Monday, April 16, 2012

Kellie and Joe are in Da House

No, seriously, we’re in Da House; it’s the name of our hotel in Old San Juan.  I was a little worried when Kellie told me about the place because she described it as a youth hostel. I don’t how she came up with that description. When I think of a youth hostel, I picture the place we stayed at in Cassis, France, where we had small 8-foot by 8-foot room with a sink, bunk beds, and a shared bathroom down the hall. This place was nothing of the sort. (I'll explain the picture a little later.)
Da House is a converted convent located above the Nuyorican CafĂ©, a salsa club that we didn’t notice was open until we retuned to the hotel at the end of the evening to go to sleep.  Luckily, it wasn't too loud. The rooms are small and clean, but each has its own bathroom, which by my standards, disqualifies it as a youth hostel.
Architecturally, it’s a very interesting building.  Upon entering, you climb a series of staircases protected by iron railings topped with a wooden banister.  The walls of the staircase are lined with paintings by Puerto Rican artists.  There are no elevators here so pack lightly if you ever decide to visit, something we failed to do, and as luck would have it, our room was on the 4th floor. The structure is pierced by three large atriums that rise from the second story lobby area to the top floor and are capped by rooftop skylights.  More paintings hang on the tall, white walls enclosing the towering free space.  Narrow wooden framed widows in each guest room open into the atrium, giving the each guest a unique view of the artwork. The staff was friendly, and Jonathan, who maned the front desk during the evenings, provided me with some background information about the hotel.

We didn’t do much during our first day; we slept till noon to recover from our redeye fight the previous evening.  That night, we had dinner at Toro Salao, a small tapas restaurant a short walk down an old cobble stone street from Da House.  We ordered a small pitcher of Sangria and relaxed under an umbrella at an outside table while listening to a jazz quartet playing just inside the restaurant's front door. The band didn’t have much room to work. If you needed to use the restroom, the trumpet player had to step aside as he was blowing to avoid whacking you in the head with his instrument as you passed in front of him to climb the stairs to the second floor lavatory.
When our waiter delivered more ice for our drinks, he leaned in and asked Kellie if the gentleman seated at the table next to us was Jerry Springer. I turned to look, and, sure enough, it was Jerry Springer having dinner with his wife.  I should have realized from the constant attention the table was receiving that the people sitting there were not the usual tourists, but I was distracted by a pair of very attractive young women seated on other side of Mr. Springer who were getting quite intimate with each other and putting on a captivating little public display.
Besides the waiters that were continually doting on Jerry and his wife, the establishment’s management, and possibly the owner, periodically came to Mr. Springer’s table to see if he needed anything. One woman even asked Jerry if he was happy.  Mr. Springer seemed a little puzzled by the question.  I got a little annoyed.  Nobody was coming to my table and asking me if I was happy.  Wasn’t my happiness just as important as Jerry Springer’s?  We were both at the same restaurant, ordering from the same menu, paying the same prices, and yet Jerry’s satisfaction seem more important to the staff than mine or that of any other guest.  In fairness to Mr. Springer, he seemed exceedingly cordial and polite to everyone who approached him, whether it was the waiter providing service, someone who wanted to shake hands, or tourist asking him to pose for a picture, Mr. Springer graciously accommodated anyone who stopped by to see him.  He was certainly not a demanding celebrity with an attitude.  
I was bothered by the obsequious restaurant staff, and I got the impression that Mr. Springer would have appreciated a little less attention.  Why is that some people believe that celebrities deserve better treatment that the rest of us?  Shouldn’t all patrons at that restaurant get the same service as Jerry and his wife?  I kept harping on about the inequities of the situation for the rest of the evening, and Kellie kept telling me to just let it go and enjoy my mojito. Later today we board Royal Caribbean's Adventure of the Seas, and then, I too will get the B-list celebrity treatment.


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