Saturday, 2020 March 14

I slept off and on for most of the flight. I didn't really take note of exactly when we landed in Minneapolis, but I think we had about an hour to spare before our next flight.

Our next gate was quite close by (I think we arrived at G4 and were leaving from G10), so it was a relatively short walk. We arrived at G10 just as they announced first-class boarding, so we basically walked right on.

We filled out the Dominican Republic's immigration and customs forms on the plane. The $10 tourist fee was already included in our plane ticket; the internet says this has been standard for a few years, so I was expecting that.

The flight to Punta Cana was not good. It was an old plane without much space in first class, the breakfast was greasy and not good even by the standards of airline food, and the service was about as bad as any we've ever had in first class. Normally I'm quite happy with Delta, but not this time.

We landed in Punta Cana about ten minutes ahead of schedule. This is a tiny airport, and we taxied right up to our gate and quickly disembarked.

Immigration was super easy - a very bored official scanned our passports, stamped them, and waved us through with barely a word spoken. We fended off a couple offers of assistance on our way to the baggage claim. This was also relatively quick - honestly, we probably got our bags here faster than we often do in Seattle.

We fended off a couple more offers of help before I finally gave up and let someone push my bags; Krista gave up as well. We walked right through customs; we handed another very bored looking official our forms, which he didn't even glance at.

Next we went to the transportation counter. We had booked our trip through Costco Travel, which meant that our local grand transportation was included. Costco is partnered with a local outfit called Blue Travel, so we went up to their counter.

This was an interesting experience - I couldn't tell if the attendant was trying to sell us tour packages or warning us not to buy tour packages. In any case, we were soon on our way, helped once again by our baggage handler. He took us straight to a waiting van - we were the only passengers - and loaded our luggage. I tipped him and then we were on our way.

The driver was very friendly. It was about a fifteen minute drive; probably half of that was spent in Cap Cana itself, which is gated - the driver said in general Dominicans aren't allowed in unless they're employed there or have a specific task (like dropping off tourists). This seemed a bit unfair to me.

Eventually we got to Sanctuary itself. This was also gated. We had to provide our names before we were waved through, but then we were on the grounds. It was a short but gorgeous drive from the gate to the lobby.

Our driver unloaded our bags, which were immediately taken by an attendant. We were shown into the lobby, invited to sit down, and a few minutes later someone arrived to check us in - plus a woman with two flutes of sparkling wine.

Check-in was fast and painless. We were then handed off to Moises (pronounced "Moses"), who took us and our bags to our room via a golf cart. He was the second person to note my Tigers hat; I knew baseball was big in the Dominican Republic, but I hadn't expected there to be so much immediate recognition of American teams.

Our room was huge and gorgeous; Moises unloaded the cart while we admired the view and checked out our veranda. I tipped him well, and we were officially on vacation.

Since we had basically traveled all night we were both exhausted. We relaxed for a while, then took showers to get rid of the road grime.

We were both peckish but we were in the food dead zone between the restaurants stopping serving lunch (1600) and starting to server supper (1830). Luckily there's a snack bar on the beach that stays open a bit later, so we left our room and went looking for it (plus a little more exploring). There were two chicken dishes that were quite good; everything else was stale and/or tough. Still, it took the edge off our hunger.

We headed back to the room for some relaxation and a short nap. By then it was time for the restaurants to reopen, so we decided to go to the Blue Marlin, the resort's seafood restaurant. It's perched on stilts over the ocean. As we were among the first to arrive we got great seats right at the edge and were able to enjoy awesome views of the water as the sun went down (we were on the east side so we didn't have the sun in our eyes, but we also missed the sunset).

The food was very good. We had two appetizers - a garlic shrimp with mashed potatoes, and a tomato-mustard-crab thing. Obviously I preferred the first. As a main course I had sea bass over tomatoes with an arugula salad; this was good, but the ingredients all stood on their own; there didn't seem to be much of a coherent dish, just three high-quality ingredients. Krista had a salmon and potato dish, and it was delicious; she clearly won that round.

We were back at the room before 2000 and pretty much went to sleep immediately.

Friday, 2020 March 13 Sunday, 2020 March 15