Friday, June 17

Punta Cana, D.R.

Ryan and I just got back from our 3-night trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic!  We left our house at 4:00 am on Thursday, June 9, flew to Atlanta for a layover, then arrived in PC after 3:00 local time.  We had been planning this trip for quite awhile, and met up with our friends Pat and Katie (who live out-of-state now).  They were supposed to arrive a few hours after us but wound up being delayed overnight in Miami, so Ryan and I had the first day and evening to ourselves to explore our all-inclusive resort, Dreams Palm Beach.

the airport was open-air.  before we even got off the plane we could feel the HUMIDITY.  it was insanely humid, my hair immediately poofed out and wouldn't stand to be straightened again!  the airport was bustling with locals, offering taxis or help with the luggage.  the temperature was probably in the mid-80s.
we're on vacation!  look how excited we are!  (this is still in the airport.)
ahhh.  the beach.  we arrived before dinner time so we immediately changed into our swimsuits and went to the beach, we had no desire to do anything on our vacation other than sit on the beach.  it was a nice beach too, although the sand in the water was a little like quicksand those first few steps!  it was white, soft, and absolutely perfect for lounging.

We realized we didn't have cell service to even tell our parents we'd arrived safely, so we tried to enjoy the fact that we were completely cut-off from the rest of the world.  The kids were staying with both sets of grandparents- Ryan's parents had Beth and Luke at their house and my mom had Jack at our house.

We sat on the beach, lounged in the pool, and cleaned up for dinner at the Italian restaurant.  Afterward we waited in the lobby bar for Pat and Katie, not knowing the wouldn't arrive Thursday night.  We gave up at 10:00 pm and went to bed, figuring we'd see them the next day!

Friday morning we had breakfast at The World Cafe, a huge buffet with some already-prepared foods and some made-to-order items like crepes or omelets.  It was okay, I would say that my biggest disappointment in this place was the mediocre food.  However, since *I* didn't have to prepare any of my own food for three days, I didn't feel the need to complain!

After lunch we gave in and paid $4 for 15 minutes of internet access to let our parents know via email that we'd arrived safely, and to try to figure out when Pat and Katie's flight would arrived.  We found 3 incoming flights from Miami, jotted down times, and headed to the lobby.  They arrived at the first time we'd written!  I wish I had a picture of their faces as they climbed out of the van, SO relieved they were actually there!
this crab was right next to our ROOM.  i think he was living in some run-off water, we could hear the water but not see it.  his claw was literally the size of my hand, although it's hard to tell in this photo.  we were impressed but freaked out at the same time!

of course ryan had to poke at it!

dinner our second night was at  the french restaurant, one of the four "international cuisine" options.  none of us were really impressed with the food; i wound up ordering basically a giant friend cheesestick for my appetizer.  yes, i ate it!  ryan had a salad, lobster bisque, and a "surf and turf" dinner.  i also had a steak of some sorts, a little tough but a pretty good flavor.

ryan and pat enjoyed one or two sips of an appletini, but then opted for something else.  when there's a free open bar, you can try new drinks and not feel bad if you don't want to actually drink the whole thing!  i tried a white russian and it was yummy.  there were two bars, one in the lobby and one at the pool.  they only served one kind of beer- el presidente- which ryan said was not very good.  i took issue with some of the liquors not tasting like the right kind of liquor, but again since i was on vacation i still drank my drinks and didn't complain!  we all enjoyed the fruity frozen drinks, made with coconut milk (we found out later).  sooo yummy but i don't even want to think of the calorie content of even one little 8-ounce cup, i easily had 8 each day.

katie and me enjoying the warm water.  it felt cool at first but once you got in and got over the inital shock, it was wonderfully comfortable.  this happened to be the day i got horribly sunburned despite my multiple reapplications of sunscreen!  i tried!

the beach was busy, but not too bad.  we definitely had our privacy.  the palm trees were amazing, and ryan admitted he actually liked them.  (he has a passionate distaste for sago palm trees in texas.)

the four of us walked along the beach past the last resort to an area that was completely untainted.  it was breathtaking.

a fallen palm tree was leaning into the water, so of course we stopped for a photo!

pat and katie out in the water.

i joined them...i am so white.

on our walk back we came across an older teen/ younger 20s man who was sitting on a fallen tree cracking coconuts.  of course he didn't speak english but ryan and pat spit out enough mangled spanish for him to offer us part of this fresh coconut.  we watched him crack it open and then each had a portion to try.  i've never had coconut that fresh before, and i was surprised how nutty it actually tasted.

we came across another older man who had just gotten in from fishing.  he had probably 20-30 fish strung out on a line and two huge conch shells.  the guys tried to talk to him about the fish, where he caught them, what kind they were, etc., but all i took from the conversation was that he'd sell us the conch for $10.  i was tempted, it was bigger than any i'd seen before, but we had no cash.

ahh, sweet shade. you can sort of see how red my thighs and top of my knee are!

