Friday, July 1, 2011

Punta Cana, 2011

It's hard to believe that one week ago I was in Punta Cana, enjoying the most amazing vacation I've ever taken, with my husband. We spent 6 glorious days in the Dominican Republic, soaking up perfect weather and scenery staight out of a travel magazine. It was a week of much needed relaxation and a break from the daily grind, and in celebration of our 6 year wedding anniversary (a little early). What a way to start the summer! I would go back in a heartbeat. It was that good. Just looking through our photos makes me want to hop on a plane! 488 photos to be exact. That is no easy task. The following is some of my favorites.

Our trip started at the crack of dawn (literally). We boarded our flight at 6:00am, ready to start our vacation!

I'm probably one of the few that actually enjoys flying (for the most part). JetBlue is my favorite airline, and they did not disappoint. I still love looking at the clouds. 

As we approached the island, the reality that we were actually in the Caribbean started to sink in! It looked so green outlined by incredibly blue water.

As we touched down at the "grass hut" looking airport, what do we see in the distance...?

Only the most ironic airplane that could have been there, welcoming my Philadelphia Eagles loving husband. Of all the NFL teams to be spotted in the Dominican! We took it as a sign from God that we were in the right place.

The heat hit us as soon as we stepped off the plane. We were in paradise! A nice air conditioned bus took us to our hotel Majestic Elegance, which was as good as it sounds. It was both majestic and elegant and was highly recommended to us by friends (and world vacationers) Ashley and Nick. They were right. We loved it!

The lobby was the first place we saw upon check-in. Really beautiful. The friendly staff greeted us with refreshing cold towels and their signature drink "Majestic" which tastes like a creamsicle. Delicious. I still can't get over the enormous chandelier. I don't think any photo can do it justice.

(hotel website photo)

An overhead view of the resort, just steps from the beach!
(hotel website photo)

First stop, our room, on the second floor. Our travel agent told them it was our anniversary and kindly requested a balcony room for us. They even put a banner on the door!

The room was beautiful. Just like the photos on their website and better than I had hoped.
His and hers sinks - I could get used to this! They even decorated with fresh flowers, which I loved.

This next photo may be in poor taste, but I couldn't leave out the fact that the toilets were square, throughout the entire place. And there was a phone in there. For emergencies?

Our balcony room had a beautiful view. Every morning we would look out to see what the weather was like, and without fail, it was sunny and 88 degrees or so. Paradise.

Our second stop upon arrival was to find some lunch. We ate at the See and Sea restaurant, overlooking the ocean, which soon became our spot for breakfast and/or lunch on most days since it was right near the beach.

The buffet here was pretty good/ok. Breakfast was better. They had French toast! Which became my breakfast staple, along with fresh mango and papaya.

The beach was next! 
The ocean is an amazing combination of clear blue and turquoise water that was the perfect temperature - not freezing. Tiny fish swimming by now and then. Beautiful sand. A pelican or "albatross" (as Andrew informed me they are also called) wandering about. Swaying palm trees. Hot sun shining. So much beauty. It all made me stop and thank my Creator for His breathtaking creation, and that I had the chance to experience it, with the one I love.

All week, the hotel staff had two photographers walking the beach asking guests if they wanted their photos taken. Often with an exotic animal like an iguana or a parrot. "Romantic photograph?" They asked us. We politely declined and laughed to ourselves. I did want to hold those parrots...

We decided to take some of our own "romantic photographs" on the beach. A little cheesy, but hey, we were on vacation, we finally had tans (or sunburns turning into tans), and it was the most gorgeous setting you could ask for. 

We also loved hanging out at the pool, which felt like it stretched for a quarter mile. It wound through the center of the resort with fountains, ledges, a waterfall, a swim-up bar and a jetted area. It was SO sweet.

This was our usual "spot" under the umbrella hut. 
There was also a lot of poolside chillin' with a cool drink or two.

I loved the plants and flowers. Such vivid orange, pink and red.

A few of these guys running around. None of them wanted to tell me about car insurance though.

I really liked the hotel's architecture and unique layout.

After a long hard day of swimming in the ocean, basking in the sun and wading in the pool, it was time for dinner. We had our choice of 6 different themed restaurants and we ate at each one - a steakhouse, Italian, French, seafood, the main buffet, and sushi/hibachi. It was fun trying different foods. For the most part, everything was pretty good. There were a few unusual dishes, but we still always found something we liked.

(Thanks for letting me borrow this dress Christy!)

One afternoon, they were having a BBQ on the beach. It was he hottest time of day and the sun was seriously beating down on us, but the food was good and a band was playing music. We were feelin' HOT HOT HOT!

What's great about an all-inclusive, is that all your meals and drinks are included. Any time of day. I highly recommend it. Here I am enjoying a "coco-loco" which was a delicious coconut drink. Just stay away from their native drink "Mamajuana." That stuff makes me shudder just thinking about it. Unless you enjoy strong alcoholic beverages that taste like a combo of tree bark, red wine and Pinesol.

They always had an activity or special event of the day - a dance contest, movie on the beach, karaoke, even a Michael Jackson show, which was actually pretty impressive (Kimi, I have a video clip for you). Dominican's know how to dance! One guy was break dancing on stage with a chair on his legs (wish I got a video of that). 

While we were walking along the shore one evening as the sun was setting, there was a wedding on the beach. I can now understand the appeal of a destination wedding. What an incredible setting!
On our last day in paradise, we were at the pool, and the photographers came by with two beautiful parrots. I couldn't resist, I wanted my picture taken with those birds! After turning them down all week, I finally gave in, and convinced my husband to join in the fun.

We had such a nice daily routine: sleep in, breakfast, beach, lunch, pool, dinner. A perfect schedule. Day after day, it never got old. Neither one of us wanted to leave! 

Saturday morning rolled around, and it was time to pack our things and head to the airport that just a few days ago brought us to this beautiful place. One last walk to the beach.

We may have been smiling, but we were really sad to leave and see our vacation come to an end. We couldn't have asked for anything more. All our uncertainties about the food, the hotel, the weather etc. disappeared as soon as we arrived. No work, no phones or computers. Just pure relaxation. It was an amazing week and I'm so glad we were able to take this trip together. Definitely something we'll remember forever. Maybe we'll go back one day. I hope so!  

I miss you Paradise! Till next time...

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