Nerves of steel, Dominican driving.It’s more than that.

If you want to drive in Santo Domingo  “Don’t” . Nerves of steel is an understatement, at least for me.

Red lights ! oblivious. Lanes !! only a suggestion. Imagine you open a room full of crazies and distribute driving licences, cars and motorcycles  and just say “go out there and drive, Don’t Worry about the rules , there are none” I know you think I’m exaggerating or being funny, NOT!!!.  Utter chaos. Although I must say I didn’t see any bodies on the road so I suppose there must be a method to their madness . Anyway that was my experience . Aside from the driving part  it was a good experience. They do have a good transit system ,so if you are not a daredevil maybe you could travel by train or Taxi , lots of people use Uber ( Orange cars). Renting a car is cheap but by the time you add insurance it becomes a bit expensive. Another thing which I think needs mentioning is safety, driving around in Santo Domingo, I was told not to keep my window down, I guess driving my convertible is out of the question 🙁 .

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Santo Domingo random street photos

 

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Drove around Santo Domingo a bit. fascinating electrical work. How the heck to they figure this out?

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The casino next to The Sheraton.

The first night we spent at the Sheraton Santo Domingo on the Malecon. Star quality hotel ,very welcoming staff. I always prefer to eat local but we decided to have dinner at the hotel restaurant with friends ( not a big fan of hotel food). Can’t say I was disappointed, the ceviche was pretty delicious.

 A good night sleep on BTW was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in, at a hotel.

Breakfast , then off we went to las Terrenas. The purpose of my trip was to go check out the possibilities of buying a property.

On the road keep the speed limit ,radar is everywhere ready to catch you. If you are stopped , they just want money. Of Course  we were stopped, they somehow know when you are a tourist. I was told that most people just pay and go, and I did notice that they didn’t really want to give us a ticket. We could have just paid and left but instead we pretended we did not understand  Spanish or what they were saying, frustrated the crap out of them, after 15 minutes of frustrations, no ticket, no payola. The words “La Prensa” (my Press pass ) got us on our way. Guess they didn’t want a write up. LOL .

We finally arrived in las Terrenas after more than 2 hours of driving from Santo Domingo.The tolls from Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas are about 25.00 Usd or about 1200 Pesos. Make sure you have Pesos , they don’t accept USD.

Las Terrenas

A resort town on the Samaná Peninsula, in the northeastern part of the Dominican Republic.  A beautiful safe town inhabited  by lots of  European retirees. I found it quite interesting that in most place I went in town, most people spoke French,of course English and Spanish . 

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The French bakery and of course the local Cigar shop.

 

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Graffiti in las terrenas

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LODGING: Residencia El  Balata

A very unique property about 2 km from the beach, you can actually walk to the beach. very Original in design  , natural woodwork . The owner is very friendly and very accommodating. English, French and Italian are spoken.  Of course Spanish .IMG_4051 (1)

its the perfect spot , quiet and very relaxing . The property gives you the feeling of really being away from civilization.They have a large parking and  no problems with Wi-Fi. We did not opt for the breakfast but they serve a wonderful breakfast for an additional $5.00  and for an additional $10.00 you can request AC, we didn’t need it, as the temperature was quite comfortable with the windows open and the ceiling fan. Our room was very clean , modern , large and comfortable. The wood theme was carried throughout the rooms and the entire  property. The prices are quite affordable. There is also a 3 legged Rottweiler , who is very shy.

On my  next visit to las Terrenas I will definitely stay there again and highly recommend it..

What would a beach town be without beach bars and restaurants?.We took a liking to MOJITOS specially for their Mojito Happy Hour. This is a Cuban restaurant owned by Carlos  he is originally from Cuba and travels back and forth. you can also get dinner there.

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Most people seem to prefer Motorcycles and  ATVs as a mode of transportation. This makes the center of town a bit noisy. IMG_4045 (1)

But my favorite for prices and food,is the retaurant  Le Tre Caravelle a convivial little spot for Italian food. The decor might throw you off a bit , as it looks more like seafood than Italian,but dont let that sway you, the food is fabulous, and at 0.50 pesos for $1.00  you can have a lovely inexpensive little vacay.

Whale Watching in Samana

we booked a trip with whale Samana with Marine biologist  Kim Beddall In Samana Bay. One of the top 10 places in the world  to watch whales. The humpback whales comes every year  to give birth in Samana Bay making them, honorary citizens of the Dominican republic.

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The sea was really rough , I was being thrown around like a beach ball  , my friends were like “What the heck? ‘they laugh at me since I seemed to have been the only one  flying around. Thank god they gave out  sea bands  for sea sickness ,usually I travel with my own, but forgot them on this trip. Unfortunatly and before knowing that  they were going to distribute sea bands I was given a Dramamine pill ( hate to take those ) since I become sort of a useless zombi for the entire day. Oh Well.)

after ge got back to  santo Domingo we still had one more night so we checked into the Crown Plaza Hotel . I would have prefered an older hotel in the  colonial zone but the one we wanted was full. Anyway can’t go wrong with the crown plaza.

One more drive around the city to visit and take pictures before heading to the airport.

The Colonial zone is definitely worth a visit. The rum museum Museo Del Ron Y La Cana is fabulous, we got yo taste the various flavored and top of the line aged rums. They even had cilantro flavored rum. I bought a bottle of pineapple rum but had to leave it behind ( no checked baggage )  NO charge for the visit. Unfortunately my trip was very short ,I would have liked to spend a little more time to take pictures in the colonial zone and learn a bit more history.

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As you walk down Calle El conde ,The first commercial street in the New World and a popular pedestrian shopping area, 10 blocks long and cuts right through the Colonial city. The cobblestone road is lined with restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and also street art vendors selling colorful paintings. There are plenty of historic sights along the way , starting at Calle El Conde’s entrance at Parque Independencia, onto the Parque Colón and first cathedral, to its edge at Calle Las Damas. 

At the beginning of every block there is a  Munecas Limé .

You maybe wondering why the dolls have no face?. In the 1980’s s sculptor Liliana Mera Limé (hence the name) created these faceless dolls. The are called munecas Limé. They represent a people of diverse  ancestral blend from the native Quisqueyanos, the Africans, and the Spanish Conquistadores. The dolls, have no faces so as not to show preference to one branch of their ancestral lineage (i.e.. discriminating against the black or native american ancestry). Great souvenir to take back or to collect. they are found everywhere.

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Unfortunately my trip was very short ,I would have liked to spend a little more time to take pictures in the colonial zone and learn a bit more history. Next time.

One last little note about tipping;

Another interesting Tidbit . On all  bills , restaurant and other purchases , there is a fee added of 10%  P/Legal and a service charge of 18 % which they call a tip. You are actually paying an additional fee on your bill of 28% ( You are still expected to  tip). Its was very confusing when i first got my first bill in the restaurant. thinking the tip was included. I understand that the wages are very low so even if you give an extra 10%.

I hope that you found this to be interesting and It encourages you to take a little trip. I would really appreciate your comments and recommendations.

 

 

 

 

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