Time flies and yet another one of our trips
has come to an end. Writing about this one is going to be quite a bit easier than writing about Japan because not that much of anything has happened. It was a nice, good and relaxing family vacation.
Getting there and back was one of the things that we worried about the most. Aroshka is still quite little and this would be his first flight ever. We weren’t sure if he’s going to be able to handle 3-4 hours of being confined to a small place and if he would take all the noise and altitude changes OK.
Everything turned out to be not as bad as we thought. We didn’t have a separate sit for him — he were to fly in Alena’s lap. We had to wake him up very early in the morning to make the flight, but he wasn’t fussy at all because the ride to the airport and airport itself seemed interesting and exciting to him.
Inside the plane itself he fell asleep almost right away and slept for a good portion of the flight. When he woke up Alena and my mom walked with him through the isles, watched some cartoons on built-in TVs and fed him some snacks. And when we had only 20 seconds left until touchdown he started complaining, asking to go home and then threw up all over himself and Alena. Luckily he was back to normal soon after.
Our flight home was OK as well. This time Arosha didn’t sleep as much, so it was harder on Alena and my mom, but towards the end he was actually looking out of the window at the little houses and roads and was perfectly fine as far as motion sickness goes.
I myself flew without a motion sickness pill on our way back for the first time in a long time. Last time I did that when we were flying from Tashkent to Moscow right before our upcoming flight to U.S. So that makes it almost 17 years. I used to get really bad during flights and just didn’t want to risk it. But it is much easier to fly without one because all of them make you very drowsy. It’s good to know that I don’t have that problem anymore.
At the airport we were picked up by a shuttle bus and we were at our resort — Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus — in 30 minutes.
For a number of reasons my initial impression of the resort and the personnel was quite negative. Check-in was quite a bit unpleasant because of the person handling the procedure for us. A lot of personnel that we encountered on the first day was just unfriendly and I was getting a feeling like they all were doing us a great favor by serving us food, cleaning our rooms and so on.
Restaurant reservations were especially bad. You could sit there for 15 minutes while the person who was supposed to make a reservation would keep talking on the phone like you weren’t even there. I’m not really accustomed to this kind of rude behavior. It would be unacceptable in any place in this country that would hope to stay in business for a long time.
Food and Drinks
The buffet had a rather small selection compared to what we had on our cruise or in Cancun. When I asked what kind of light beer they have I was informed that they only had 1 kind of beer overall. When I asked for a Bloody Mary I was told that I should go to one of the bars and ask for it there and I will not get it here. And as for the wine they had 2 choices — red or white.
I remember in Cancun we had a fully stocked fridge and a bar stand with all kinds of alcohol. Not that I care all that much about alcohol, but it made everything feel cheap. Our fridge had some water, the same kind of beer and a bottle of Coke.
It’s worth noting that tap water is not drinkable. Not only that, they recommend to use bottled water even for brushing your teeth. And they supposedly use some kind of processed water for cooking and serving water in dinning rooms, but we weren’t sure if that was so and it make us feel a bit uneasy.
As far as food quality goes — it was OK. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. It was just OK. It felt like they use cheap ingredients for everything and even hamburger patties didn’t taste right to me. I remember that during our previous all-inclusive experiences we had a hard time resisting eating too much. Here it was easy. Maybe that’s a good thing. Dinner restaurants were better, but they weren’t any more special that our “everyday” Brooklyn restaurants. Again, we weren’t left hungry, but I didn’t get any particular enjoyment from something delicious either.
Hotel & Resort
Our rooms we ended up being very happy with. At first we thought they were located in a bad (location-wise) building (#5), but as the time went on we realized that it was actually one of the best places for us. The best part was that our rooms were interconnected which allowed us to put Arosha to bed and go to the other room and talk and do stuff. It made it very convenient.
Both rooms had balconies which were overlooking the gardens and the ponds inside the resort. The territory was much much bigger and much nicer than that of our resort in Mexico. This place had a lot of native trees with branches looking like long threads running down, green grass, flowers, palms, pools, fountains and ponds filled with ducks, swans and a bunch of peacocks which had a really loud scream that they loved to practice at night — that didn’t bother us much thought.
It was really very nice and we used to take walks with Alena through the numerous paths and marble hallways in the evenings after Arosha would go to sleep.
