Hostal Nicolas de Ovando: A Historical Oasis in Santo Domingo

2014-03-13-18-52-46Picking the perfect place to stay on a vacation is a constant struggle. Do you want to stay on a resort your entire trip? Are you looking to meet people? Do you prefer modern amenities or local flavor? After choosing the Dominican Republic based on its warm temperatures and proximity to New York, I was disappointed by most of the suggested resorts. Punta Cana seemed to be a hub for spring breakers and the all-inclusive crowd and I was looking for a side of culture to my vacation.

After reading more about the capital city of Santo Domingo, I realized that the mix of history, outdoor cafes, and ample sunshine would make it the perfect combination. I chose to stay on the Hostal Nicolas de Ovando, a hotel that was formerly the home of the city’s first governor. This sprawling white stone building sat high above the river, giving poolside views of the ships passing through. Located on the first paved road in the New World, just a few steps away from Christopher Columbus’s family home, the hotel was a living piece of history with an oasis within.

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Scenes of Life in Santo Domingo

2014-03-14 12.30.18I always find it interesting to see the juxtaposition of travelers on vacation interacting with the locals who are going about their daily life. In larger cities like Paris and London, there are many similarities to life in New York. People are bustling by, on their way to work, to home, to the gym, to dinner. It seems that people are constantly in motion. However, I noticed that in Santo Domingo the way of life was much slower than I was used to.

All around me there were families, friends, even solitary individuals enjoying the warm air, dining al fresco, taking a nap on the warm stones, and just enjoying the view of the history-laced buildings around them. There did not seem to be any sort of rush and it made me smile to see a country that had learned to truly enjoy even the small moments in life.

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Santo Domingo’s Colonial District, Zona Colonial Part Two

2014-03-16 11.41.52On my last day in Santo Domingo, I decided to pull myself away from the sun-soaked poolside terrace and retrace my steps around the Zona Colonial. Whenever I visit someplace for the first time I typically get overwhelmed by the entire scene, drinking in as much as I can as quickly as I can. However, after a couple of days, I was able to relax and discover new corners and details that I had not discovered before.

I turned down a quiet, residential street just off the Colon Park and heard the soft tinkling of a piano. Upon closer inspection I noticed that the door to the house was wide open, and framing the doorway were an old woman and her (presumably) grandson, lost in the music and in the moment. It was such a beautiful scene, that I stood there, frozen, unwilling to leave and knowing that I could not disturb the peace. Finally I shuffled on, the clicks of my camera adding the only sound to the tinkling keys against the stiff heat.

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Street Scenes of Red Hook, Brooklyn

DfBxdsuGh_tNNqW2VRXIxSr9WzCoE8DJtEOSTEadJd0New York is a wonderful city, teeming with energy and ideas. However, there are times (particularly after a long, bone-chilling winter) that one needs to escape and refresh. With no time for a true getaway, I opted for the next best thing: a visit to my sister’s Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook.

Not easily accessible by subway, Red Hook has remained a true Brooklyn enclave, and with its waterfront views (including the Statue of Liberty), artisanal treats, and home brewed drafts, a visit to this neighborhood always feels like a breath of fresh air.

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Dumbo Arts Festival

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Today was the last day of the Dumbo Arts Festival in Brooklyn, New York and it was a gorgeous autumn afternoon. One of my favorite things about living in Brooklyn now is the constant parade of art, culture, and exciting pop up events. The Dumbo Arts Festival was no exception, and its iconic location made for a picture perfect backdrop. There was a mixture of photography, performance art, sculpture, and interactive areas.

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Discovering Animals Around The World

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Whenever I travel to someplace new, I am always interested in meeting locals, seeing their way of life, and observing the differences (and very often) similarities. As my country count started racking up, I soon came across more than just the local people in each new destination. I started noticing the animals that I met along the way, from the free-ranging cows in India, to the frolicking beach dogs in Thailand’s Koh Samet island, to the drowsy cats in Santa Barbara’s wine country.

Here are just a few of my favorite animals that I have encountered. I might have been worlds away, but at the end of the day, a cow in India is the same as a cow in the United States.

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Photography in Agra: Ten Flavors of the Taj Mahal

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Whenever I photograph something, I am always interested in seeing how differently it will turn out depending on the angle and perspective. This was especially true when I visited the Taj Mahal. A universal icon that has been photographed to death, I wanted to see if I could get a new or different angle. While I definitely am new to photography, I like to think that I added a bit of my personality into these photos. Either way, I hope it inspires you to one day visit this incredible masterpiece.

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