before dinner on saturday night, we went and put our names on the list to reserve a spot at the japanese restaurant, and then went and took some nice pictures.  this is one of the wedding gazebos on the beach.  i was surprised at the amount of weddings we saw, there were easily 3-4 weddings each day we were there!  one wedding featured a guest who looked like johnny depps' pirates of the caribbean character, it made for some fun banter. :-)

all four of us, this was literally right at sunset so it's kind of dark.
i think i'll frame this one!
this looks like a postcard to me!
at the japanese restaurant, ryan was chosen to "help" the chef!  it was quite entertaining, he actually flung a piece of cooked egg off his spatula into someone's mouth!  he also tried to flip a seasoning jar into his hat but didn't quite make it, nonetheless it was still entertaining! 

it was a yummy dinner!  sushi to start, fried rice, and chicken, beef, and shrimp with vegetables.  i started to feel sick toward the end of the meal but i'm fairly confident i had some sort of sun poisoning, i just felt totally beat up and feverish.  we all went back to our room, and they watched a bit of a movie on tv while i napped for about 30 minutes and felt better afterward.  so then we hit the club!  well, ryan and pat went to the attached casino while katie and i got our dance on!  the guys joined us for the last 30 minutes or so before we were all completely exhausted and ready to crash.
The next morning was Sunday morning.  Since the Dominican Republic is 95% Catholic, they offered mass at their little activity center, so we were there and waited with about 10 other people for about 20 minutes, but the priest didn't show up!  We left because Ryan and I wanted to grab lunch before we had to leave the hotel, so we went back to our room, packed up, checked out, and hit the beachside grill before we had to leave.
our room as we were packing to leave.  it was decent, not the most luxurious thing in the world but definitely livable!
the vanity area, door to the open air hallway on the left and the bathroom door on the right
the shower and toilet, not quite as nice as on the website!  the shower made a huge mess since there was just a puny little half wall with no curtain! the door to the bathroom was also a frosted glass swing door, not much for privacy!
another pic of the beautiful palm trees

the beachside grill served hamburgers, hot dogs, chili cheese fries, and chips and salsa.
one of the pool areas.  there were technically three pools, though we weren't allowed in one since it was for members or something.  the other two pools were perfectly wonderful, one was shallower for kids and the other was no deeper than 4-5 feet, had a hot tub area, a swim-up bar, and little huts in the water for people like me who need lots of shade!

our last meal with pat and katie, they stayed an extra day since they arrived late!

another view of the pool, the bar is the hut on the left.

the airport was pretty low-key, we definitely still had to go through security and everything but we walked out to the plane since there were no terminals, only gates.

ryan took this shot as we were leaving, we think our hotel was to the north of the top of this picture.

i took this because, although it's not the best picture in the world, i was completely amazed at looking out the window and being 30,000 feet up in the air and i wanted to remember that feeling of total... helplessness?  trust?  i don't know but i was humbled!
We got home around midnight on Sunday night and went straight to bed.  All of the kids were here when we got up on Monday morning (Ryan took the day off) and they enjoyed their souvenirs from Mommy and Daddy.  The told us about their trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house, I nursed and cuddled with my Jack Jack, and we had a slow day as we eased back into reality.  It's been hard to get back into the groove of things!  I'm just thankful that the kids did great with our parents, probably completely oblivious to the fact that we were even gone!  Ryan and I had an amazing trip and we are so thankful to our parents for allowing us to go!

We're not sure if or when we'll be able to take another trip like this but if we do, we think we'll hit up another all-inclusive again.  We both really enjoyed the friendliness of everyone in our resort, the ease of the trip, the unlimited drinks, and the beautiful beach.  I don't know if we'd go back to the Dominican Republic just because there seems like there are other places to try, but I'd definitely recommend this trip to anyone!


grandma c said...

Wow! Wonderful pictures and it looks like a wonderful vacation! The kids were awesome, so you might get to do this again someday.

Anonymous said...

Those are beautiful pictures! And the Dominican Republic looks stunning! So glad you and Ryan had such an awesome time!

Kyla and Michael said...

Oh it looks so lovely! Michael and I just finihsed oohing and aahing over the beach pictures! So glad you guys had the opportunity to gon on such a fun trip!

Mandi said...

Looks like y'all had a great time!!

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I googled "celiac" and " dreams punts cana" and your blog popped up. We are going there soon and our child has severe reactions to any gluten. He has celiac. Do you know if the resort was celiac friendly? I am so nervous about taking him some place where there's no kitchen and I have to trust an unknown kitchen.
Thanks for sharing ... Marie

Stephanie said...

Hi Marie,
I would be very nervous if I had brought my daughter. There is a "self-serve" restaurant (World Cafe) where you could choose his food, but who knows how/where it's been prepared? The other restaurants were Mexican, Japanese, Italian,and French. Just like any other restaurant, you can always request they prepare the food away from gluten, but I would highly doubt they are educated about a GF diet. Good luck!

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