Monday, December 30, 2013

Ringing in the New Year from Santo Domingo!

One of the places we wanted to visit in the Dominican Republic was the capital city, Santo Domingo.  We had originally planned to rent a car in Puerto Plata and drive there.  However, the concierge at the marina strongly recommended against it, as the drivers in the city (and countryside) are crazy drivers.  We hired Toby, our taxi driver who took us to the cable car, to take us from Puerto Plata to Santo Domingo on Monday, December 30 and pick us up on Thursday, January 2.  It was a 4-hour trip and cost us $300 round trip. After we saw the crazy driving on the way and the super-crazy driving in the city (more on that later), we knew our money was well-spent.  However, we wish we could say he delivered us right to the front door of our hotel.  He did... but only after he got lost in the city several times and stopped every few minutes to ask directions.  We finally convinced him to call the hotel and get directions, which he did, but he still had to stop several more pedestrians to ask the way.  Finally, after over one hour of driving aimlessly around... driving down one-way streets and roundabouts THE WRONG WAY, he did in fact finally deliver us to... the front door of our hotel.  But that was only after he stopped a local taxi driver who finally led us to the Colonial Zone!  Whew!

We stayed at the lovely Hotel Atarazana, a small, quaint boutique hotel with only six rooms.  It is rated the number one hotel in Santo Domingo. They had a last minute cancellation and we were lucky to get a reservation for New Year's. 

The Hotel Atarazana is located in the heart of the Zona Colonial, just a few feet away from the famous Plaza de España, surrounded by century old buildings. A wide selection of restaurants, fine bars, lounges and cultural attractions are all within walking distance from the hotel. 

Hotel Atarazana Lobby

This six-room hotel is in a building that is dated from 1860's and has been beautifully restored. Each room has Cable TV, a ceiling fan, and a balcony. The furnishings are simple, but elegant.

Hotel Atarazana Foyer

The foyer has a lovely stone floor inlaid with wood.  

There is a beautiful stone and wood staircase leading to the six guest rooms. 

Now, what are the chances of us meeting someone from Mississippi in Santo Domingo?? Well, the odds must have been in our favor.  The day we checked in, we met a young couple, Mike Carr and his lovely wife from Cleveland, Mississippi, as they were checking out!  They had been to a nearby beach town for a few days and stayed at the hotel before leaving to go back to the States! It was good to hear southern accents again!

Each morning, we were served a delicious breakfast of fresh fruits, breads, meats, and omelets.  And fresh Dominican coffee!! It was a great way to meet the other hotel guests and share experiences of the city.

Patricia and Niurka Prepare a Delicious Breakfast

The hotel staff was very accommodating. Niurka and Mery gave us recommendations for places to eat and places to see.  Patricia made sure our rooms were cleaned and stocked with extra pillows and towels.  

Mery Prepared Omelets Made to Order
Susanne, the Owner/Manager, Gave Me Advice on the Sights

The guest rooms were located upstairs.  A common area has a computer, a small refrigerator, a lending library, and bottled water.  

The roof top view had a terrific panoramic view of Colonial Zone. 

Sunrise from the rooftop.  Yes, I saw the sun rise! And, no, it wasn't because I stayed up all night! 

We celebrated New Year's Eve on the rooftop with the owners, Susanne and Bernard, their two guests from Germany, and hotel guests from Haiti, Germany, Turkey and the USA.  

We saw a spectacular display of fireworks from the rooftop. Happy New Year, Everyone! 

Hope 2014 is filled with happiness, love, health, peace and fun!

Fireworks over the Plaza near the Castle

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