagoon  with  hesitantly  as my husband had never
driven  one  b4. Went thru the jungle ( hah what jungle) and out to
snorkel.  It  was gorgeous. The guide kidded us about sharks ( more
to  come  on  that) After an hour snorkling we cut lose on the wave
runner.  My husband had the hang of it then and we went circles and
jumped  over waves all the while I just held on tight. We went alot
faster   and  had  more  freedom  than  the  aquaworld  tours.  But
Aquaworld  uses  new  snorkels and the group we were with seemed to
re  use  the  snorkels.  blech.  Anyway  it  was  a  fun trip and I
wouldn't  hesitate  to recommend it to the novice. More experienced
snorkelers would be bored tho.

Later  that  afternoon  while resting on the beach at the hotel, we
noticed  a  commotion  amongst the people who rent the wave runners
and  the tourists who were using them. We wondered did they go over
their  time  limit  as  the  person  in  charge ( life guard? ) was
frantically  trying  to  get  them  back  to  shore. Soon the guard
person  came  to  the  hotels  beach  and was anxiously blowing his
whistle  getting  the  swimmers to get out of the water. We decided
to  be  nosy and go see what was happening. Up toward the Solymar a
group  stood  staring  out  into the ocean. We asked what were they
looking  at  and  a Canadian guy said see the sharks eh. I squinted
and  looked many miles out to sea, no the guy said, look in the 1st
cresting  wave  about 20 feet out. EEEEE sure enough there were big
dark  shapes  going  in  and  out  of the waves. My husband said oh
that's  seaweed.  Soon  enough  the surf washed 1 shark onto a sand
bar  and  dorsal  fin  and huge tail and big big body was thrashing
around,  until  the  next  wave knocked it back into the water. The
crowd  gasped.  The  life-guard-type-wave-runner-man let us know in
broken  english that there were 4 hammer head sharks in the area. I
only  counted 3. No one went into the ocean on our end of the beach
for  the  rest  of the day. The next day tho, everyone was swimming
like  nothing  unusual had happened. I swam in the pool after that.
To  think  we  had  just  been snorkeling less than a mile from the
sharks,  yikes.  Apparently  they came down with the cold front and
it  is highly unusual for sharks to be in such warm waters. I guess
it  was  a  rare  thing.  It was the 1st time id been so close to a
shark outside of an aquarium.

After  7  nights  we  had  to head back. It was the 1st time we had
left  our  children  with relatives for such a long period and near
day  6  I began to miss them terribly. In 2 years or so, Id like to
take  the  whole family to the Royal Solaris, my teens would have a
ball.

All  in  all  we  had a wonderful vacation. The hotel was terrific,
the  staff  courteous,  yes even teh consierge from hell, the rooms
clean,  the food ranged from good to very good and I think it was a
perfect  location.  We  are  rested and tanned and we both gained a
few pounds. Terrific value for the money.

Oh  the bus rides are the cheapest way to get into town 3 pesos and
a heck of an adventure.

I dont think the cabbies had much business, everyone uses the bus.

CANCUN: CAESAR PARK BY BRIAN BRESNAHAN

Trip 2/98

My  wife  and  I  honeymooned  at Caesar Park Cancun Beach and Golf
Resort  in February 1998. We chose this destination because of high
marks  from  Conde'  Nast  Traveler,  Frommer's,  and  other travel
guides.

  We  arrived  at Cancun's airport from St. Louis, MO at 2:15 PM on
TWA,  but did not arrive at our hotel until 5:15 PM because of long
lines at Customs and Immigration (chaos).
  Apple  Vacations  was nowhere to be found inside the airport, but
luckily  a  baggage  person  directed us to an Apple Representative
standing behind an outside pillar.

  When  we  finally  arrived at the hotel, we were awestruck by the
impeccable  beauty of Caesar Park's grounds; lush foliage, bridges,
and  waterways sprawled everywhere. The hotel's unique architecture
is a landmark from miles afar, resembling a majestic Mayan temple.

  Check-in  was  a  challenge  because  the  concierge  wanted $500
American  as  a deposit. Despite our objections, the manager stated
$500   was   required   up   front   for  "extras."  After  several
discussions,  we submitted $200 (to my wife's chagrin); the manager
later  apologized  and explained the concierge was unaware our room
was  fully  paid--never  mind our reservations and information were
in  their  network,  and  our  Apple  vouchers confirmed as much. I
didn't  care  to  use  a  credit  card,  but  that  would have been
easiest.   By  that  time,  we'd  missed  the  "Apple  Introductory
Meeting."

