Last week we bused over to the east side of the island where they speak Spanish and play baseball. It was a great trip although a little awkward at times. I kept responding to people in French or Creole the whole time we were there. Then I would try to correct myself in Spanish, which I don’t speak except for what I remember from Sesame Street. Other than that we had a great time!
We took a bus through Capital Coach Lines. The bus was great. They handed out sandwiches, water, and juice and played a wildly inappropriate movie (if you take this bus with kids bring some headphones and a blindfold). The border crossing was pretty quick. We just hopped out to get our passports stamped and bags checked. Once we got to the bus station we got a taxi to our hotel for $10. All in all, getting there took around 8 hours from leaving to lounging by the hotel pool.
Speaking of the hotel, Allison got a deal on the Renaissance hotel that’s about a 20 minute walk from the Colonial Zone. Apparently, Marriott has a Best Rate Guarantee and if you book through them but find a better price elsewhere on the same room, they’ll match the low rate and give you a 25% discount. Our hotel ended up being $55/night!
Santo Domingo is a nice city that is filled with interesting history. There are museums about the history of the island, art, the Taino people who originally inhabited the island and more. Many of the expeditions discovering and colonizing the New World were launched from Sano Domingo. It is also where Christopher Colombus is buried… Or was buried?? Or is possibly still buried???
There are also amazing natural wonders- like Los Tres Ojos. We went there our first day there and it was amazing. Los Tres Ojos (the three eyes in English) is a series of cave lakes created by earthquakes hundreds of year ago. The caves were originally inhabited by the Taino Indians.
For 100 Pesos I would absolutely recommend that anyone who is going to be in Santo Domingo visit this place. It is cheap and a short cab ride away from town! I think the round trip cab ride cost us $20 from our hotel, but our taxi driver took us by some other sights too.
Another cool place that we visited was the Alcázar de Colón. It was built by Chrisopher Colombus’ son Diego Colombus. Now it is a museum with artifacts from the Colombus family. It was a really cool museum, and for another 200 Pesos you really cant go wrong.
Also if history isn’t your thing there are plenty of other things to do, including the chocolate museum. I am really not into going places where people are going to try and pressure me into buying something, therefore I was hesitant to go into the chocolate museum/factory, but once we got inside there was a guy who just basically wanted to give us free samples of everything including their chocolate liquors. While we were standing there the guy behind the counter actually told us that his plan was to get us drunk on samples so that we would walk through the store and buy one of everything. It definitely beats the- I’m going to stand here and pester you until you buy something or leave approach. The factory isn’t too big but there was definitely a lot to look at and see.
Other than that the Colonial District is filled with monuments, statues, street cafes and cigar shops.
We also hit up one of the nice malls and ate at a Chili’s just to feel like we were in America, but after about 10 minutes in the mall we were like, “Oh yeah, we hate malls and don’t miss this part of America at all” and left.
The bus ride back took a lot longer. Once we got through the DR border, we were stopped so they could search the bus. Then we went to Haitian immigration where a bunch of guys kept trying to tell us that we’d filled our paperwork out incorrectly and they could help us (which I didn’t fall for and therefore kept the few bucks they wanted for their “help”). THEN we got stopped about 20 minutes down the road for them to search bags. It was annoying, but nothing terrible.
All in all, we had a great time in Santo Domingo. It felt nice to be “traveling” again and we definitely enjoyed the town.