Archives by Tag 'Dominican Republic'

Playa Dorada All Inclusive Bubble in a 3rd World Country

By DD - Last updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dami offered me a trip to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic for my birthday. He just couldn’t resist the Sunwing offer so we flew Mama D over and went for an all inclusive week to the adult only Viva Wyndham V Heavens Resort in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. We spent my birthday with dolphins and sea lions at Ocean World in Puerto Plata and it was a great time although the trip had its ups and downs. There was the filming of The Bachelor and Dami played Paparazzi and got us in hot water!

It was my first time flying with Sunwing and we chose Elite Plus class for extra leg room, priority boarding with extra luggage weight. We got a private transfer from the airport and the porter who brought our luggage was very unprofessional; I had to tell him his fly was down and when we got to the shuttle he demanded his tip!  Our driver was very nice though and we had a nice chat on the 15 minute ride to our resort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AT the Resort when informed that the room they assigned us would be ready at 1:30 I got a little nervous not knowing what room they would give us regardless of our preferences and needs. We changed into summer clothes and walked to the beach, and right away we got harassed by relentless vendors, and I mean relentless like hungry mosquitoes (I wish they had a spray for those!). While I was sitting on a lounge chair in the shade of a palm tree, I was chatting with a lovely retired couple from Quebec city and the vendors interrupted us so many times, each of them multiple times: sunglasses vendor, bracelets and necklaces vendor, Sea shells vendor, coconuts vendor, sculptures vendor, drums vendor, hair beads vendor, massage services lady, Manicure and pedicure lady. I am naming 10 different vendors here who each harassed us at least twice each so that’s a minimum of 20 times! I had read reviews where people wrote “Just say no thank you” and I wish it was that easy to get rid of them. And I’m not even counting the photographer and the activity vendor. I might have been curious to see what they were selling if they hadn’t been so agressive. I was in shock. I calmed down when we got to our room with a full tummy after a snack at the beach and a lunch buffet at the main dining room. It was super clean and spacious, it smelled fresh, and walking in the cool air conditioned room was nice. The view was very ordinary but at least it was on the outside not facing the pool, the disco and the activities. We took a nice long well deserved nap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our second day we ventured out the resort for a walk on Calle Principal Playa Dorada, and got harassed by horse drawn carriage drivers, at least 4 of them each twice. We stopped at the mall but because of the aggressive vendors we walked back out pretty fast. We walked by Blue Bay Resort and I thought about dropping by to check the place out since it’s another similar adult only all inclusive resort to where we were at. We walked in the lobby after being escorted by the security guard and right away was welcomed by Circle One Vacation Club sales representatives. From there we got sucked into a presentation about the Vacation Club. As much as I tried to get out of it, Dami said he agreed to stay and watch. I felt anxiety not unlike somebody trying to get away from a Scientology rep. Finally, after at least an hour and a half we walked out never looking back. All we wanted was to visit the premises but because of that experience we will never stay there. We also preferred the vibe at our resort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our third day was stress free and we just relaxed. On our 4rth day though our stress level went up a bit. We had reserved a rental car to be able to do things that suited us more than the onsite activities and along the process of getting the car there were a few bumps and potholes. Dami’s last rental experience at the Riu Bachatta was a smooth one unlike this time. When he got to the guest service desk he was told he had to drive with the rental company employee to the office in town. The office in town was a company called Kayac, in a derelict building, and the credit card couldn’t go through because of a problem with the network. The vendor tried to convinced him to go get money at the bank machine but Dami asked to be brought back to the resort. We then walked to the Budget rental company that was a 5 minute walk next to the shopping mall and the same problem happened there, the network was down. Dami phoned the bank and tried again but the connection was down. The girl told us we could go get 400$ usd at the bank and that would cover our rental and deposit. So we did just that but the network was down there as well! It was pretty nerve racking. At the bank, rules were pretty strict. We had to stay withing the marked lines on the floor and if a toe stepped out of line the security guard would tell you. The teller pretended he didn’t speak English and seemed to be mocking us watching us scramble with the customer next to us being the interpreter. He took Dami’s passport and credit card number and gave us 500$ usd but when we got to the dealer, the manager said that for security they needed a working credit card. So we were back at square one with half a thousand dollars on us. Now I just couldn’t handle it anymore and left Dami there and went back to the room. It took a few