Thursday, August 28, 2014

Punta Cana! Part 1

We made it to the Dominican Republic! Everything actually went really well. On Sunday, we drove a couple of hours to Cleveland, because our flight left from the Cleveland airport (there were fewer layovers that way). The kids were actually really excited to go to Cleveland, because they were dying to go back to Melt Bar & Grilled. We went there in 2012, when I ran my first marathon in Cleveland.

We had that for dinner on Sunday night. I remembered how huge their portions were, so I didn't even order anything, and decided just to eat a little of the kids' and Jerry's food. Eli ordered a pulled pork sandwich, so I ate half of that, and it was delicious! The fries weren't good at all, so I didn't eat any of those. It was nice to leave there feeling satisfied, but not stuffed.

That night, we just went to the hotel with plans of going to bed super early. We had to get up at 4:00 in the morning to get to the airport. I wasn't the slightest bit tired, and I ended up getting caught up in the show Naked & Afraid and staying up until 10:00. I was too excited and nervous to sleep much anyway, so I only got about an hour's sleep that night.

On Monday morning, we got up at 4:00 and got ready quickly to head out the door. I wasn't sure what to expect at the airport, because we'd never been to the Cleveland airport before. Our flight wasn't until 7:20, but they recommended you check at least two hours early for an international flight. This was actually  my first time flying internationally! It felt kind of strange following those signs in the airport instead of domestic.

We checked our bags and made it through security really quickly. We were at the gate by 5:10! So we just walked around the airport, and let the kids get snacks for the plane. Then we went to Bruegger's Bagels to eat some breakfast and kill time. And finally, we went to a bar to wait for about 45 minutes before boarding. I had a couple of glasses of wine (flying is much easier for me when I've had wine), and the kids had juice, and then we boarded the plane.

We had to fly to Pittsburgh for a very short layover (we didn't even get off the plane--we just had to let some people on, and then we left again in about 20 minutes). I sat with Eli, and he told me I could have the window seat. I have no idea why he gave that up, but since I prefer window seats, I was grateful. Jerry and Noah sat right behind us. Noah was nervous at first, because he hadn't flown in a few years. This was our first time flying together as a family--the kids have flown with my sister and my parents' once or twice, but never with Jerry or I. Having the kids there was a nice distraction from the fact that I was flying (because I'm such a nervous flyer).



The flight to Punta Cana was long (3.5 hours). It's hard to entertain the kids for that long. We let them buy TV time on the plane, but once we got over the ocean, the TV wasn't working anymore. I had to fill out customs forms for all of us, which took up quite a bit of time. Finally, we landed in Punta Cana!

The airport was unlike any airport I'd ever seen before. It was an open-air building, and very small (which was good, considering the amount of luggage we had!). We didn't pull up to a gate, but instead, just went down some steps off the plane and onto the ground. It was super hot and humid coming off the plane. First, we had to buy some sort of traveler's card to enter the country, which was $10 per person. Then we got in line for customs, and that only took a minute or two. And then we went to get our luggage. The whole process only took about 10 minutes total. Much less than I expected!

We booked our trip through Apple Vacations, and we had a private transfer from the airport, so we didn't have to wait for anyone else. We got in a van and our driver took us to the resort. The drive was interesting--and it kind of made me feel guilty about being here. Their way of life here is definitely different than the states, and I guess I just wasn't expecting how poor everything was. There was a lot of garbage littering the streets, and there were people on motorcycles doing things you'd never see in the states--no helmets, a young girl riding, several people on each motorcycle, etc. Seeing the conditions on the way to the resort made me feel like an over-privaledged American (if that makes sense), and it just made me feel extra grateful to be able to experience an all-inclusive resort like this.

When we got to the resort, it looked nothing like the drive there, of course. It was beautiful--all palm trees, white sandy beaches, and gorgeous decor. Our room wasn't ready yet, so the concierge showed us to the dining room where we could have lunch while we waited. I had a terrible headache, I think from being dehydrated, and I didn't end up eating, but the kids and Jerry did. After that, we sat outside and talked with the concierge about the resort. As we were talking, my sister came up behind him to surprise the kids. We hadn't told them this, but Jeanie booked a room for five days to come spend time with them, too!

