I feel as if I could write a book on this, but I'm going to try to keep the details as brief as possible, but share what a wonderful time that we had. So, I know that we went on a "vacation" to Colorado in June, but I have to admit that being Young Life camp leaders, this was more work than vacation. Lol! It was AMAZING, but this trip was very much needed for rest, relaxation, and recovery! Doing this trip after the ironman was honestly the perfect timing! So, let's get to all of the fun details of where we stayed, what we did, what we ate, and traveling cheap details (because we all know that's what I'll always do lol).
FEW TIPS FOR TRAVELING CHEAP
If you are husband and wife or even if you are close friends, pack one bag. Bags are $25 for one way which doesn't sound like much but 2 bags both ways is $100. We packed one large bag together saving $50. Carry ons are free so we took hiking back packs as bags and didn't have to pack light at all! :)
We search and search and search and search for resorts. I'm talking like every day for a month until we recognize the trends of pricing and then book on the cheaper days. We went through bookit.com and did resort + flight together. We find that on Tuesday afternoons, flight prices drop and therefore the total package ends up being a lot less. We wanted Costa Rica but upon looking at prices, we realized that Dominican was about half the price and if it's going to be an all inclusive resort, we all know they are all basically the same. We don't just search price because quality matters too of course.
We never care if we have sucky flights, and most of the time we do. We left at 7am on the way out which meant a 3:30am wake up call. OH WELL! ;)
We book excursions in advance because through the resort, they are much more expensive. We also book a taxi from the airport ahead of time after checking with the resort. The small things I'm talking about, you think are silly, but I promise you it adds up to hundreds.
If we buy souvenirs, it's NEVER in the lobby of the resort. We wait until our excursions because on the outside, they are like 75% off that price. We also typically don't buy anything, but that's just a tip. They try to convince us to do 5000000 things while here but we politely decline them all. It's already a perfect vacation! :)
WHERE WE STAYED
We stayed at La Melia Caribe Tropical. The reasons that we picked this place were 1) price + quality combo was great!! They most likely make their money from their "Adult Only Level Members" which they try to convince you to do upon arrival. Nope. LOL! They are one of the closest to the airport which again means a cheaper taxi, and we always will choose a resort with lots of restaurants. Everyone prioritizes differently on these trips, but that matters to us. Resorts can get boring so we don't want to have to go to the same restaurant night after night. This one kinda surprised us though because they USED to have them all open every night, but there was typically only 2-3 open out of the 8 each night and many times it was the same ones.
I'm literally the LAST person to blast some place with a bad review so I definitely don't want to do that, but I'm not sure we would return to this one specifically for a lot of reasons. Sometimes I think things are just chance, but I have felt like the staff is just NOT happy to be here at all and definitely have no desire to speak English (which is fine because I'm well aware I'm in DR and it's my fault I don't know Spanish), but just an overall air of rudeness the entire trip which is unfortunate. We still have been in an AMAZING location and no complaints on that AT ALL. It was amazing, but I wanted to give an honest review for anyone seeking to go here.
EXCURSIONS WE TOOK
We decided to have two excursions. We wanted to space them out and only to do two because more than two is (again) a bit pricey, and this is not our honeymoon. We chose the day where we get to go out into the countryside and learn about the Dominican and then snorkeling on a party boat. We figured those were two opposite things, but equally enriching. haha! Both were absolutely amazing. We planned to do them with a day in between but due to scheduling conflicts within the resort, we did the snorkeling on Friday and the other on Saturday which was fine.
Snorkeling is pretty self explanatory but we went out on a huge catamaran with tons of other people of all nationalities, and the boat crew was absolutely amazing so we laughed our butts off the entire time and danced the afternoon away on a boat then jumped off a few times to snorkel. It was surreal, and I was just like "THIS is the life" lol! I am so weird but I explained to Tanner I actually struggle to have fun in those times. I feel a lot of guilt that like my mom is at home working hard, or that there are people that could never afford this. It's so silly and I promise I'm not trying to pat myself on the back with that, but rather my hubs had to be like GIRL ENJOY YOURSELF FOR ONCE!
