Hey DR officianados!
Just thought I'd share a few tid bits from our second trip to Republica Dominicana.
Going back this year was fun in that it was familiar, but still new since we are staying at the Gran Ventana which was new to us; it seemed surreal to see DR again. lol
We did meet some of the hotel staff from the Victoria there and we were so happy too see them!
I have to say I am just as impressed, if not more with the GV as I was with the Victoria last year. High standards of care are given to maintenance and cleanliness of the facility and grounds. The buildings themselves provide amazing amounts of quiet even when a show is going on in the main pool area at night. Revellers and those seeking peace seem to be able to coexist quite well, and most noise ceases at around 11pm. Problems seem to be addressed quickly. The staff works very hard from the front desk to the wait staff to the maids.
The food gives a very good variety with quite a few healthy choices. Being vegetarian cuts down on my options, but it's been fine.
We've had great weather for the past week and a bit, with only some rain at night. It's actually raining now as I type...lol. It's quite lovely.
Though we did not get the larger junior suite we wanted (the hotel is booke to capacity) we decided we really like our third floor room with a beach view. You can hear the surf at night, as well as all the insect sounds and beautiful birds in the morning. The size is plenty big, and the comfy king sized mattress is comfortable. A couple of tips: bringing a few hangers is great. I learned that last year. I like to hang some wet clothes on them out on the balcony. I do it on the backs of the plastic chairs, so they are not really visible since they don't want eveyone hanging clothes all over so that it looks like a tenament building...lol. The second tip which I passed on to my bro before he came is to bring a nightlight for the bathroom at night to avoid having to turn the exhaust fan on with the light. It can be loud and wake sleepers. I wish I had one this time!
I've been out birding some without seeing anything new from last year. There is this one bird though that calls while it is still dark out in the morning. It's driving me nuts trying to figure out what it is. Some sort of nighthawk or nightjar?
There seem to be lots of visitors this year...the beach is busy, but not too crowded.
We've been to Orange Market west of our hotel and there's lots of selling going on there. They vendors seem to be a bit less aggressive in approach which makes it more enjoyable. My brother who is also with us this year is a hoot to watch haggle. We actually had fun haggling and so did the vendor...lol. I bought a cool towell with a map of DR, and my sister in law bought one of those explosively colourful dresses...so lovely!
I have done some shopping in the plaza. Though prices can be high for some things...don't by sunscreen there, they aren't bad for other things. My husband Ray got the nicest swim trunks ever at the Oggi shop upstairs, for a very reasonable price. I also bought a beautiful original painting at a different shop. There's a small larimar shop upstairs too where the man makes a lot of the jewellery there. He has good prices too. I'll have to post the name later, since I've forgotten.
Being right on the beach has been great! We sure swim a lot more this time and I already have a decent tan...lol. My husband actually tried snorkelling this year and discovered he really liked it! You can buy a mask and snorkel set in the hotel lobby store for about 600 pesos which I thought was a pretty good price, so I got Ray his own set. I usually bring mine from home.
So far, we did try eating at the Ocean Grill on the beach...it was pretty good. I had the surf and turf, without the turf. The shrimps were good. I'm hoping to try the other two restaurants, but you really do have to reserve ASAP to get seats for them.
Though I'm not big into the activities, they seem pretty good and people enjoy them. There's dancers, karaoke nights, a Micheal Jackson impersonator night, and Miss Gran Ventana.
My only complaint which was the same as last year is the internet. I don't think it would be that difficult to have the wireless accesible in the rooms with a few more repeaters and routers. Also, 6 dollars an hours is excessive to me. I think they could improve on this!! The internet itself is pretty good and strong in the lobby and restaurant.
Since we did a lot of excursions last year, this year was geared more to relaxing and visiting with friends we made last year. I visited my friend Carolina's family and will go out to her boyfriend's grandparents home on the farm in the country. It's an experience to experience their lifestyle.
Our big outing this year will be to Samana to see the whales. I'll let you know how that goes.
Ok, I'm long winded as usual. Let me know if you have any questions! We stay another week and a half.
God Bless, Arlette