  Other than check-in, we enjoyed the Caesar Park Staff, as we were
usually  met  with smiles. The hotel's hurried, outstanding service
belied  its  tranquil,  relaxed  atmosphere. We were also impressed
with  the  dining--$80 for two included wine, succulent steaks, and
desert   at  La  Sirenita,  a  secluded,  dimly-lit,  marble-laiden
restaurant.  During  our  first  meal, we requested water, to which
Ricardo  replied, "Bottled? Faucet? Or pool?" Quite personable, and
yet,  professional  and  unassuming.  Another outstanding place for
dinner  was  The  Cove  ($30-60  for  two),  a dockside, open-aired
restaurant  on  Nichupte  Lagoon--reservations recommended. We also
heard  raves  about the Blue Bayou (reportedly $90-$130 for two) in
the  Hyatt.  The  drinking water, by the way, was purified wherever
we went.

  We'd  reserved  a  Royal Beach Club Villa Room because Main Tower
Rooms  were  sold  at  the time of booking. I believe we booked too
early, however, because the hotel appeared empty.
  Our  villa  included an iced bottle of champagne, marble bathroom
with  two  sinks,  separate  tub  and  shower, and twice daily maid
service.  Our  first  night,  the  water  from  the  tub faucet was
yellow!  Maintenance  rectified  this,  but  we  opted  for showers
thereafter.

  Our  private,  secluded  balcony  overlooked  the Gulf, which was
quite  rough;  we  read  the surf is sometimes un-swimmable in that
area,  but  was  especially  so because of an east coast hurricane.
Despite  the  hotel's  7  impressive  pools, I'd have preferred the
ocean.

  Caesar  Park  is  wonderful, but we wouldn't recommend staying in
the  Royal Beach Club. The Beach Club "breakfast" consisted of tart
fruits,  lukewarm juices and meats, and bland pastries. Some of the
croissants  were like rocks. Furthermore, we walked a long distance
(the  equivalent  of a street block) to and from the main hotel for
pesos,  swimming,  tours, etc. We could have phoned for a ride, but
preferred  not  to  wait.  Furthermore, we weren't messy enough for
twice  daily  maid  service,  and were inevitably forced to place a
"No  molestar"  sign  on  our  door.  Lastly,  room service took 45
minutes  to  1  hour reportedly because of the distance. We paid an
extra  $400  to  stay in the Beach Club, but felt excluded from the
hotel and its outstanding services.

  Public  transportation in Cancun is sufficient and economical. We
rode  the  buses,  which  seemed to run every 30 seconds. A one-way
ride  is  3  pesos  per  person, or $.25 American. We didn't bother
with  taxis,  whose  drivers  wanted  68  pesos, or $8 for a 3-mile
ride.  If  you  want change, you must use pesos. We often rode with
local  commuters  in  the  morning  and  found  them  pleasant. The
Mexican  people  we  encountered  seemed  friendly  and  proud, but
preferred  to  speak  English  to  Americans  and  Spanish  amongst
themselves.  We  also  noticed  several  were  waved  onboard buses
without  payment,  but  didn't  complain. People drove like mad, so
I'd  not recommend car rentals (Mexican citizens aren't required to
purchase liability insurance, but tourists are).

  We  didn't  take  too  many  tours,  but  were delighted with the
Lobster  Cruise  at sunset. $60 American for steak or lobster, open
bar,  and  salad--all  for two; dinner was cooked on deck, made-to-
order.  We  had  excellent  rum  punches  and  pina coladas, served
throughout  the  evening. After dinner, we danced above deck in the
open  air;  great  music  and interesting people... quite romantic.
You  can  book this through Apple, and the boat departed at 6 and 8
PM nightly from the dock adjacent to The Cove Restaurant.

  Warning:  do  not take the Jungle Tour unless you're GUARANTEED a
firm  departure  time and boat. We were informed by Apple that we'd
have  a  "speedboat  for  two" and would depart at 1 PM; we left at
1:40   PM   and  had  a  wet-bike  with  an  outboard  motor  (very
dangerous).  The  Lagoon  was beautiful that day, but too rough for
under-powered  wet-bikes.  We  also  got quite burnt, probably more
from  the  wind than sun. We drove (bounced) through a dense jungle
to  Nichupte  National  Park and snorkeled. The fish and coral were
colorful,  but  it  was  too windy to snorkel, as the water rippled
and  repeatedly  crested into our snorkels. We later discovered all
para-sailing  operations  had  closed  that  day  because of strong
winds!  I  might  also  add  that persons on our tour traveled in a
single-file  line,  around  10 feet apart; if a person were to have
fallen  off  a  bike,  the  consequences  could  have been grave. I
highly  recommend taking this tour through Aqua World Tours (cannot
book  through  Apple),  aboard  their  cruiser, which appeared much
smoother. It costs $28 American for two and lasts about 3 hours.

