Accommodations, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

A Few Final Points

TRAVEL THERE: CLUB MED PUNTA CANA IS WAITING

Here’s a few things I didn’t have a place for in other posts about Club Med Punta Cana.  I hope they’ll help you decide you need to go there and visit.  If so, call my friends at CTC Travel.

Dinner A La Carte

You never have to face down a buffet at Punta Cana unless you want to or unless you didn’t get your Indigo reservations in soon enough.  Indigo reservations can only be made in person at the restaurant on the day you want to eat there.  They start taking reservations at 9 AM and if you wait too long, you either won’t get the time you want or you won’t get in at all.

We celebrated our anniversary by having dinner at Indigo.  It was a lovely meal, but Bill made better choices than I did.  He had some kind of whole fish and he says it was one of the most amazing meals he’s ever had.  I had some Dominican shrimp in a plantain bowl.  Good, but not one of the most amazing meals I’ve ever had.  Here’s a few pics from Indigo and that meal.

 Another Dinner Choice

With so much free food and drink available, we didn’t see much reason to spend money that way, but there was one opportunity to do just that.  It was called La Cava.  On the patios of Samana and Hispanolo (for dinner only) there was a section set aside for La Cava guests.  You become a La Cava guest when you purchase wine, whiskey or cigars from La Cava and enjoy them with a meal.  If we’d been there longer, we might have considered it, but we did just fine with the included comestibles.

Shopping

There were a few shops at the resort and they had lovely things – but there were no bargains.  Not a single one.  Especially not on larimar, a semi-precious gemstone found only in the Dominican Republic.  The cheapest larimar I found at the resort was a pair of earrings with a tiny piece of larimar hanging from each stud.  The price was $80 and if someone had brought it to me, I would have thought it was some cheap trinket they got for about 5.  So none of my friends got larimar.

At the resort, everything is priced in Dominican pesos and while everyone can tell you how much that is in euros, they are not so good with dollars.  That made shopping quite challenging.  It also almost caused Bill a heart attack when he saw a receipt with a bottom line of 4210.

45

Several years back, Club Med celebrated its 45th anniversary by printing up lots of T-shirts and other items with the number 45.  The items sold like hot cakes  So, when their 50th came, encouraged by the sales of the 45 items, they printed up lots of 50 merchandise.  However, the 50 merchandise was a bust.  They almost had to give it away to get rid of it. but while everyone was rejecting the 50th anniversary merchandise, they were still requesting items with 45 on it.  You’ll see the 45 logo all over the resort on everything from t-shirts and bikinis to flip flops and beach bags.  Vintage 45 items are a status symbol.  We spent a lot of time speculating on the ubiquitous logo and as we asked around, trying to solve the mystery, we discovered there were almost as many answers as their were t-shirts.  Some Americans thought it was for Trump – NOT!  Some French people claimed it was the number of a popular soccer player.  I asked the Chief of the Village and he gave me this skinny.  So, in case you ever go to a Club Med resort and wonder, well here’s the answer.

Farewell to Punta Cana

I think that about covers it.  You should have everything you need to enjoy a resort vacation with Club Med – and I heartily suggest you give it a try.  I’m probably the only person on the face of the earth that wouldn’t think it was the best vacation ever, but my best vacations are devoted to satisfying my inner Museum Girl.

Would we ever return to Club Med Punta Cana?  If we were the sort to repeat destinations, then there is no reason we would not.  It is a beautiful resort with great food and a lot of fun things to do.  We just rarely return to someplace we’ve already been.

So will we ever do Club Med again?  It is certainly a possibility, but we’d probably only go for three nights, not five.  We had a great time, but while Bill is more active at sports than I am, neither of us prefer sports for days on end.  I can see us doing it before or after a vacation devoted to all my museums, palaces and historic sites or just getting away for a few day.

Winning the fabulous door prize from CTC Travel certainly gave us a new favorite possibility on our wish list, but we’ve already got the next trip planned.  I’m just not ready to tell you about it yet.  Right now, as I finish up this post it is June, shortly after our Club Med vacation, I have no idea what I’ll be offering up next week on Travel Talk, but please come back.  I promise it will be fun!

Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

The Plot Thickens

Gilligan's Island PosterTRAVEL BUG TALES: WHERE IS FRANCES?

I know exactly how the families of those stranded on Gilligan’s Island felt.  Frances left us to take a little boat tour and then she was gone – just gone.

We’ll Show You!

OK, we were disappointed when Frances didn’t return to the hotel that afternoon, but we weren’t surprised.  We had a special event that evening, one she’d gotten us lined up with, so we were sure she’d show up about five minutes after we were supposed to leave.

We absolutely refused to be upset about this.  We were dealing with Frances and that’s just how she was.  Only she didn’t show up.  We climbed into the transportation arranged for our excursion and headed off to another part of the island.

While Frances did have a tendency to run late, she wasn’t otherwise irresponsible.  Debbie and I agreed that we weren’t happy about her absence, but it would be silly to make a big deal of it one way or the other.  We were going to enjoy our outing and ignore that little twinge that kept saying, “What if something is wrong?”

Dinner Was Also Late

So we arrived at the restaurant, which was full of happy patrons, to discover that somehow they didn’t know we were coming.  Not to worry, have some planter’s punch and chill.

So we had some planter’s punch and then we had some more and then we had a little more.  See, the planter’s punch was complimentary and it was also very, very good.  It was also strong enough to knock you into next week.

Now if Frances had been with us, I’m sure she would have negotiated some wonderful compromise and we would have been served al fresco out by the sea.  But Frances wasn’t there.  Whoever had decided they were in charge instead did not have her skills.  We were sequestered in a side room and drowned in planter’s punch, but the only other thing we got were promises.

In spite of being three sheets to the wind, we began to realize our transportation would soon be coming back and there was no food in sight.  We’d paid for dinner and there hadn’t been any.  Now I will confess I was so out of it that I have no idea what all went on, but there was a lot of it.  Remember, there are no cellphone, no Uber, no UberEats – nothing.  We’d missed the dinner buffet at the hotel and there was no Mickey D’s.  Somehow it was communicated to our transportation to come a little later and eventually, we got a table.

I have to tell you, that’s one of the best seafood dinners I ever had.  I’m sure it helped I was starving to death, but that wasn’t all of it. Everyone agreed we’d been lucky to find out about this place and have the chance to eat here.  We decided it was worth the hassle of waiting – and besides, the planter’s punch had been amazing.

As we dug into the bounteous feast, the food soaked up the alcohol and I began to come out of my haze.  By the time we left, I was stone sober.  I hoped that Frances would be there when returned.  Come back next week and see if she was.

DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

Yummy for your Tummy at Club Med Punta Cana

Jane’s favorite lunch

TRAVEL THERE: LET’S DO LUNCH

Breakfast is never my favorite meal of the day and dinner at Club Med Punta Cana was, well, in a word, overwhelming.  Day after day, lunch proved to be the meal I enjoyed most.

Bounteous Buffet

Every day, except the first one, we ate lunch at Hispanola, the buffet dining choice.  I made an exhaustive list of all the things available at breakfast, several weeks ago.  It was the same sort of thing at lunch, but as I’ve said, I preferred the lunch menu.

My favorite lunch was the one pictured above.  The seafood stew had mussels, clams, shrimp and other delicious things.  Also on the plate is a sample of the Dominican Beef I learned to love and a chicken dish of some sort and even if I don’t know it’s name, I can tell you it was good.  And veggies?  Always a wide variety of them, prepared in a myriad of ways.  I love veggies.

I also love bread and cheese.  Those were available in astounding numbers and varieties.  Salads were always being served, but my favorite salad experience was the day I chose what I wanted from the salad bar and a lady tossed it with an amazing vinaigrette and some of the most delicious ripe avocados I’ve ever eaten.

