Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL

Visiting Chichen Itza

The Famous Pyramid of Chichen Itza

TRAVEL THERE: A VERY LONG DAY

Our visit to Chichen Itza was a very long day and there is no way I can cover all of it in one post, so I’ll start with the logistics of the day and we’ll work from there.

Finally Chichen Itza

Though Chichen Itza has always been at the top of my Yucatan Wish List, I didn’t make it either of the other two times we visited the area.  Both of our previous visits have been via cruise ship to the port of Progresso and Chichen Itza is significantly inland from there, so we chose more accessible Mayan sites.

The first time we visited the ruins at Dzibilchaltan and it was a particularly enjoyable shore excursion, complete with lunch and a rodeo.  The archaeological site was interesting and there was a wonderful museum.  Last time we went to Xcampo.  It was a smaller site, but still interesting.  So, we’re getting pretty knowledgeable about the Mayans, but nothing can prepare you for Chichen ItzaIt is both marvelous and horrid.

Up Early  & Out Late

The first thing the guidebook I bought warned me about Chichen Itza was to avoid excursions from Cancun, because so much time is spent in transit.  Well, I appreciated the advice and understood the reasoning, but this was it.  If I didn’t go this time, chances are I might never again get the opportunity.

As we shopped excursions I saw two versions of the trip over and over.  Either you had to be on a bus by 4 AM or you left between 7 and 8.  The problem I discovered however, was that when you took later tours, you were in Chichen Itza during the hottest part of the afternoon, because all the tours stopped for lunch before going to the site.

Then Sandra Rubio, my travel agent at CTC Travel turned me on to ShoreTrips.com and they had a package called the Chichen Itza Plus.  This version of the trip would pick us up between 7 and 8, but we’d go to the site before lunch.  SOLD!

Since we were among the first to be picked up, we had to be in the lobby at 7:10.  When we got there after a quick visit to the breakfast buffet, they were waiting for us.  It was quite the ordeal to get out of town though.  The bus they picked us up in was bigger than the airport transport vans, but not as big as the full-sized tour buses.  We stopped at several hotels in the smaller bus and then traded to the big bus, but even then we had many more stops to make.

All that driving took a long time, but it was interesting to drive around and see other parts of Cancun.  I’d say it was about nine when we finally headed to Cancun.  They served a small breakfast – pastries, coffee and orange juice.  We were glad we’d hit the resort’s buffet.

The drive to Chichen Itza was about an hour and a half.  They stopped off at a shopping opportunity to use the restroom.  I was focused on sightseeing, not shopping, so they didn’t get to sell me anything.  Another short drive took us to the archaeological site – which I’ll go into in detail later.

After a couple of hours at the site, we went back to the shopping opportunity to have a very nice buffet lunch.  In my opinion, they would have gotten a lot more shopping out of me if they’d have let me use the restroom at Chichen Itza and given me shopping time after lunch.

Then, after lunch we made another short drive to Ik Kil Cenote.  I’ll also tell you more about that in a later blog, but it was a great way to end the day.  Well, the day wasn’t quite over.  We still had to drive back to Cancun, which seemed to take forever in the dark.

As we neared Cancun, the lights inside the bus switched on, a recorded version of “Tequila” was played on the loudspeaker and one of our guides had donned a wild get-up that I supposed was intended to be Mayan.  They served shots of tequila to anyone who wanted one, but right then it didn’t even sound good to me.  I was whupped.

It seemed like midnight when we got to the hotel, but I think it was only about 8:30.  Come back next week and I’ll tell you about our time in Chichen Itza.

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

Late Night at the SeaDust

TRAVEL THERE: AFTER DINNER ACTIVITIES

Dinner at the Maison de Michelle had been a little disappointing.  We were still a tad bit hungry and one more glass of wine seemed like just the ticket.  We were able to take care of both those problems.

Wine and Cheese Delight

Right outside Michelle’s was a bar and voila, they had a buffet with cheese and baguettes.  While I chose an assortment of cheeses to top off the meal, Bill ordered another round of drinks.  Yes, they served Savignon Blanc and Merlot in champagne flutes, but who are we to complain?

While we weren’t thrilled with everything we were experiencing, we weren’t suffering too much either.  At this point of the trip we chose to giggle about the chunks of duck and made plans to try another restaurant the following evening.  They had eleven after all!

Like our stroll on the beach and the poolside sunset, our after dinner drinks with cheese were very enjoyable.  We really only had one concern.  When we’d gone upstairs to change clothes, we discovered our balcony was lit up like Alcatraz.  The huge balcony had a big hot tub and we were hoping to enjoy it, but who wanted to relax under such a bright light and none of the switches in the room turned off the exterior lights.