  Thereafter, we were confined to our room for a few days from wind
and  sun  burn;  doesn't  this invariably happen? Upon swelling, we
treated  my  wife's  left  eye  with  ice  and aloe vera. The hotel
doctor  stated  the swelling would subside over time. I later read,
however,  that  Benadryl  tablets  immediately combat allergic skin
reactions.

  We  canceled  plans for Chitzen Itza and Isla de Mujeres (and had
some  problems getting our money back from Apple-don't pre-pay more
than  24  hours  in  advance),  but  were later told we didn't miss
much,  especially regarding Isla de Mujeres. The "Island of Women,"
according  to  three  couples,  is a dismal and wretched place. One
woman  told  us  there  was  trash throughout the island, including
fruit  rinds on frequented walkways, and various cans. I would like
to  go  to  Cozumel  and  Chitzen  Itza  someday,  however. Cozumel
received  a  lot  of  praise  from persons we encountered. Everyone
agreed Cozumel is great for a day or two.

  Xcaret sounded somewhat appealing, but Mexico doesn't have strict
regulations...  I  therefore  couldn't bear seeing droves of people
"swimming"  with dolphins in small areas confined by rope. (I'm not
political, but I LOVE the ocean).

  Off  the  subject:  a  fellow St. Louisan was miserable at Cancun
Palace.  She  claimed  the  hotel submitted daily reminders of time
share  availability.  Free tours and meals were offered in exchange
for  the  usual  sales  pitches, which we didn't encounter once our
entire  trip. Their food is reportedly mediocre, but I imagine all-
inclusive  meals  would become bland anywhere: for instance, I know
people  who've  been  unsatisfied  with Sandals' cuisine in Halcyon
Beach.  A  reputable  tour  representative at our hotel also stated
Palace Resorts were to be avoided...

  We  took obligatory trips to flea markets, the All-Star Cafe, the
Hard  Rock,  Planet  Hollyood (skip the food), and so on, and found
them  quite  enjoyable. The bargains were impressive, especially on
leather  goods,  but  I  would  suggest  bartering  with  pesos  or
American  singles.  Shopkeepers rounded downward when administering
change for $.

  I've  carried  on  about  the  hotel,  shopping,  and dining, but
haven't  mentioned  Cancun  as an overall destination, which brings
me  to conclude we were unimpressed. It's quite similar to Miami or
Fort Meyers, and truly isn't Caribbean.

  The  hotel  and  amenities  were wonderful, but I also think a 7-
night  stay  was excessive. If we ever go back, we'll stay 4 nights
at  the  Fiesta  Americana Condesa-another austere hotel we saw. We
met a couple who have enjoyed the Fiesta over the last 8 years.

  We  spent  wonderful time together, but we're unsure if Cancun is
appropriate  for  a  romantic  honeymoon.  For a family vacation or
short getaway, however, I would recommend Cancun or Caesar Park.

  We  plan  to  visit Anguilla, Saba, and St. Martin in AUG '99; we
unfortunately couldn't afford these after our wedding.

 Hope this helps.

CUBA: "ESCAPE TO CUBA" ON A 11.5 FOOT SAILBOAT BY FRANK STONE

I  guess  you  can say our adventure began 2 years ago on Charlotte
Harbor  in  beautiful  Punta Gorda, Fl. Before that Scott or myself
had  never  sailed  a boat. Charlotte Sailing, Inc. located next to
the  motel  that  I  manage  had just gotten a new type of sailboat
called  the  Escape.  After watching a few people sail them I asked
if  I  could  try  one out. After one hour I was sailing. I told my
friend,  Scott  Endicott  about  the boats and so he tried one out.
Before  long  we  were  sailing every other day. We loved the boats
and  decided  to  get involved with the racing program at Charlotte
Sailing.  Within  6  months  Scott  and  myself  had bought our own
boats.  We  dominated the racing and started sailing on short trips
around  the Harbor. We sailed to Boca Grande which is 26 miles from
the  sailing  center  and  on the way back we thought it might be a
great adventure to sail the Escapes on a long trip.