They were really excited to see her, and of course asked if they could stay in her room ;)  Our rooms are right next door to each other, so it worked out well. She offered to babysit any time at all while she was here, so that Jerry and I could spend time alone if we wanted. We went to the beach and hung out there until our rooms were ready. We were all extremely tired from the travel day, so we didn't even end up going to dinner--instead, we ordered in room service. It still feels kind of strange to me that everything is all-inclusive. Room service, all drinks, all meals, everything is included. We brought a lot of tip money, so we've been tipping well. The tips are technically included, but the people that work here work HARD, and a tip is certainly well-deserved. The workers really appreciate the tips and are excited to help us out because of it. The staff here is amazing, and they really make the whole experience even more fun.

This is Andrea, one of our favorite servers. Eli gave her a dollar that I folded
into a ring, and she keeps calling him her "boyfriend" now ;)

Tuesday and Wednesday, we spent literally the entire day relaxing at the pool. My sister paid extra for butler service, and the butlers are fantastic! They gave us a cell phone to call them whenever we need anything. We asked them if they could find us some chairs by the pool (people get up super early to "reserve" chairs with towels, and it's hard to find anywhere to sit). When we were ready to go down to the pool, the butlers had chairs ready and waiting for us, in prime locations (next to the swim up bar, naturally!).

With our Chi Chi drinks (virgin ones for the kids, of course)
And yes, I'm wearing my bikini! I'll write about that later.

I've been trying to avoid the sun as much as possible, but I still got burned on my shoulders and back. Noah and Jerry are burned as well, and Eli's just a little burned. I brought a ton of SPF 50 sunscreen, and I've been applying it pretty much every hour, but it's been unavoidable. I'm glad I brought swim shirts for the kids, because those at least protect their backs and shoulders. Today, we're going to hang out in the rooms most of the day, so hopefully that will help with the burns.

I've been doing well with intuitive eating--I haven't been eating too much, and I've been eating what sounds best to me. The hardest part is the alcohol! The servers put another drink down next to us just as we're finishing the first, and it's so hard to say no. I've been loving a drink called a Chi Chi-something (we just tell them we'd like a Chi Chi, because it's hard to remember the full name of it). It's orange juice, coconut milk, and rum, blended with ice. It tastes kind of like an Orange Julius--so good! If I gain weight while I'm here, it'll definitely be from the yummy drinks.



Anyway, this post is already longer than I'd planned. So far, this vacation has been absolutely fantastic! We are loving it, and it's been awesome having my sister here to kind of show us the ropes (she's been to Punta Cana a couple of times before at other resorts). It's been so relaxing, which is just what I was hoping for :)

15 comments:

  1. Sounds absolutely wonderful! Enjoy every minute of it!

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  2. Katie

    Super, fantastic ! Go glad the travel went well... and for the kids too. That is a big adventure. ENJOY every single, experience, food, person, drink...MOMENT !

    Look forward to hearing all about it when you return home ...we can WAIT !

    Go and ENJOY : )

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  3. I have never been to the DR but it looks wonderful! I have however experienced that 'privileged American' feeling before in Mexico though, so I know EXACTLY what you are describing. It is actually a very humbling experience IMO. Also, I think it's funny/cute that you call your drink a chi chi because that is slang for boob or boobie. :D "Just another chi chi over here please," I hope you continue to have a blast! and look forward to your next update

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  4. You need to get out and explore the Island and all its beautiful wonders!

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  5. Looks like a fantastic time so far! When you're back, hopefully you'll share which resort you went you & if you'd recommend it ;)

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  6. I never thought was a tropical girl, but it looks more and move inviting. Enjoy!!

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  7. Looks great. Have fun. :)

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  8. I'm so jealous! It's been too long since I've been to an all inclusive. We always tip well also. Those people work their tails off and I can't imagine they get paid much. It's so shocking to see the "real" parts of the country vs the resorts. Have fun!

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  9. Order a "coca loca" if they have them at your resort. We went earlier this summer and it's a drink in a coconut and so good! :) Have fun.

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  10. So excited to see a post from you show up in my email this morning. Been wondering how the trip is going. Sounds marvelous!!!

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  11. So glad y'all are having fun. Can't wait to hear lots more about it when you get home.

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  12. So glad you are having an awesome time! I couldn't imagine spending an entire day inside in such a beautiful place. I always bring white t-shirts for the family and keep them on as much as possible when not in the water. I have never been to DR but have been to all inclusives in Mexico and Cuba. I have had that feeling of being an over-privileged (Canadian) in so many countries. Makes me really appreciate where I am from. Have a Chi-chi for me! ;o)
    Julie

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  13. Those drinks look delicious and the resort looks really nice. Glad you are had a great time!

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