Wow, this trip was honestly, the most absolutely relaxing vacation I have ever been on, which is just what Tyler and I needed. 2014 was a BUSY year for us and being able to do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, and didn't have any real responsibilities... well it was just utter BLISS! So we will start with one of the best decisions we have ever made- Flying First Class! Oh man, it was so nice! For starters, you generally either get your own line through security, or in the case of San Francisco, you get your own security area to go through! Super fast and simple. Then the leg room, the drink before you even take off, the fact that you can have unlimited drinks (and that is ANY drink), as well as a pretty decent food (with vegetarian options), well it was well worth it. Plus the headrest is adjustable to you can bend it so your head doesn't flop around. Totally GENIUS!
Delicious Bloody Mary
The downside to going to the Caribbean from Boise, Idaho? It is so awkward and long to get there! It took us 2 days to get down there and back (Belize was similar). On the way back we had an 11 hour lay over so we stayed in a hotel nearby the airport, which was better than sleeping on the floor like we did on our way back from Belize.
Anyway, once we got there we had to take a bus. We found out on the day we went on a tour of part of the island that Punta Cana didn't really exist as anything 20 years ago. In the past 20 years they have built well over 30 resorts and the whole area is for tourists. The airport is specifically for tourists and then the buses and taxis take you to your resort. Our resort was 3rd from the last up the coastline so we had a 45 min ride. We booked everything through Classic Vacations and it was super nice to have all of the bus ride stuff and the tourist card (each person has to pay $10 when they first arrive, in cash) figured out. She let us know about the card and arranged our travel to and from the resort. It was a snap!
Once we got there, our room wasn't ready so they told us to head to lunch. One of the restaurants was buffet style and I ate sushi every time we went there!
Our table for lunch when we arrived
Then we headed to our room.
Our door. They put an anniversary tag instead of honeymoon but it was still neat.We had a jacuzzi tub and I love the swans on the bed with rose petals
Champagne, our first of many. We had it every day except one, but we had 2 bottles one day so we made up for it!
Our view from our balcony
From there we got in the pool by the swim up bar and drank some yummy coconut drinks from a coconut!
We ended up having several and then found our way back to our room to get ready for dinner. We ended up going to the same restaurant as earlier because the server said he would make sure to have the cook make lobster for us and had a special menu planned for us. The food was pretty good. I love seafood, although I am sure most of it had butter on it. I honestly did my best while there but I know there was butter and cheese on a lot of things so I did my best to scrape it off. Tyler and I decided the food was essentially B- or C the whole trip, like eating at Red Lobster every day. Not bad, but not remarkable either. Although there were two restaurants we liked a lot, the french restaurant Chez Isabel, and the mexican restaurant, Agave. They had super yummy mahi mahi, shrimp, and steak (for Tyler). Later that night Tyler checked out the casino (too expensive and hardly any one in there) and then we made it an early night.
The next morning we woke up at 530 am and could not go back to sleep. We ended up ordering room service, which is what we did for breakfast half the trip, and then after we ate, explored the grounds for a while. We walked along the beach and then found a gaming area too. They had a little course for mini golf, table tennis, pool, and Foosball.
Champagne at 6 am? Why not!?!
Walking on the beach
Later during the week we spent many hours playing table tennis, which Tyler beat me at almost every time. We decided to put a big glass of beer in the middle of the table on each side and whomever hit the ball in won the round and the other had to drink (beer pong essentially). I ended up being much better at that so Tyler had quite a few beers he had to drink! We also did the mini golf and pool (Tyler won both). It was cute because we had never gone mini golfing before, so we still have firsts.
One thing I loved about the resort is "ALL the ACTIVITIES"! They have a daily schedule so Tyler and I took part in quite a bit. We played Texas Hold em', where Tyler took their money 3 days in a row, we played Bingo, where Tyler won a bottle of rum and I won some ground coffee, we played water volleyball, we ran the "magic carpet ride" where they lined up the floaties in the pool and a bunch of drunk Americans tried to run on water for as long as we could. Tyler made it to 5, I made it to 3! We also did Arts and Crafts, where Tyler made me earrings and necklace and I made an anklet, which I then lost. I still have his though, which are really pretty. We also made some friends! Jessie and Jamie from Washington D.C. We ended up chatting with them, discovering they are nerdy and love to play board games too, so we went to dinner with them one night and then played a game in the lobby. It was nice to spend a night with friends.
Catching a sunset
Tyler killing it serving during water volleyball
The one day we left our resort we ended up doing a day long tour. Tyler really wanted to see a cigar factory, and I really wanted to learn a bit more about the culture of the island (yep, I like history and culture). So we signed up for a tour and the bus picked us up at 620 am! It was an early start. From there we picked up others from other resorts and finally headed to our first destination by about 830 am. We went to a Beisbol Stadium, because the DR is number one for recruitment of baseball players. In fact, all boys in the country will come try out, and if they are promising, the government will pay for them to train for 4 hours in the morning and will go to school for 4 hours in the afternoon, in hopes they will be recruited. Baseball is a big deal down there. We thought we weren't going to like going to the stadium but it was interesting.
The Toro stadium
Then we went to Casa de Campo, which is a small city that has a lot of really rich people who reside there. Julio Iglesias and Oscar De La Renta, to name a couple. There is a PGA golf course in this city, as well as Altos de Chavra, which is an area at the heart of Case de Campo that was made in the 80s by a very wealthy man. Rocks were blasted out of the side of a mountain to create this town (?) where there is a huge amphitheater, and a church, and lots of little shops. It's set on a hillside over a river known for shooting the movie, Anaconda.
The gates to the Altos de Chavra
Tyler and I were so impressed with all of the work that went into building this and just how gorgeous it all was. It was nice to walk around and check everything out. It looked hundreds of years old but it was about as old as us!
From there we went back down towards the river for lunch. They had a couple of tours together on this boat where they cooked us lunch. The choice was lobster or chicken, so I got the lobster and Tyler got the chicken. It was delicious! We had Dominican Champagne (which is rum and Sprite) and had a nice lunch. We cruised along the river and saw some horses and cows. It was pretty serene.
From there we headed to the Cigar Factory, which was our second to last stop. We got to learn a bit about the history and the process, which was interesting. Tyler looked like a kid in a candy shop. Our tour guide, Franklin, was great all day. We learned about the history of DR, the differences between DR and Haiti (like it's illegal to cut down trees in DR, except a particular palm tree that can be cut down in the countryside for those who need it to build homes). We learned about the crime rate in Santo Domingo, the capital. We learned about how the tourist industry is so large that the children are taught many languages in school in order to have jobs in the industry when they get older.
From there our last stop was to a church. It was really pretty but Tyler and I were ready to head back. Turns out my shorts were too short so I couldn't go in unless I put a cloth skirt over that they offered but we decided just to enjoy from the outside.
From there we headed back to our resort. We got back about 630 pm so it was a full 12 hour day, making us pretty tired when we got back.
We ended up trying all of the restaurants except the Mediterranean one. We tried the Lobster House for breakfast and I fell in love with mangu, which is plantains that have been blended into a sort of dip. It had friend onions on top and was paired with avocados and I loved it!
We were sad to leave because it was warm and relaxing but we did miss our home and loved ones. It was not so nice to be back to the inversion but after this last weekend, we know Spring is on its way. Tyler and I really had a good time and decided we need to celebrate our 5th anniversary doing something similar. Maybe not DR but definitely an all inclusive resort where we can focus on relaxing and reconnecting. I would recommend Excellence Resort to anyone as well as the Dominican. We had a blast!