There was a grill offering hamburgers and hot dogs.  A pizza oven produced several different kinds of pizza every day.  The delicious seafood stew came from a seafood grill.  All around the huge buffet were all kinds of delicious choices up to and including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

If your thing is really dessert – never fear.  The dessert bar was just as awesome at lunch as it was at dinner.  The kids seemed to love the soft serve ice cream, with plenty of sprinkles and chocolate syrup available.  The adults lined up for a selection of freshly made gelatos.  Was there plenty of fresh fruit if you preferred?  Of course, there was.

It was never a good idea to leave your food unattended

My Solo Lunch

Lunch was so good that one day, when Bill was just too tired to make the hike to the restaurant, I went ahead on my own.  It wasn’t as if I was actually  hungry.  I just didn’t want to miss lunch.  The evening meal was lovely, but far removed from the beach.  I preferred to sit in Hispanola, enjoying the gorgeous Caribbean day and the sparkling turquoise water, while I lingered over a delicious meal.

On the other days, when I’d eaten lunch with Bill, there was always another activity cued up right after lunch.  On those days, I stuck to water and soda.  A glass of wine or beer would have put me to sleep.  I wouldn’t have made much of a cheerleader under those circumstances.  For my solo lunch, I allowed myself the luxury of cool white wine.  It made everything perfect.

Yes, the Meals Were Great

In case you haven’t caught the drift of it yet, one of the best things about Club Med Punta Cana is the spectacular food offerings.  I came home with a few extra pounds, but I love my friends at CTC Travel anyway!  There’s only a few more things I need to share.  Come back next week and we can probably wrap up our stay.

DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL

You’re Going Where?

TRAVEL TALK: FRANCES MAKES A LOVE CONNECTION

While we’d been focused on whether or not Michael and the gang were going to make it to our end of the island or not, apparently Frances had been fielding some other calls we’d been totally unaware of.  When we woke up on the fourth day we discovered Frances had other plans.

Frances in Charge

So, at SFA I’d met Frances before anyone else.  I remember her introducing herself the first day and helping my family carry in my stuff.  Frances was an operator.  By the end of the first week she had a connection to pretty much everyone on campus. She was constantly heading off to this party, that trip or another hot date.  As I said, she was our organizer.

At the same time she had health issues.  Allergies to this or that.  Asthma bad enough to need one of those inhalers and for good measure, on this trip she’d brought along some mechanical devise we were supposed to hook her up to if her inhaler didn’t do the job.

She was also late to everything, always.  It was her trademark.  Debbie and I knew that when we planned the vacation, but it was just part of Frances.  You take the good with the bad.  However, it did get a little irritating.

Every morning it was something.  She’d be the first one to take a shower and be sitting on the sofa waiting for us, but as we started to walk out of the room, she’d start to paint her finger nails.  Just as every bus driver closed the door, she’d be the one to say, “I forgot __________, can I go back to my room.  It will only take a sec.”  If it had been me, they would have told me to just catch the next bus, but folks always waited on Frances.

A Different Sort of Morning

Debbie and I were just about through with Frances and her shenanigans.  We loved her, but everyone on the trip had begun to paint us with her brush.  Every time we showed up, late or not, there would be some sort of verbal jab at our roommate.  Like contestants on Survivor we’d conspired to band together and whatever Frances dreamed up that morning, we were leaving her behind.  Someone had to let her know her behavior was unacceptable.

Only we didn’t get the chance.  She was ready to head out the door when we did and she had her beach bag all packed up to go.  She was going sailing with a dealer from the casino.  What? When? Where? How?  Somehow she had met one of the dealers at the casino and made a date to go sailing today, because it was his day off.  One of the many phone calls the night before had actually been from him and they’d confirmed he’d be there to pick her up this morning.  And then she was gone. She promised to be back in time for dinner.  We were going out to a special restaurant with a small contingency from our group.

Well that was a fine how-do-you-do!  I think this was the day Debbie and I rented bicycles and took a little tour of the resort and its surrounding.  There wasn’t much, but Debbie had spied some ladies selling craft goods on the road to the resort and we used the bikes to get there.

