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Navigating the Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Airport



This is an overview of most island airports, but specifically Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ)… You may be wondering what to expect when you arrive, so hopefully this will help to make your trip as stress free as possible.

Upon landing in Punta Cana, you are first met with what is arguably the cutest thatched roof airport around.  Once inside here are a few stations that you must proceed through in order to gain entry into the Dominican Republic. The first station is where you purchase a “tourist card”.  These are  $10 (cash only, US dollars are accepted)  per visitor, and are given to an attendant at the next station to validate your purchase.  Now proceed to the customs line, here your passport will be stamped and the customs documents (blue page given by flight attendants) that you filled out on the plane will be validated by the customs officer.

Be sure to grab any luggage that you may have checked and the head towards the exit where another airport attendant will be collecting the information card (white page) that was also filled out aboard the airplane. 

Provided you aren’t a drug mule or international criminal that just slipped up…welcome to the Dominican Republic!

Transportation is waiting just outside the airport…

- A valid passport is a must.

-Don’t forget cash for the tourist card!

-Travel at your own risk, I suggest not taking anything you don’t want stolen or misplaced.


Checking your flight status 24 hours in advance for changes and completing the online check in (if available) is always a good idea. It helps save time and lowers the risk of surprise at the airport.

Once you return to the airport, there are two terminals (A and B ).  Check out the airlines at the terminal you were dropped off at.  If you don’t see your airline check-in area, then it is located in the next terminal on the other side of the airport. There are very long security lines for both terminals, so be sure that you have checked in with your airline before waiting through it.  

After the security lines, you will do your business with customs. Then follow the signs to your flight’s gate and relax. You are heading home!

If you do an online check-in with Spirit Airlines and choose to print boarding passes, these are NOT your airline tickets! Make sure to have your passport scanned and proper tickets printed prior to proceeding through security. Your new tickets will have “DOCS OK” printed on them validating your check-in.

Clearing US Customs upon Return

You will head through Customs once again upon returning to the US. Once your passport and paperwork are validated, a security check is again required. Any “Duty Free” liquor or perfume that has not been checked (over 3oz. and not in your quart sized plastic bag) that you have purchased will be confiscated and not allowed back into the country.  Basically making most “duty free” shopping a complete waste of time and money.

After you clear customs, welcome back to the US! Have a safe connection as you continue home!

Happy Travels,

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow” ~Lin Yutan

Helpful Links:
Country Entry/ Exit Requirements
TSA What to know before you go
American Airlines
Air Tran
Continental Airlines
Spirit Airlines
US Airways

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Leave Your Mark at Bowen’s Island Restaurant!

Our friends at Pub Politics Live recently came down to Charleston for a little R&R, but took an afternoon to broadcast an episode of the hit SC politico web show from Bowen’s Island restaurant.  

Bowen’s Island is one of our favorite spots to go in Charleston when fresh seafood and fantastic views are the only things that will do.  The establishment has been in transition until recently after a fire took the original building.  However, the restaurant is back and the new elevated dining area offers the same great food, and unsurpassed views of the Folly River and surrounding marsh.  The restaurant descibes the experience perfectly below:

“To the uninitiated, the oyster joint on Bowen’s Island was a curiosity of sorts—an aging pile of cinderblocks and boards held by layers of graffiti, with bivalves being cooked inside on some sacrificial altar. To legions of loyal customers, the place could hardly be called a restaurant. The island became a state of mind.

In 2006, the year that Bowen’s Island Restaurant celebrated its sixtieth anniversary, Robert Barber accepted a James Beard Award, honoring the place as an American Classic. Five months later, the restaurant that his late grandmother, May Bowen, started burned to the ground. What remained were but stories of greatness.

Today, fresh oysters are being brought in from the marshes, new walls are ready to receive their marks, and new memories are being made. Will you be a part of the history of Bowens Island?

Check out the restaurant for dinner from 5pm to 10pm Tuesday through Saturday nights, or look into booking Bowens Island for a private party today. In any case, it’s not worth missing if you’re a Charleston local or even better, an adventurous tourist.”

Can’t decide what to order?  Our favorites are the fried shrimp, frogmore stew, and crab cakes! So stop on by, enjoy the views, and leave your mark…

Happy Travels,

Kristin and Jason


Bowen’s Island Restaurant
1870 Bowens Island Rd
Charleston, SC 29412
Phone: (843) 795-2757








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Catch Baseball Fever at “The Joe”

The Shady Umbrella has caught baseball fever this Summer!  Aside from the constant televised games we watch and the fantasy baseball I play (Kristin says it’s nerdy, but that’s ok…I already tricked her into marrying me) there’s also local favorite The Charleston Riverdogs

Watching a game on a warm summer night while having a cold beer and a hotdog just feels right.  Joseph Riley Park, called The Joe, offers a ton of family activities and some great food.  They do a great job keeping fans involved with between inning antics and contests with Charlie the Riverdog and friends! (check out the video)

The Riverdogs have also really stepped up their promotions.  Listed below are the nightly promotions from their site offered at the park!  If you haven’t been, the next home game is the perfect time to start!