hours until the network was back online and they were able to finally put the card through; Dami went to pick up the car that we rented with a Pad and an internet connection. The connection was working fine at the office but back at the resort it didn’t work so Dami had to go back to Budget once more. It was so ridiculous that it was starting to look like a scene from The Out of Towners, the 1970’s movie with Jack Lemmon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were able to leave at 4 pm and only had a couple hours before sunset. We drove 3o minutes on the most hectic road I’ve ever seen to Riu Bachatta, where Dami spent 2 weeks in March but the security guards didn’t want to let us in. Dami remembered the road that led to the shop area with a pond and we parked there and walked on the beach where we were able to see the cats Dami took so many pictures and videos of although our little Taffy ( Dami’s favorite beach cat during previous trip) was ill with diarrhea digging and covering one hole after another: poor thing! We drove back to our Resort and at one red light got our windshield squeegeed. I locked the doors and took a picture of the guy in case he wanted to do something stupid. With all the scooters driving and passing left and right, and nobody signalling and even going through red lights and driving the wrong way it was a crazy ride. One more time, we were happy to get back to our resort, our sanctuary, our oasis, our bubble where we felt safe and relaxed. We took a walk to the beach after dinner and saw a tiny female pregnant cat. Some customers were appalled by the sight of the cat but we are cat lovers so we didn’t mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our 4rth day we went to the San Felipe Fort. We parked in the shade at the back entrance of the Fort across a municipal building surrounded by Police vehicles.  It was a nice stroll with a paying section with informative boards and a headphone guide. There was an adorable homeless female wiener dog sitting under a tree with the local vendors. She was so nice and affectionate. I was able to share a nice moment with her before the visit and before leaving I gave her some water although she looked tired and only wanted to rest in the safe company of humans. We then walked to The Museum of General Gregorio Luperon and once we got to the street, we got escorted by Police 2 Policemen telling us they were there from 8-6 for our safety, and it made us realize the possible danger we were in. I’m not sure if they wanted money though.  The Museum was very nice and well maintained compared to the surrounding buildings. I was looking forward to going back to the resort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 5th day was my birthday! We got to Ocean World around 11 and did the Dolphin experience with the behind the scenes tour. They gave us a yellow t-shirt with matching baseball cap to wear for the tour. We were the only ones doing the 30 minute dolphin tour and had the trainers and dolphins all to ourselves! Dami got to be pushed above the water twice and I got more hug time with Narissa and Niagara. We were also the only ones on our Behind the scenes tour so it was really like a full VIP birthday including the lunch buffet (not as good as our resort buffet). We had an amazing experience with all the animals we encountered including the dolphins, the parrots, the iguanas, the love birds and the sea lion. It was very quiet being the beginning of the low season. The snorkeling in the tank was nice and relaxing, and the water slides were exhilarating! It was a fun day filled with a little bit of everything including two more crazy 3rd world car rides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our 6th day, we were fortunate to arrive at the top of Mount Isabel de Torres by cable car just a few minutes before clouds wrapped themselves around the mountain to block the beautiful views of the forest, the ocean, the towns and the airport. It was a lovely visit with more stray cats and harassing vendors while going to the restrooms, with a lovely 2 hour walk in the rain forest Botanical Gardens. A lot of birds had already left north but we were still serenaded nonetheless while admiring the beautiful scenery. It is built not unlike a sunken garden that covers the whole summit with lots of moss covered and sometimes slippery stone winding pathways and staircases. It was an enchanted 2 hour spent 800 meters up in the clouds. When we returned to our room, there was a water shortage but it came back after a couple hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On departure day, the next morning, I got awoken half an hour earlier than planned by traveler’s diarrhea despite all my efforts using Purell, washing hands often and rinsing my toothbrush with bottled water. How happy was I for bringing my anti-diarrhea pills and even happier they worked! I do not want to imagine what would have happened on the flight if I needed to go when the seat belt sign is on forever because of turbulence! When we arrived home I was a grumpy cat and felt so exhausted! I didn’t understand because I had a good night sleep and feeling well rested earlier and the motion sickness pills’ effect had waned. It was around 5pm and I had to lay down and decided to go to bed a while after telling everybody to shut up (I’m so sorry!) and put on earplugs and eye mask, got up at 10 for cookies and went back to sleep and just slept all the way until 10 the next morning. I woke up with a bad sore throat and Dami started to feel ill a day after me. I had no energy for 3-days and slept a lot.

