"Puerto Rico Town"
Puerto Rico has three large shopping and entertainment malls, the largest being the Centro Civico, where visitor's can buy literally anything. There is everything from banks to boutiques, florists and fishmongers, and dozens of duty-free stores selling electrical goods, photographic equipment and perfume at great prices. The other two centers are Agua La Perra and Europa, and both have good selections of souvenir and beachwear shops, and at least one supermarket. Opening hours for shops and supermarkets in the centers are from 9.30am to 10pm. This is a good place to test your bargaining power; hagglers should start negotiating at about half the asking price.
The one thing I did find and a lot people found was the constant "Touts" harassing you to buy or go into places, I found as did other people that is was very off putting and had the opposite effect as we would walk away.
Unique Suggestions: Do not be fooled you never pay the price advertised,even in the perfume shops, they walk around with calculators in their hand,why? why do you think! to negotiate a price with you.
Do not be afraid to walk out and go to another shop and do the same you will soon find out what the real price is supposed to be?.
An example : I was thinking about getting a protective lens for my video camera, it started off at €75 (a joke) then went down to €30,as I was walking out the door I was told OK OK €10, I continued out the door and was asked if I had a shotgun so he could shoot himself!, which I did find humorous.
Interestingly when sat down having a coffee I spoke with a local chap who informed me that : you have to be careful with some places as some of the lenses are not EU approved or marked? and might in fact be plastic and not glass depending where they were made?.
Being plastic or glass is important.
One final thing to watch out for,in trying to persuade me that it would look good on my video camera, He craftily changed the settings on my camera and very quickly too, I only noticed after I had left the shop and used the camera again.
As you may of gathered I did not buy one in the end
Fun Alternatives: It depends really, apart from the the constant hassling which I personally find tiring and off putting,it can be fun haggling and has to be kept into context so it does not ruin your experience.
Puerto De Mogan is more relaxed but then it is a totally different atmosphere,Puerto Rico can be fun but not when you are constantly harassed every 5 meters.
I would still recommend going there for the experience it is a colorful place in different ways and there are plenty of bargains to be had,just be careful and if you think that Cartier watch you bought for €20 is real, you may want to look again, It does look real though doesn't it?.and it looks great with my DG Sunglasses.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Be aware when calling overseas!!
Spanish phones are very, very expensive when calling overseas. After spending in phone booths a lot of Euros, i learnt my lesson!
Fun Alternatives: A friend gave me a number that he uses and he gets much cheaper rates.
I call through this number which is 902 99 53 01, from any land line or phone booth, and all i pay is just 4 cents a minute at nights and wekends, or 6 cents at daytime. It is also so easy to use, i have been using it for 4 months now. highly recommended!!!
I've used it to call the US, UK, France, Italy and some other places where i have friends. I think they have more than 60 countries, so chances are yours will be listed.
When you dial the number,902 99 53 01, and then get the operator, just press 1, and 00 plus your country code and your friends number. Beleive is worh it! I think you can use it form a mobile phone also with rates around 20 cents a minute or something like that.
if you want details or list of countries the page is www.iCallCheap.com in English and www.TelefonoBarato.com in Spanish. just check it out, you'll thank me :)
- Budget Travel
Cruz de Tejeda
This cross marks the centerpoint of Gran Canaria. The area is named after it. The mountainpass it stands on is 1450 meters above sealevel and is said to provide a good view.
What we found there: souvenirstands, bars, restaurants, a monkey you could ride, and so on. We have seen much better viewpoints on the island.
Get an idea (a 360 ' pic) on this website:
Fun Alternatives: Go to the viewpoint of Pico de las Nieves. Much better views, and less souvenirs. We found only one stand selling drinks and snacks.
