Noun The activity of visiting places of interest in a particular location:
“a sightseeing tour”.
Our last stay in the DR was this past Christmas. I am calling it the best Christmas EVER because it was the most relaxing. No more running around with the seasons preparations….instead, we were running around trying to find the best restaurants, spas, and touring. This kind of running around is all good as it was supplemented with days of watching the waves and reading books 🙂
We decided to take a day trip into Puerto Plata as one of our self designated tour days to see more of the area. We’d hired a driver named Elias, who promptly picked us up at 9am and off we went to start our day of sightseeing. As we got closer to Puerto Plata, Elias pointed out that all the greenery we were seeing was in fact sugar cane fields. We were amazed by the vast amount of land being used for this crop, but when you think of the amount of money there is in the exporting of rum, we really shouldn’t have been. Elias recommended that we go to the rum factory first as there was a bit of cloud cover at the top of Mount Isabel de Torres and we wouldn’t be able to see much when we got to the top unless it cleared up. We said ok to the change of plans and went with having a bit of a rum tasting first thing in the morning 😛
The Brugal rum tour started off outside with a very personable guide introducing himself and welcoming us to the DR and to the factory. He explained a bit about the history of Brugal and production amounts before we went inside to see the factory itself. This location is a bottling location only and the actual distillery was 5 minutes away. The tour is free & very short as the only thing you actually see is a view of the factory floor from a mezzanine above to watch the rum being bottled and labelled. Our fellow tour goers consisted of 4 pretty young ladies that were in shorts…..when we walked into the factory all the men stopped whatever they happened to be doing and stood gawking up at the girls. That was our little entertainment during the “tour” and we (the 3 of us) couldn’t stop laughing. We then exited the factory area and were taken to the shop where they had the tasting counter and items for purchase. They were offering a tasting of 3 or 4 different rums (none of the “good” aka $$ stuff) in a tiny little cap sized cup that you could try straight or mixed into a rum punch. The punch tasted like a packaged mix rather than real fruit juice which would have been better (hey, I’ve been to Jamaica so I’m in the know! see bottom for Rum Punch Recipe). After having our small sample and wandering the shop, we ventured outside and were told that the clouds over Mount Isabel de Torres had cleared up. Off we went again…..
Prior to exiting the vehicle, Elias told us not to accept any “help” from tour guides if all we wanted to do was wander around on our own as they would want payment. The views on the way up in the cable car were amazing. I am a big fan of lush vegatation and we certainly got that from our vantage point!
As with everywhere, if you want to buy tourist souvenirs there’s ample opportunity at the top once you exit the cable car area. The gardens are very green and the steps can be slippery due to the moss and mist that happens so be aware when walking around. After enjoying the view for a bit and taking a lot of photos we headed back down so we could search out some lunch.
After lunch we went to Fuerte San Felipe del Morro which is a fort commissioned by King Felipe II of Spain in the 1500’s. It’s now a museum but I didn’t find anything interesting inside (sorry museum people) so it didn’t take very long to go through.
The rest of the afternoon consisted of stopping by a store to pick up a few made in DR items, going to an art gallery (modern building filled with unusual art), the main square, stopping for a treat, and then it was time to head back home.
Like any city, Puerto Plata needs more than a quick blitz so I know we’ll be going back again in our future travels. There is still Ocean World and other sites to see 🙂
Check out these videos from Westjet Vacations showcasing Puerto Plata:
Now, about that rum punch recipe……
Benford’s Rum Punch from Cliffside Cottage in Jamaica:
1 qt pineapple juice
1 qt fruit punch
½ cup grenadine syrup
¼ cup lime juice
2 cups overproof white rum (or to desired strength)
Combine all and stir. Serve on cracked ice