I was up super early at 3am and hopped into an Uber and was en route to JFK. After a quick check-in with JetBlu, I headed to the gate and then snoozed for most of the flight. Upon arrival in Santo Domingo, all visitors have to pay $10 for a tourist visa, so try bring some cash if visiting.
Once outside I picked up a cab from Jesus himself, which cost about $30 to get to the city centre, which is steep enough considering how cheap living is I the Dominican Republic. Jesus went straight into the up-sell to get my return business but I told him to politely chill out.
Jesus dropped me off at my hostel, Island Life , which is thoroughly recommended. I dumped my bags and decided to head out to go see some of Santo Domingo as the weather was picking up. The main city centre is super accessible on food and you can see the major sites, such as Columbus’ old house, within a few hours. The main plaza itself was packed with students on school tours and I got ropped into a few photos as their weren’t many tourists out and about. After visiting Alcázar de Colón, I stopped in the main square for some lunch before going meandering back to the hostel to check in and pick up my drone for some recording around the city
I grabbed an Uber (recommended) and took the short trip to Christoper Columbus’ resting place just outside the city. The building is thoroughly impressive and in the shape of a crucifix, where in the middle is the tomb of the main man himself. After some initial recording, I made my way to the back of the site, but was promptly told by locals to go no further as it is a pretty dangerous area. So word of warning, get there and ensure you have a ride back! With no way to get a secure taxi back, the kind security guard agreed to drive me back to the city centre for $10. Lovely!
Once back within the city limits I made my way back to the main square, to visit some more churches and chill in the main square. After dropping my gear back at the hostel, I grabbed a shower and had some beers with other travellers, before heading for some street food with a group of Germans. Delish and cheap! Right across the street are some beautiful church ruins, so we just chilled with some beers as locals played music. A bit tired, I went back to the ranch and spent a couple of hours schooling people in pool and then the owner in darts, which didn’t go down too well. Good craic all the same.
I was up early in the morning to catch the Irish rugby game, which was well worth it! Once the game was finished, I grabbed my beach gear and was just about to leave when the heavens opened, so I ate breakfast instead before heading out to see some more of the city and visiting Chinatown en route. A storm was on its way for the day/night, so my plans for the day were fairly goosed, so I headed back to the hostel for a chill day with beers and food. Didn’t have to twist my arm!
Turns out most of the other people in the hostel had the same idea, so a good crew of us played darts and pool for the afternoon before heading out for dinner early enough in one of the local places. After dinner we decided to head to a typical Dominican bar on one of the street corners and played some dominos with the locals, which was great craic. A quick pitstop at the hostel later, we were en route to a salsa night nearby which turned into a very late night and also getting lost on the way home. Got there eventually for some much needed sleep!
I arose with the mother of all hangovers, so crawled my way out to breakfast around midday. The morning’s weather was pretty rubbish again, but was due to clear in the afternoon slightly when the infamous Dominican Carnival was kicking off down by the beach.
At around 2pm, I went down to the beach area with an English lad who worked in the hostel to check out what all the fuss was about. The atmosphere was deadly! We picked up a few bottles of local beer and soaked up the Carnival along the route as the rain threatened in the distance. Towards the end of the parade we noticed a number of European looking people walking in the parade while recording some TV show. Seeing our opportunity we hopped the fences and joined the 6 people and pretended we were part of the group. Bullshitting at its finest but we pulled it off. There we were the 2 of us waving at the crowds with a pint each. As we arrived at the finish line the heavens opened again and pandemonium ensued. We legged it for cover and managed to make our way to the local TV stand and stood soaked in the VIP area for 20 minutes or so. As we were leaving, a security guard spotted us and the jig was up!
Kicked out, we headed back to the hostel for some beers, before I headed down to Columbus Plaza for some local food and a night stroll around the castle walls. I made my way back to the ranch around 1am for a quick back back and then grabbed an Uber to the airport…wrecked, but still buzzing from the Carnival.
Although I only got to spend 3 days in Santo Domingo, and having bad weather, I got a great feel for the Dominican Republic and the locals. Every Dominican I met throughout the 3 days was super friendly and accommodating and I’d thoroughly recommend it for anyone interested in colonial architecture or if you’re a Colobus nerd. The Carnival is also wild. Gracias!