Bill had stopped by the guest services desk to ask about the lights and they assured us the lights would be automatically turned off sometime between 10 and 11.  We also asked what time they were turned back on.  That was something no one knew.  We decided we were tired and even though it wasn’t 11 yet, we were going to go back to the room.

Hitting the Hot Tub

Our absolute favorite thing at the Seadust was the balcony.  When we first arrived, the curtains were closed, which was a mistake on their part.  They were hiding the best part!

The Cancun Hotel Zone is on a thin strip of land just east of Cancun proper.  From our room, we had a great view.  We could see the adult pool area (which we hadn’t figured out how to get to, yet) the main road connecting all the hotels, a golf course, the body of water which separated the hotel strip from the mainland and yes, the city of Cancun.  Yep, it was a pretty marvelous view.

When we got to the room after dinner, the balcony lights were still bright.  I suggested I get our things stowed away, while he filled the hot tub.  When we finished our chores the lights were still bright, but Bill was eager for a little hot tub action.  So, he rigged up a wall with some towels and assured me that since the hot tub was in the corner we’d have plenty of privacy.  Thankfully, that’s just about when the lights decided to go out, so we were able to fully enjoy our time in the hot tub.

Thoroughly relaxed, we drained the hot tub and headed to bed.  We had to be on our way to Chichen Itza just after seven the next morning.  Please come back next week and join us.

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

La Maison de Michelle

TRAVEL THERE: A LITTLE BIT OF FRANCE AT THE SEADUST

We capped off our discovery tour of the resort by making our way to the gallery of restaurants just off the lobby.  Most of the culinary options line this mall and La Maison de Michelle is a headliner.  We strolled over and a very distressed lady let us know there was a dress code.  We were fine with that and she was much relieved.  We changed clothes and were soon presenting ourselves again for entry.

We Could Have Done Without the Sales Pitch

When we were seated, a very self-important little man came to inform us he was the manager and sommelier.  He quickly engaged Bill in a conversation about the wine for dinner.  I probably had the same look on my face I had when the hustler at the airport was trying to get us to his timeshare.  I think they were brothers.  Both were soon disappointed.  Bill when he saw the prices on the wine list and the sommelier when he figured out we wanted the free stuff.

For free, the red was merlot and white was savignon blanc.  Neither was outstanding, but they would have tasted much better without the swarmy sales pitch.  Once we opted for the house wine, we never saw our sommelier again.

What we did get was this very strange rack to hang my purse on.  That was a real first!  I had a teeny bag I would have happily hung on the back of the chair  or thrown on the floor, but not at the Maison de Michelle, apparently

So What to Eat

The place was losing points fast when the menus appeared.  Get this, the menus were tablet based, complete with pictures of each entree.  I’ve seen this before and it’s not my favorite type of menu, but like the light show around the pool, I gave them points for trying.

For starters, Bill chose an asparagus salad and I opted for escargot.  We weren’t blown away by our choices.  Bill said the asparagus was good, but really needed some sort of dressing.  The cute dots didn’t exactly count.  I knew my escargot was not going to be the classic presentation I love so much, but I had high hopes that I would like it.  I didn’t hate it, but the escargot was tough and should have been sauteed in something, not just heated up.  Not up to our hopes, but fair enough to hope the entree would be better.

Our entrees didn’t improve the situation.  Bill had a steak and it was OK.  I had ordered lamb chops, which somehow became duck.  There was such a stew when I pointed out their mistake I decided to go ahead and eat the darned duck chunks.  They offered to replace it, but I had a sneaky suspicion that they didn’t have any lamb or it was sub-par and they didn’t want to serve it.  Even if there was some language issues, lamb doesn’t sound much like duck.  Like Bill’s, mine was OK, but just OK.

 Thank Goodness for Dessert

The meal did have a redeeming event called dessert.  I had something with chocolate mousse in the description and Bill has no idea what his was called, but they were great.  We relished every bite of the meal topper.

As we finished up the meal, we looked around the restaurant and were mostly pleased by what we saw, even if the meal had been somewhat disappointing.  The waiting area was too dark and then there was an odd empty spot that made no sense, but the carpet, lighting furniture and decor were lovely.

 

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

A Difference of Opinion

TRAVEL THERE: TRAVEL FROM TWO DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES

I’m home from Cancun.  My friends at CTC Travel gave me a stay at Seadust Cancun Family Resort.  Not like they sent me there on an assignment, more like a favor.  Someone else had won the trip at the CTC Travel Show in January and had never gone.  The trip needed to be used by the end of the year or it would be forfeited.  Bill and I are fortunate to have some flexibility in our schedule and our budget, so flying off to Cancun on short notice was not a hardship.  After we got there a difference of opinion arose.  Let me tell you about it.

How Do You Look at Life?