While I’d faced disappointment and frustration on this trip, I was about to become acquainted with fear.  Come back next week and find out why.

Accommodations, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, TRAVEL

What Do You Do at Club Med Punta Cana?

Bill excels at archery

TRAVEL THERE: KEEPING BUSY IS EASY!

The list of potential activities is quite long at any Club Med and that is very true at Punta Cana.  I would think that most people in the world would find more to do than they can imagine.  So, what did we do?

And They’re Off!

If you like to wake up early and get busy, you can do that at Punta Cana.  The buffet opens early and early tee off times beat the heat.  The gym opens early and if walking or running is your thing, well then there’s 42 acres to trot around in 24 hours a day.  The beach also beckons 24 hours a day and it’s so beautiful all the time, that’s always appropriate.

Bill enjoys water volleyball

Official activities begin around 9.  Some a little earlier.  Some a little later.  We were usually ready to roll around 10.  And what are those activities?

  • Water Sports – Kayaking, Stand-up Paddle Baords, Snorkeling, Windsurfing, Sailing (some fees)
  • Creactive by Cirque du Soliel
  • Archery
  • Tennis – courts, lessons and tournaments for all ages and levels of skill
  • Bill practicing his chipping swing

    Land Sports – Jogging, Walking, Beach Volleyball, Soccer, Triatholon, Marathon, Bocce Ball, Basketball

  • Fitness – all kinds of classes, everyday, in the gym, in the pool and by the beach, from Aqua Zumba to Yoga
  • Golf – Lessons for all levels and a mini-golf (putt-putt) course – actual rounds are off the property and must be paid for seperately
  • Excursions (fee required)
  • Kid’s Club – for all ages from nurseries for infants to teens
  • Shopping – a variety of boutiques from art and jewelry to cigars and whiskey -they don’t charge you for looking 🙂
  • Spa Treatments (fee required)

What’s even more amazing is that the lion’s share of all this won’t cost you a penny extra.

Jane relaxing with a book at Punta Cana

So What Did We Do?

Well, Bill was a regular on the tennis courts, the archery field and he took advantage of the golf lessons.  Around noon every day, there would be a Crazy Signs lesson after the Aquasize class, followed by volley ball, water polo and other games where Bill’s height and excellent coordination made him a popular player.  Bill also played in a ping pong tournament.  I was the official sidekick and cheering section.

On the first day, I thought that after the orientation was over I might hang around the pool until the Aquagym class at 11:30.  Someone else, who will remain nameless, thought it might be better for me to follow him to the tennis courts and observe his lesson – and that’s pretty much how I spent my five days at Club Med Punta Cana.  It wasn’t what I had imagined, but it wasn’t bad at all.  I read a great book and made wonderful memories with my husband.  Not a bad use of my time.

Things I Wish I’d Known

I had imagined starting my day with yoga on the beach.  There was actually a palapa for yoga right next to the beach, but yoga was at 5:30 PM every day.  By that time, Bill had put in a full day and we were back at the room for Bill’s afternoon nap.

I had also envisioned getting up bright and early and hitting the stationary bike, as I do at home and on cruises.  Of the things available at Punta Cana, the gym was the least appealing.  It was clean and they had lots of almost new equipment, but the space was cramped and I like a little elbow room.  None of the stationary bikes were recumbent either and an hour on one of those saddle seats didn’t seem very appealing.   Also, walking all the way to and from the gym to get saddle sores, when walking to and from is what took up most of our time, was a little discouraging.  So, the gym was not my friend.

I had also dreamed of cabana boys delivering exotic drinks with paper umbrellas in them.  There were no cabana boys.  You could get as many drinks of whatever variety you wanted, if you walked up to one of the bars, but there were no paper umbrellas to be found and if I wasn’t going to be waited on hand and foot, I’d just as soon have another slurp from our bottle of water, several of which they left for us in our room each day.

Relaxed Myself to Death

The bottom line is that I nearly relaxed myself to death.  I’m just not athletic, not even a little bit, but I’m also usually a very busy person.  I don’t relax very well.  My thing on vacation is to see as many museums, palaces and historic sites as I can, but Punta Cana was not a hot bed of museums.