Well, where else would you Escape to? Cuba!!

We  wrote  to  the  Escape  Sailboat  Company  and told them of our
quest,  to  Escape  to  Cuba on a 11.5 foot Escape. The response we
got  was  "you  must  be crazy" But if you insist on going we would
like  to  send  you 2 new boats for the trip. We were on our way to
the planning stage.

We  talked  to sailors from our local sailing club to find out what
we  should  bring for this estimated 40-50 hour trip. If we carried
all  that was needed we would have to have a support boat along. We
talked  Gary  Trimmer,  owner  of  the  Sailing Center, into coming
along in his Beneteau 305.

Its  a  good  thing  we  started  planning  9  months ago. We never
dreamed  what  is  necessary for such a short trip from Key West to
Hemingway  Marina  in  Cuba. First of all the paper work was needed
to  leave  the Country to enter a foreign port. Passports were also
needed.  The  food  stuffs  were  purchased at the local Sam' Club.
Area  business  donated  other  items  like  bottled  water, safety
equipment,  and  money. Garmin Electronics loaned us 2 Garmin 170s.
GPS/VHF handheld units.

Now  for  the  route and weather window. Our local weather man, Tom
Rector  of  NBC2  plotted  the weather for us. Gary Trimmer plotted
the  course across the Florida Straights which has currents running
at  2-3  kts to the East. On April the 18th at 10:00 P.M. I got the
call  from  Tom  Rector. Leave now. Its a good thing we were packed
and  ready  to  go. Within 2 hours we were sailing out of Charlotte
Harbor  on  the  Beneteau  lacking  1  crew member that couldn't be
found.  Scott was to trailer the 2 Escapes to Key West the next day
and  we would leave ASAP. We arrived in Key West on the Beneteau at
8:00  A.M.  the  morning  of the 20th. Scott pulled in around 10:30
A.M.  and  we proceeded to provision the 2 Escapes and set sail for
our  destination,  Cuba.  It  was  noon and the winds were 8-10 kts
from  the  SE  when  we  sailed  pass the large cruise ships in Key
West,  Scott  and  I  looking  toward the South with great hopes of
reaching our destination.

As  we  sailed across the Reef we were amazed at all the debris you
could  see  on  the  bottom. There were old military shells, sunken
boats  and  other unrecognizable objects. But knowing we had a long
trip  ahead of us we focused on sailing the Escapes as fast as they
would  go.  We  each  had  our  Garmin  170 to navigate and keep in
contact  with each other, so we listened to the weather channel off
and  on  for wind and sea conditions. At 12 miles out the wind died
to  0-2 kts and the sea was like a sheet of glass. At least we were
out  of  the  grip of the incoming tide, but we were not making any
headway.

We  decided  to board the support boat "Something Special" and head
West.  Our  thought  was  that when we were on the support boat and
traveled  West  we would not sail toward Cuba unless we were on the
Escapes.  At  5:00 A.M. the 21st we climbed back on the Escapes and
headed SW. in 13-15 kts of SE winds. This was great sailing. The 3-
4  ft seas didn't bother the performance of the boats at all. So we
prayed  for  15-20  kts  and  that afternoon we got it. We got wet,
even  though  we  had  our  gear  in water proof containers somehow
water  found  its  way to spare batteries instantly turning them to
rust.  We decided we had to much gear aboard and we came along side
the  support  boat  and unloaded keeping only the Garmin and safety
equipment  and  bottled  water. With the thought of losing our gear
gone  now,  we  tied  ourselves  to  the boat and headed on a close
reach toward Cuba.

The  evening  of  the  21st brought light winds as we were entering
the  currents,  so  we  again  took  advantage of it and headed for
"Something  Special"  for  some  long needed food and a quick rest.
The  winds  came up again so we climbed back aboard the Escapes and
headed  SW.  in  15-20 kts. Wonderful, we thought, as night fell we
turned  on  our  improvised lights to keep visual contact with each
other  as  well  as  the support boat. With the seas running 5-6 ft
now  we  lost each other in the swells. Now in the darkest of night
I  have ever seen before the Gulf was letting us know why this trip
is  not  to  be done in a small boat, unless you are "Escaping From
Cuba,  not  to Cuba" To make matters worst the lights began to fail
and  my  heavier  weight  {180  lbs} allowed me to sail faster than
Scott  {110  lbs},  even when I reefed the sail I was still faster.
We  were  broad  reaching now and one mistake at that high speed on
the Escape could mean a "pitch pole".