Among the extra things we brought with us was an hygrometer and an indoor / outdoor thermometer that was handy; the temperature was 23 indoors and 27 out in the shade of the cool balcony with 60-70% humidity indoors and almost 100 outside. We both agreed it was time to try a drier destination next time. With the extra luggage weight allowance, we were able to bring all those little extras we didn’t use but had just in case like mosquito bug spray, room bug spray and travel games. One cool app game we love is UpWords. We can play together from wherever we are as long as we have an internet connection. We just basically have many games going on at at the same time and play whenever we have a free minute. We didn’t need the other games like the travel Scrabble board game we barely ever used!

Would I go back? I don’t think so but thank you Dami for the memorable birthday gift! The Resort itself was fine but we like to do things on our own and go on hikes and visit historical places and museums and gardens. It was my first time in the Caribbeans as I had never been attracted for fear of catching something and for being uncomfortable with the idea of basking in luxury while so many people have next to nothing and live in poverty and misery. A lot of people prefer Mexico to Cuba and The Dominican Republic but then again, I do not want to get sick. I never got sick in Florida and I’m hoping mosquito transmitted diseases don’t get worse. I sure got to practice my Spanish: “Muchas gracias pero me gusta Florida mas que los países del Tercer Mundo”. Walt Disney World is still my favorite place to travel to and if I bought a vacation club membership it would be a Disney Vacation Club one! Even though the tap water in Florida doesn’t taste good it is not a health hazard. In this time in my life, I do like the comforts of home when I travel and there is nothing wrong with that. We had our share of not so comfortable travels like when we hiked section 5 of the Sunshine Coast Trail in British Columbia: It was the most rugged section of the trail and we did it backwards meaning we got lost many times because of all the logging trails up there. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done; 4 nights back country camping in the rocky mountains, at mount Troubridge in the clouds, sleeping on the ground. There was no facilities like cabins at the time, I’m talking about 15 years ago. We were carrying 100 lbs of stuff between the 2 of us and it was during the hottest time of the year, and we finished just in time for the mandatory forest fire evacuation! Boy that dip in the ocean felt great after that! I wish we had that on Tripsister. Another project! I like to travel but there are places I’d rather visit through a National Geographic Channel: it always looks better in brochures and documentaries anyway! Cant wait for virtual reality travel. How about something like Total recall?

Vacation Spoiler: The Bachelor Canada Filming in The Dominican Republic

By DAMI - Last updated: Thursday, May 4, 2017

Oh Great! We go on vacation and the resort has been invaded by a reality TV screw! We’re thinking this is the new Bachelor. What other reality show would have a dozen modelesque young women at a resort with with a camera crew and a mysterious tall handsome stud muffin?

We had prepared for almost everything for our vacation to the Dominican Republic to make sure we had repellent for mosquitoes, anti-nausea pills and anti-diarrhea pills, health insurance in case of a Tsunami, and sunblock for the high UV levels so we figured there was nothing that could dampen our week stay at an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic but we were sorely mistaken.

There was one thing we hadn’t prepared for, one thing we never imagined could happen to us and one that was possibly worse than explosive diarrhea and hepatitis-C combined with food poisoning and a power failure mixed with a case of rabies…yes I’m talking about being at a Caribbean Resort while a reality TV show is being filmed! Yes that’s right, it was the location of the upcoming The Bachelor Canada.

Chris Leroux, all 6’5″ of Bachelor amazingness during filming of the upcoming Season of the Bachelor Canada.

UPDATE: ET Canada announced that Chris Leroux will be the new Bachelor Canada on June 8th. Prior to this breaking news we weren’t sure what series was being filmed at the resort but now we know and these are the behind the scenes sneak peeks of the guys and dolls on location filming the upcoming season. The details below were written by our secret agent in the field before we could establish the details but now we know.

If you are like us and eat up reality TV like it’s HoneyComb Cereal with Chocolate Milk then you might not want to look at any of the pictures below because these are the contestants from the Fall season of The Bachelor Canada…so if you want to keep things under warps then don’t read the report by our roving reporter “El Grumpo” whi captured all of these scene on location during the filming which was happening while he tried to enjoy a romantic vacation. Little did “El Grimpo” know was that he was walking into a world of complicated emotions and razor thin g-string bikinis!