Beach and Sea
I’m really not a big fan of beaches and swimming. I hate getting sunburn and I hate putting sunblock all over myself. So while my mom preferred to bake in the sun I typically prefer to stay away. However we would go to the beach twice a day and while I would normally skip the morning part I would always go in the evening — around 4 or 5pm. The sun would not be as angry and I didn’t have to use any sunblock.
The water of Caribbean Sea was amazing. It was really warm, the bottom would be sandy and without much sharp rocks and I would sit in it for an hour or so every evening. It often had some mild waves going which made it even more fun. I don’t remember when I enjoyed swimming so much and I didn’t miss a single day (except for the day when they announced the iPad, but I made it up in the morning).
Arosha liked all the new stuff. He liked playing in the sand, some days he liked swimming in the sea, some he didn’t, he really liked the showers all around the beach. Some days he ate well, some days he didn’t eat well at all. He liked going to a kids playground — running around the slides, climbing all kinds of structures, and he especially liked spinning the “steering wheel” attached to one of the walls.
He also liked going to a kids’ dance even in the evening where they would all get on stage and jump around while some funky music was playing. He would get braver and braver each day and would get further and further away from Alena and onto the stage.
He really still is a handful though. He still wakes up early and needs all the attention of his mama. Alena spent most of her time running after Aroshka and doing things that he wanted to do, not things that she wanted to do. Feeding him still is a big chore. When he wants to eat — great, but when he doesn’t he becomes fussy and much harder to handle.
Aroshka also scared us all one day when he suddenly had a high fever, but luckily after a good night sleep he went back to normal. At about this moment all the little things that bothered me became quite meaningless and when Aroshka started feeling better I actually started enjoying the vacation.
Now reading all the stuff that I wrote above it comes off as there was a lot of negative stuff. But that’s not the impression that I want to leave and that’s not the impression that this vacation left with me. I’m just nitpicking and all off the negative stuff really wore off in the first day or two.
We met a lot of great people that work there — very nice and friendly people. Some of them work really hard to make sure people have a great vacation. The girl that works with kids starts of at 10am (at least that when we see her first) and spends her day watching after kids up to 5pm. Then she helps organize all the evening shows, does an nightly dance with kids at 8:30pm and takes part in the rest of evening entertainment up until 12am.
A lot of them work 13-14 hour days and really do make everyone feel welcome. Another guy that comes to mind — from the early morning he was running around in some costume around the beach making jokes and getting people to participate in all the activities. You could see him doing this all day long until the evening when he would take a part in a show in a theater pulling dance and acrobatic moves that I wouldn’t be able to do in my rested state. I don’t know where he gets all the energy.
So there really were a lot of good people there that made our time there more memorable.
The weather was very warm. In fact maybe a bit to warm. It was getting really hot in the open sun in the middle of the day. But it was very very pleasant to spend 10 days in “summer” during the winter. The last couple of days were cloudy and a bit rainy, but those tropical rains come and go very quickly and it kept everything cooler. Even though it was upsetting my mom greatly I didn’t mind slightly cooler weather at all.
This was the first trip that I didn’t take a computer with me in 10 years. I only had my iPad and it was more than enough. I’m happy to know that I can leave my bulky laptop at home and I know that iPad can do everything I need while I’m on vacation — which basically comes down to lots of reading and backing up and inspecting photos on a bigger screen.
The place has Wi-Fi all over the territory, but it costs $13 a day — way too expensive. But luckily they had a lot of issues with their configuration that allowed me to get on for free from time to time and sync up my reading apps on the iPad. Of course the only day that I really wanted the connection — Apple keynote — I couldn’t get on. So I broke down and paid for it.
Sadly I don’t really have any more idea of a real Dominican Republic after this trip that I had before. We really spent all this time inside a tourist zone which is nothing like the rest of the country. We wanted to take a tour to Santo Domingo, but decided that it would be too much hassle with Arosha.
Of the little that we’ve seen on our way from the airport to the hotel and back it appeared that people live in pretty bad conditions and are generally poor. Their houses look more like garages and tiny barns made out of hay. I don’t know if that representative of the whole country or of that particular part, but that’s what we saw.
I hope one day to come back and really explore the country itself.
I really enjoyed being with my wife, my son and my parents in this tropical paradise. I had enough time not to worry about the daily life and just wind down a bit before coming back to work. In fact it is a sign of a good vacation when you wake up on a Monday morning after, ready to go to work.
And even though I do prefer more active vacations you got to throw some of these in the mix as well. Just all the fun that Aroshka had there and watching him explore new things was worth it all in itself.