Everything about our hotel was an extraordinary experience, the building, the people, the meals, the absolute quiet in the midst of such a huge city. We knew when the time came to leave, we would hate to go. We just got there.
At breakfast one morning we met an exchange professor from Spain who was teaching music at a local college. We chatted during breakfast about our trip, his teachings, his home and ours – a good time. We met the staff who all had other lives as students, mothers, artisans of one sort or another. Locals came and went as we relaxed and enjoyed our time here. You could just breathe in the city, its history, its life as you wandered.
The historic section of the city is a walking town, and you’re safe just about any time of day or might. We returned from dinner one night fairly late and never felt threatened – everyone smiled. Cars actually stopped for us. We took deep deep breaths every day.
As we relaxed one day after lunch at “Parque Colon”, the parks being the heart and soul of every Latin city, a young couple was having their wedding photos taken in front of one of the historic churches, even as the crowd ebbed and flowed around them. It was a beautiful scene, filled with the heart of this proud country.
Though in many ways the DR is somewhat “third world” the people are well-educated, polite, proud, and helpful. Their homes are clean, but their countryside is not; that disparity is impossible for us to reconcile, and the lack of respect for the natural beauty and grandeur of the country is discouraging. One day we watched a man carry two large black bags of trash across the Malecon and toss them into the aquamarine Caribbean Sea; we wanted to strangle and shake him, but for now, it is still a way of life there. Sad.
I mentioned ice cream a while ago. After dinner one evening, we walked down the El Conde for dessert to Helados Bon, the DR’s premier ice cream company. Across the street was a Baskin Robbins – no one was there, but Bon was packed. One taste told all. Delicious! If you go there – Don’t miss Cafe Bon.
While in the city we took a driving tour, got a little lost a few times, wound our way around the narrow one-way streets, and just had a great time. We found the oldest pub in the Americas, but their reputation caused their prices to rocket somewhere into the stratosphere, so we took a pass, and wandered back to Calle El Conde for lunch once again. There’ss no lack of reasonably priced restaurants, shops, hotels – whatever you desire. You can spend $400 a night at the Hyatt if you want, or you can have a suite at one of the oldest buildings in the Americas with breakfast included for around $100 – your choice. We loved Santo Domingo!