I'd like to start by clarifying a few things.
Although I found the deal through Groupon, I did not technically purchase it through Groupon. I wanted different dates and airport than was available so I contacted Travel by Jen directly. So no, I cannot go after Groupon. Nor do I think Spirit Airlines is in any way culpable. Also, the package was non-refundable and we were fully aware when we made the purchase. The deal was good, it fit the budget, and we thought it would be a fun adventure.
It was just roughing it a bit more than we wanted.
Day Two - aka Valentine's Day. We woke up around 8:00 and packed everything back up. I took a cold shower/whore's bath - there was no way I was getting in that shower barefoot and luckily it had a hand sprayer. At this point I was beyond caring about how wet the bathroom would get. We braved the buffet for breakfast - I had pancakes and they were pretty good.
We grabbed an Uber to take us to the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo. Almost immediately we were greeted by Alberto asking us if we were looking for a tour guide. We were a little reluctant at first but after checking out his credentials, we decided to hire him. He said he taught history for over 30 years and he definitely seemed like he knew what he was talking about. And let's be honest, it seemed like hiring a local that could speak English and Spanish would be a good idea.
He took us to a couple of shops looking for larimar jewelry (at my request - randomly I bought a ring in Maui years ago - turns out the only place you can find it is the Dominican Republic). Rob bought me a really cool ring that is amber on one side and larimar on the other. We also got our first glimpse at blue amber and after doing research later we are both regretting not buying any.
Once we stopped shopping, we walked around enjoying the history. It's really lovely. I wish I could remember the names of all the places we visited but I'm old and my memory isn't what it used to be.
Who am I kidding? My memory has always sucked unless it's about song lyrics or movie quotes.
Anyway, we stopped for lunch at Pat'e Palo and if you ever find yourself in Santo Domingo I highly recommend this place...they must be doing something right, it was established in 1505! It is the first tavern of the Americas. And the food was amazing. Like I'll be craving those flavors for a long, long time.
For example, for a starter we had Crispy apples which was breaded apple slices topped with onion and ginger confit, parmesan fondue, and sauteed shrimp. Then we split a shrimp coconut curry served over basmati (but possibly saffron) rice and I wanted to lick the plate. Not gonna lie - I'm a little mad about it. I can maybe find the coconut curry dish here but the crispy apples? I'm going to have to figure out how to replicate that. This meal alone made "resort" #1 worth it.
After lunch, we went back to the "resort" to grab our bags and check out. They didn't even bother asking why we were leaving 3 days early. I'm betting it wasn't the first time it happened.
Here comes the tricky part. Our new resort is in Punta Cana which is approximately 2 hours away. How do we get there? We called for an Uber - which ended up being the same guy that dropped us off not 20 minutes earlier. Jose said he would be glad to take us but could we skip the app because Uber takes 40% of the fare. He would do the same price, just get to keep all the money. So obviously we agreed.
Did you know Uber takes that much? We didn't. I knew they took a portion but that seems like a lot. I did find out the driver keeps 100% of the tip so if you are feeling generous you can make up the difference that way.
Sidebar: also special thanks to google translator because Jose did not speak English. At all.
It was a nice drive to Punta Cana. Part of the way we had ocean on one side, then mountains on the other. Every now and then we would cross a bridge overlooking rivers or lush forests. Oh and fields and fields of sugar cane!
I think we arrived at the Occidental Caribe around 5:00. Immediately we knew we made the right call. The property is enormous and lush and just amazingly beautiful. Frankly we couldn't stop gushing about it to the agent checking us in. We filled him in a little on our story and he asked where we had been staying. "Boca Chica".
You know when you see someone do something painful and you look down and kind of tilt your head and go "whhhhhhhhooooooohhhhh" and exhale because you know that hurt but you also are glad it isn't you?
Yeah. He did that. Followed by the head shake and little laugh.
We were immediately shown to our room and OH MY GAWD was this an upgrade. I mean just from the moment we stepped in the room, we knew it was worth the added expense.
I mean, for starters it was just cleaner. Everything just looked newer and nicer. The bathroom ceiling wasn't caving in, the beds were not hard as a board, and the view? You tell me.
We quickly unpacked and changed into bathing suits so we could finally get in the water. We were getting hungry now since it had been a while since that delicious lunch that we foolishly split but once again, we checked in too late for dinner reservations. So we headed to the buffet which I am happy to say was both more abundant and palatable than the last place.
Also since it was Valentine's Day they greeted us with mimosas and a rose.
After eating, we walked out and there were multiple vendors set up. We each bought an art piece and Rob bought a few other trinkets. Then finally, pool time. The weather is gorgeous, the night is spectacular and there is no one in the pools AT ALL.
Why are the pools completely empty? Oh - probably because it's Valentine's Day.
Except nope. They close the pools at 7:00. Dammit.
We walked down to the beach for a while before heading back to our room for the night. Looks like tomorrow is definitely going to be beach day.
I'm posting photos in Facebook if you want to see more...