The tour in the countryside was on a family co-op and we got to explore the entire plantation. They make chocolate, chocolate tea, hot chocolate, Mamajuana (the native drink which is similar to Sangria in taste) that they believe to cure all ailments and call it "Dominican viagra" LOL, cigars, and coffee. We got to taste all of this while they told us the culture of the country and the history. I learned so much about the Dominican Republic as detailed as it's historical split from Haiti and what makes the two countries so different even though they are only 8 hours apart. It was seriously an amazing, enlightening, humbling experience to see how these people live (almost 60 of them with 25 grandchildren and 27 great grandchildren) that they are so so happy with just the simple things in life.
The funny thing about the chocolate/coffee/cigar/wine in the countryside excursion is that we thought it was a short 2 hour experience. NAAAA. It was 6 hours and we had only ate a light breakfast thinking we would be right back for our typical second breakfast. We didn't get to eat again until 3pm. Hangry would be a good word to describe us by then. HA!
WHAT WE ATE
So, you know how you come to a resort and you expect to gain 10 pounds of pure fat in alcohol and junk food? Just me? Well, that was the plan ESPECIALLY post ironman. I was like GIMME ALL THE TERRIBLE FOODS! Unfortunately (but fortunately for my GI LOL), the junk food here is not that good, but the veggies and cold salads and plant based options are like OUT OF THIS WORLD. I have been having plates upon plates the size of my head just of so many veggie combos and fruit! Ahhh, so much delicious fruit!!! So that worked out in my nutritional favor! haha! The restaurants that we have went to are French, Italian, Thai, and the seafood buffet which were all amazing!
DRINKS WE TRIED
Knowing that something is all inclusive, I like to try combos of drinks that I normally wouldn't try just to see if I like them. We got more Americanos than I can count (with chocolate every time of course), and water always from the bottle because you can never be too safe! (Side note: BUG SPRAY. WE DON'T WANT ZiKA!)
We tried a lot of drinks that had Mamajuana. Mamajuana is rum, red wine, and honey soaked in a bottle of tree bark and herbs. We got a bottle that will last us up to 10 years because we have the rum, red wine, and honey and can add that to our bottle of tree bark and herbs. It's really great.
The ones we tried were:
Mamajuana, Gin, Tonic, Lime (adding mint makes this delicious too)
Tequila, Mamajuana, Tonic, and lime (MY FAV)
Mama juana, Coke Light, Lime (Coke Light is their diet coke)
Coco Loco-rum, vodka, creme de banana, pineapple juice, coconut cream, and simple syrup (DUDE I THOUGHT I MIGHT DIE IT'S SO GOOD! lol! But it's also like a filling desert drink)
Coke light and tequila (I don't like rum and coke-I prefer tequila I've realized and it's great!)
Americano + irish cream
That's about it honestly! It makes us sound like we get wild, but they look at us SO weird because they constantly ask us if we want drinks, we politely decline and they get confused because everyone is constantly drinking. I know that's normal but just not us as much! :)
TEN OUT OF TEN!
Seriously, it's been one of the highlights of my year! From preparing for Boston, going right into the ultra, then right into ironman training while running my business/pharmacy/life has left me semi burnt out. When I did the ironman race, I of course leave feeling on top of the world and wanting to do every race known to man and I'm still working on controlling those emotions(lol), however this was JUST what I needed. I needed the early nights (because we don't do the late night scene TBH because we are grandma and grandpa that can't stay awake), and the 9-10 hour sleeps. I needed the hour long talks with my husband about the changes to come for our future. I needed the talks with my husband about how I want to change things entrepreneurially (is that a word?) to grow and expand. I needed glorious meals that I didn't have to prepare, and excursions in the countryside to humble me to let me know JUST how blessed I am.
Every single morning we would get up early (because that's what we love to do) and go have coffee before they even serve breakfast, then have a long slow breakfast then workout leisurely then go back to prepare for our day and then second breakfast! We watched sunrises over the ocean and we watched the stars over the ocean. We were lazy at the beach, we took salsa lessons on the beach, and we made tons of friends!
I'm so refreshed, so inspired, and so EXCITED for the new goals that I have, the holidays coming up and loving on my puppies because I missed them so much!
Plans for the future (fitness and life both) coming soon!!! ... and those don't include children! ;)