Before  we  started  the  venture  we  agreed  that  if  conditions
threatened  our  lives  beyond  our control we would abort and head
West  on  the  support  boat  until  the  conditions changed in our
favor.  The  only  commutation between us was the Garmin 170, thank
God  it  was  both GPS and VHF. I radioed Scott and ask him what he
thought  about  aborting the last leg of the trip, before I got his
answer  back the support boat came over the radio and said "its not
your  decision anymore" and gave us the order to come along side to
board.  Now  with  the  seas  at 6-7 ft and winds gusting to 32 kts
this  wouldn't be an easy task. As it turned out it was the hardest
part  of  the  trip  both physical and emotionally. It took over an
hour to get in tow and board "Something Special".

Our  hats  are  off  to the Captain and Crew of "Something Special"
for  there  Seamanship and knowledge of the open seas. They through
us  hot  food in baggies when we were hungry and bottled water when
we were thirsty.

The  work had just began on the support boat as the 2 Escapes began
passing  us  from the huge swells pushing them as we dived into the
next  swell  on the 305 Beneteau. Scott and I spent the rest of the
night  keeping  slack  out of the tow lines and guiding the Escapes
towards Cuba.

When  daybreak  came we were 3 miles from the Sea Buoy at Hemingway
Marina.  No celebration was to be had yet because the channel going
in  has  reefs on both sides. It is said not to make an approach at
night  if the winds are coming from the West. Our winds were coming
at  our  backs  from  the North. I think that should be the warning
Other  sailing vessels are dry docked with crushed hauls and gaping
holes  in  the  sides  from  trying  to make an approach with North
winds.

But  we  made  it in the channel and the fun began with the guards,
customs, immigration, etc.

Those  of  you  that  have  been  to  Cuba know that this is only a
formality and takes about an hour.

From  there  we  were assigned a slip number. As we motored through
Hemingway  cheers  came  from  the shoreline from all directions. I
had  completely  forgotten  that  weeks earlier I had E- mailed the
Comodoro  at Club Nautico and explained our venture. It was easy to
tell  who  we  were  with  2  bright yellow sailboats with the word
ESCAPE  on the sides. A word most Cubans know. The Reception we got
was  as  one  would  only dream of upon entering a foreign port. We
received  "fully  hosted" status from Club Nautico. The people were
amazed  at  the Escapes. One sailing instructor ask if he could try
one  out.  And  then another and another. Scott and I looked around
at  what  the  youth  program  had for sailboats. "Are you thinking
what I'm thinking" as we looked at each other.

We  decided  right  then to donate the 2 famous 11.5 Escapes to the
Youth  Sailing  Program  of  Club  Nautico  on behalf of the Escape
Sailboat  Company.  At  that the Comodoro's interpreter asked if we
would  return  to  the  Club  around 6:00 P.M. We would love to and
with  that  we  headed back to the support boat for some rest. When
we  returned at 6:00 that evening the Club Nautico had changed from
a  sailing  center into a reception area fit for a President. Tents
were  set up and the 2 Escapes were set on pedestals with the sails
full  and cleaned as if they were new. The interpreter said "please
come  with  me"  We went to center court with the crew of Something
Special  and received cheers and applauds from all who had gathered
including  sailors  from  around  the  World  that  were  docked at
Hemingway  Marina.  They  brought out the paper work for us to sign
which  was  read  aloud in both English and Spanish. Again applauds
and  handshakes  were  plentiful.  From there we were introduced to
"Cuba  Libre".  I  can't  quite  remember  how long the celebration
lasted, 1 or 2 days, I think.

The  next  day the sea conditions weren't favorable for us to leave
Hemingway  for  the  sail  back to Key West, so we had a stand down
and did some laundry and rested for the next days trip.

On  Friday  the  24th  we  decided  to head back to Key West. As we
motor-sailed  out  of  Hemingway Marina we got waves from everybody
on  shore.  There ahead of us was the 2 Escapes with 2 kids on each
boat.  As  we  passed them one of the kids yelled in broken English
"these  Escapes,  they are very fast". I'll never forget the smiles
on  those  kids  faces.  As  we sailed out of sight I couldn't help
thinking  that  someday those 2 Escapes will turn up in the US with
4  Cubans  on each boat. I only hope they will get the same kind of
reception  as  we got. After all they will have set a new record on
the 11.5 Escape.

