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This is why . . .

Some say – great to go away – but better to get home – however when home weather looks like this – the statement doesn’t ring true for me.  Lovely to be sleeping in my own bed with my own pillow but waking up this morning and looking out our windows at the frozen tundra just doesn’t feel inviting.  *sigh*  See below for my final words on our trip.

thisiswhy

To recap.  Christmas is the most expensive time of the year to travel.  Our vacation was from Dec.24.16 to Jan.7.17 – encompassing both Christmas and New Year’s Eve.  As a result prices were high and we elected to stay in a hotel rated 3 star by expedia – 4 star by trip advisor.  Stars relate to amenities available, quality of service, rooms etc.   There was a time in my life I was a hotel snob and would only stay in high end boutique hotels.  However, when travelling south I have never felt the need to go for broke.  South is all about the great outdoors, fresh air, sand, sun & surf.  OK…I do admit that higher end hotels tend to provide better food with more selection, but honestly you can pay less for a hotel and then go for dinners out from time to time for a change.  That way you can experience off resort culture and new food.

We stayed at Whala Bavaro – a self-described ‘low key’ hotel.  What I liked most about it is that it doesn’t have nightly entertainment or many organized things.  A few nights of guitar players (Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve & weekly BBQ night).  Once daily you can find aerobics on the beach.  The food is acceptable with little variety.  Probably the biggest complaint most people had was the food.  I did encounter some people complaining of a bit of ‘stomach issues’ – not necessarily linked to the hotel.  I’m a firm believer in Dukarol before travel, a daily traveller’s probiotic to keep the good bacteria up and metamucil as a binding agent (too much information? 🙂    I always have a bad tummy at least once every trip and in the old days it was worse, lasted longer and even into my trip home – I no longer have that issue with my daily regimen of the above!  (hey, this is VERY important travel info for those with weak constitutions or bad eating habits abroad 🙂 !!

So…Whala Bavaro – casual, don’t have to dress up for dinner (although you can if you like) – no long pants necessary kind of place.  We did buffet every night we stayed in the hotel, they have one small a la carte that we didn’t go to.  It has 3 pools – 2 of which always seemed a bit off colour.  We stayed in the highest priced suite section with our own pool.  It’s a new section and well worth the few dollars extra.  We aren’t pool users – we went in once, it was clean and only people from our section seemed to use it.  The rooms are very clean, the staff friendly and helpful (english is a challenge for them).  Whala isn’t actually on the beach, but has a small beach area a 2 minute walk.  The beach area could have been maintained a little better.  For our purposes, there was a bit of shade (we never sit in full sun for long), we were able to put our chairs steps from the water, there was a beach bar & snack bar (which we rarely used).  The best thing about Whala Bavaro is it’s location – in the El Corticito area of Bavaro Beach it is smack dab in the middle of a wonderful long, great for walking sandy beach and a block away from local restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacy etc.  Would we stay there again – maybe – but since we rarely go the same place twice – probably not.  Is it for everyone – absolutely not – but if you are ok with ‘nothing special’ but clean and less expensive, this might work for you.

I wasn’t fussy about my last trip to the Dominican.  We stayed in the Bayhibe area in a more remote hotel, filled with mostly Italians so it felt a bit more like Italy 🙂  There was little opportunity to mix with the locals.  This trip we came home with a far more pleasant ‘feel’ for the Dominican Republic.  All the Dominicans we spoke with and encountered were happy, pleasant people.  We didn’t encounter one situation that we felt might be dangerous, we felt safe at all times.  We are always ‘searching’ for places we might like to spend extended periods of time once we retire and we do feel that if we could find an area in the Dominican Republic that met our criteria that it would be a pleasant country to spend extended periods in.  Our criteria being a bustling little town on the sea close to amenities such as grocery stores, pharmacies with a great beach.  Of course, #1 is that it needs to be affordable on a limited budget and I think you can do that in most places in the D.R.   Let us know if you have any suggestions (in D.R. or anywhere warm 🙂 !!

48 sleeps until we leave for The Corn Islands, Nicaragua!!!

 

 

Beach Walking ……

The Beach in Bavaro (just outside of Punta Cana proper) is incredibly long…..I tried to google exactly how long but can’t seem to find it….at least 10 k and probably much further.  At high tide it’s just minorly soft but most of the time it’s the hard flatter type of beach perfect for walking/running.  The water although beautiful isn’t that clear clear type but for the most part it’s rock and coral free close to shore and the only impediment to swimming is a bit of sea grass in the occasional place.

As you strong along you pass myriads of hotels, condo buildings, beach ‘guys’ trying to get you to take a tour or go visit a local vendor, beach ‘gals’ offering to braid your hair or give you massages.  Unlike Mexico there are very few people selling tourist stuff along this beach.  I think I’ve only seen one fellow who is actually selling selfie sticks….smart guy, huh?  There is also a guy who sells ice cream from a cooler – go figure!