"Holiday promotion" - newspeak for "TIMESHARE"
On the way to Maspalomas beach they stop you "where you're from?" Be on bullsh**t alert if you tell them. A waterfall of words spiced up with spanishy things as "uno momentito" (cmon, at least speak real Spanish) will tell you this is a tourism promotion endorsed by the government and that you have won a prize. They show the first scratchcard saying "you have won a T-shirt". You need to go to an information office to collect it. And woow, the second scratchcard will say you have, o wwoooooww (watch the fake emotions), won the main prize of the day. Either A)600EUR in cash B)a free holiday, or C)a digital camcorder. To find out which one it is and collect it, you need to attend a presentation about a new way of booking holidays over the internet. They claim to support "family tourism" and ask you some questions - to assess your budget. Since we didnt quite fit the bill, the guy said just go in the paid for taxi and enjoy the free food and stay for the presentation. All this for free? we asked him about the nature of their business. Timeshare? Not at all. After we got into the taxi, I asked the driver if it would be paid at the destination. He said yes, so I asked him (in Spanish) what this was all about. He laughed, of course it is timeshare. To return now, we would have to pay the fare ourselves but otherwise, they will pay and we could just chicken out to do some thing else. Suddenly we knew that the "security check" box on the says a´lways option B "free holiday". We arrived, a woman came to pay the ride. We said, sorry, we were fooled about the nature of your operations, no thanks! They tried to make us pay for the taxi. After all, far over 20 EUR. No way, if you fool us, we fool you! We threw the scratchcards at them and just walked off. . Anyway, we had escaped...
Most people wont be able to find out from the cab driver whats going on, unless they are fluent in spanish. So would they take a cab back plus pay the return fare of 20 EUR themselves? Or bear the presentation?
Unique Suggestions: Don't agree to go somewhere even if the cab is paid for, unless you are confident to find your own way back (speak to the driver if you can). Whoever tells you, this is the chance of your life, and only today / now / exactly there / through THEM etc. - they are just using sales strategy, and they are not in there for your benefit.
PPS: If you feel I am paranoid, or if you still think you have missed out on something, read up on Incentive Leisure Group, they are a Marketing (touting?) agency who are subcontracted by a company called Designer Way travel club (who are part of Timelinx group, Spain
If you think it is worth going to the whole thing just for the sake of sponging a free meal and or pressies, make sure you brace yourselves for some surpreme brainwashing - do not drink alcohol. There is a brilliant comment on the psychology of those presentation on this link, cannot say it any better:
(If you do feel like going to Arguineguin, you can take the bus there it's only a few EUR. )
Fun Alternatives: Wind them up for fun, or ignore them.
(When chosing restaurants, the ones that try hardest to pull you in have always in my experience been the least delivering restaurants. Give a chance to those more modest and simple places, and you can find real hospitality and superb food at normal prices)
- Family Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Worldwide but they target Spain & the Canaries a lot. Don't fall for it like we did. Scratchcard touts try to get you to believe you've won a free holiday and get you to go to a nearby hotel to claim it. There, you are brainwashed into signing a binding contract & part with a large deposit to join a holiday club (unregulated timeshare which packages its weeks into blocks of 35 months to avoid timeshare legislation). None of the verbal offers appear in the contract but you've already signed before you realise this. You then try to back out and they threaten you with legal action unless you pay the balance (more thousands). Search them on the web - your hair will curl. DON'T GIVE THEM A SECOND OF YOUR TIME!
Unique Suggestions: Avoid scratchcard touts at all costs. They prey on families and elderly couples.
Fun Alternatives: If you get caught, write to your MP, MEP, CAB, EuroConsumer, OFT, Timeshare Consumers Association, Organisation for Timeshare in Europe, anyone you can think of. Get a solicitor to send them a letter. Tell them categorically you're not paying them a penny more then try to get your deposit back if you paid by credit card using the Consumer Credit Act, section 75.
- Family Travel
Don't expect any quiet place
The colorful ship on the calm blue waters looks very easy going. Take a closer look and notice the huge hotel buildings in the background. Millions of tourists visit Gran Canaria each year. So there is no quiet place to be all alone on the paradise islands.
Fun Alternatives: Rent a car and drive to the west coast. There are some quiet beaches there.