Good luck to Chris Leroux and the girls. We’ll be watching!

Ok now let’s hear from “El Grumpo” and his look at the action on the set of The Vachwelor Canada to be on TV in the Fall of 2017.

Spoiler Alert: “El Grumpo” reported seeing less than 12 ladies at the resort in May which could be a sign that these are a few of the remaining girls that didn’t already get dumped by Mr. Leroux or it could be that this location was for a handful of the contestants who had won some sort of quality time with Chris and the production team with their glossy beards and oily knapsacks or it could mean nothing just like most things in this self-obsessed world we live in. Ok enough…you’ve been warned if you don’t want to see stop now!

Looks like a reality TV show being filmed, how else would we explain a bunch of well-dressed mannequins walking together without a phone? Are these the new girls on The Bachelor?


Oh The Horror 
by Tripsister Papparazzi “El Grumpo”  Peurto Plata May 9, 2017

At first I wasn’t even aware it was a reality show. On our first day arriving at the resort in Puerto Plata we were exploring the beach, the various resort amenities and restaurants and as I was walking up the stairs to one little resort building a woman grabbed my arm and stopped me and rudely asked where I was going. I told her I was going to take a look at this part of the resort that was part of my vacation package. She said I couldn’t because they were filming a commercial.

Oh excuuuuuuse me! As if I could know there was some important commercial being filmed inside, I would hate to interrupt the production of a feminine hygiene commercial or a McDonalds commercial for a new Caribbean sandwich appearing on the menu. Such important creative process must be allowed to continue even if it interferes with the paying guest’s enjoyment of the resort.

Ah but as I peeked through the wooden shutters of the building I saw a group of young bikini-clad millennials lounging about with an entitled glaze on their faces that is the hallmark of a self-absorbed actress, surely.

Oh well…a commercial shouldn’t take too long to film so I left knowing that by tomorrow they would have wrapped up their Colgate commercial or whatever useless marketing grift they were producing and the guests would be able to enjoy the building they had commandeered for their commercial shoot within a day or two at the most.

That evening we dressed up for our evening dinner which we had hoped to be a lovely semi-formal affair as most folks dress up during the evening buffet meal at resorts so we put on our finest clothes and descended to the dining room.  We were escorted to our table, and sat by the window with a very smart table setting in front of us and lovely quiet music playing and the humid Caribbean air like a glorious perfume mixing with the aroma of the fine food. Ah the romance, ah the mystery and history of being in a far-away country with your loved one for a special getaway.

Hold on a minute, what is this coming in the door? A straggly group of t-shirt wearing, sweatpant and baggy short sporting grubbies come shuffling in with back-packs and clipboards and walkie-talkies into the dining room. Oh my, the level of class went from high to dry very quickly and I realized this was the production crew of the “commercial” I had been told was being filmed at the resort. Hmmm, my TMZ senses began tingling as it seemed like an odd-looking bunch to be there for a commercial shoot. These folks had the beards, the tattoos, the Elvis Costello eyeglasses and the rebel without a cause hipster t-shirts that seemed more like what a crew filming a reality show would be wearing.

Security had areas of the resort closed off for filming but the sound of giggling and adolescent drama behind the thatched pool barriers gave away the goods.

Suddenly I saw a few of the girls I had spotted earlier during the my first run-in with the production crew. In fact there were a whole group of the kind of girls you see on MTV or the Bachelor or Bachelor in Paradise; the Instagram types who pout out their fishy selfie lips and spend hours doing their hair and makeup watching YouTube and the SnapChatting about boys. They sat together to eat and I noticed that there was something missing…something that you would expect to see if ever you saw 10 gorgeous girls sitting at a table, and no, I’m not talking about mirrors, I’m talking about phones.

There were no phones anywhere and to me that meant one thing; these ladies are being sequestered. So I’m thinking that why would a bunch of pretty-faces have their phones taken away unless they were part of some reality show where they were not allowed contact with the outside world?

That night I went to bed after a nice walk to the beach; annoyed at the scraggly production crew who didn’t leave a tip for the service team at the dining hall and who showed up wearing their casual clothes like they were eating at the kraft services bus on some TV production set thereby making all of us well-dressed vacationers feel like we were just eating at a cheap greasy spoon off of Sunset Boulevard and not in beautiful Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic; but interested to see what I could learn the next day and I was in for a surprise!

