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Sunday, October 24, 2004; Page P09

Punta Cana Culture

PUNTA CANA, in the Dominican Republic, is a treasured paradise on an island of culturally proud people ["Punta Cana Made Easy," Oct. 17]. The writer likened a visit to the resorts there to a cruise vacation. Cruises are a relaxing and easy way to travel, but a cruise is also a cultural appetizer, rather than a full-course meal.

The writer said that after she ate in resorts for five days, the Dominican Republic might be lacking a single native dish, for all she knew. The freshly grilled fish caught in the waters surrounding the island are very much Dominican, as well as wonderfully tender grilled meats. The most succulent goat dish I've ever had was prepared at a resort -- a very native dish.

At most resorts, day trips can be arranged: Samana, for whale watching, and outback safari trips to spectacular tropical forests, rivers, mountains, secluded beaches and villages. Santo Domingo, the first European city in the Western Hemisphere, is rich with 16th-century dwellings and late medieval palaces and fortresses. Old Santo Domingo, of course, was founded in 1496 by Christopher Columbus.

Also, in the "Who's Got What" chart, Beach Resort Punta Cana was stated to have no gym and only a "nearby" golf course. Punta Cana Beach Resort has one of the most spectacular golf courses in the Caribbean.

Robin Daumit


Rockette Science

WE ARE traveling for the third time in four years to New York City to see the Christmas spectacular [Travel Q&A, Oct. 17]. At the Radio City Music Hall Web site, www.radiocity.com, you can ask to receive a special pre-sale buyer's code. You get a chance to order tickets for the December show in March. We got good seats at a decent time the first Saturday in December.

Remember to book your hotel room early, because they go very fast for any weekend in December. Also, keep in mind that although the Rockettes show starts in early November, the tree at Rockefeller Center isn't lit until after Thanksgiving.

Linda Gross


Scottish Currency

IN THE Oct. 17 Message Center, a reader stated that Scottish currency is not accepted in England. This is not true. We are an Anglo-American couple who frequently travel to Scotland and England. We often cross the border and use money that is printed by the Bank of England, the Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Clydesdale Bank. Each is legal tender and, therefore, cannot legally be refused by merchants in England or Scotland.

Though we have gotten funny looks from merchants in the very south of England when handing over currency printed in Scotland, they are obligated to accept the money. However, Britons traveling abroad are advised to carry only money printed by the Bank of England if they use cash to exchange money, as sometimes the other currencies are erroneously believed to be counterfeit.

Sarah and Stephen Plant


HAVING SOME 10-pound notes that have now been withdrawn from circulation, I was concerned about the Message Center note stating that banks will soon stop exchanging them for the newer ones. However, the Bank of England Web site, www.bankofengland.co.uk/pressreleases/2003/048.htm, says, "Most banks, building societies, and Post Offices will continue to accept the Dickens £10 notes for several months after the end of July. However, this will be at the discretion of the individual institution. As with all old Bank of England notes, the Dickens £10 notes will remain payable forever at the Bank of England."

Jack Ludwick


While Scottish notes are indeed legal tender throughout the United Kingdom, Scotland's National Tourist Board suggests that Scottish one-pound notes be exchanged for one-pound coins before leaving Scotland, since there are no longer pound notes in circulation in England. British notes are accepted throughout Scotland.

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