Emily’s Birthday Trip to the Dominican Republic: Part 3 – Activities in Santo Domingo Zona Colonial and Latin Dancing

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Emily:  One of my best friends lives in Arlington, Virginia, so I don’t see her very often.  We met in college and have been friends ever since.  The first (and last) time we took a vacation together was to Barcelona, Spain in 2007.

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Emily And Kristen Celebrating Emily’s Birthday In The Dominican Republic

I thought it would be super fun to celebrate my 30th birthday with her in the Dominican Republic.  So we planned a trip to 3 locations, including Santo Domingo, Bayahibe, and Bavaro (near Punta Cana) over the course of one week.

Emily’s Birthday Trip to the Dominican Republic Index:

  1. Trip to the Dominican Republic — Introduction and Planning
  2. Santo Domingo Hotel – Sofitel Nicolas de Ovando
  3. Activities in Santo Domingo – Zona Colonial and Latin Dancing
  4. Activities in Santo Domingo – Casa de Orientación y Desarrollo Real (CODR)
  5. Eating in Santo Domingo
  6. Bayahibe – Isla Saona and Hotel Bayahibe
  7. Bavaro Hotel – Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe
  8. Activities in and Around Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe
  9. Eating in and Around Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe
  10. Return Delta Flight from Punta Cana
  11. Conclusion and Blog Giveaway

Santo Domingo Walking Tour

One of the main reasons why I wanted to visit Santo Domingo was because of the history.  It was the first city in the new world, and it listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

One of our guides was written by Peace Corps volunteers and they published a very nice walking tour of Zona Colonial, the old city, in Santo Domingo.

Kristen and I had breakfast at the hotel, and then went to Parque Indepencia to begin our walking tour.  On the way, we saw lots of sights, including artwork…

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We Saw Lots Of Artwork On The Way

…and handicrafts…

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We Also Saw Handicrafts

The walk itself was very nice.  The guidebook said it would take anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days.  For us, 2 days was more like it!  We only finished half of it.

The Parque Indepencia has one of the original entrances to the walled city.  It was interesting to see the old architecture in the park.

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The Parque Indepencia Is One Of The Original Entrances To The City

Afterwards, we went to Plaza Misericordia, where the first shots were fired that signaled Dominican independence from Haiti.

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Kristen At Plaza Misercordia Where The Dominicans Celebrated Their Independence From Haiti

Afterwards, we went to the sea.  Unfortunately, you can’t swim in it because the shores are rocky, and because the water is not that clean.

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It Wasn’t Safe To Swim In The Sea Because Of The Rocks And Unclean Water

The streets were mostly empty from tourists so there were no crowds to fight through at the major sites.

We passed an old church…

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Our Walk Took Us Past An Old Church

…and another one.

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We Also Passed A Second Church During Our Walk

We stumbled upon a small outdoor arts and crafts market.

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We Found An Arts And Crafts Market

Kristen and I bought jewelry from one shop.

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The Jewelry Was Too Enticing To Resist!

The shopowner was so friendly and welcoming, Kristen and I couldn’t help taking our photo with her.  I purchased a beautiful necklace which I’m wearing in the photo.

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Kristen And Emily With The Jewelry Shop Owner

We continued on our walk and enjoyed the colonial homes.  We were surprised to find some of them empty and in disrepair and I dreamt about moving in and fixing them up!

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We Saw Colonial Homes On Our Walk

We then made our way to the Fortaleza, or the large fort that once protected the city.

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Kristen In Front Of The Fortaleza That Protected The City

I loved it because there were so many little places to explore.

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Emily Exploring Fortaleza

The views from Fortaleza were beautiful.  We could see for miles.

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There Were Beautiful Views From Fortaleza

We climbed to the top of Fortaleza.

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Kristen At The Top Of Fortaleza

We then made our way to Christopher Columbus’ son’s home, El Alcazar de Colon.  Unfortunately, we did not get to tour the inside, but the outside was still fun to explore.

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Emily At El Alcazar de Colon – The Home Of Christopher Columbus’ Son

The walls of El Alcazar de Colon were made from coraline blocks.

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Coraline Blocks Make Up The Walls Of El Alcazar de Colon

The home was built in 1515, and has 22 rooms.

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There Are 22 Rooms In El Alcazar de Colon

Santo Domingo Dancing

Another reason why I wanted to visit the Dominican Republic was because of the dancing.  Kristen and I both know how to Latin dance.

We got ready at the hotel and then walked around to a few different places mentioned in the guidebook, before we settled on El Sarten, a small bar with a cozy dance floor.

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El Sarten Was A Small, Cozy Bar

The people there were friendly, and we read about the experienced dancers in our guidebook and were anxious to learn from them!

Some very nice people did teach us how to dance, and invited us to sit with them at our table!  I felt like “part of the family” and had such a good time.

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Emily And Kristen Having A Good Time At El Sarten

Everyone was so nice and welcoming!  They took the time to teach us dance moves and help improve our technique.  Some dancers were very good…they danced so naturally and effortlessly.

Kristen: Dominicans’ friendly and gregarious nature came out with a night of dancing at El Sarten, known for the plethora of dancers willing to show a rookie how the Cuban dance of ‘Son’ is done.  I can only explain ‘Son’ by saying it was a smooth mix of Samba and Salsa.

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Kristen Enjoying The Dancing At El Sarten

Kristen and I loved exploring the historical heritage of Santo Domingo and had so much fun dancing with the Dominicans.  There was never a shortage of things to do!

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12 responses to “Emily’s Birthday Trip to the Dominican Republic: Part 3 – Activities in Santo Domingo Zona Colonial and Latin Dancing

  1. Hi Emily,
    You look absolutely gorgeous in the picture taken at el alcazar. Thanks for the trip report and can’t wait to read the rest!

  2. @Katye- Glad you enjoyed it! It was so much fun and I can’t wait to return. 🙂

  3. That looks really fun.

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