So, we had a great time at Club Med and Bill took full advantage of all the activities.  I ate a lot, relaxed a lot and walked a lot.  Speaking of eating, isn’t it time for lunch?  Come back next week and we’ll grab the mid-day meal.

 

DESTINATIONS, International, TRAVEL

What’s a Little Rain?

close up photo of coconut tree
Photo by Suparerg Suksai on Pexels.com

TRAVEL BUG TALES: A TROPICAL THUNDERSTORM

Into each life some rain may fall.  You might say we had a little shower while we were in Grand Bahama.

The First Phone Call

We’d had dinner and were waiting for the guys we’d met that day to come join us.  While we’d been given tickets for all the activities we were supposed to attend at the resort, we’d learned early on that one’s presence was enough to get you in. No ticket was needed. So the guys were going to come see the show with us and then we’d hang out.

As we waited in the lobby, a staff member said we had a call and it didn’t matter which one of us took it.  I’m pretty sure it was Francis who talked to them, because she was the organizer on our end.  The borrowing of the car was not going as planned.  We were to go on to the show and they’d be along a little later. 

I was actually quite relieved.  It was the age of the pick-up.  There was a sort of game going on where guys must have gotten points for obtaining phone numbers, but were put in the penalty box for using them.  The fact that we’d actually gotten a call boded well.  We went to on to the show and watched native dancers, swords and a lot of fire.

gray rotary telephone
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Next Phone Call and the One After That and…

We left the show with a skip in our hearts, but instead of three guys waiting in the lobby, we had a message.  They were still working on getting to our end of the island, but things were not exactly going well.  They’d make the next call to our room.

Now this day and time, we’d be texting like nobody’s business.  We’d already be friends on Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat and Instagram.  Uber would have made getting to our side of the island both easy and cheap.  Millenials have no idea what they are missing!

I don’t remember how many calls were exchanged after that, but they got the car, then it broke down.  They found a taxi driver who would come out there and then the guy changed his mind.  We got tired of dancing attendance on the phone and suggested we try again tomorrow.  That’s when we found out they were leaving the next day.  It was now or never.

I was trying to keep it light, but somewhere along the way it was Michael that called and he wanted to talk to me.  A humdinger of a storm had hit and there was no way they could make the 30 mile trek out there.  The storm wasn’t out our way yet, so at first I thought it was just a blow off call and I teased him about it.  Before I could get off the phone the wind picked up and it was obvious we were in for some violent weather.

I can’t remember exactly what Michael said to me that evening on the phone.  He seemed genuinely distraught.  He reiterated all the reasons we’d clicked and none of them had anything to do with looks.  I can’t even remember if it was business or the military or just the end of a vacation that was taking them away, but whatever it was,  he and I both regretted it.  We marked it up to fate and went on with our lives, but when I’m playing what-if with myself, that evening is one I entertain.

Since those days of innocence the cynical side of me has suggested he was probably married with three kids, a dog and a mortgage.  Who knows? Maybe that’s so.  But who knows, maybe it’s not.  Whatever the case, this vacation had just delivered another blow.

We’d been there three days and each one offered more in the way of disappointment than anything else.  Was my love of travel going to be able to withstand all this?  Come back next week and find out.

DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

Breakfast Choices at Club Med Punta Cana

Morning at Indigo

TRAVEL THERE: TO BUFFET OR NOT TO BUFFET

Mornings came with a choice – Indigo Beach Bar & Grill where you ordered from the menu or Hispanola, a buffet.  Both were great and both offered unique experiences.

Indigo

Our first morning, we still didn’t have it all figured out.  I didn’t know where Hispanola was or even if it was available, since the day before, our friend in reception said it was closed.  We did know Indigo, because we’d had lunch there and I knew it was near the place where the orientation tour was supposed to begin.  Decision made.