My photos today are ‘things we saw while walking along the beach’….one VERY elaborate sand creation featuring a man and a woman who were being attacked by a shark – amazing detail….done by a true artist…some of it had eroded a bit by the time we saw it.  Another lovely little medieval village, a foot print (not ours).  Unfortunately, the one huge issue with this beach as with many beaches around the word is that with rising sea levels there are areas with massive erosion.  The area called El Cortecito is particularly hard hit with the small stores along the shore being destroyed.  Some of the older hotels were built closer to the water and their beaches have all but disappeared.  I talked to a young local fellow ‘Luigi’ and he pointed about 20 feet out from the current ‘edge’ to where someone was swimming and told me that not so long ago that was the edge of the beach and that in 6 months he thought that where we were sitting would be ‘taken’ by the sea.

As you walk along in some areas you see palm tree roots where once it was solid ground, big palm with their base ‘ball’ partially exposed, in one section there are a series of large covered berms that have been erected to stop the waves from crashing in and further eroding the beach.  This is a serious problem.  The rising sea levels are said to be caused by global warming.  Global warming of course said to be caused by what we are doing to our planet.  How does it stop?  Consumerism at it’s worst 😦   Of course, there is another side to this.  The earth has been moving and shifting forever (I’m assuming almost infinity here 🙂 …..continents always shifting, water levels rising and lowering, ice ages, meteor crashes causing catastrophic conditions ……

The beach also changes from day to day in different sections.  There is sargassum – not huge amounts and most hotels keep it raked up, one day there was all this bright green stuff that I had never seen before, but only one day so far.  Some days there are almost pine needle looking things being washed in.  Mostly, it’s clear and most evident in the early morning or at higher tides.  The sargassum I know is a product of the higher, warmer oceans, the others are just typical of a beach that has winds and surf.

Amazing what a beach walk can make one think about . . . .it’s not all about pretty sunsets is it?

most of these photos (not all) were taken on our first beach walk of 2017 on New Year’s Day before the workers had come out to rake.

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We like to call this the Great Wall of Steven 🙂

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Trying again . . . .

Miss Lynn wondered where my photos were….I’m usually SO much better at posting…..we arrived on Saturday the 24th of December……and then went on an all day tour on Tuesday 26th….the other days all look like this – not necessarily in this order….

  • wake up
  • shower
  • breakfast
  • beach/swim
  • beach/walk
  • lunch
  • beach/swim
  • cocktails on our balcony
  • dinner
  • walk
  • reading takes place on the beach, the balcony
  • one afternoon we went to a local mall

Our next excursion is a Safari style excursion inland – on Tuesday 3rd of January 🙂

We are having a VERY relaxing v acation . . .  some photos….

Honestly, if I tell you I want to go to an all inclusive again…..remind me that it’s really not our style…kk? 🙂

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reading on the balcony

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beach erosion is destroying the waterfront stores in el Corticito

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browsing the local shops in el Cortecito

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This area is VERY popular with Russians

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These ones are at the medieval village outside of La Romana

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These are on Isla Catalena on our catamaran tour

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cruising the River Chavon on a paddle wheeler (with an outboard)

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Nativity Scene at the San Juan Shopping Centre

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Yawn……..

As always we were uber organised, packed and ready to go in enough time the night before to head off to the cinema!  AVX/3D Version of the new Star Wars – Rogue One!  It was terrific.  I was feeling a bit under the weather  though (cold coming on)….so instead of our 4k walk to the theatre we took a bus.  We did walk home though & stopped at a pub on Elgin for dinner on the way.

OK….December 24th seems SO long ago…..6 sleeps since then.  Essentially, we arrived in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic around 1 pm……got our room immediately.  Hopped into our bathing attire and headed for the beach!  In Dominican Republic Christmas Eve is a family occasion and the hotel had a special dinner with a guitar player and a surprise visit by Sana Claus…..

We are staying at the Whala Bavaro….it’s a 3 star hotel not quite on the beach, but has a beach area.  Honestly, the distance to the beach is less than it is in most big hotels.  Now, you may know that Johnny and I are NOT fancy travellers.  We prefer smaller hotels, we don’t need all of the amenities and aren’t squeamish if things are less than perfect.  So, the Whala fits the bill.  However, what is important to us is that it is very well located on Bavaro Beach and beautiful easy walking beach that is miles and miles and miles long!  It’s perfect!  It is on the Atlantic (vs the Caribbean) side of DR and the water isn’t as clear as there is lots of wind and waves, so lots of sandy rolling in with the waves…all good though!

Johnny is up….time for me to close this baby up, I will come back to it a bit later…20161224_10003620161224_06473720161224_20194420161225_10081220161225_17443220161225_174544

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