Travel #4: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Hello there everyone ūüôā

As I told you on my last post here, we headed to Punta Cana on vacations with the hopes of a paradisiac place to rest. Our main goal was to do nothing at all so we were looking for some resorts with all-inclusive that could suit our needs.

  • How we chose where to stay

Since B. already knew the reputation of Bahia Principe Hotels and Resorts we started by checking the availability of their resorts. Since relaxation was what we most wanted, we were picky enough to see only Adults Only hotels and narrowed it down only to the Luxury Bahia Principe Resorts 18+.

Obviously, we started checking out some other hotels like Catalonia, Riu and Barceló but at the time Bahia Principe had the best quality/price ratio so we booked our vacations.

So we booked our vacations for Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Don Pablo Collection (which is now called Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Green) for the fair amount of 1223 euros for 2 people per 7 nights.

 We requested a room near the main pool and closer to Arena Gorda Beach and we also asked for a private shuttle from the hotel which cost us only 66 euros with return included.

  • How it was to get to the resort

As soon as we arrived to the airport, we had a resort’s shuttle waiting to take us to the resort. The driver was very nice and approachable and did gave us some more knowledge about the country. We had a calm 45 minutes journey from the airport to the resort and we arrived there almost at 10 pm.

20160906_212837
Our bedroom

This was my first time in a resort so when we got there I was so amazed with everything. The architecture, the decor, the stafff, everything was so perfect and nice. At the lobby while we were doing the check-in, we had a cocktail and the staff explained all we needed to know about the resort.

Unfortunately, there was a problem with the room we booked so we were moved to a different building far away from the beach but near a second pool. We were happy with this change since it was in a more quiet location and with new buildings and brand new rooms.

The rooms are really big with a king size bed so so comfortable! All rooms are equipped with a flat screen TV, mini-bar, living room with sofa bed, safe and a balcony, among other amenities.

Also included with your fee is the room service which is good and fast. Also, it has a full-equipped bathroom with a hydromassage bathtub, a separate shower, hairdryer and two washbasins.

  • What to do

First thing we did? Put on bathing suits and relax in the jacuzzi right accross our door since it was really hot outside and we needed to relax after the long flight. We asked for room service that night and believe me it tasted like perfection.

With our booking we also got access to 6 different restaurants to dinner during our stay and I highly recommend you to use and abuse it. Although they have a wide variety of different food at their buffet restaurant, it can become tiring to always have the same options every day. During our stay we booked Bella Italia, El Olivo, Maiko, Arrecife, Tex Mex and Los Corales, but we did skip Tex Mex because it was my birthday night and we went for something different. All their restaurants are different and all of them are really good but please don’t miss El Olivo and Maiko, these two are just awesome and were definitely our favourites. While El Olivo is a gourmet restaurant where you truly have a luxurious experience and where you are presented with new flavours, at Maiko you can get either a Tepanyaki dinner show or relax in √† la carte regular table.

While we were on the resort we didn’t much more than eat, swim, sun bath and drink. There are tons of available excursions but we didn’t want to lose a day roaming around by bus or boat.

Anyway, when you book a reservation through Bahia Principe website you will be linked to Soltour travel agency and they always book a meeting with you on the first day to present you all the excursions you may do and how much it will cost you to do it. One thing for sure is that the resort is very organized!

The resort also offers you:

  • 1 hour per day free paddle surf, kayaks, tennis, catamarans for hire, snorkeling;
  • Diving lesson in the pool.

Awesome right?

The resort has two pools, each one in a different part of the resort. The pool nearer to the beach is usually where they provide animation and where different music plays.

Besides all of this, you can enjoy the amazing cocktails of your desire or you can try the cocktail of the day, since they always have one different everyday.

  • My birthday surprise
20160911_174507
Room decor for my birthday!

One thing you can definitely expect by staying at this resort is to meet with very nice and hardworking people. Since my birthday was in the middle of our vacations, B. organised an amazing surprise with the help of our butler James. When I arrived to our room, I had a ribbon accross the door and some balloons. Inside, there was a bath ready for me to take and rose petals spread accross the room and bed and also a cake with my name on and champagne for us to celebrate! This definitely did my day and I couldn’t thank them enough for it.

Check some more of the pics I took righ below!

XOXO,

S.

Travel #4: Punta Cana, Domincan Republic

Hello there ūüôā

Today I bring you one my favourite trips so far. Although I like to travel to discover the world and to learn more about it, I believe that everyone should enjoy some lazy holidays from time to time.

After spending some holidays traveling within Europe on the previous years, we thought it was finally time to get some rest and where is better to rest than in the Caribbeans? I did lose some time searching exactly where to go, but after some talk with a cousin I was told that Punta Cana was perfect to go for laziness.

  • How did we got there?

