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Punta Cana 2014 - Pros & Cons

Sunday, March 02, 2014

My dad and I just returned from Punta Cana yesterday afternoon after spending a week at the Grand Palladium Palace Resort & Spa.

Overall, we had a good time with more pluses than minuses. The weather was almost perfect. It rained one evening on our way to dinner and once overnight. Other than that, it was sunny and hot every day with a nice Caribbean breeze.

The pros of our trip include:

- The Pool

It took me 15 minutes to swim 10 laps of the pool and I tried to do a minimum of 20 laps daily.

- The Ocean and the Beach

The beach was long (almost a kilometre) with fine, non-seaweedy sand. The ocean was warm and not too wavy. However, I only "swam" in it once because I much preferred the pool since it was easier to swim in and get some exercise.

- The Beach wildlife

We saw this cute little guy on the beach the first day.

- The Company

I always go somewhere warm in February with my dad. Both of us are sick of the cold and the winter by then and look forward to our annual trip.

- The Food (overall)

(Crepes Suzette at La Chanterelle)

- The Flights

I usually get an awful earache and/or headache when the plane is landing but I didn't have any problems either way. I also paid extra for my dad and me to have seats with more leg room. Well worth it in my opinion.

- Free Wi-Fi in the Lobby

Most days, I went to the lobby for a couple of hours when it was hottest out to use my computer to touch base with family and friends. The Internet was a little slow but not too bad.

- Weight

My goal was to not gain any weight while away. Unfortunately, I gained 2 pounds but I still consider this a Pro as it could have been much worse.

- Alcohol

I only had one alcoholic drink the first day and two sips of sake at the Japanese restaurant.

The cons of our trip include:

- The staff at the resort, for the most part, didn't speak or understand English so if I wanted something specific, I had to go online to look up how to say it in Spanish, e.g. tea with milk is te con leche. Although, that said, they tried to be helpful and friendly despite the language barrier.

- The specialty restaurants didn't take reservations so you had to show up when they opened and hope to get a table. The tripadvisor website said that La Parillo, the steakhouse was also a good choice for dining and we showed up at 7:30 for a table and told that there wouldn't be one for two more hours. It's fine if you like eating early but since lunch wasn't until 2, eating early meant that we sometimes were at a restaurant but weren't even hungry yet.

- I wanted to read a minimum of 3 books during the week but I only got 2 read since the first one I chose took longer than I thought it would (4 days).

- On Friday, I woke up with some bathroom issues so I avoided dairy and fresh produce for the day except for one banana in an effort to reduce the possibility of any accidents. Friday night, I woke up around 3 a.m. feeling like I was going to throw up and rushed to the bathroom but felt better once I got there but was wishing for an antacid, which I didn't think to bring with me. I took aceteminophen with codeine (what I use in place of Immodium) throughout Friday and Saturday (our travelling home day) to avoid bathroom emergencies. I'm still not feeling 100% but I'm better. I also didn't exercise Friday morning in the room prior to going to the pool because of not feeling up to snuff but I swam 40 laps in the pool for a total of 1 hour so I did get some exercise that day.

- I got a blister on my right big toe the first day and then a small pus-filled sac on the side of my right foot and a larger one on the side of my left foot, which made it somewhat painful to walk and to put my sneakers on for my exercise. I have no idea what caused the two pus-filled sacs. The blister occurred because I needed to adjust the strap on my sandal.

- On Thursday, my dad and I went to the beach to swim in the afternoon. Somebody had stolen his towel and chaise from when he was there that morning but his chair was still there with 2 towels on it plus someone else's stuff so he just took one of the towels since it was probably his anyways.

We found two empty chaises and were going to move them to a quieter area and while I was pulling my chair across the sand and up a small incline, I fell on my butt. It happened so fast; I literally wasn't expecting it. My dad helped me up and told me to just carry our bags and he would move the chairs.

After relaxing on the chairs for about 45 minutes, we decided we wanted to go swimming but getting in and out of the ocean was tricky since the sandy bottom was slightly hilly with some deep drops and of course, the water itself was wavy and tended to knock me off balance as well.

So, my dad and I agreed to help each other in and out of the water but my dad didn't help me with the getting in part and the first big drop landed me on my butt AGAIN! And, then I couldn't get up because each time, I tried to get up, a wave knocked me over again and it was all so ridiculous that I couldn't help laughing and my dad was trying to pull me up but I just couldn't get my footing. Finally, the lifeguard came over and pulled me up and out. Consequently, I didn't do any swimming that day. emoticon

- The Airport

We arrived and departed on a Saturday. Arrival was chaos. About 1000 people arrived at the airport all at the same time and there were lines for everything from going through customs to going through immigration to getting our bags and it was really hot in the terminal. One of the airport personnel told me that Saturdays are their busiest days because of all the incoming traffic.

