Vacation to the Dominican Republic!

The Friday after Christmas we headed off to the Dominican Republic for a 5 night vacation. I found a groupon late in the summer and since we knew Trey was off work from Christmas to New Years along with me we thought it would be fun to go on an all-inclusive vacation. 

We got up early and Frank took us to the airport before the sun rose. 
The dogs enjoyed snuggling with BJ after we left: 

We had a lay over in Miami and then on to Punta Cana! I love island airports... such a different atmosphere than in the US

We had a ride waiting for us holding our name on a sign... I thought it was fancy, until we walked out and there were TONS of people holding up signs waiting for arrivals. Our ride to the hotel was the first taste of the DR... there was another guy riding in the van and he serenaded us with his guitar... in Spanish of course :)

We stayed at Ocean Blue and Sand in Punta Cana. It was nice, clean and in good condition. It was an all-inclusive resort so drinks and food were included but most of the food was nothing to write home about. 
A panoramic view on the other side of the lobby:
Basically the resort was a rectangle, leading to the beach with "villas" aka hotel buildings on either side of the rectangle. This was our building.

We basically spent the days lounging by the pool (the ocean was a little chilly) and the swim-up bar, came in in the early evening to clean up, headed to the lobby for a drink, then dinner at one of the restaurants. It was super relaxing, which was our goal, and was especially nice since I had been battling a cold since before Christmas. 

In the middle of the resort there was a row of restaurants: a steakhouse, Italian restaurant, American (Route 66), Mexican and a French "romantic" restaurant (Blue Moon). We ate at a different one each night. 

The first night we ate at the Mexican restaurant.

The next night we ate at the Steakhouse... it was really good! 

This was the view from our patio:

Dinner at Route 66:

There was even a bowling alley, with 1 free game... and I whooped Trey :)

Lobby bar:

The gorgeous views we saw every day:

The weather was about a low of 75 every day and a high of 82... amazing!

Swim up bar

There was also a sports bar in the row of restaurants...
we spent a couple of nights playing pool

Although we didn't spend much time actually on the beach it was pretty :) There was a rock wall and they were building a gazebo (I'm guessing for weddings)

Lots of cabanas

On our last full day we decided to go on an outing. We took a dive/snorkel tour from our hotel "dive shop" to La Romana (on the Carribean Sea side of the DR) it was about an hour drive, then we took a boat over to the small island of Catalina. 
Leaving La Romana

One side of Catalina
So this tour was really best suited for scuba divers... not snorkeling. I think they basically said "hey we can offer for people to snorkel too" but it really is made for the divers. We first stopped on one side of Catalina and it was kind of choppy. The divers went down for about an hour and we were left to snorkel as we pleased. With the choppiness and my congested head, snorkeling wasn't fun. Basically as soon as I suctioned the snorkel to my face there was an intense pressure that didn't feel good. So that lasted only a few minutes before we got back on the boat and sat in the sun. 

The next stop was the other side of Catalina, where we were dropped off at the beach, took our belongings and scuba gear and spent the next few hours. The divers went out again for another hour, came back, lunch was served as a whole on the island (there were other "tour groups" and a cruise ship on the island for the day) then the divers went out again. Although we were kind of disappointed in the snorkel aspect of the tour it worked out since my head and the mask didn't get along and we got to spend a nice day on the beach. We made friends with others who were on our tour to snorkel but just ended up hanging out on the beach with lots of drinks!

Our new friends

Our snorkel adventure was on New Year's Eve so after we got back we showered and made it to our dinner reservations at the French (romatic) restaurant. This was the other meal that we had that was delicious. I had steak, Trey had lobster. 

After dinner we headed to the main courtyard, they had entertainment and a big countdown for the new year!

Overall our trip was really nice and relaxing. It was nice to hang out just the two of us for a few days :) Although, it would have been nice to not be sick! I had a cold when we flew out of Raleigh and between that and the pressure from the airplane, I woke up on our first night there with a pain in my ear. Luckily the pain subsided the next morning but it felt like my ear was "clogged." This continued for our whole trip! Then I woke up on New Year's Eve with pink eye! (hence the pitiful eyes in the above pic)... by the end of the day it had spread to both eyes! So needless to say I was ready to get back to a doctor in the US by the time we came home! Turns out I had an ear infection, and because of that my ear canal was swollen, that's why it felt clogged. I got some antibiotics for that and the pink eye and now I'm all better!