If you like a great view, a laid back atmosphere and ordering from a menu, then Indigo is the place for you.  We had our first breakfast there and our last, with little to complain about.  The menu is somewhat limited, but there’s an egg choice, a pancake choice, a healthy choice or you can just tell them what you want.  They will deliver a basket of pastries and fixings to the table and/or you can graze from a small buffet with cheese, cold cuts and cereal.

If I was going to complain, I might say the service was a little slow and not exactly four star, but things are so relaxed in Punta Cana that it would almost be ridiculous to complain.  One more thing, if you don’t like runny eggs, then you are in trouble.  The menu says sunny-side up, so I specifically asked if they could flip it over and cook the yolk hard.  The waitress said yes, but the plate delivered said no. Then I looked at the view and decided I could live with it.

Breakfast at Hispanola

Hispanola

Forget everything you ever knew about breakfast buffets!  I’ve had breakfast buffets all over the world and never in my life did I ever see such variety.

  • A grill for the egg, bacon and sausage crowd
  • A huge table with every sort of bread to slice that you can imagine
  • The entire front of the facility was one long buffet with everything from the most gorgeous pastries you have ever seen to oatmeal to pork & beans – and everything else in-between – but that was only the beginning.
  • Another buffet offered sweet breakfast treats, like pancakes, crepes and Belgian waffles.  For some reason that’s also where you’d find cheese quesadillas.
  • Another vast expanse offered toast, muffins, English muffins, bagels – all the stuff you like to heat up before you enjoy and yes they had a toaster.
  • One section had dried fruits, cold cuts, nuts – probably pickled herring – but I never got very close to that table.
  • An entire bar of fruits – all fruits, every fruit – juiced, sliced and whole.
  • A dairy bar with my precious cheeses in a wide variety, as well as milk, cream, yogurt and cold cereal

In other words, breakfast at Hispanola was an event.  We’d enjoy our morning repast out on a covered patio, but in reality the whole thing was one huge open-air facility.

And this is where I have to mention the flies.  Al fresco dining is a wonderful thing, but there is nothing you can do about the flies.  Even though Samana is not actually open air, they leave both sets of double doors wide open all the time.  It’s not like the buffets were fly-covered or even that you were pestered by flies, but if you are going to melt-down because a fly might have crawled on your beignet, I’d say you should skip Club Med Punta Cana.  I’m no fly lover, but having come from the food industry, Bill is more particular.  He just sucked it up and lived with it, but he didn’t like it.

Great Mornings

Whether you choose Indigo or Hispanola, breakfast at Club Med is a great way to start the day.  I confess, I did not work out every morning at Punta Cana the way I do at home, but I don’t walk all day at home the way I did in Punta Cana.  I have to say that waking up whenever you darned well please and strolling over to a beautiful breakfast is a pretty nice life.

As I said grace over my morning meal, I’d say a little thank you for CTC Travel that had made it all possible.  Come back next week and we’ll talk about how we kept ourselves busy during the day.

Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL

Let’s Go Shopping!

TRAVEL BUG TALES: SOMETHING I WAS GOOD AT

Three days into my tropical vacation I was finally excited about something.  We pooled our resources for a limo (one way only) and headed to Freeport.  I was happy to finally be on familiar ground.

We Hit the Sidewalk Shopping

Our limo dropped us off at a shopping area near the casino.  Each of us had a list of people to buy for and some cash to spend.  This one wanted a watch, someone else was looking for jewelry and I’d heard you could get good deals on porcelain and crystal.  My list really just consisted of Mom and Aunt Edie, so I took an interest in what everyone else was looking for and helped them in their search.

When it came to understanding what was a bargain among the luxury items we saw, my friend Debbie actually had a better grasp, but I was the one with a good sense of direction.  I was able to maneuver us around the shopping maze with ease.  We browsed around all morning and at the end of it, I was able to direct everyone back to the place they’d seen their favorite thing for the best price.  I got some Wedgewood pieces for Mom and Aunt Edie.  I was going to get my dad a golf cap from the resort.  That just about did it.

What’s for Lunch? 

