Dominican Republic Vacation, Part I

In recent years, Brooke’s family has been hitting up tropical vacations.  Up until now, we haven’t gone along, but this year, as Rachel turned 21 and I am turning 30 in a few (short) weeks, they kindly took all of us on a Caribbean vacation to Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic!

We left Meg and Edie with my parents for the week and got up to hit an early morning flight to the DR on Sunday, putting us there in early afternoon.  That way, we had a good “half day” available to orient ourselves and check out the pool and beach before dinner.  We stayed at the Grand Bahia Principe Ambar, which is one of four hotels in the “Bahia Principe” family of all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana.  Each hotel is situated next to one another, and each one has its own selection of restaurants, pools, and so on.  To some degree, visitors to each hotel can visit each other’s restaurants and attractions, but the Ambar hotel, specifically, is “adults only,” so while we could visit all the other restaurants, the visitors to the other hotels couldn’t visit ours.  It definitely helped keep our general environment quiet and relaxing.

Sunday was the only day we spent any significant time by the pool (pictured above), as it tended to be pretty hot with all that concrete abound.  Our rooms were on the bottom floor in a building right next to the pool, and just beyond the pool lies the beach, so we really couldn’t get much closer to our primary destination!

The hotel was pretty nice, overall, with a stocked mini bar, bathrooms with Jacuzzi tubs and walk-in showers, and cable TV with a total of three English-language channels (CBS, NBC and ABC).  If you want to watch Mythbusters dubbed in Spanish, they’ve got you covered.

My primary hiccup with the whole excursion, of course, was a lack of free Wifi except in the main lobby area.  Granted, I know we were down there to “relax,” but with one of the biggest electronics and gaming conferences going on all week, my RSS readers were collecting 600+ articles for me to wade through by the end of the day.  The Wifi they provided, however, was pretty quick and not the job done.  Just a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things!

At least they were kind enough to bring me a cocktail while I skimmed metric tons of articles, eh? 😉

Before continuing, I should mention the general “structure” of our days.  We’d all get up and go to the main lobby area, which was connected to an all-purpose buffet that switched out their selections for each meal.  We always ate breakfast there, but usually ate lunch at a beach-side buffet that didn’t care so much about “dress codes.”  After spending our days at the beach, we’d usually clean up before dinner and meet at the lobby again for a cocktail or two (and some free Wifi).  Then, it’d be dinner time, shopping/walking/cards, then sleep time.

Anyway, Sunday encompassed some time spent at the pool, taking in our surroundings.  We went to an Italian restaurant for dinner that night around 9:00, so by the time we were done there, we were mostly ready for bed.  There were more than a few restaurants available for eating, and sometimes multiple in each style.  Many seemed to required reservations, even though there weren’t very many people eating by the time we got there.  I think some restaurants were more lax on that requirement than others…

Monday was a “beach day,” so we didn’t do all that much, aside from get some swimming, tanning and reading done.  For the record, I finished Catching Fire and started another book, Losing My Religion, so yes, indeed, I did read books while on vacation.  After a long day on the beach, we hit up a French restaurant, where I had lobster for the first time (good!).  It’s the kind of thing I didn’t really feel right having in the Midwest (as we don’t really get fresh lobster here…), so I was anxious to have some while in the Caribbean.  Again, this was a late-night dinner reservation, so we didn’t do much afterwards.

That’s probably enough for now.  More to come in a few days!

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