Santo Domingo: My review of the dumpy city. The Dominican Republic for $1000 for two: Day 9

A Dodge for suckers or a vacation in the Dominican Republic.

I stayed from 18.01.05 to 29.01.05 at the hotel Bahia Principe Punta Cana 5*, which is currently one of the best, if not the best in Punta Cana (after exchanging views with other tourists.

I stayed from 18.01.05 to 29.01.05 at the hotel Bahia Principe Punta Cana 5*, which is currently one of the best, if not the best in Punta Cana (to exchange views with other tourists who traveled with us on tours, and also flew in the plane, and most importantly, according to local guides!

So, in the beginning, why did I call this review “Trap for suckers”, yes, because, like most of the winter holidays in the warm countries, choosing the next country, mostly by reading other reviews and impressions. Here is a summary of who was in the Dominican Republic man:

The main part of the enthusiastic and grunting reviews about rest in the Dominican Republic is written by tour operators promoting this direction (by the way, we were told about it by local tour operators), or written by people who were there before the fall of 2004 (according to witnesses before all-inclusive hotel system in the Dominican Republic meant not only three meals a day, as is now the case with the bulk of the hotels).

2 Tourist infrastructure in the country, with the exception of the hotels themselves, is practically undeveloped, and there is almost nothing to do except for beach (even if it is active in terms of sports) recreation.

3 Excursions (in addition to p.2), except for impressions of nature, especially in terms of their organization (we had a local operator Nympha tour, Capital Tour) horrendous. For example, if you want 6 hours of 12 hour tour to collect the rest of the tourists in different hotels, plus 4 hours on the road, go on an excursion to Santa Domingo (the exchange of numerous opinions with other tourists, other tour operators, too, the same).

4. especially want to note, about remarkable guide Antonina, which I read before leaving rave reviews (probably people who drove on individual tours for $ 750). so I will say one sentence: “Lord forbid” to discuss such an excursion will be a couple of days (on the way back to Moscow it will remember almost the entire plane).

5. The local population are really kind and cheerful people, however idlers, such a world has not seen (before the trip, from the reviews, I was morally ready not to sweat the time of service), and even do not understand English.

6. Local guides (to be fair to the normal, which honestly tell you what to expect) are trying to cram a variety of excursions, telling about the beauty that you will see (to get away from you money, and no small, since all excursions are expensive – at least 80 $ per person), but nothing like this (again, the exception is nature), you will not see (separately tell about fishing).

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7. Do not buy tours to hotels that have been in operation for a long time, because they do not correspond to those 5* that they could be given 2-3 years ago (this nation does not want to do anything, once built, and that with other people’s hands, and until it collapses). Many people who traveled with us on different excursions, were outraged and complained about the ugly conditions and a complete mess, and even guides said that such hotels as Melia and Paradis, have changed for the worse.

8. 8. The majority of people flying back to Moscow said that the second time in this country would not fly for nothing.

Now a little bit about rest:

At the expense of very good hotel, constructed only a year ago (autumn 2003), and the fine nature (Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, islands and the underwater world at corals, simply a fairy tale), the impression positive though I shall specify once again, the country for single visit.

Meals at the hotel – excellent, really all inclusive – round the clock (any drinks, except elite marks)!

Animation, I will say – there is (in Spanish and a little bit of English).

The area is very attractive (although one feels that the landscapers have not yet completed all the work).

Sports and water activities – all fine, except for the disgusting gym.

Service – diligent but clueless, probably due to a lack of understanding of English and nationwide laziness.

Spas and gift stores – insanely expensive in terms of price/quality ratio, i.e. $1 crap costs $100, a simple massage 50 minutes $97, sauna about $30 per person for 50 minutes.

Where to go outside the hotel, yes particularly nowhere, as already mentioned above infrastructure any, only Manatee park (such cheerful zoo).

What can be brought from souvenirs, yes anything, restrictions nikah, they all on the bum, you want to take out corals, you want cigars, gold … However, it is necessary to notice, that basically all it is in Moscow, and under cheaper prices (though obeying herd instinct, we as well as all left from stores in which us diligently entered on excursions, with bags full).

A special topic guides and tours.

Before departure I read a review that the good impression of rest could not spoil, even crappy guides from the Capital tour – I remember this review more than once! And it’s not even in the Capital tour, but in the general approach to excursions in this country. If you paid money in advance – you’re screwed, then everything becomes your own personal American woe.

For example, after our first excursion to Santa Domingo (you can imagine in the city, it seems, do not clean up the garbage), conducted by a “wonderful” guide Antonina with the organizational participation of the Capital Tour and Nympha tour, most of the 60 people, so to speak the direct participants, from the next tour of the island of Saona, refused, and in vain. After all the complaints to the guides and tour operators, the tour to the island of Saona was carried out at 10 points on a scale of 10, and by the way, our neighbors in the hotel, who went to the same tour through ITS resented for a few days.