We’d heard from somewhere that the best place for lunch was at the Freeport Princess snack bar.  Like the shopping area, the Princess was near the casino.  I have to confess that when I got there I wished we were staying there rather than out in the boonies.  This place was happening.  The clientele was very different from the families with 2.5 kids and the college students we had out at the Grand Bahama Hotel.

That’s where we made the love connection.  The guy in the solid yellow shirt and bell bottomed jeans was Michael and he was a hunk.  It was one of those across a crowded room sort of things.  He had a crew of friends and they sorted themselves out among my friends, but Michael and I had energy.

The guy in the white jeans and hat was the organizer of the group.  He pointed the conversation towards the guys coming out to see us on our end of the island.  Michael and I were happy to go along with whatever anybody else dreamed up as long as it meant our chance encounter would get an opportunity to develop into something.

It was nearing the time we’d arranged for our limo to return and pick us up.  The guys planned to borrow a car from somewhere and drive to our end of the island.  It seemed like a great plan.  After all the disappointments I’d endured so far, it seemed as if my vacation prospects were picking up.

There was giggly girl talk all the way back to the hotel.  While Michael and I had been an item from the get-go, the other connections were still pretty loose, so there was a whole lot of bargaining going on.  We all agreed on one thing, Michael was the hunk of the bunch and he was all about me.

We had dinner at the buffet and started watching for the guys.  Come back next week and see how that went.

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

Our Club Med Home Away From Home

La Nina

TRAVEL THERE: GENEROUS AND GRACIOUS SPACES

Since I’d won our trip to Club Med from CTC Travel, we had no idea what kind of accommodations to expect.  How bad could things be at a five star resort, right?  Still, I’ve usually pored over the available information and carefully selected our rooms to be as economical as possible, while providing what we need.  We made out just fine in what they provided – in fact, better than fine.

The Big Picture

Most of the entertainments and dining facilities are centrally located on the property.  If you go one way from there, you’ll reach the Zen side of the resort.  That’s the more exclusive, adults-only part.  If you go the other way, you’ll find building after building after building of more family-oriented hotel rooms.

Our Accommodations

I can’t speak for the rest of the rooms in any of the other buildings, but I can tell you 662 La Nina is a nice place to stay.  When you enter the door there is a hallway.  On the right is a room with a toilet and next to it is another room with the balance of the bathroom facilities, a huge walk-in shower and a large two-sink vanity.

The view from our front door

On the left side is a huge, and I do mean huge, closet.  Along with plenty of hanging space and hangers, there were two stacks of roomy shelving.  If I would have had my druthers, I would have preferred a dresser with drawers, but that’s just me.  The shelves worked fine.  There was also a shelf all around the top of the closet that was great for hats and such.  There was room for everything and to spare.

The room came with some equipment, a hairdryer, a frig, a coffee maker, an iron and an ironing board.  There’s also free wi-fi, not the fastest in the world, but more than adequate for the usual stuff. The Dominican Republic is on the same power grid as the US, so they had the same kinds of power and plugs as we do.

After you get past the bathroom facilities and closet, the room opened up.  To the right was a nice bed, queen-sized, I think.  It seemed a bit smaller than at home.  To the left was a secondary space with two sofas that could be made into beds.  We didn’t have to guess that this was great for families, a pungent smell told us someone had recently had an accident there.  As soon as we notified housekeeping they took care of it, but they had points taken away for it nonetheless.

The view from our balcony

There was also a nice balcony.  I wasn’t really roomy, but there were two chairs, a table and an ashtry, which we no longer see in America very often.  I spent some quality time out there, but had to be careful to wear socks, because if my ankles were bare, some invisible pest would begin to gnaw on me.

We were very comfortable there.  The rooms are not what I consider luxurious, but they weren’t spartan either.  Nicely, but not opulently furnished – it was a beach resort after all.  We especially appreciated the bonus room.  I’d retreat there in the mornings before Bill woke up and he liked to enjoy his online games there.  We slept well every night without any interruptions.

