On April 20th we Thiessen Six jetted off to the Dominican Republic for a week of much needed R&R. I can't believe that I'm writing this a week after getting back home but we hit the ground running and I've barely sat down. Not only did we have to immediately get back into the swing of things but add onto that the mounds of laundry and sand removal and it makes for a fairly busy post-vacation week. (I think Riley is still getting sand out of her hair!) That's always the downfall of travel though, and no matter how much you prep for it, it doesn't seem to help. Oh yeah, and you're feeling cold and slightly depressed to have come back to reality (okay, I speak only for myself but you know what I mean...)
So, we went to a resort called the Holiday Village Golden Beach Resort (yes, it does have the world's longest resort name...) in Puerto Plata, DR. We did the all-inclusive thing and I'm pretty sure it was worth it just to not cook for the week. We have no complaints; we swam, ate, played, ate, drank, ate, read, tanned and did I mention we ate?... and repeat. The resort was fantastic, clean and convenient and the beach gorgeous. Because of 'the sheer number' of people in our family we were required to get two rooms and on the way down I was slightly worried because, although they request adjoined or side by side rooms, there is no guarantee until you get there. But we were very fortunate and it all worked out.
We took a direct flight, which from St John's is rare. It was quite long, 5.5 hours there and just under 5 coming back but he kids did really well, they are seasoned travellers by now though I'm pretty sure that's the longest direct flight they've been on (other than my trip to Aus and NZ with Riley), so they did hit an 'are we there yet?' point. It was getting late, we don't own handheld devices, the portable DVD player had lost it's juice (it didn't even make one movie!) and "7 Pounds" just wasn't interesting enough! But, as soon as there's less than an hour, everyone gains some extra steam and then the city lights come into view. Mattea did pretty well. She hit a point where she should have been sleeping and couldn't that wasn't so fun, but then she knocked off and awoke there bright eyed and bushy tailed, back to her neighbour-charming self.
Because it was a direct flight, all of our luggage made it (yay!) and as soon as we grabbed our bags, we found our transport bus as all the St John's passengers fanned out to different resorts. We went with Signature Vacations (my second time with them - highly recommended) and when we arrived at the bus they already had our room keys and registrations ready. We didn't even check in and I could see from the room numbers that we were side by side! (As an aside, I, in a stroke of brilliance, had packed the baby monitor just in case we were a few rooms apart and it ended up being so handy anyway!)
Our rooms were family rooms, which not all resorts have. Both rooms had a king sized bed and then a little alcove with bunk beds. So cute! The alcove was painted with animals, had it's own little TV and had the entrance to the bathroom. We put the older three kids in one room, and us in the other room with Mattea, for whom they had already placed a crib in the alcove. The rooms had fridges - that were well stocked with pop and beer and huge bottles of fresh water - as well as a safe, closet, desk and TV. Both rooms were ground level with sliding doors and patio furniture which worked out so well because when Mattea napped (which she totally needed after playing so hard!) one of us could just lie out in the grass in the sun. We were also really close to the pool so, I will admit, we may have run to cool off for a second while she slept... shhh, don't tell.
So that was the start of our week and from there on we just played and played. The beach was fantastic and very quiet as far as numbers of people. The kids loved the big waves and spent time on the boogie boards every day. They loved the pool too, so our biggest decision every day was to decide where to start - pool or beach? Yes, it was rough.
We even made some friends! Our rooms were in a little entrance that we shared with another family of 6 in two rooms. They ended up being similar in age to our older kids and they played a ton over the week. They are also from St John's so we could see them again! It was really nice that there were so many other families, big ones too and no one is a stranger when Mattea's around; we met lots of people simply because she has to meet everyone!
The food was fantastic and we ate a lot of it. On top of the regular buffet restaurant there were four themed restaurants that we enjoyed; two on our own and two with the kids. On two occasions we walked into a little mall close by and one day we went on a tour that took most of the day. We went to a coffee 'factory' and a soap carving 'factory' and went on a hike through waterfalls and even stopped by a school. It was a little weird for us to just walk into a classroom, but it seemed totally normal to them! We were fed lunch at a little restaurant in a tiny town and got to see lots of fruit plants and even a demonstrative cock-fight. Yes, you read that right...
It was a wonderful get away. After working so hard all year, Barton was able to just play and relax with the kids which hasn't happened in a long time and we got a little sun that will hopefully carry us over to our regularly scheduled summer.