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Another very good scam – an excursion to look at the whales (costs $ 200 – 250 $ per person, to whom the guide, what price will name, to ridiculous). If you are lucky you will see a whale once (one company from our hotel saw a whale), but most return from this excursion (we luckily did not go) with a feeling that they were tricked like the last suckers.

And most importantly, as a fisherman, I can not not tell you about the wonderful fishing in the Caribbean Sea. Chartered a luxury yacht for $ 1800, having explained to the organizers Nympha tour that the company gathered fishermen, not fans of the boat ride on the sea and drink rum, we sailed into the open sea, cherishing the hope of catching Dorado, Tunas and barracuda, which we were promised in abundance. We caught 5 fish (about 100 grams) for 11 people, and, as a person not bad at fishing, I can say that no one was going to take us to fishing, getting the money they gave up on the preparation and did not even take with them sensible bait (no squid, twister …). To be fair, one of the Southern Cross guides, said that in his few years in this country, they actually caught a fish once out of a hundred, and that by accident. If you want to fish normally, take the example of the Americans, they never pay in advance, and only at the end of the fishing trip, in the presence of trophies.

So, if you are going to have a rest in the Dominican Republic, tune in to a purely hotel and beach vacation, so as not to spoil your nerves (our hotel recommend), to ride once in Manatee Park and some islands in the Caribbean (the island of Catalina is very dirty, Although the underwater world is better than on Saona), and most importantly do not be entered into the stories and promises of the host, this is their bread to sell suckers from Russia all sorts of “exotica”, well, if you really want to try fate, then do not give money up front!

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Santo Domingo: My review of the dumpy city. The Dominican Republic for $1000 for two: Day 9

Santo Domingo is the oldest dump in the entire New World. What is there to see except for the mountains of garbage in the streets? Almost nothing! Is it worth the trip? Of course not! Read my review of a visit to America’s oldest city – it’s enough to get you acquainted with it. I’ll tell you about the main attractions and show you photos of the streets of this vibrant and colorful city. Let’s do it!

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To get to Santo Domingo, we had to travel halfway across the country.

We left the Samaná Peninsula early in the morning, drove 300 km, and left the airport in La Romana. We drove four and a half hours. Towards the end of the road we were stopped by a strict policewoman, but it was just a document check. Although a couple of times we almost got caught exceeding the speed limit – teams with radar guns are active on the roads of Dominica. Keep in mind, if you rent a car.

Renting company helped us out a lot and gave us a ride from the airport to the center of La Romana – thanks a lot, otherwise we would have had to pay 20-30 bucks for a cab.

Found a bus to Santo Domingo and it took us an hour and a half to get there.

What to see in Santo Domingo

Casa del Cordon . The first stone house in America and probably the first two-story house. A UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the few sights to see in Santo Domingo.

How the guidebooks lie to us

The old town of Santo Domingo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Where does this honor come from? It’s simple: the city is the oldest permanent settlement in America founded by Europeans. This is where it all began, which is why Santo Domingo is appreciated. The city was founded in 1496 by Columbus’ younger brother, the admiral himself visited here many times, and this is where the Spanish conquest of the entire New World began.

The city does have an important historical significance, but before we rush there and educate ourselves culturally, we need to learn about the dark side of Santo Domingo. More precisely, its true face.

Guidebooks, as they should, write a load of crap about the city:

“One comes here to experience the colonial culture – the local architecture contains features of Renaissance, Arabic, Gothic and Romanesque styles. [The vibrant, bustling, colorful Santo Domingo offers its visitors a tropical experience, a glimpse into the history, a taste of life in the Caribbean style. The subtleties of Tourism.

That’s me when I read descriptions like this.

And now let’s translate these endearing phrases into the language of truth and harsh reality:

  • “To experience life Caribbean-style” is, I take it, to get p***ed.
  • “Bright, noisy, colorful” – translated into Russian means: covered in colorful garbage, full of marginalized people, unlike civilized cities.
  • “Enjoy the tropical beauties” probably means pissed-up and bottle-covered palm trees.

God, who composes these opuses!

Anyway, let’s look at the real Santo Domingo.

What is Santo Domingo really like?

The capital of the Dominican Republic – something! I’ve only seen such trash in African slums in the episodes of my favorite travel youtubers “Petenki Planeta”. The city is one huge garbage dump. Chaos, cacophony, traffic jams, beggars, drunks and other marginal people, scary shabby houses, piles of junk and consumer goods for sale, and mountains, mountains, mountains of garbage, in which just drowns this anthill. One big garbage dump!

