Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Punta Cana Trip: Days One and Two

Hi!  I didn't mean to not blog for so long.  I have much to report!  Last week was pretty busy and before I knew it I was on a plane to the Dominican Republic!  A couple months ago Greg got his vacation for 2012.  Pilots bid for their vacation each year, much like they bid for their monthly schedules- they rank their choices and it goes by seniority.  He actually hoped to get his vacation as soon as possible because he hadn't had a vacation in a while, so when he got his two weeks off in January, he was fine with it.  We decided to go ahead and look at vacation options and Greg suggested DR because it's one of the places he flies to and he knew the resort the crew stays at there was nice.  I was all for it as I really wanted to go somewhere international.  We booked a package through American Airlines (not my husband's airline, I know), that was a great deal, less than $1500 for the two of us for airfare, hotel, and breakfast at the Punta Cana Hotel and Resort for a 4 night stay.

On Thursday we flew from Charlotte to Miami, waited a few hours, then flew the rest of the way to Punta Cana, which is actually an hour a head of Eastern Standard time, making it about 3pm DR time when we landed.  To be honest, I was kind of overwhelmed when we arrived.  As much as I've craved international travel, customs was chaos.  It took a while to get through, and once we did, we realized there was no hotel shuttle to take us to our resort.  Normally when Greg flies there a shuttle picks up the crew, so he assumed it was the case all the time, but it wasn't.  If you stay at Punta Cana, prearrange a shuttle or you end up taking a taxi like we did.  It wasn't a huge deal, but it was a little sketchy being bombarded with random taxi drivers pressuring you to let them drive you.

Anyway, the stress of our chaotic airport arrival was relieved upon check in when we were each handed a complimentary fruity drink.  Calmed me right down.


We headed to our room to regroup.  It was nothing fancy, but clean, decent accomodations.  The room had an iron and hairdryer, which was what I was most concerned with.  Yes, I'm a freak- I need an iron when I'm on a tropical vacation.  I'm totally normal.

Punta Cana Resort is not all inclusive like a lot of resorts are.  We actually didn't mind this, maybe even preferred it in the end, but it took a little figuring out in the beginning.  There are about eight restaurants and you can eat at which ever ones you want, but you are supposed to make a reservation at some of the fancier ones.  The first night we opted for one of the casual ones you don't need a reservation for- a pizza place near the pool.

I kept the fruity drinks flowing...

We split a simple cheese pizza, nothing fancy.  It was fine.

There were random cats around the resort, and this one we nicknamed "pizza cat".

After we (and pizza cat) enjoyed our pizza and drinks, we walked around to check out the resort.

Pretty wonderful scenery.

Being the old fogeys we are, we crashed pretty early. 

Friday morning I was excited to see the breakfast buffet included with our stay.  I had heard from Greg that it was pretty awesome.  The buffet included rows of pastries, deli meats, cheeses, breads, oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, tons of tropical fruit, an egg/omelet station, and a fruit juice/smoothie bar.  I went with the veggie and cheese omelet, some potatoes, yogurt, and fruit.

I told my waiter to surprise me with something from the juice bar and I got this smoothie, which I shared with Greg.

Dining at the resort was awesome, because all the restaurants are open air and had incredible views.

After breakfast our plan was to take the hotel shuttle to a shopping center nearby and get some groceries to nibble on while staying at the hotel. 

The little village shopping center had a couple stores and restaurants and a grocery store.  We bought bottled water, juices, bananas, pita chips, and hummus. 

Back at the hotel we assembled a light lunch with our groceries on our balcony.

Then it was time to explore! 

We headed down the beach.

Our resort had a cool ecological reserve with nature trails through the forest with many fresh water pools.

The pools were awesome, so clear and pristine.

There were tilapia and turtles hanging out in the pools.

Ok, I'll admit, I wimped out on going in.  The water was cold, and though the fish and turtles were neat, I wasn't too keen on swimming with them.  But Greg got in!

I hung out with the duck on the dock...

We hiked around for a while longer, before heading back to the room to get ready for dinner.

We had a reservation at La Yola for Friday night, a restaurant overlooking the marina.

The restaurant was gorgeous.

I went with shrimp and lobster risotto with grilled vegetables.

So good!  The risotto had HUGE chunks of lobster in it.  They were not stingy!
Greg had a steak and mashed potatoes that were also delicious.

We loved La Yola, it was the end to a great first complete day in Punta Cana.

Phew!  More to come on the rest of the trip!


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