So  please  keep  your  eye out for "The Sailboat That Could" Frank
Stone..Escape  1  Scott  Endicott..Escape 2 For more information on
our  adventure  "Escape  To  Cuba" please write..Frank Stone, 23275
Bayshore  Road,  Charlotte  Harbor,  Fl,33980  or call 941-764-9100
Frank Stone President Escape Class Association

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: CLUB BAHIA PRINCIPE BY NORMAN ELKINGTON

Trip 3/98

A  simple  report on the above all inclusive that I have just spent
two marvelous weeks at. Obviously my views only.

About an hour by coach from Puerto Plata past Sosua and Cabaret.

Maybe  it doesn't fully conform as AI as it isn't actively promoted
in  USA  and  'tipping' isn't actively discouraged but on the other
hand  my experience suggests that service provision is not affected
in  the slightest regardless. Tipping appeared reserved for bedroom
cleaners  at  the end of stay and the like.(Privately).It certainly
wasn't common as most of us carried little all day.

We  all  wore green wrist bands(and trunks(:-)) , but the resort is
remote so I wonder if even this was necessary.

The  resort  is  very large (833 rooms) presently. There is a small
amount  of  building  ongoing  at  one  end  ,  but  this in no way
affected our enjoyment.

The  beach is man made and not as good as adjacent natural ones. It
is however cleaned daily.

The  main  pool was never overcrowded and there were two additional
smaller pools remote, hardly used at all.

The  resort  was  some  80%(or  more) occupied during my stay and I
never  had  to  queue  (stand  in  line) for any service apart from
about  20  minutes  checking in as 3 buses arrived from the airport
at  the  same  time.  The  bars  could  become crowded , but resort
knowledge  soon  had  me  sidestepping  busy periods. Drinks are in
plastic   tumblers   or   pvc   cups.  Glasses  were  reserved  for
restaurants.

Sun  loungers were plentiful. Some 'reserving' took place but there
were more loungers than people so no problem.

The  resort is totally all inclusive. Jet skis are additional cost.
An  hours  diving  in the pool is also included , which I used as a
prelude to a dive over the reef(at cost).

Snorkeling  gear  is  free loan , but to be honest you need a short
boat  ride to see anything. The surf throws up sand too much to see
close in.

The loaned equipment was all as new condition.

The  rooms were basic but clean. The frigo is free but mini-bar and
room  safety  deposit  box cost extra.(Who needs a mini bar after a
11 hour free drinks session - hic).

The  staff  at  the  resort  are  friendly and helpful. Obviously ,
standards  of  service  differ  from  Europe and mainland USA , but
this  is  more than made up for by the friendly smiling attitude of
all the staff.

I requested and got a double bed.(Gold dust apparently).

Drinks  at  the  adjacent Pueblo (Owned by Hotel)are 30 pesos for a
beer  ,  but  rise  to 120 Peso for a short and mixer and 150 for a
cocktail.  The  street party every night is excellent and the young
girls  from  the  hotel  complex  are  working  to  ensure everyone
dances. It was fun.

The  food  was  excellent  some  days and passable others. This was
perhaps  due  to  our  European  taste  rather  than the standards.
Hygiene  was  excellent for a third world country. This isn't meant
to be derogatory merely factual.

We  only  experienced  one  planned  power cut in the middle of the
night.  The  complex has its own generator. We also drank the water
obtained  from  the bars including ice cubes , but not the bathroom
tap water. It was OK.

I would gladly return to both the DR and this resort.

I  must  admit  that  I  cannot compare it to others , as it was my
first  (but  certainly  not  last) visit to the DR.A previous short
visit  to  the Bahamas(Nassau) suggests this resort is of a similar
standard.

As  a adjunct , I am aware that Airtours , the UK agent with whom I
booked  etc.  and  the DR in particular have recently received some
bad  press  in  UK.I  will personally confirm my utter satisfaction
with  both  the  service  and  the  resort.  Indeed the service and
resort  far  exceeded  my  expectations.  Perhaps  my  expectations
aren't so high.

I  am also fully aware of individuals within the resort (English as
I  am  and  some  Canadians)  actively  campaigning  to besmirk the
resort  in  an effort to gain refunds from the tour operators. IMHO
this is an increasing trend with we Brits. Sad to say.

GRENADA BY MITCHEL A. ARMSTEAD

Trip 4/98

My  wife  and  I just returned from a 7 day vacation in Grenada. We
stayed  at  the  only hotel on Morne Rouge which is a pretty little
local  beach  next  to  the  more  famous Grand Anse Beach. The Gem
Hotel  ,which  was  priced  very reasonably was clean and the staff
warm and friendly.

