Monday in Santo Domingo we woke up to marching bands and loud noises coming from outside the hotel. I got outside and it is Duarte Day in full swing....and as we are across the street from Duarte Park the festivities are starting here: generals, soldiers, politicians, and speeches. It was a small affair and it was reassuring to see that the soldiers were unenthusiastic about the whole thing.
Today we were headed for a traditional Dominican lunch and with all the aniticipation went overboard when we got to ordering. It was a lot of food and it cost as much as our hotel room. Those big piles are mashed plantains and we ate both plates along with everything else washed down with lots of Presidente beer. How come on vacation you can drink beers at lunch time like it was Saturday night? Back home it would be nap time.
So we decided to stay on longer in Santo Domingo and decided to check out another hotel. The Hotel Riparbelle, in the Gazcue neighborhood is maybe 15 blocks from where we were staying now but worlds away. For $25 US a night it was total opulence compared to our current place: large room, big bathroom, tons of hot water, big bed with sheets that fit properly. It was a street mixed with residences and small hotels, but it had stores and restaurants close by, and we decided to move in that day.
We checked out of the Hostal Mundial (we had paid for tonite already) and hiked our way back to the Gazcue with our stuff. Once arriving we noticed that the biggest difference was that we were in a real hotel now and it was full of travellers from all over: conversation, tips on places to visit, and all very friendly.
For dinner we ate in a tourist joint on Calle de Monde called Le Grande and had the Le Grande Sandwhich (that's what I call it). Huge sandwich, two big beers, all for 550 peso.
That night we headed for the big hotel casinos and won 300 peso at the slots. It seemed like robbery to take the money, but we cashed out and headed back to our big comfy bed and BATHROOM.