Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

This vacation is never ending! I'm gonna try to jam our four days in Punta Cana into one post since I can't seem to find time to post lately. I have been busy busy busy with teaching stuff and the best part is I can't complain about a thing! I am having so much fun getting my classroom all set-up and meeting lots of other teachers. Now that I think about it, maybe I should do this post in the middle of the year so I can re-live vacation. My schedule is packed until November with lots and lots of volleyball! I can't wait! 

Back to Punta Cana...Ben and I got up bright and early on Tuesday to leave Grand Cayman and catch our flight to Miami and then to Punta Cana. I don't know what it is about traveling with your husband, but I love it! I feel so grown up! We arrived in Punta Cana a little after 2:00 and had arranged for the resort to pick us up from the airport. We were a little nervous about how the trip would go because we purchased it from LivingSocial, and although we did do lots of research, you just never know until you get there. Well, let me just say that Punta Cana Resort and Club sure knows how to make you feel special when they pick you up. We met our pick-up girl right after getting off the plane and were literally out of the airport within 4 minutes. She took us right through all of the lines, including customs and got us out of there and onto our resort. The VIP treatment is always all right with me!!

I still have no idea how Punta Cana is set-up, but it felt like Punta Cana Resort and Club was the entire town. It only took about 5 minutes to get to our destination. We were very impressed when we arrived. The views were absolutely gorgeous and we immediately made a friend in our bell hop, Jehnris!

After taking our bags to the room, we went straight to the restaurant by the pool for some lunch. We were STARVING!! While we were walking, we saw someone calling us over, so we made a little detour and it ended up being someone who was selling jewelry at their table. This may be my only complaint because they make me super uncomfortable, but they are only at the resort on Tuesday in a particular spot, so it wasn't that bad. Ben ended up buying me a beautiful blue necklace and then we practically ran to find some food. 

Our LivingSocial package was all-inclusive, so I was a little nervous about how the food would be, but everything we ate was delicious. We spent a little time at the beach before going on a tour of the resort with Jehnris. He was the biggest blessing! If he hadn't taken us on a tour we would have had no idea all of the places we could go in the resort or all the things we could do. Thank heavens for Jehnris! Plus, our tour took about 2 hours and we were able to talk to him about some awesome things that really made us fabulous friends even after our trip. 

We always enjoy late dinners on vacation and I love it! We headed back to the pool restaurant for some friend calamari and pizza. Doesn't really go together does it? Oh well, it was delicious! We also enjoyed some Amaretto Diet favorite!! 

On Wednesday, we enjoyed breakfast before heading to the beach to stake out a spot for beach volleyball that was supposed to happen around 11:30. We laid out and waited and waited for people to show up, but no one every showed up to play volleyball. I guess no one gets as excited as we do for a little competition on vacation! We went to Plan B and decided to go explore the lagoons! 

There's a long path you can take to get to the lagoons and to lots of other things within the resort, but we stuck to the first three lagoons. Holy cow...they are beautiful!! 

Lagoon #1
Lagoon #2
Lagoon #3
At Lagoon #3, there was a platform where you could jump off into the water. It was the only lagoon that you could jump into because it was about 25 feet deep. There was also a ginormous tree branch sticking out in the middle where I sat for a long time soaking up the sun. The lagoons were beyond beautiful! 

After spending a little time in Lagoon #3, we made our way back through the path and headed to the pool for lunch and some afternoon sun and drinks. The food was seriously so fresh! I absolutely loved everything that I had! 

Mango Shrimp Salad

Oh, and I surprised/made Ben really happy by eating just a few french fries off his plate! He had to capture the moment! 

We also had a daily tradition of heading to our room about an hour or so before dinner and lounging while watching TV. We didn't want to get too crispy, so we would always head in around 5:00 and watch a movie or my personal favorite of the trip, Dance Moms. Holy crazy moms and dance instructor! So entertaining! 

Dinner on Wednesday night was at Playa Blanca, a restaurant on the other side of the resort on the beach. We took a quick shuttle ride over and loved the views, the food and the wine for me and beer for Ben. Apparently the Presidente beer in Punta Cana is amazing! 

Can we just discuss these "chips" real quick?!?! How do they make these? They were like dessert! They were so thick and flakey...I had to close up the napkin to cut myself off before I ate every single one of them. 

After breakfast on Thursday we headed, on foot, to the La Cana Golf Club. I went immediately to a free private yoga lesson that was incredible. The spa holds yoga every Thursday morning, but again, I was the only one to show up, so I got a private lesson that gave me back my passion for yoga! I'm pretty sure the instructor got some pretty good giggles from my lack of flexibility, but I didn't mind one bit! 

I found Ben on the beach and we laid there for a while before having my favorite lunch of the trip at La Cana! Of course, I didn't take a picture, but it was a Tex Mex Wrap that was to die for! 

After lunch, we were ready for tee time! Well, Ben was ready to golf. I was ready to drive the cart! The La Cana golf course was the most beautiful golf course I have ever seen! I was kind of nervous that I would get bored during 18 holes of golf, but the time flew by with the incredible views. The houses surrounding the course are alone incredible, but there are also holes literally on the ocean as well. We were blown away by this course. 

Driving Range
Ben drove the first 2 holes before I decided to take over! 

We had so much fun playing golf and then watching soccer in the bar afterwards that I didn't want to go back, but of course, my stomach convinced me otherwise. This time, we took the shuttle back to the resort before lounging and then heading to dinner at La Choza. Another open air restaurant located on the beach. This one was just a short walk from our room. 

It rained on us a little as we walked there and was pretty windy when we first arrived, but the weather settled down and we had an amazing dinner. 

Appetizers - fried calamari and fish tacos 
After the amazing appetizers, I decided to finish my meal with something light and went with the black bean soup. Again, the food was incredible! 

I woke up early Friday morning to try and schedule a couple activities for us, but only had luck with one. We wanted to go horseback riding and on the segway tour, but horseback riding was full, so we went with the afternoon segway tour. 

We spent the morning at the beach and pool before heading to the segway place around 2:30. We were in a group with another family that was so sweet and we had a ton of fun with them and our hilarious guides. 

We went through the gardens that provide the greens, vegetables and some produce for the resort and the farm before heading to the beach. One of our guides took tons and tons of pictures and when we stopped on the beach he decided to have a photo session with Ben and me. Unfortunately, we didn't purchase any of the pictures, but it was pretty hilarious! After the beach we headed to the opposite end of the lagoons that we took on our first day. Our guide in the lagoons spoke 14 languages and was really funny! 

Ben showing off his back flip!
Ben and me jumping together!

After the lagoons, we headed over to the iguanas. I still cannot get over these creatures. They are just so weird to me! 

We absolutely loved the segway tour! In Ben's words, "we should get one of these!" They were super fun and our guides were fabulous! They were all from Haiti and absolutely loved Ben. They thought he played "futbol americano." 

Ben with our guide, Daniel 
We finished out the trip with a fabulous dinner at La Jolla on our last night. It was a restaurant that literally sat on the water and had incredible views. Ben and I decided to go out with a bang and since we hadn't really taken much advantage of the all-inclusive drinks this trip, we had a few margaritas at dinner. I decided to branch out and tried some conch! So so good!! We were also serenaded by a fabulous mariachi band that I called over a few extra times after my margarita and I'm pretty sure gave a fabulous tip! Needless to say, this dinner was so so fun! I am so lucky to be married to Ben and truly love our vacations together! 

Our friend Jehnris!

I was nervous about this conch, but it was incredible! 
My handsome man! 
My delicious couscous with conch, octopus and squid! 

Ben's yummy tuna
Love of my life!!