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Hola from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

My family (except for my eldest son, who unfortunately could not get the time off work to join us) just returned from a week of vacation in Puerto Plata in Dominican Republic.  Similar to the recent challenge post of introducing my home town, I thought I would share our time in DR through pictures. I had planned to post this from there, but vacation got in the way.

Our resort was nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the mountains, with spectacular views of both.  Although the rooms (clean and comfortable), food (lots of it, with a good variety, including many gluten free options for me) and beach (shelly, lots of coral, and short in length) were of average quality, the mountain scenery was the best feature.  This trip was planned around our youngest son’s spring break, and as it is his last year in high school he invited a few friends to join us.  The unlimited food and drink for a reasonable price and great weather was the selling feature.  After all, you do not go to the Dominican Republic for the food; you go for the weather.  The resort was one of three in a row, connected by a winding, palm tree lined walkway, approximately a ten minute walk from end to end.  Vacationers staying at any of the three hotels, all of which are under the Riu banner (Merengue Village, Merengue Garden and Bashara), were welcome to use the amenities offered at each site.

The following pictures represent a typical day, from sunrise to well after sunset…

sunrise over the mountains, right outside our balcony:

830 am breakfast was mandatory; our rule to get the boys up and moving rather than sleeping all day after partying all night:

buffet

While a walk to the far end of the beach was next for my husband and I…

…the boys filled their day with various activities such as swimming (pool and beach), volleyball, soccer, bocce ball, basketball, kayaking, sunbathing (napping), and shopping:

The boys were on their own for lunch, often eating at the “snack bar” just steps from the beach:

snackbar2 snack bar

we often went elsewhere:

Dinner was a group event scheduled for 730 pm following an afternoon of more activities (them) and another beach walk topped off with a dip in the ocean (us)  Between the three hotels, there was plenty to do and see each evening as well:

The weather was great; hot and mostly sunny each day, with a few quick downpours, usually in the early evening or through the night.

It sure was painful to arrive back to the winter weather here in Ottawa; where would you rather be?

 

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic: partly cloudy and 28 °C (82F)

or

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: mostly sunny and -12 °C (10F) with winds at 26 km/h (16 mph)

Me too!



Christmas Vacation

For years, around October, I would wrack my brain trying to think of unique and useful gifts to buy my husband and three teenage sons.  Tired of this commercialism associated with Christmas, a few years ago we asked our sons how they would feel about going south for a week over their Christmas break instead of buying them presents.  All three thought a Christmas vacation was a great idea…

Cayo Coco, Cuba

The first Christmas trip we took was to Cayo Coco in Cuba. We were lucky as the weather was great right up until a cold front came through the day before we were to go home. The hotel was decent and the beach was beautiful, although there was quite a bit of seaweed at one end. The food was plentiful but bland with very little variety. The nightly entertainment was awesome, with a different show every night. Daytime entertainment was great too, with lots of activities for the younger kids to participate in or watch. My sons played soccer, beach volleyball, and water polo with the entertainment crew and many new friends they met there.

Christmas vacation
Cayo Coco, Cuba

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Next year the boys were asking in the summer where we were going on our Christmas vacation, so I started looking for “deals.” Because of the risk of cooler weather in Cuba, we decided to try the Dominican Republic. Our hotel was at one end of a long strip of hotels in Punta Cana. The hotel was nice and clean, and the beach was beautiful with very little seaweed; great for long walks. The food was much better here, with a greater variety and higher quality. Our New Year’s Eve “feast” was spectacular; I have never seen or eaten such a variety of seafood!

For this past Christmas vacation, we went back to the Dominican Republic but stayed at a different resort at the other end of Punta Cana. Although our room was clean and adequate there was an awful “swampy” smell in the rooms, perhaps coming through the ventilation from the lush, tropical landscaping surrounding one end of the hotel.   The beach was beautiful, we walked for miles every day. The food was of good quality and plentiful with a wide variety to choose from. The service at the restaurants and bars was excellent and the nightly entertainment was amazing. We also went on an excursion this year where we swam with sharks (nurse sharks that don’t bite) and disarmed stingrays, and then snorkeled around a coral reef. It was a great experience.

Christmas vacation
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Who Knows What the Future will Bring

Who knows what next year will bring. With our two eldest sons finished school, working full time, and getting older with plans of their own, they may not be able or willing to travel with us much longer. These past few all-inclusive Christmas vacations together have been invaluable gifts for me. A week free of cleaning and cooking plus quality time with my favorite guys!