by Jose Kevo
November 21, 2003
Planning/Timing Your ArrivalOrganized excursions are usually during the daytime -- expect to have your motivation for enjoyment further usurped traipsing around under the intense Caribbean sun. From nearby Bayahibe, you can book a visit to Altos de Chavon for RD1000 on a speedboat ride over the sea and up the lush valley of Rio de Chavon where scenes from Bridge Over the River Quai were filmed. Be advised upon arrival, travelers must hike up a very steep path to get to the complex. Return is by van/bus.
Daytime visitors will also find none of the dozen or so upscale, fine-dining restaurants open, nor the posh bar and disco known for being a hot spot attracting a mixed crowd of locals and visiting celebrities -- all dressed to the nines.
If you're looking for a more happening scene and have flexibility in your transportation, consider making your visit later of an evening. Expect to pay more for taxi fares the later time gets.
Dining OpportunitiesAs mentioned, there are no less than a dozen restaurants open of an evening serving European, American and local dishes in polished settings. Menu boards are placed out front to help you determine where and what you'd like to eat. With the current devaluing of the peso coupled with prices which haven't risen, expect your evening to be much more reasonable; $10-$15 per person.
Those visiting in the day can choose from several smaller specialty shops including Le Balanger Panderia; a French pastry and sandwich eatery located next to the Batey's Handicraft shop. Sandwiches with a choice of one side were RD50/RD 75. They also serve a variety of fruit juices, smoothies, and specialty coffees.
If you're looking only to snack or pick-up any kind of bottled water or beverages, there's a large general store/colmado located on the northeast corner of the plaza area just across from the grand circular fountain and amphitheater.
STARS Under the StarsEntertainment as a form of art is also on the agenda thanks to a 5000-seat open-air amphitheater which strays from the Andalucian theme with Greek/Roman-influenced columns scattered about the hillside which serves as back-drop. The unlikely duo of Frank Sinatra and Santana were the first to perform here and have since been followed by some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. Drama and Dance performances are also part of the randomly scheduled events.
Restroom FacilitiesThe amphitheater is open for exploring which includes restrooms along the upper corridor. The only others are just off the path leading to the golf course/swimming pool. While they're closest to the entrance, use these only in case of emergency since they appeared filthy and abandoned.
From journal AZUCA! Sweet Success in the Sugar Capital