February 10, 2009 - La Romana
and Santo Domingo
One of the ports we were really excited about was Dominican Republic and visiting Santo Domingo. Prior to boarding the cruises we pre booked a shore excursion to Santo Domingo thru Princess.
Now for those of you who know us know we NEVER book ship sponsored excursions. After our first visit here two weeks prior we did a bit of research and realized that the trip to SD (Santo Domingo) would take approximate 2 hours to get to each way and taxis were $150. The ship was offering a tour on a bus, with guide, many sites and lunch for $99 each.
Bernie had always wanted to see SD the first city in the Western Hemisphere and tons of history. For me I could care less -- but I was excited because I was looking forward to seeing the architecture, the people and getting some great photo shots.
We got off the ship early! Found our bus, a large greyhound type bus that was pretty much already full. We found seats right at the back!
We are off, and thankfully we had a pit stop to use the facilities. But because we were about 40 we had a long queue, man I envy the men at times like this.
We get into SD and we stop beside a few site where the guide talks about what we are looking at. WHAT we don't even get to get off the bus. So I quickly take shots thru the window. What? I can't hear the guide.... is he speaking English? Yup... we look at each other hoping for a miraculous translation. Bernie looks frustrated, I know he was really looking forward to this trip and he is such a history buff he is missing out. The problem appears to be the sound system on the bus, if it is too high he gets feedback, but turned down we can't hear it at the back.
Thankfully we get to get off the bus!
What a lovely city! I love it! I love it! I want to live here! But what oh the guide is calling us over - "have to stay with the group". Now remember we are a group of 40 or so.
Thankfully I have a good zoom and I can get some shots while we stand in a group beside something and he talks and talks, but darn it I still can't hear him. Again we are at the back of the group. Sure I could of pushed myself to the front of the group, but the group consists on many older people - at least mentally old, because man those people could move when they wanted to, like the food lineup. I swear I was going to get taken DOWN if I pushed forward.
We head towards the church. The first church in the Western Hemisphere we know because we read up about it prior. Not because we heard the guide!
Upon entering the church I am pulled aside by one of the attendants at the church. Apparently my skort is too short! So I am given a sarong and I wrap it around my waist. Kind of surprised, been a long time since I've been told "your skirt is too short", feels like Catholic school all over again.
The architecture is beautiful
We are out of there! Again I just hold back while Bernie took in the tour and I took pictures.
We start walking, hate being told what to do! We walk along the narrow streets and the rain starts and we are quickly ushered into a store. Sure sounds good until we realize this is the "designated store" yup the store gives a kick back to the tour guide on all sales. When we try to leave and go to a different store the guide yells out "no not that store, come back here". Again those who know me know I won't take that lightly. I purposely wander to other stores and check out and chat with many of the vendors. Now sure I know about these "designated stores" I was not born yesterday, but I always make sure not to partake in them. In fact when we were researching this tour I made sure that there was NO shopping on this tour. Nothing worse than paying for tour that makes you shop!
Our designated store, the art work
lots of tacky stuff - sorry if you bought anything there
Bernie waiting for the "designated store stop" to end
We encounter a group of school kids and handed out some Canadian pencils
We head down the street to stop at a restaurant that is going to be our lunch stop. But there are two people missing. Our group is so large that the guide misses two people who were at the back of the group at the last stop and got lost on the way to the restaurant. Needless to say the guide got a talking to from the man and woman when they caught up. Good thing they found us, imagine being left in SD!
The next museum was lovely... just wished we could of seen more of it.