“We’ll see you at The Joe!”

Kristin and Jason


FUN. . . Seven Days a Week!

Mondays: Dogs With a Cause Night: The RiverDogs partner with a local non-profit organization to generate exposure and funds for a specific cause presented by 98X & 105.5 FM The Bridge.  A bonus for 2010 is the addition of Hair of the Dog Mondays, which features $1 beers in the Ashley View Pub to shake off the rust from the weekend. 

Tuesdays: BI-LO Two-for-Tuesday/Kraft Singles Tuesday Tickets: Two-for-one ticket discounts available on general admission and lower/upper reserve seats presented by 98.9 Chick FM.  To ge the discount fans can either present a BI-LO Bonus Card or a Kraft Singles wrapper to the box office window the day of the game.

Wednesdays: ALL-U-CAN-EAT Wild Wednesdays: Face-stuffing, rib-sticking buffet available for just
$20 in the Ashley View Pub.

Thursdays: Budweiser Thirsty Thursdays: Makes its return and features $1 food and beverage specials in the Ashley View Pub presented by 95 SX. 

Fridays: Force Protection Industries, Inc. Red Shirt Fridays: Makes a return as fans that wear red to the ballpark on Friday nights receive $1 off their ticket then can donate those savings to a military family in need presented by 103.5 FM WEZL.  Every Friday will be punctuated with explosive post-game fireworks, presented by Piggly Wiggly.

Saturdays: Presented all season by Kia Country of Charleston, every Saturday will have giveaways available to the first 1,000 fans.  This year’s freebies consist of Webkinz, RiverDogs Chia Heads, umbrellas, Snuggies and curveballs, to name a few.  Plus all kids 12-under will be able to run the bases following the game.

Sundays: Family Sundays: Presented by the Charleston County Parks & Recreation Commission & Apex Broadcasting, Sundays at Riley Park have Free Parking and Kids Eat Free, pregame catch on the field, reading with the RiverDogs and the popular postgame autograph session with the team and loveable mascots Charlie T. RiverDog, Chelsea and Bark.

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The Flowertown Festival, Check It Out March 26th-28th!

Looking for something to do this weekend? 

In historic Summerville, SC over March 26th-28th, the
Summerville Family YMCA  hosts The Flowertown Festival!  This annual event is in its 38th year, and is not to be missed!  The festival brings together over 200 arts and crafts vendors in Azalea Park, while local restaurants show off delicious bites in the Taste of Summerville!  Many area businesses contribute by showcasing their goods in booths lining Main Street. There’s also a children’s jubilee area that has activities and rides for your little ones!

Thanks to all the YMCA staff for your hard work to put on this community building event!

See y’all there this weekend!

Kristin and Jason

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Our Middleton Place Experience…

    This past weekend Kristin and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary.  Knowing that wood was the proper gift to be given on a fifth wedding anniversary, I decided to put my own twist on the occasion by taking her to the woods at Middleton Place Plantation


Ok, Ok….in reality, I thought of this on the way there after Kristin told me about wood being the traditional gift for five years.  Pretty nimble with my words if you ask me, but she didn’t buy it for a second…I did plan something special though, so I have that going for me.

    At any rate, The Inn at Middleton Place had a fantastic two day “Winter Getaway” package that we took advantage of.  It included two nights at the inn, dinner at the restaurant one night, wine and chocolate covered strawberries for the room, and free roam of the grounds.  We decided to make a weekend of it and not leave the grounds for the two days.  
    We arrived in the afternoon and checked in with the desk to receive our vouchers and keys.  The property is gated for security at night, which is nice since it is so secluded.  We opted for a Riverview room, which is middle of the road as far as accommodations at the Inn go.  The room was very cozy and comfortable, but wasn’t extremely lavish like we assumed it would be.  However, it did offer beautiful views of the Ashley River and the oak trees outside through a wall made completely of windows covered in plantation shutters.  The room was very much like staying in a cabin in the woods, which is fitting for the surroundings.  A wood burning fireplace was the perfect accessory to the room, but unfortunately the available wood was pretty damp from recent rain and snow.  I pulled out my very best boy scout style skills to no avail.  I could only manage a slow smoky smolder in the fire place.  Kristin thought it was hilarious that I couldn’t get the fire blazing.  In hindsight, I should have realized that I was fighting a losing battle with the wet wood, but I am stubborn…

    Since, we never left the grounds during our stay we had many opportunities to try a variety of dishes from the restaurant.  Standouts on the menu included the seared sea scallops, grilled new york strip, and a peppered yellow fin steak that was a special.  Other mentionables were the she crab soup and shrimp and grits.  All of the food was very well prepared and tasty.  Nothing really wowed us, but overall everything was very good.  The service staff were all very friendly and attentive to our needs.  Unfortunately, due to operator error on my part the food pictures were lost…on the upside we have many others to share of the grounds.