The next day at breakfast the production crew were seated with their folders, radios, clipboards and rucksacks brimming with their daily supply of pretension and I was unfortunate enough to be within earshot and could hear them discussing something that seemed quite compelling. Their dramatic voices and excited gurglings were something you would expect to hear from a high-school group of cool-kids at the lunch table chattering about who is kissing who and who is a loser and who is upset with who over some insignificant teenage crisis. This was beginning to really smell like a reality show in production…these were the puppet-masters who were malevolently scripting the un-scripted program I concluded they were making. This didn’t sound like a Snapple commercial being made it sounded like one of those gag-reflex inducing shows that the lowest common denominator loves to swallow with their steady diet of Facebook and Chicken Nuggets.

My breakthrough moment came when I was in the resort gym working out. I was lifting a few dumbells just taking the edge off watching Resident Evil on the big screen. There was just me and the Dominican fellow who attended the gym and we were both in our own worlds until one of the bearded hipsters with the production crew came in with a tall hunky looking guy with a soap-opera 5 o’clock shadow on his chiselled chin. This guy was like 6’4” and looked like Johann Urb. Hmmmm…now this was interesting!

Without even considering that there were people in the gym watching Resident Evil the production assistant barks to the gym attendant to put on some music so his tall dark blonde precious cargo can have some techno music to better work-out. The handler then sat down and started texting and facebooking and instagramming while the hunk was on the treadmill gazing lovingly at himself in the mirror. That’s when it started to look like I was on vacation during  the filming of The Bachelor Season 22 or The Bachelor in Paradise Season 4 despite the clumsy attempts of their crew to remain low key.

One of the girls did look like Kristina Schulman and another a tad like Corinne Olympios but who can tell? It’s like trying to spot the difference between 100 store mannequins who have all come out of the same mold. The guy didn’t look like Robby Hayes or Chase McNary whom I had the misfortune of learning were potential candidates for the Bachelor in Paradise Season 4. Oh if I could have back that half hour of time I spent on the Internet looking at Wetpaint and Life&Style Mag (urgh).

The next few days the girls were seen doing interviews and strolling around the resort arm in arm like a fairy tea party. In the evening they took up space in the a la carte restaurants and the crew continued to come in and out standing around the buffet tables eating and discussing the critical issues of the days interviews.

I never once saw any of them leave a tip but maybe they did. I never saw it. I saw the crew eating at the dining room with their walkie talkies on the table and knapsacks on the floor while vacationers dressed to the nines sat and tried top dine romantically despite the waves of narcissism oozing from the production minions. My goodness they were grabbing chairs from other tables to squeeze into their little think-tank discussion groups during our dinner and would grab clean napkins off nearby tables and then stack their plates on clean tables. And these are the creative hard-working leaders of the reality tv world and they spread their demeanor onto the poor girls who are there to be a part of the Bachelor fantasy world and the ego stroking they receive from these napkin grabbers and plate tossers.

The whole week we were there the filming went on and the lie of shooting a commercial was now exposed. They tall hunky Bachelor candidate fit the profile, the girls fit the profile so now it’s just a question of waiting to see when ABC announces who are the contestants on the 2017 or 2018 Bachelor in Paradise or, my vote, the Bachelor Season 22.

El Grumpo – May 9 2017

Sorry Sir But it’s not quite right, this is Canada’s own The Bachelor Canada. Former professional baseball player Chris Leroux will be the next star of The Bachelor Canada.
Leroux was announced as the subject of the popular dating reality TV show on Thursday night. The new season of the show will premiere on W Network this fall. But still it was a good guess.

Mr. Chris Leroux during filming of The Bachelor Canada. He’s tall, chiseled and practically perfect. What lady wouldn’t want this specimen as their leading man especially the executives behind a reality TV show like The Bachelor Canada or The Bachelor in Paradise. Good luck bro! Keep it real and don’t fall for any drama from the contestants. We’re rooting for you to find love!

Plotting and parading is par for the reality tv course of action. I can’t wait to watch this now after seeing the grisly behind the scenes gloss up close and personal!

Is it the cameras that make everything worthwhile for us? Filming The Bachelor Canada in The Dominican Republic is tough work…take it easy ladies, we wish you all the best and don’t forget the haters are gunna hate! Keep it real Canada!