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An ordinary street in Santo Domingo outside the tourist area. Garbage. Garbage. A lot of garbage. An apartment building.

Security in Santo Domingo is bad . If the poor Asians of the Buddhist, Hindu, and traditional Oriental faiths are calm, pleasant, and peaceful people, Christianity has brought up savages, thieves, robbers, and murderers in the New World. This is how European missionaries have raised the poor in Latin America, Africa, the Philippines. Refugees from neighboring Haiti are a particular danger in the capital and in general in the Dominican Republic-they are the poorest, the most reckless, and the most vicious.

On the streets of Santo Domingo. On the streets of Santo Domingo.

In Santo Domingo there is only one place where the safety of the tourist is guaranteed – the Colonial Zone, in other words the old town, where by some miracle some of the colonial architecture has survived. Outside of these few streets is the Latin America we know from crime movies. There you walk at a brisk pace, and you reach for your phone with a map only at intersections where police officers are on duty. Some parts of the city are completely under the control of gangs: if you go in there, you don’t know you can get out. Of course, Renata and I didn’t go into the dark neighborhoods. We only saw Santo Domingo from the bus window, a cab, and during the short walk from the bus stop to the Colonial Zone.

Below I will tell you what you can see in Santo Domingo from the main attractions.

Cathedral (Basilica catedral de Santa Maria de la Encarnacion). The cathedral is the oldest in America. It was built on behalf of Pope Julius II. It was built from 1512 to 1541. The architecture of the building is characterized by the Gothic style with ribbed vaults. The cathedral housed the remains of Christopher Columbus for a time, which were moved to the Cathedral of Havana in 1795 and then to the Cathedral of Seville from 1898 to 1899. Alcazar de Colon (Alcazar de Colon). It was the first fortified palace in America. It was built for Diego Colon, son of Christopher Columbus, after his appointment as Viceroy of La Española and the Indies in 1509. Now a museum. Museum of the Royal Houses (Museo de las Casas Reales). Was the palace of the Viceroy of Santo Domingo. It is the first (oldest) headquarters of Spanish power in the New World. Most of the historical monuments offered to see in Santo Domingo are in this condition. Ruins of the Monastery of San Francisco (Monasterio de San Francisco). This is the first and oldest monastery built in America. Construction began about 1509. Later the monastery was subjected to a hurricane. Construction of the main part of the church began in 1544 and was completed on July 23, 1556. In 1586 it was plundered by Francis Drake. From the 1880s to the 1930s, the building was used as a psychiatric hospital. Ruins of the Monastery of San Francisco (Monasterio de San Francisco). Hospital San Nicolas de Bari. I guess you have already guessed that this was the first hospital in America. Construction began in 1503. In the mid-18th century, for unknown reasons, the hospital was abandoned.

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But despite these monuments, the conclusion is disappointing: there is nothing to do in Santo Domingo, it is a dump . The colonial heritage is scarce, the housing is lousy and expensive, the atmosphere is rotten, and there is nothing to do. Very few tourists and everyone’s face says the same thing: “God, what am I doing here? “

So, friends, don’t come to Santo Domingo, don’t make the mistake. I wouldn’t have gone myself had it not been for the flight from here and the desire to see America’s oldest city. Since I took Columbus’ sea route from the Old World to the New World, I should have made a splash here, too.

Santo Domingo

The Columbus Monument in the square in front of the Cathedral.

We walked around Santo Domingo for two hours: an hour and a half for lunch, and an hour and a half to walk the entire tourist route.

We didn’t sleep well because of the stomping of mice over the ceiling and the noise from the neighbors and from the street.

In the morning we called an Uber and left this godforsaken town for the airport. There was total confusion, but we have steadfastly withstood all the tests.

By the way, useful information for those who want to know how to get from the center of Santo Domingo to the airport of Las Americas. There is only one answer: Uber. It is half the price of a cab, and there is no public transportation.

Ahead of the new country is Cuba. Stay tuned!

Expenses on day nine for two:

  • $12 – toll roads.
  • $8 – gasoline.
  • $0.5 – coconut.
  • $1.50 – snickers and water for lunch.
  • $7 – bus from La Romana to Santo Domingo.
  • $40 – apartment for a night.
  • $19 – two pasta carbonara and two juices.

Remaining: $65.

Expenses on the day of departure for two people:

  • $9.50 for fruit and groceries for breakfast.
  • $12.50 – cab.
  • 4$ – loss on currency exchange at the airport.

Remaining: $39 – let it be a budget for souvenirs and innkeepers.

This concludes our trip to the Dominican Republic for $ 1000 for two people. Conclusions, findings and conclusions I will describe in a separate article.

Santo Domingo

The pink Christmas tree in the town square. Now I have seen everything.

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