The Fitbit tells the story

We also walked a million miles or at least it seemed like it!  La Nina was sort of in the middle of the cluster of buildings with rooms.  I’m guessing there is a premium to pay for rooms which were closer to the entertainment section, but there were buildings which would have doubled our steps taken.  I hope they are a bargain.

At the reception area they tell you that you can call whenever you like and a cart will come and transport you back and forth.  On our first day we tested that theory and attempted to grab a ride to our room.  So, had everyone else on the property.  Well, not everyone else, but enough someone elses that we weren’t going to wait – especially when we watched an aggressive group jump on a cart and zoom away, rather than allowing the ladies who had been waiting ahead of us to take it.  In other words, we didn’t plan to fight that battle on a regular basis.  While I did see a lot of carts whipping around the property, it was rare for them to have guests as passengers.  Usually they were toting bags or equipment.

So that’s it for our accommodations.  Come back next week and we’ll go to breakfast.

Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Casino Night in Freeport

TRAVEL BUG TALES: PUTTING ON THE RITZ

It’s at least a little ironic I’m going down memory lane at one resort on Mondays and sharing my latest trip to another resort on Wednesdays.  While Club Med Punta Cana is on the other end of the quality scale from Jack Tar’s Grand Bahama Hotel, I’m exactly the same person.  I’m just not much of a relaxer.  I completely failed at relaxing on the beach.  Let’s see how I do at a casino.

Primping for Our Big Night

Gambling was completely new to me.  I grew up Baptist and Baptists don’t gamble.  Well, I’ve heard my mom loved slot machines.  Let’s just say I had never gambled.

When we got back to our rooms after a day in the sun, it was time to get all fixed up for our big night.  That’s why tanning had been such an important activity for the rest of my friends.  Women in evening gowns.  Men in tuxes.  Fortunes won.  Fortunes lost.  Every hair had to be in place.  I’ll admit it was a little frenetic and I tried very hard to plug into the energy source.

As you can see in the photo, my spot by the pool without baby oil, rendered me just about the same shade of brown as the other ladies.  With my uber short hair I had less to worry about while getting ready.  My mom, the slot machine queen, gave me a roll of quarters to play the slots with.  I slipped them into my little evening bag with great anticipation.

Frolicking in Freeport

Then we boarded the bus for Freeport.  How very touristy of us!  The bus dropped us off on the side of the casino, allowing us to stroll to the door and pretend we did this all the time.  Since nothing is scarier than a clump of women desperately looking for a good time, my friends and I headed off to try our fortunes at the tables, but I assure you, we weren’t the least bit interested in winning any money.

My first stop was the slot machines.  I did pretty well to begin with.  I more than doubled my roll of quarters, but almost as quickly I was empty-handed.  I figured out, Baptist or not, gambling was not my thing.  It felt like I had just taken a perfectly good pair of shoes and tossed them in to the traffic.  Next time someone gave me a roll of quarters, I was going to do something better than lose them in a slot machine.

My winning and losing had taken what?  About 15-20 minutes.  Now what was I going to do with myself during the hours I was stuck there at the casino.  While I have no trouble being the life of a party where I know a lot of people, throw me in a room with a bunch of strangers and I want to find someplace to hide.  Instead I looked for places to lounge while trying to pretend I was cool.

Just like at the beach earlier in the day I had the sense that I should be enjoying myself, but I wasn’t.  In my many strolls through the casino between lounging sessions, I’d see my friends, ordering a drink, playing a game or chatting with someone.  Meanwhile, I was just trying to look cool rather than desperate.

Eventually the bus did return and I got to quit working so hard at having fun.  Everyone had stories to tell and I was able to just oooh and aaaah.  When they turned to me for my report, I laughed about how much money I’d had in my possession for such a short period of time.  When they wanted other details, I said I’d spent my time people watching.  It was true.  I’d spent my time watching everyone else have a lot more fun than me and wondered what kind of disease I had that was keeping me from properly enjoying this vacation.

So far, the best part of the trip had been dancing at the local club and reading by the pool hadn’t been so bad.  Up next was a shopping trip.  Now that’s my kind of activity.  Come back next week and see how I do.