marți, 26 noiembrie 2013

Palma

 
Palma de Mallorca is one of the nicest place I've been in Europe. Was a very very nice surprise.


It can be easily compared with an "exotic", far away destination, only that for Europeans it's much cheaper. It has it all: history and places to visit, nice beaches and clear blue water, night life, nature.


 
In 3 days we managed to do and see quite a lot. But I would go back there anytime.

Accommodation was in Palma (the town). Good choice, because the old town is charming, with small narrow streets, a nice port, beautiful architecture. In addition, there are a lot of pubs, restaurants and clubs.


During the night, the old town if full of life. You can see especially very young people everywhere. One thing that caught my attention was the big number of groups of...just women. Very noisy and willing to party.



We spent just one day in Palma and if you go for 3-4 days on the island, that should be enough.

Palma de Mallorca is a great combination of nature, beautiful beaches and sea, charming towns/villages.

 
We rented a car and left Palma in the direction of Canyon de la Calobra. We stopped in Soller, a nice town with a small port.




On the way to the Canyon de la Calobra, we stopped many times, because the landscape was breathtaking. At a certain point, we realized that if we want to get to the canyon, it is not a good idea to stop everytime we want.


We saw a beautiful lake (where you are not allowed to swim!), olive tree plantations...And also some rocks where I saw spits, so we could have climbed.

The canyon in Palma reminded me a lot of the canyon in Sardinia. In addition, another similarity: in both canyons there is a lot of rock, good for climbing, but just a few routes.


The beach here is rocky and nice if it's empty. We arrived when people were leaving, but there was still a group of noisy Spanish. Which I love, but not when all I want is to relax and enjoy the nature.
Well, you can't have it all!

 Because we had a car, we had the liberty to try more beaches "Cala". Some are crowded, other are very small and quite virgin.
 


















I could not miss Coves del Drach, close to Porto Cristo. Nice experience.



I would reccommend Palma de Mallorca as a perfect destination for 3-4 days. Hmm, even for a week. Yes, for sure I will return.




vineri, 22 noiembrie 2013

Dominican Republic

 

Why Dominican?

Hmm, didn't have much time to plan in advance a more complex trip, I am Romanian and need visa in many places (ufff) and we found a good offer with Sunjets in Dominican Republic. It's also the reason why we chose all inclusive system, even though the idea doesn't thrill me...


And once we got there, it has been confirmed to me that all inclusive means...a bunch of people staying in the pools, not even going to swim in the sea, eating and drinking at the hotel all day long...and saying that they visited a country, when they actually visited...the hotel.

  

Leaving them behind...we rented a car and escaped the "dance now, have fun now" atmosphere.
I read that there is a huge difference between rich and poor people.



Once we faced the real world...I noticed that in Dominican Republic, if you have money, you can buy a whole natural park, you can buy a cave, you can buy everything.


For example: a very nice place called Hoyo Azul, a sort of a cave filled in with blue water, a wonder of the nature is owned by a private person. You have to pay 10 USD in order to get there. Imagine a persons would be able to buy the Alps...


Another "negative wow" was when we tried to access a beach, indicated in the guide and on the map, but we couldn't because we didn't stay at the hotel. The beach was not private, you could theoretically access it walking by the beach, but the access was kilometres away.
 


Basically, you knew that the beach was there, but you could not reach it cause a powerful influent person wanted you to stay at his hotel in order to access the beautiful beach.

In the end we managed to enter, leaving an ID and getting a "visitor card"...but probably because the guards were nice, not because they were allowed to do so.


I'm probably tired; that's why I started with negative facts. But in fact Dominican Republic has beautiful beaches, nice, cozy places untouched by mass tourism.


The capital, Santo Domingo, is listed as number one on the "to do" list in Dominican Republic. The old town has definitely a specific charm; the rest of the town, seen by car, didn't seem too attractive.


We could easily found a parking place next to the town's cathedral, famous for being the oldest cathedral in America. Also visited the Museo Casas Reales.


I felt so sick, almost delirating from the fever, that I don't recall much from the museum. After taking a local pill (have no idea what it was) I could finally enjoy the old town.or me the nicest thing was just walking around, observing people, having a  drink at a nice terrasse.


If you plan to go there, rent a car and go away from touristic places. I was sick for the first days, with 40 degrees fever, but after two days of laying in the crowded areas, I decided it's time to get myself together and see the real life.


We just took the car and drove nord in the direction of Laguna Redonda and Laguna del Limon. We stopped many times on the way and found plenty of white-sand beaches, far away from tourists.


People seem happy, even though they don't have expensive cars, at least in the small villages. I notice that they have electricity, which for me is a sign of civilization.


I saw coloured houses, small and absolutely charming, people playing all sorts of games in front of the houses. I guess they rise animals for living.


Other reccommended destinations would be Altos de Chavon and Isla Catalina.
Altos de Chavon a re-creation of a medieval European village. It is built on a hill, with very nice view over the area.


It was a bit scarry at the beginning to see that on the hotel's beach you could see signs that you are on a private beach, under surveillance and once you exit, you are on your own.


There are many lagunas, untouched by the massive tourism development. Even though they keep buiding hotels, at least you can still see coloured birds in the trees. The hotel we stayed in had it's own laguna and the access to the sea was though a palm tree little forest. That was quite nice.


One of the best things I've seen was Hoyo Azul, a grotta with blue water, in the middle of a forest. If you are lucky, like us, to find nobody, it's really really nice. Once the crowd arrives, you gotta run.


I also recommend Cueva de las Maravillas, full of Taino drawings, all well preserved works of ancient art. It was supposed to be very crowded, but as it was not high season, we were alone with our guide.


Bayahibe was one of the nicest place we've been in Dominican Republic. It is a fishermen village, still charming, with coloured houses and a small port. We talked with a couple of fishermen, watched the children trying to catch fishes with basic tools, enjoyed a meal on the small beach.


My conclusion? It's nice to go to Dominican once, there are things to do and nice places to visit, beautiful beaches. Go there again? Hmm, nope.