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Landing 1:14 am on Saturday is one way to stretch out a weekend. Blurry-eyed I collected a rental car and drove into Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Not many road signs and no one out and about, fortunately some Google Maps printouts steered me into the old town for a few hours’ rest at the Hotel Mercure Comercial Santo Domingo. For personal travel I favor non-chain hotels, though a B&B would not have been happy with a 2:30 am arrival and the location of the Mercure cannot be beat. Rooms are small and functional; the breakfast is excellent, I helped myself to some fruit that others may have supposed to be ‘display only’. I used Wandering Aramean’s Hotels.com 5% rebate to book, support a super blogger by booking travel with his generous rebates.
Santo Domingo is the oldest continuously inhabited European city in the Americas, founded by Bartholomew Columbus, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The centerpiece is the cathedral, one of many ‘oldest in the Americas,’ don’t miss the chorus of dogs in the back. All the key elements of the living colonial city museum are present: fort, squares, churches, house museums, and ruins. I ditched the guidebook and wandered in a rough loop, not that I could have read much with the sweat stinging my eyes. Nothing stood out as must-see that cannot be found in similar colonial cities.
Commercial areas and apartment blocks are interspersed and are rather run down compared to the well-preserved historic sites. It did not strike me as place to hang out, the dining/entertainment/shopping options are fairly limited, and there is not much of a international tourist scene. For a day or two stop to/from a flight to Santo Domingo, though, the city is well worth a visit.