As of today, I have now been back off my holidays for a week and have only just got over jet lag. I always seem to come back of a holiday either needing another holiday or at least a good full week relaxing. I’ve almost had that this past week, despite the summer job searching – fingers crossed I get something this week. Anyway, now that rest is over, it’s full swing ahead with everything and back to working on my blog. I honestly am really excited as this is just one of the many posts I have planned. I have so much to share with you over the next few weeks and then I’m off to Tanzania to climb the world’s tallest free-standing mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro! Updates on that to come as well.
I thought I’d begin with giving you a rough breakdown about everything Dominican Republic, however, later I will be doing a proper hotel review and reviews of the excursions to go a little bit in more depth and I’ll be able to share more photos of the trip.
Our flight from Manchester wasn’t too bad at all. Everything was on time and despite only having the standard seats, there was plenty of leg room. That said, I have small legs. We flew on the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner with Thomson Airlines which offers a lot more modern technology than most. With TVs on the back of every seat that show every type of movie or TV programme going, including Inception, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Passengers, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, Arrow, and a lot more. If you’re like me and really can’t be bothered to watch anything, despite the 9 hour flight, there were always games available or some very odd music choices. The meals were your basic long haul flight meals. We didn’t have them. This was the first holiday where we have downright refused to take them off the air hostess but there was no point in giving them to us. We never eat them. Just the smell makes me feel sick. I’d much prefer to have a baguette like they offer on short haul flights. Instead, we went to Uppercrust before boarding and purchased our lunch, after our Burger King breakfast. The worst part about the flight was the air pressure. Normally it doesn’t bother me but I came off feeling very stuffy, almost like I was full of a cold. Ed even had a nose bleed completely out of the blue which we put down to the pressure. Once we were off, everything cleared up. That strong smell of humidity hit us and I knew I was back in the Dominican Republic for my eighth time.
Visas on hand, we were straight through security and immigration and easily found our cases. On to our transfer to the hotel which I remember being around an hour. Instead it only took about half an hour and we thought things were going very well until we arrived at the hotel along with another 3 coach loads full of people. I have never seen so many people get dropped off at one hotel. I kid you not, I think the entire flight went there! Despite the large amount of people, it didn’t take too long to get checked in and head to our room. One thing I regret was not taking our suitcases with us, instead we allowed the concierge to take them off our hands. Of course, because so many people did the same thing, it took nearly an hour before we received our cases in our rooms. On the plus side, we got a free room upgrade! I had previously been in contact with RIU hotels because of my other posts about some of their other hotels and they said they would see what they could do for my next trip. Nothing was arranged for definite and I hadn’t got my hopes up so the surprise was just amazing. The rooms aren’t much different. They are bigger with a couch and armchair. Normally what you pay for is the view. It was absolutely astonishing. The room overlooked all the beach front and the beautiful walkway that is part of the hotel. The walkway up to a view point was made mainly for weddings but due to the wind, it became a monumental view point to see the gorgeous surroundings. At night we could see the most amazing sunset from our balcony and if we wanted, we could step out our room and easily get on to the next floor to get a higher view. Other than the view and room upgrade, I received a little present on arrival – some Santo Domingo coffee, known as the fourth best coffee in the world and can cost around $10 for the size bag I got, and a very special VIP RIU mug. I will definitely be using that in my new house at uni! The night finished with us managing to stay up and watch the show. Mainly because it was a mix of Chicago and Burlesque songs. Burlesque is one of my favourite movies and I’ll admit, I nearly cried when then began to do a lyrical dance to Bound to You! It was the best beginning to our holiday!
The hotel was all inclusive and offers the main buffet restaurant at lunch and at dinner. Each night, another al a carte restaurant opens where you can go to the steak house, Caribbean restaurant or the Italian. Throughout the day there is an entertainment program that the animation team put on for all guests at the hotel. You can begin with stretching and yoga in the morning or go straight to a game of mini golf. In the afternoon it was horseshoe time and then there was always a crazy game which changed each day. Unfortunately on this holiday, for the first time ever, I did not win anything. Not even a single game of bingo! I was pretty disappointed but I suppose the games were played slightly different than what I remember from previous holidays to the same hotel and the RIU Tequila. There were ups and downs to the hotel as there will always be but I’ll explain that in more detail on my full review.
On days where we got particularly bored, we decided to go on a few excursions. Our first one was to Mount Isabel de Torres. After a bit of research at home, I found out there was a walking trail up the mountain and since I had previously done it via cable car, I thought it would be a good idea that myself and Ed trekked up ourselves. It would also be good training for Kilimanjaro in August. Knowing it would take about 3 hours, basically through the jungle, we hired a guide to take us up and when we reached the top there was the Christ the Redeemer replica many flock to see. The trek itself was a lot harder than we expected. Even the rep at the hotel said it was easy enough and that we could simply do it in our trainers and there was no actual rock climbing involved. She was mistaken. There were plenty of times where it was so steep, I was physically on my hands and knees having to pull myself up. It was also quite slippery on the more rocky areas too, especially at the beginning, so I was very glad I wore my proper walking boots. By the end of it I was completely knackered and thankful for two days rest before our next excursion. It was a great experience but not something I would recommend or ever do again.
The next two excursions were much more relaxed. We did the Outback Safari where we were taken out in a big jeep to explore different areas of the Dominican Republic. We were shown a traditional house, plantation, a school, gorgeous river where we were able to cool off, tasted some delicious traditional cuisine (chicken, rice and beans), and then headed to the beach for some body boarding in the afternoon. It was a day full of adventure and something I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is heading out to DR. Although we found out a lot about the history on this trip, we chose to do the city tour of Puerto Plata in our final few days. Taxi companies offer this at a much cheaper rate than booking with a travel company. We were taken through poorer and richer areas where politics and wealth were explained. We stopped of to get some photos of the gorgeous views before heading to the rum factory, a cigar factory, Puerto Plata main town centre area and cathedral, and then the coastline where San Felipe fort is found. We learnt a lot about the history and revolutions of the Dominican people; their wars with the Spanish and feuds with Haitians. It was a very informative day and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Plus we were back at the hotel just in time for lunch, ready to start the afternoon’s activities. I’d definitely recommend both of these trips out and will be going into more detail soon, so look out for those posts!
Throughout the final few days we got to know some really amazing people and had some great laughs. Most nights we were in bed by 11 (normally I read my book) as we aren’t the sort of people who go out clubbing but the last two nights we were out until 2, maybe 3am just chatting to our new friends. It would be lovely to meet up with them all again. I loved the holiday itself; we had some amazing experiences and the country is beautiful, but it truly is the people you meet along the way that make the holiday. Just wished we had got to know them earlier on in the holiday.
Overall we very much enjoyed ourselves and I’m definitely glad we booked to go. I still miss Mexico though! I would happily go back but perhaps we’d visit the south and Caribbean coast next time. Edmond and I always talk about the trips we will do one day and a big one has always been to island hop the Caribbean. When we do that and we come to the Domincican Republic, we will most likely head straight to the south before heading to Puerto Rico. Doesn’t that sound like the dream! One day!
Until then, look out for all my other Dominican Republic related posts. Of course I will be needing to prepare for Tanzania now so keep up to date with what’s going on via my twitter or Facebook!
See y’all soon!
– KC xx