Botanical garden and day-tour company in Dominica; Bucharest hotel, and London flat.

This item appears on page 4 of the April 2012 issue.


During a January ’12 Southern Caribbean cruise, we visited a botanical garden in Dominica that we thought was exceptional.

Papillote Tropical Gardens is located on the southwestern side of Dominica, about 40 miles inland from Roseau, the capital (though the roads are hilly and windy, so the actual road distance is farther). It’s in the foothills of Morne Micotrin and almost adjacent to Trafalgar Falls.

Papillote is a true tropical garden, with a trail system, two waterfalls, hot springs and bathing pools. It also has a 7-room inn that looked inviting. The property manager, who was very knowledgeable about all the plants, gave us a great tour.

We visited it on an all-day tour with Nature Isle Explorers (Laudat, Roseau, Commonwealth of Dominica, phone 767 615 9288 or 767 245 9156). In a group of 10, we paid $45 per person plus $10 for admission to Papillote Tropical Garden.

We were picked up at the pier in Roseau at around 9:30 a.m. We also went to Titou Gorge (where parts of “Pirates of the Caribbean” were filmed) and Trafalgar Falls Park (twin waterfalls) and had lunch at the restaurant at Papillote (not included in the tour price, but it was a good meal of local specialties, e.g., flying fish sandwich).

On the way back to the pier, we also drove through Roseau Botanical Gardens, which is more of a park than what I consider to be a botanical garden.

Gene Krueger, Salisbury, NC


In Bucharest, Nov. 9-10, 2011, my husband, Dan, and I found the Central Hotel (13 Brezoianu St., District 1, Bucharest, Romania; phone 011 40 21 315 5635, fax 315 5637) to have a great location and clean, if fairly small, rooms.

The hotel was recently updated, so it was modern and fresh inside. At $84 per night, prepaid for two people in a double room, it was a very good value for the price, and we would stay there again. Free WiFi and an excellent breakfast were included. The staff was friendly and very helpful.

It is walking distance from many of the main sights and from the old part of town with several good restaurants.

Randy Busch, Kodiak, AK


My wife and I rented a flat in Islington, London, Sept. 15-21, 2011, from airbnb (San Francisco). This wasn’t the first time we’ve rented through them, but it was the first time outside the US. In all price ranges, thousands of apartments are listed, as well as homes and rooms to rent, in virtually every part of the world.

The website is easy to use and provides useful information (ex., whether the building has an elevator or not) in a standard format. We like airbnb because of the ease of finding a place in the neighborhood we want at a price we can afford.

All the properties are vetted, so you know what you’re getting. The comments about each apartment are not always flattering, so they appear to be honest.

Although you pay airbnb (in US dollars) at the time of booking, the owners do not get their money until you arrive. We have never had a problem with our bookings, but this payment method does give you some leverage should a property not be to your liking.

We booked the flat in Islington about two months before our arrival and paid just over $100 per day plus a booking fee of $35. It had a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living room/dining room. There was an outdoor seating area, but the weather prevented our using it.

Three blocks from the Tube, the flat was in a vibrant, multiethnic neighborhood. On the walk to the Tube, we passed at least 20 restaurants representing food all around the world.

At a price much less than those of most hotel rooms, for a few days we felt like real Londoners.

David E. Anderson, Meadville, PA