Today, Joe and I had a day off from working on the flying trapeze so we decided to venture into Puerto Plata for some sight-seeing. We made sure to have a plan before we left, since we don’t have working phones in the DR, so we made our list of things to see, downloaded some google maps and off we went. We decided to travel to Puerto Plata by guagua, since that it the cheapest way to get there. We caught a guagua right outside of Extreme Hotel and we were on our way. This particular guagua was packed to the brim- I think I counted 22 people at one point! After about 45 min we were the only ones in the guagua and they offered to take us right to our first destination, the cable cars at Isabel de Torres Park, for 300 pesos. The park is a bit off of the normal guagua route and since we were unsure where exactly we were going we accepted their offer even though we knew they were asking for much more than we probably should have paid (a normal guagua trip to Puerto Plata is 50 pesos each).
Crowded guagua headed into town!
Our first stop- Isabel de Torres Park was awesome and definitely worth the trip! We paid 450 pesos each to ride a cable car to the top of a mountain in a beautiful park. We waited about a half hour to get on a cable car, but were entertained by a 4 piece Dominican band playing for us in the lobby. The ride up the mountain was beautiful, but definitely a bit scary to be so high up in the air dangling from a cable (even for us trapeze people!). The views were great and are supposedly best early in the morning before the clouds roll in. At the top of the mountain there is a botanical garden with a bunch of trails to walk around, lots of flowers, a small cave, a pond, a restaurant, gift shop and a huge statue of Jesus. If it is a clear day there’s a great view of Puerto Plata from the top.
The starting point for the cable car at the bottom of the mountain.
Statue at the top of the mountain.
After spending some time walking around the botanical garden, we took the cable car back down and caught a guagua to our next destination: Del Oro chocolate factory. In case you didn’t know, the DR grows a lot of cocoa beans, and makes some fantastic chocolate! When we walked in the door the place smelled amazing and we were greeted with the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted and a warm brownie. We then watched a short movie about how the chocolate is made, saw a small bit of the factory then went to the gift shop to stock up on chocolate. Everything we tried there was amazing and very cheap! My dream come true!
Up next, we walked about ¼ mile down the road to the Brugal Co. to take a tour of the rum factory. We were the only two people there, so we had a private tour (only $10 for both of us) with an excellent tour guide who spoke English. We learned that Brugal rum is family company that has been around for over 150 years and they distill their rum in old whiskey barrels, which gives it a unique taste. Our tour guide was very generous in his pouring of samples and gave us an extra full shot “for the road.” The two types of rum we tried were so good we couldn’t pass up buying a bottle on the way out!
To round out our day we walked down the road a little ways to Long beach, took a short walk on the beach, then came back up to the main road to do a little shopping at a store called Jumbo, which is basically the Dominican equivalent of Wal-Mart. They had a lot of things there that we haven’t been able to find in Cabarete, and a very good selection of food, much like what a grocery store would have in the US. After we loaded up on a few supplies we hopped back in a guagua for the trip home. Again, we had no trouble picking up a guagua and made it back home in about a half hour. Overall, a successful day of exploring….. I got to have all of my favorite things: chocolate, rum, and the beach!