I  had  been to Grenada years ago and detected a change of attitude
in  the general populace, not associated with the tourist business.
Anywhere  I  went which was not a hotel or restaurant the passerbys
were  unfriendly and seldom answered my greetings as we past. I got
the  feeling  there  is  definitely something brewing that will not
serve  tourism  there.  On  the  beaches, especially Grand Anse and
Morne  Rouge  we  were  frequently  subjected  to  Grenadian youths
intimidating  stares. Hoards of peddlers frequently descended on us
hawking their wares. Some were very aggressive.

The  food  (we  are  quite particular) left a lot to be desired. We
tried  most of the recommended restaurants, but for dinner we could
only  give  a rave review to one, The Aquarium near the airport. It
was  always  excellent.  Sundays  they have a barbecue outside. The
meats,  fish,  and  wonderful  salads  made us forget about the $20
taxi  fare  from  our  hotel.  Breakfast was impossible. We did not
find  a  restaurant  who  could  fry  eggs  nor  make a good cup of
American  coffee.  We  finally  found a place called the Donut Shop
which  was  like  a  Dunkin Donuts. The cinnamon twists were out of
this  world and the coffee acceptable.The owners, an Indian couple
were friendly, gracious and a wealth of info about the island.

We  booked  this  trip  late  in  high  season  because most of the
resorts  or  planes  to  them were booked. If you just want a cheap
tan  this  is  still  a  good  place  to  go.  If  you  know  of  a
beach/inn/hotel  situation  where the peddlers are not so thick and
we  can  be  assured  of  some  privacy, I would love to hear about
them.

GRENADA: THE MOORINGS SHORE & SAIL VACATION BY THOMAS PALLISTER

We  had  a  fabulous vacation in Grenada thanks to The Moorings and
their  staff.  We  weren't  too  sure about whether or not we would
like  sailing  and  were  hesitant to book a sailing vacation for a
week.  Our only experiences on sailboats were day trips during some
of  our  other vacations. While in Tortola last year, we stopped by
The  Moorings  facility  and  picked up the booklets they had about
the  sailing  vacations  they  offer.  One  of the packages was the
Shore  and Sail package and it seemed like it was just what we were
looking  for,  a  combination of a stay at a resort with a few days
sailing  included.  We selected the package that had Grenada as the
home  port  and  booked  with  The  Moorings for the Shore and Sail
package from April 30 to May 8.

This  included  a  three night stay at the Secret Harbour resort in
Grenada,  W.I.;  sailing  from  9am on Sunday to noon on Wednesday;
and  two  nights  at Secret Harbour. While the package had only one
night  after  the  sailing, we added the second night . The sailing
portion  included  all  meals  and  drinks  (more  to follow on the
meals!).  We  also  used  The  Moorings  travel  office to book the
necessary  flights.  We  had shopped for the best airfare before we
called  and  the  best price we had gotten was nowhere near the low
price  that  we  got  through The Moorings. Also, I have to mention
that  the  customer  service  staff at The Moorings are just great.
They  answered  all  of my questions, offered advice and where very
accommodating. It was a pleasure to deal with them.

Secret   Harbour   is   a   beautiful   resort,   with   very  nice
accommodations.   Both   the   grounds   and  the  rooms  are  very
picturesque  and  I  found  myself  taking too many pictures of the
resort!  The  rooms  have  beautiful  views  with private decks and
wonderful  lounge  chairs  with  cushions. Some overlook the marina
with  all  those  beautiful sailboats and some overlook the harbour
which  also  is  very  beautiful.  The staff is very helpful and we
really  enjoyed  the  resort  part  of  the  vacation. There is not
really  much of a beach but the pool in very nice. They offer water
sports  but we didn't have time to try them out. The breakfasts and
dinners  we  had  there  were also very good. However, they must do
something  about the short stretch of road leading into the resort.
It  has  what  can  only be considered as craters and from what the
taxi  drivers tell us, the resort has made no effort at fixing that
stretch  of  road.  It's a shame because you don't get a good first
impression  when  you're  arriving  and  get bounced around on that
short  stretch of road. They could have it repaved in about 3 hours
if  they  wanted to. Just one of those things that don't make sense
at a beautiful resort like this.

There  is  a  place by the Marina that serves drinks and some food,
with  tables overlooking the marina, which, if fixed up, could be a
goldmine  for  Secret Harbour. It's only about a four on a scale of
one  to  ten,  and  besides  the short stretch of bombed out road I
mentioned,  is  the  only  almost  negative  that  we  found at the
resort.