I believe, sincerely, that how much you enjoy life depends on how you look at it.  Do you start at zero and enjoy grading up or do you start at 100% and nitpick your way down? That philosophy extends to travel, but a problem arises, because Bill and I look at travel from opposite ends of the scale.

I want to go anywhere at anytime.  For the pleasure of going, seeing and experiencing, I’m perfectly willing to be inconvenienced.  I start at zero and am pleasantly surprised by what’s good.  Quite frankly, Bill likes the comforts of home.  A trip needs to give him a compelling reason to be there.  He hates to be captured by mediocrity. He starts with high expectations and grieves over the loss of every point.

We lived through mediocrity in February with the Royal Caribbean Cruise out of Galveston.  We were there to have a good time, but everywhere we turned it was like they were trying to keep us from enjoying ourselves.  Bad embarkation buffet, bad sail-away, bad internet, bad service, really bad dinner, even worse entertainment and then bad food the entire rest of the trip.   We managed to avoid being miserable through our own efforts, but barely.  Bill, bless his heart couldn’t keep from pointing out every disappointment, while I tried to ignore them.

Club Med Punta Cana saved us.  If it hadn’t been good, Bill might have given up traveling altogether.  Punta Cana wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough and Bill had a blast.  So, when we had a chance to do another all-inclusive in Cancun.  Why not?  Bill was ready to re-live the Club Med experience.

How This Trip Played Out

Bill arrived in Cancun happy as a clam at high tide.  I had purposely avoided begging him to pack, which meant he’d gotten around to it at about 10 PM the night before we left.  Better me crazy than him, right?  The whole air travel experience went well.  No $120 Spirit surprises at check-in.  No hassles at security.  Chik-fi-la for breakfast.  Comfortable flight.  The luggage arrived when we did and customs was a breeze.  So far so good.  Thank you American Airlines.

Then it started.  I’d warned him of the hustlers in the airport.  I’d read him the notice from Best Day, which was providing our transportation.  Still, the hustlers managed to drag him over to a kiosk and tried to get him to visit a time share.  We left the area unscathed, but disgusted.

Due to some misinformation from the “helpful” hustler, we had a little problem finding Best Day, but that was our fault not Best Day’s.  They’d warned us.  We hadn’t been fed on the plane, so Bill was getting hungry.  Standing in the hot sun to get on our shared ride, Mr. Bill was peckish, but cooperative. 

We were lucky enough to be some of the first folks out of the van, but then there was the whole tipping thing.  The arrival lobby was open-air, making Mr. Bill hotter and hungrier, but he did get a room upgrade, so that made him happy.

He wanted to go directly to the buffet, but I suggested we at least find our room and freshen up.  The elevator was a sauna and slower than molasses.  I should have let him go to the buffet.  The elevator-disguised-as-an-oven dumped us on the 6th floor where the light fixtures, which had the room numbers on them, were so creative was impossible to tell which room was 606.  We had to figure it out by a process of elimination.

There was one benefit to waiting on the luggage.  Mr. Hot and Hungry was able to change into a cooler outfit.  As soon as that happened we were off to the buffet, which unfortunately was about to close.  One trip around the buffet restaurant told us everything we needed to know and it wasn’t good news.

The Seadust Cancun Family Resort ain’t no Club Med Punta.  I think Bill might have turned around and left right that minute if it weren’t for me.  Sure, he would have had to pay a fee for changing his flight, but he could have gone home.  However,  I was excited about getting to see Chichen Itza the next day – and he loves me.  Maybe dinner would be better – right?

Well, come back next week and find out!

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

Frances is Found

TRAVEL BUG TALES: AN ANTI-CLIMATIC REUNION

So the phone rings and it’s Frances.  She was so nonchalant you would have thought she was calling from the lobby.  She’d gotten word in town that someone was missing out at the resort and she figured out it was her.  She was headed back now and we were to be sure the boat didn’t leave with out her.  We were taking a sail on a catamaran and having lunch on a deserted island.

Best Activity of the Trip

Yep, Frances is the one adjusting her sunglasses.  She sashayed into the resort and onto the boat like she’d been with us all the time.  Most of us know that feeling of never having wanted to see someone quite so much and also wanting to kill them at the same time.

The catamaran sail was lovely.  The water was beautiful and the weather perfect.  We sailed to an abandoned beach and hung out on the sand while locals barbecued fish for us.  I avoided baby oil and there wasn’t much wind.  The meal was good and soon we were headed back to the resort.

A little change in itinerary would have improved my opinion of this trip.  The first night should have been the Live Show, with dancers, swords and flame.  That would have gotten us off on the right foot.  Then we should have taken the catamaran and had our picnic.  What a great introduction to the Bahamas!  My salt water showers would have been much more bearable.

