30 January, 2011

Punta Cana: A Trip to Paradise, Part 2

Continued from Part 1.

Day 4

On Saturday morning, Kristin and I stopped by the Club House / “Centro de Animación” where Kristin claimed her prize from the dance contest the night before – a lovely certificate and another bottle of our favorite local rum!

Kristin receiving her awardRon Barceló aged rum

Then we all headed to the beach restaurant “Mare Nostrum” and enjoyed a delicious brunch buffet and mimosas.

Brunch at Mare Nostrum

For dessert, Trish volunteered to be the test subject for this weird pink rubbery thing but the experience was not a positive one so we didn’t follow suit.

Trish eats the pink pudding thing

After brunch, we ventured to the front lobby where we awaited our ride to go zip lining. This is what showed up:

Ready fro a trek up the mountain It's gonna be a bumpy ride

Note the slightly scared look on our faces. It was quite a bumpy ride - strap in!

The ride there was so picturesque as we traveled through the local villages up to the mountain. I snapped about a hundred pictures for my own memories but most came out blurry since we were going about 60 mph on these little dirt roads.

Blue skiesCute home

Most of the houses had this intricate ironwork. Looks a lot more attractive than the bars on the windows you see in North Philadelphia, where I used to live ;-)

Local road Verdant green

In this picture, you get a sense of how quickly we were traveling up to the mountain.

Palm trees and blue skies in every direction.

Houses on the hills Amazing Cards, anyone?

Just a normal mid-afternoon in DR?

Mountains in the background Gateway to paradise Political posters

There were campaign signs posted from the recent congressional election.

Stopped for a minute for a photoshoot More scenery Yours truly on the way up Horses grazing in the jungle

There were only a few others on the excursion with us that day, which the workers said was unusual but made it more enjoyable for us since we didn’t have to wait for a lot of people as we went from one zip line to another, and we got more individual attention.

This young man from Illinois was by himself because his traveling companion had not come back to their hotel room the night before. We’re not sure if they found each other later that day, but we felt bad he was alone and quickly adopted him into our trio.

The crew all harnessed up

Our first glimpse at what a zip line actually looks like. “That’s the BEGINNER one??” we all gasped. Yes, this was the shortest one, and they got longer and higher as the day progressed.

One of the zip lines Trish giving the thumbs up

Just a little nervous.

Me in the middle of the zip line Us three girls with our new friends

Doing good so far.

Up up up Kristin just hangin' out

Trish really wanted a picture with a lizard. I guess we forgot the scavenger hunt only had “Take a picture with a statue of an amphibian” (note: not a live one) because after this shot we all tried to get a picture with a lizard, but this was the closest anyone got.

Lizard spotting

Moving on. Yeah, this is what we had to climb…

This is reassuringDon't look down...Ahhh!

As the lines got increasingly more difficult, correct form and technique was imperative to make it to the other side. If you pulled down on the line too much, you would slow yourself down, which is what happened to each of us one time.

The first was Trish, who had to get rescued by the guy actually going to the middle of the line where she was stuck, and pulling her back in. We had been instructed on what to do if you got stuck (turn yourself around and use a hand-over-hand motion to pull yourself along), but in the moment I guess she forgot.

Trish getting rescued

I got stuck next, but was close enough to the end of the line where the guy just walked out to grab me and pull me in.

Me getting rescued Me on the line Checking out the view

Kristin got stuck on the last line and, using proper technique, was able to pull herself to the end.

Kristin rescuing herself

What an adventure! After some refreshments and a bathroom break, it was back onto the van for a bumpy ride back to the resort.

Our bright room

We had dinner at the Rodizzio Restaurant, a Brazilian restaurant on the other resort, just a short walk along the beach away.

The three of us at the restaurant

During dinner, we spotted this stray doggie waiting for some leftover scraps. The waitress told us his name is Kenya, and he followed us almost back to our resort that evening, but stopped where our resort started. I guess the adult-only resort staff was not as friendly to him as the family side.

Kenya the dogAlso on the walk back, someone had arranged some greenery and candles to make a large heart in sand. My pictures didn’t come out because it was too dark and the flash ruined the effect, but we later saw one of these being used in a wedding ceremony. Aww.

When we arrived in the lobby, we visited our favorite bartender and I asked him to teach me how to make a caipirinha.

  • “Have the bartender teach you how to make a drink from behind the bar.”

Me making some caipirinha

+ 1 for me.

Since Trish didn’t make it out the night before, Kristin and I promised we’d take her to the club in the cave that night. We got a nice couple to snap this shot of us at the entrance.

All of us outside Imagine

I spotted this woman who, despite not being Asian, was wearing what could technically pass as a kimono. She didn’t seem to speak English but I told her with gestures that I loved her dress and asked for a photo.

  • “Take a picture with an Asian lady with a parasol (x2 if she’s wearing a kimono or dressed in all red).”

Posing with the lady in a kimono and some random dude

Kristin and Trish agreed I could have one point for creativity and since none of us were probably going to find anything closer than this. The guy jumped in at the last minute, I’m not sure if he even knew the woman on my left.

Inside the club, we danced our butts off and met an array of travelers from Boston, Massachusetts to Hamburg, Germany.

On the hot pink sofa at Imagine discoHaving fun on the dance floor, which lit up in true disco style At the Imagine disco

Notable moment: Miguel introduced us to the song “Wiki Wiki”  and none of us have been the same since.

Day 5

On our last full day in the DR, we decided to lay low, enjoy the weather, and hang out with all of our new friends from the week including twin sisters from Montreal, pictured below.

Dancing on the beach

Starting off with some dance lessons on the beach given by our favorite Animación staff members seemed like a good idea.

Then a dip in the turquoise water and an impromptu photo shoot.

Bathing beauties Oceanside cabanas

These are the VIP cabanas we lounged on all day.

Hotties on the beach

Next up…

  • “Take a picture of you climbing a palm tree.”

Climbing a palm tree


Kristin loving lifeTrish loving lifeAmy loving lifeLoving life x2 Loving life x2

There were only scattered showers throughout the day, in which case we simply got out of the water and waited it out in one of the beach bars or in the lobby. Not bad for hurricane season.

That evening, after we had each accumulated enough of a tan to make our friends at home jealous, we ate at the Dominican restaurant called El Pilón.

Sunburnt bathing beauties

Then we headed to the Arieto Disco and Mangu, where we learned how to do the Bachata and watched some break dancing that looked straight from the Jersey Shore.

The three of us ready to disco on our last night in Punta Cana

We stayed out late and woke up early, not yet ready to leave such a gorgeous place as this.

Pool at DawnPalms at Dawn

Alas, arriving at the outdoor airport in 90+ degree heat, it was time to say goodbye.

Ready for takeoff

Bottom line is, I LOVE this place and would go back in a heartbeat. Especially in the off-season, which proved to be the best value for the buck and probably a lot more fun.

Vintage beauties

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