The  sailing part of our vacation was the highlight of the trip. We
were  on  a  50  foot  sailboat  called the Stargazer with only one
other  couple,  and  the  Captain  and  his  wife. The third couple
canceled  at  the  last minute. Captain Michael and Erna have to be
the  most accommodating, wonderful people employed by The Moorings.
From  the  first  minute  to the last they were concerned with only
catering  to the needs of their guests and ensuring that they would
have  the  best  vacation possible. We stopped at beautiful places,
snorkeled,  swam, lounged around reading books, kayaked, ate Erna's
gourmet  cooking and drank her superb cocktails. When I say gourmet
cooking,  I really mean it. Erna makes everything from scratch, and
from  the  snacks, to the dinners, to the deserts, the food is just
the  best!  What  she  does  with  freshly  caught  fish (thanks to
Michael!)  is  a  mouth  watering  treat.  The  beer  and wine were
plentiful  as  were  sodas,  mineral  water, or whatever it was you
wanted.  Having filled out a questionnaire when we booked the trip,
everything we preferred was on board!

Michael  entertained  us  at  night  with  riddles  and other brain
teasers  and  we  laughed a lot and had a super time. However I was
especially  impressed  with  their  knowledge  of  sailing  and the
waters  we  were  sailing in. They are true professionals and while
we  were  under  sail,  Michael  was all business, as was Erna when
needed  on  deck.  It  was  comforting  to  know  that  we had very
experienced  sailors  in  control and we were never concerned about
safety.

Grenada  was an interesting place to visit. They have a magnificent
beach  called  Grand  Anse and we went there twice. The town of St.
George  was  the  typical  Caribbean island town with shops for the
cruise  ship people, but was nowhere near as pretty as say the town
in  Aruba.  We  went  to the open air market on market day which is
Saturday,  and  it  is  not  to be believed. You cannot believe how
many  people  are  in  the  market at the same time! We bought some
spices  and  took  some  pictures,  but  the crowds can be a little
overwhelming.  There  are  some  forts  that  you can visit and the
views from them are worth the visit.

During  our short stay on the island we only ate at two restaurants
besides  the  one  at Secret Harbour. We like local food so we were
told  to try Mamma's which we did. You get anywhere from a 16 to 25
course  dinner,  depending  on what's in season. Luckily for us the
armandillo  was  not!  However  our  16 courses included everything
from  goat  to  seafood  and  it was all very good. It one of those
places  that you have to try once. The prices were very reasonable.


The  other place was a local place called the Little Dipper. It was
recommended  by  Michael  and  Erna  and  is actually run by a taxi
driver's  wife.  At  my request she made us conch fritters and they
were  great!  The  homemade  soup  was  also  excellent.  The place
consists  of  about  three tables on a deck at their home. They can
feed  a  max  of  about 10 people. It was extremely reasonable, but
the  food  is  very  delicious  and  highly recommended. You should
contact  Rock  Taxi  at the marina at Secret Harbour or call him at
444-5136  or  3640.  He's called Rock (his real name in Rochel) and
he is a very nice guy.

In  fact  our tour of the rainforest and spice factory fell through
so  we  booked a tour with Rock. He turned out to be extremely well
versed  on the history of Grenada and all of the sights and plants,
trees,  and  fruits. We told him that he should consider becoming a
history  teacher  because  of  how  well  versed  he  is.  We had a
wonderful  five  hour tour with him and learned a lot about Grenada
while   visiting  all  of  the  major  attractions,  including  the
rainforest,  the spice plantation, the nutmeg factory, the Concorde
waterfalls,  and  the rum factory. His price for the five hour tour
is  also  very  reasonable  compared  to  some  of  the  other tour
operators' prices.

One  drawback  in  Grenada is that you have to take a taxi wherever
you  go,  and  it can get to be very expensive. While I have driven
on  a  number  of  islands, even those where you drive on the other
side  of the road, I wouldn't even think of driving on Grenada. The
roads  are  extremely  narrow,  with  some  deep dropoffs or gullys
where  the  shoulder  of  the road should be, and lots of the roads
are  in bad need of repair. And this is from a guy who drives daily
in New York City!

So  all  in  all we had a super vacation thanks to The Moorings and
Michael  and  Erna.  We wouldn't hesitate to book another trip with
The  Moorings  and  are  scanning the booklets already, thinking of
maybe next year...

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