Dedo de Dios
The rockformation in the ocean of the coast of Puerto de las Nieves is called the finger of God (Dedo de Dios). But it is not so special as they would like you to believe. The rocks are basalt and rise 30 meter out of the water. But they are so close to shore it is not very spectaculair.
Unique Suggestions: Go on a sunday. That is the day the locals come to Puerto de las Nieves. They come to stroll along the harbour, to swim or go fishing. And at around two they all want to have lunch at the same time. It is a hassle to park your car, but the atmosphere is worth it. And do go for lunch around one and beat the lines.
In the harbour of Mogan you may try an adventure, diving in a small submarine that goes to about 20 meters deep. It's a serious dive, but the bottom of the sea is a disappointment.
For those lucky guys that once had watched the coral reefs even in a glass bottom boat, the only positive points of this short trip are the sensation of being under the water, and the small stress that comes when the crew simulates an emergency.
One or two fishes later... that's all.
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Adventure Travel
Puerto Rico was one of the few places that I had heard of before I went to Gran Canaria and I was really looking forward to visiting it. We went over for a day, and I have to admit I was really disappointed.
Don't get me wrong, it was amazing the way that all of the hotels and apartments were built into the cliffs, but that was about the only good thing. There was a nice beach, but it looked like the sort that would really be crowded in the height of the season with deckchairs!! Not my sort of thing.
Every shop you walked past, the sales people would come out and try to take advantage of you because you are a tourist. I don't like the hard sale, and this really began to irritate me. I also don't like places where every second shop sells beach towels and lilos!
Maybe it is just me, but I felt this was a total tourist trap!!
christmas in the canaries
we spent christmas in vista flor apts. in maspalomas, 4 yrs ago, we did have a lovely time as it was an extended family holiday (our group were aged between 2 and 74 yrs old)and these apts were great for us but on christmas day beware of the ridiculously overpriced christmas dinner, they were asking abuot 70eu each and 30eu for kids each, needless to say we waited till we came home to indulge at new year instead!!!!!
Unique Suggestions: we opted for the barbeque instead that was a fraction of the cost, and was something different on christmas day.
- Family Travel
- School Holidays
I want a cheap camera
In Puerto Rico but actually in every place where the tourists go you will find the camera shops where there is always a bargain. Uh, uh. That 80€ digital video camera might look OK but what about the extra you have to pay for the charger, instruction book, leads, etc. That is one con, the other is the cheap offer to get you into the store and then convince you that the camera you had set your heart on is not good enough for you and what you need is this much better one for only a couple of hundred euros more.
Another one is the looky, looky men selling the sunglasses in the street and around the restaurants. Those designer glasses are really real. NOT. They buy them in Las Palmas for about 1-2€ each from a whole street of Chinese shops.
Also a good one is when people use their credit card without checking the receipt before signing and finding out when they get home that the cheap item they bought for 108€ has cost them 1080€.
Unique Suggestions: Check out the prices of items on the internet first at the local cyber cafe, either Dixon.co.uk or Argos.co.uk or Ebay. Any of these will tell you the English price and then deduct about 20% for the true tax free price. Look around the shops and memorise the model numbers and Google them. As for the looky, looky men, just offer 5€ and stick to it. They make a little profit and you get cheap sunglasses. They cannot force you to buy because they are all illegals and do not want the police involved, in fact if they see one they run for their lives.
Fun Alternatives: You can alway pay more in England or wherever and have a full guarantee for up to 3 years with no hassle. Although I have read that they do sell real merchandise on Ebay with guaratees too.
- Budget Travel
- Casino and Gambling
Very expensive restaurant
Don't go to "El Churrasco" restaurant, is quite expensive, and will ruin your economy !.
Service is good, but prices are high and not related with the food you get, quality and quantity, so unless you want to impress somebody paying for a expensive dinner avoid this restaurant.
Unique Suggestions: Be prepared to pay a high bill.
- School Holidays
- Business Travel
- Family Travel
Holiday on the beach - no thanks
This is not the kind of holiday I'd be looking forward to: a crowded beach surrounded by hotels. This picture is from Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria.
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