If you are planning your first trip to the Caribbean and you want to decide where to go to then this post is right for you.
The Dominican Republic is probably the most touristy Spanish-speaking Caribbean island. In my experience, it can be aptly called the tout capital of the Caribbean. We went there in the shadows of COVID-19.
- The island has pretty good intra-city and inter-city public transport.
- The local currency DOP, Dominican Pesos, is about 1/60th of the US dollar.
There are several caves at Lava Beds National Monument of varying levels of challenges. I would recommend starting with a few easy ones first before taking it to a higher level. The caves do get really shallow at times, sometimes, less than a foot in height, so, don’t go in if you get claustrophobic.
Gears to carry
- Helmet – even a bike helmet would work
- Knee Pads
- Good hiking boots
- A small chart summarizing which caves to do
- Detailed report with maps of the caves
I love taking public transport while traveling. One, not only, gets a chance to see the lifestyles of the locals but also becomes more familiar with the new area. So, when can one count on public transport while traveling? Peru and Ecuador had great public transport, both short and long-distance. Dominica had mediocre, Aruba had just one bus going around the island’s outer road. Hawai’i has mediocre. The Dominican Republic has great public transport for both short and long-distance. So, why is this the case?
Here’s my general rule of thumb:
Aruba, a small Caribbean island 29 km north of Venezuela, is a part of the ABC islands – Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, which forms the Dutch Caribbean and is a part of the Netherlands. It is famous for its white-sand beaches.
Egypt, locally known as Misr (मिस्र) is world-famous for its pyramids and ancient polytheist temples. I made a trip to Egypt in Nov 2020, during the COVID-19 era. Given the general lack of tourism, it was a great time to travel since I didn’t face any queues and in many temples, I was the sole visitor.
Very few people outside of the tourism industry understand English, so, it is good to make yourself aware of a few basic phrases. The equivalent of “hello” is “As-salamu alaykum”. To ask for a price, say “bekam da“. And of course learn the common numbers like five (hamza), three (thlath), ten (ashri), and twenty (ashrin) since these are what you will encounter on the street. And “I don’t understand Arabic” is “Ana mish fahem al Arabee”.
As a vegetarian, I did not face any problems finding food since Falafel and Ful sandwiches are aplenty and available for cheap (1-5 EGP per sandwich). The national dish Koshari is neither delicious nor nutritious. The Egyptian Pizza, Feteer, however, is darn delicious.
Glacier National Park, Montana is considered to be one of the most gorgeous national parks in the US. We went there in September 2020. It wasn’t snowing but the weather was still pretty erratic with random cold showers during the day. So, I would recommend going no later than August. Also, the east side, which has native American reservations were closed to prevent COVID-19 spread.
Dressing in at least three layers is highly recommended as the weather changes dramatically with heights and the time of the day.
- Dominica, the nature island, is not easily accessible via the mainland United States. The airport is small and only propeller planes can land here.
- The island is beautiful and is one of the few Caribbean islands with a rainforest. It is known to have 365 rivers.
- The currency is East Caribbean Dollar (1 USD = 2.7 XCD). The USD has full acceptance, though.
- Kalalau is the national dish. It’s a soup made from Dakshin, and I would recommend trying it out.
- Public transport is better than most other islands but is still limiting if your itinerary is jam-packed.
- There are two towns, Roseau and Portsmouth. I would recommend staying in Roseau if you don’t have a rental car since most tours, taxis, and buses depart from there.
- Most good activities are on the south side of the island. The south faces the calmer Caribbean sea while the north side faces a more turbulent Atlantic Ocean.
Cancun, or, more precisely, Cancún, is a coastal tourist city on the Caribbean (eastern) side of Mexico. There are two significant areas, Punta Cancun (tip of Cancun), also known as the Hotel Zone and Playa Del Carmen. We chose to stay in Punta Cancun. The Hotel Zone is walkable and you don’t need to rent a car if you are staying there. Buses are always available to go to other parts of Cancun though you rarely will.
After renting a moped in Thailand, I stopped at a small shop to ask for a petrol pump/gas station. Instead, the shop owner handed me a bottle of gasoline for purchase.
“Must be a peaceful country where they can sell gasoline in bottles.”, I said to myself, “In most parts of the world, people would use this as a petrol bomb during violent protests and riots.”