Farewell Party

I have no idea whether our final evening was an official event or just something cooked up among us.  The bar was serving conch balls for appetizers and we never made it to the buffet.

And remember the all-inclusive thing?  Well, all that was included on that evening was the first drink.  Even though we were in the bar for hours on end, we could never get a second one.  Instead we made trips out to the pool and communed with the coconut rum crowd or poured our coins in the Heineken beer vending machines.  The rumor existed that someone in the crowd had found a machine that would dispense the beer without the coin, but I can’t say for sure.

I was ready to go.  Though we’d all come to the party together, when I’d finally had enough, both Frances and Debbie were missing.  Someone invited me out for a walk on the beach, but fresh air was not what they wanted.  No love connection was made.

Instead, I went to my room, but I couldn’t get in.  Someone else had made a love connection and they were using the chain lock to keep me out.  Now I was just mad.  This had been no tropical paradise for me and I just wanted to go to to bed, which was currently being used by someone else.

While $219 hadn’t been a lot of money, even in those days, I felt as if it were money down the drain – money I could have used for something else.  I even resented the quarters I’d put into the slot machine.  Someone offered me the opportunity to sleep on their couch, but I wanted my pjs and my toothbrush and I wanted to take out my contacts.

There had been fun moments, but they’d all been overshadowed by disappointment.  The memory of the night at the local club had been compromised by the trick the limo drivers pulled on us.  The sandy beach experience had sidelined me.  The casino had been a bore.  My almost love connection had been washed out by a storm.  The delicious planter-punch-drenched meal was marred by my friend’s disappearance, that went on for entirely too long.  The only really entertaining time had been the sail and picnic, but just a few hours later I was sitting alone fighting tears.

I went back to my room and banged on the door.  I negotiated a pass-through to our room’s balcony.  Soon my friend and her latest romantic interest joined me there – as if I wanted their company.  Then my other roommate showed up.  I’ll leave the identities vague to protect the guilty.  Thank goodness we were leaving the next day.  I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

I’ll head home next week.  Don’t miss the flight!  I’ll see you then.

 

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

Frances is Lost

beach birds calm clouds
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

TRAVEL BUG TALES: WHAT DO WE DO NOW?

When Frances didn’t return to the hotel the evening after her boat ride, we were concerned but we still thought she’d show up, eventually.  We took a survey among our fellow travelers and the consensus was we were worry warts.  Frances had made a love connection and we’d hear from her soon.

The Day After

Well, she didn’t come home that evening and if she was having a good time, well then, that was OK, but geez, couldn’t she send a smoke signal or something.  This is where the whole cellphone thing comes in handy, but it wasn’t a thing yet.  Back in our day, people not only didn’t have cellphones.  Sometimes they didn’t have phones at all.  It wasn’t inconceivable the casino dealer didn’t have a phone.  He’d called her the other day, but it could have been from a pay phone.  We didn’t even know his name.

Debbie and I decided to stay around the resort, so we’d know whether she showed up or not.  We refused to stay in our room by the phone, but we wanted to be reachable.  There was a low buzz filtering through the resort.  Someone was missing.  Damn kids, some would say, so irresponsible.  Oh my goodness, others would say, and encourage us to contact her parents.

Contact her parents!  That’s the absolute, very absolute last thing we wanted to do.  We talked about it and decided it didn’t make any sense.  Frances was going to show up and then we’d all feel very silly – but what if she didn’t?  What if she was at a hospital somewhere, in need of her asthma machine?  Never, ever, never do this to your friends – ever!!!

By the end of the day we talked to the Adventure Tour people.  We didn’t want to alarm them, but we’d lost Frances.  They didn’t seem all that worried.  They did a lot of these college tours and someone was always disappearing, but they always showed up, just in time to catch the plane.

I’m pretty sure this is the evening we discovered two things, coconut rum and that a store across the street had Dr Pepper, along with other American things.  We borrowed big plastic iced tea glasses from the buffet, filled them up with chipped ice and poured the coconut rum over the ice.  The first time we may have sprinkled a little Coke over the concoction, but we soon dispensed with that altogether, sitting in the dark around the pool enjoying the smooth liquor.

There was no pretending now.  We were worried sick about Frances and we began to wonder why we’d waited so long to sound the alarm.  We’d be on TV.  People would stick their microphones in our faces and ask us why we hadn’t notified the authorities immediately.  Heck, we didn’t even know who the authorities were.  Adventure Tours was in charge of everything and they’d blown us off.

Debbie and I both still felt she’d show up, but we were also worried sick she wouldn’t.  If you drink enough coconut rum, you will go to sleep, even if your friend is missing.  The next morning the phone rang.  Who was calling?  Come back next week and find out.

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, 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.