Arrival may have been chaos but departing the airport was very stressful and of course, I was having multiple hot flashes as well. We got to the airport around 9:30 a.m. Lining up to get our boarding passes went smoothly but my dad wanted to use a rest room before going through security so I waited outside on a bench for him. We headed toward security and after we had been in line for only a couple of minutes, I realized that I couldn't find our boarding passes or baggage claims! Somewhere between checking our bags and this line-up, I had lost them so we had to backtrack. First stop was the bench by the restroom and there was nothing there but a woman saw us looking and wondered if I was looking for my boarding passes and of course, I said "yes". She said that she and her husband just found them and he had given them to one of the airport staff and as he could still see the staff person, he went after him to tell him that I had come back looking for them so that was a relief. emoticon My dad and I thanked both of them profusely.

But we had to get in line for security once more and it was really long but moved fairly quickly. We loaded the trays with our shoes, personal belongings, etc. and went through the gateway. On the other side, a female employee told me to put up my arms so she could pat me down, which I did but I'd forgotten to remove my pedometer so she found that and indicated that she wanted to know what it was. I told her it was just my pedometer and that I had forgotten to take it off. She looked miffed but let me go.

I had to wait for my dad as he had to remove his belt and shoes and it always takes him longer than me due to his age.

It was now 10:30 and our flight was due to leave at 12:30 p.m. with loading the plane beginning at 12:05 p.m.

We went and found our Gate and I left my dad with our carry-ons and I went to buy us some water (since the tap water was suspect).

I got back to our seats about 11 and sat down to read. Periodically, someone would make an announcement over the PA system but it was indecipherable due to the language and accent but around 11:30, I was sure that I had heard my name in the announcement. My dad said that I was imagining things and to ignore it so I did. At about 11:45, another announcement was made and this time, my dad heard my name as well. It asked me to go to our Gate so I did. The man there told me that my checked bag had been randomly selected to be searched and that I would have to come with him to ensure that nothing was taken.

I said my plane was leaving soon and why did they want to search my suitcase; I was just a normal woman with normal woman stuff in my suitcase but he kept saying it was just routine.

I had to go all the way back to security and then he told me to wait when he went to get my suitcase. This probably took about 5 minutes and then apparently, certain personnel were also needed and this took about 10 minutes and it was now 10 to 12 and I was feeling very anxious. All told, 4 men went through my suitcase taking everything out, checking out each still unopened package of gum, looking in all the pockets, looking in the liner of the suitcase, handling all of my dirty underwear, etc. and I hated it. They even made me turn my computer on and off. We didn't get done until after 12 but the original man told me that the plane would have to wait for me so I shouldn't worry but I was because I knew my dad would be wondering where I was. However, I had to stop at the restroom on the way back though because my nerves had made my bladder weak.

When I got back to our Gate, everyone was gone except my dad who looked relieved to see me and we headed outside to get on the bus that would take us to the plane. A lot of the people from our train weren't on the bus but waiting beside it. I found out that they had been on the bus but since it wasn't air conditioned and they had been on it for 15 minutes, they got off because it was just too hot. The reason the bus hadn't taken them over yet was because they were waiting for me. I tried to get an upgrade on the plane, which I thought I more than deserved after all the hassle but no such luck.

DH thinks that I was singled out because of the lost boarding pass and that honestly, didn't occur to me but he may be right.

And, now, I'm home again where it's still cold and snowy and I'm tired and achy. I laundered everything in the suitcase even the stuff I didn't wear because of all those hands touching my stuff. I even thought about throwing the gum out but I didn't since it really hasn't been opened yet.

I've done the grocery shopping and two loads of laundry and this blog. I booked tomorrow off from work as well and I'm glad because this week is going to seem long enough as it is. I have a dentist appointment on Thursday and a hair appointment on Friday.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Love your pictures! emoticon
    That is the cutest crab I've ever seen with those big eyes!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1478 days ago
  • JMOUSE99
    Wow, very stressful traveling! I'll have to remember not to arrive on Saturday if I ever go to the DR (which I really want to). Glad everything worked out!
    1478 days ago
    Wow.What an adventure. Sorry Joanna, I had to laugh at the mental image of your dad and then the lifeguard trying to get you on your feet. Sounds like something that would happen to me. I'm glad you had a good time...and am sure you loved getting away from the cold and snow.I wish I could go somewhere warm.Was your pain much better when you were there?
    1479 days ago
  • _LINDA
    A nice relaxing getaway to be sure. Traveling to get there is always the worst part for me as it always means a personal search through security because of all my metal parts -they were always surprised one so young would have that much. I felt like maybe I should just wear a bikini checking through lol.
    So glad your boarding passes were found!!
    1479 days ago
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