     The Plantation as a whole was gorgeous even in the middle of winter.  The gardens and immediate property surrounding the House Museum were ryed and were very green and lush.  The outlying areas were brown with dormant centipede grass, which has it’s own beauty when properly maintained and weeded.  The House Museum was beautiful, and contains many Middleton family heirlooms and priceless antiques.  Many beautiful paintings are on the walls also.  I am nowhere near a history buff, but I found the guided tour to be very informative and entertaining.  It is definitely worth taking.

    The stableyards have also been preserved, and give a glimpse of what many of the slaves did day-to-day on the plantation.  There are many people employed in this are to reenact and explain their duties and the significance of them during the time period.  Everything is very tastefully done with respect to the heritage of all involved.  The stableyards are also home to many animals that I considered unusual like peacocks, water buffaloes, and guinea hogs.  There are also chickens and horses roaming about. 

    A few things that we didn’t do, but would have if it had been warmer included kayak rentals and biking at the Outdoor Center.  There is also an Equestrian Center if you are into horses or the riding of them.  Also on the property are a garden market and museum gift shop that offer snacks and gifts to remember your trip.

    All in all, we had a very nice time.  It was very relaxing, and informative.  There is just so much history to the family and grounds that you really have to be there to take it all in and appreciate it’s significance.  If you’d like to visit Middleton Place, we’d be happy to help you with your arrangements!

Happy Travels,

Kristin and Jason

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Sights and the City

    On our first day in New York City, we took a walking tour of the financial district.  The tour was hosted by the Downtown Alliance. It was led by a guide from Big Onion Tours and was free (except for tipping the guide).  We assumed that the tour would be about how the stock market and banking system works.  I would be completely bored, while Jason, who likes trading, would be pumped up.  Instead we were told about the early history of New York, and the significance of the architecture and statues.  It was awesome, and revealed a rich history of the city that we wouldn’t have know otherwise.  The tour took us down Wall Street, past Trinity Church, through the landmarked buildings, and past the iconic “charging bull”.

    On day two we found ourselves in a line to board a boat bound for The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  I would suggest purchasing your tickets in advance at Statue Cruises.  You save a lot of time, and you know that your tour time won’t be sold out before you get your tickets.  All of the lines for the boat and the statue have airport style security, so having some coffee in hand won’t hurt.  The ferry takes you to Lady Liberty and Ellis Island before dropping you back off.  Make sure to sit on the starboard side (the right side for you non boaters) of the boat.  You will have a great view of the harbor and the statue as you approach it.  There are audio and self guided tours available for the statue.  Expect a 30 minute wait to get your chance to enter the pedestal and statue.  It is worth it though, as the view is amazing.  Whenever you are ready hop back onto the boat to check out Ellis Island to see the path many immigrants took into the country.

    Later we checked out The Empire State Building.  Expect airport style security here also, but the wait isn’t nearly as long. The elevator to the top is very fast, and has you up to the observation deck in no time.  It is very cold and windy up there, but beautiful.  You can see the entire city! 

    Ground Zero was a very sobering stop on our trip.  There is an unsettling void that is felt around where the towers once stood.  A beautiful memorial is currently being built to forever be a reminder of the loss suffered on September the 11th.  Across the street St.Paul’s church still acts as a shrine to those who were lost that day.  It brought tears to our eyes to read and see all of the letters to loved ones and children’s pictures that were displayed.  Standing there in the midst of where this tragedy occurred is overwhelming.  There is a also preview center there that gives a glimpse of what the memorial will be like when it is complete.



    Later in the trip the boys took in a Knicks game at historic Madison Square Garden.  While the boys were watching their sports, the girls saw “Chicago” starring Ashlee Simpson-Wentzel on Broadway.  The boys thought that the basketball was awesome, and “Chicago” was great. 

    The last notable was the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes!  I know that it’s past Christmas, but this is worth mentioning.  The show is amazing!  There are amazing props and costumes.  Also, there are several different acts to keep you entertained including 3-D.  They also had a portion dedicated to portraying the biblical Christmas story complete with a live nativity scene.  I thought this was awesome especially in a world that constantly tries to take Christ out of Christmas.

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