Upon deciding Punta Cana was a go-go, we started looking at some flight prices and we tried to get a direct flight to Punta Cana. Well, but when you decide to plan a trip one month before going, it is not easy to get cheap and direct flights, so we went with AirEuropa.

Be prepared, if you go from Europe you can expect an 8 or 9 hour-long flight, which can be pretty boring/annoying so just pack books with you and feel your Smartphone/Tablet/Laptop with movies to see while flying. AirEuropa served us some meals, dinner included, and although it was not the best meal ever, it did suit our needs until we landed. Obviously, depending on where you are traveling from you have many more different airlines to travel with.

Punta Cana airport is amazingly simple. The airport is built in a traditional Dominican style with open-air terminals with their roofs covered in palm fronds, which means that when you are departing you can just stay seated watching the planes arrive and leave.

To get to the resort we opted to take a private shuttle from the resort, which was the fastest and most secure way to arrive to our destination. Usually all resorts give you the option of a shuttle to get there either a private or a shared one, just asked them and they won’t mind helping you with that.

About where I stayed, I’ll share it with you tomorrow, but meanwhile I’ll leave you a list here of which companies travel to Punta Cana Airport and from where the planes depart.

XOXO,

S.

Travel #3: Porto (Part 3)

Hello there!

I am back today with the best part of the trip which is…. What to drink!

Regarding what to drink when in Porto there is an easy answer that is mandatory to follow, that is Port Wine. This type of wine began to be produced back on the 17th century and it is a fortified wine produced only in the Douro Valley. Despite being typically a red wine, you can also have white port wine which is also marvelous. It has a sweet taste and is excellent to try as a dessert drink.

Port Wine is produced from grapes collected from Douro Valley to which is added aguardente (other portuguese drink) to stop the fermentation process. The wine is stored in barrels inside wine cellars for as long as the producer wants to, but usually the older wine is better.

When in Porto I would definitely recommend you to visit some wine cellars (I will talk about it later) where you can learn more about the production and history of this wine and also try some Port Wine styles.

Although trying a single Port Wine is amazing, when I was in Porto I had to try something called “Porto T√≥nico” which is something like a gin only with tonic water but instead of gin they use Port Wine. It’s a refreshing and easy going drink where you can taste white Port Wine the best way.

I could tell you some bars you should go to but I won’t do so, instead I tell you to go to a place called Paris Gallery which is really close to Cl√©rigos Tower and University of Porto. In here you will find some of Porto nightlife with excellent bares where you can start by trying a cocktail, taking a beer and end with a great wine bottle in front of you.

Obviously, besides trying Port Wine you should try some of the regular wines produced in the Douro Valley such as Quinta de La Rosa, Barca Velha and Porca de Mur√ßa. I guarantee you that you’re going to be amazed with the quality of Portuguese wines.

See you soon,

XOXO,

S.

Travel #2: Porto (Part 2)

Hi guys!

I know it has been some time since I published Part 1, but I never thought it could be so hard to write about food and wine.

If you are like me you really value food and most of all, you value and appreciate the typical food of the places you go. If you go Porto, a city in the north of Portugal, don’t expect less than a full plate and great food (obviously, the full plate doesn’t happen in those gourmet restaurants that make me sad with the small amount of food geometrically centered in my plate). So, what are the dishes that you shouldn’t skip? Here is my list:

  • Francesinha¬†

Francesinha_especialAlthough I do not appreciate this specific dish, almost everyone I know is just crazy about it. It’s a sandwich mix of several types of meat like¬†sausage, fresh sausage, ham, cold meats and beef steak. All of this is¬†fully covered with cheese and then it’s guarnished with beer, tomato sauce and chili. It’s always served with fried chips and in some places with a fried egg.

  • Tripas √† moda do Porto

9047019421_41ab4094e0_b

So this one a very tradicional portuguese recipe which some say that goes back to the Age of Discovery when Portugal started sailing the sea and discovering the world. Basically, the inhabitants of Porto were left only with the tripe of the animals to eat, so they invented this dish. It is a mix of meat, tripe, white beans, some vegetables and ‘enchidos’, like chorizo and morcela. For me everything that comes with enchidos aside is just awesome and if you never ever tried one portuguese morcela or chorizo you don’t know what you’re missing in life! Just by curiosity, due to this dish Porto people are usually called ‘Tripeiros’.

  • Bacalhau √† Gomes de S√°

4

Oh my oh my.. Codfish is the portuguese wonder! We have more than 100 different dishes made out of codfish and they are all so amaziing. In Portugal we usually use salted and dried codfish to our recipes and this one is no exception. The ingredients are, besides cod, onions, garlic, eggs, olives, olive oil and boiled potatoes. This goes to the oven and just comes out like one of the greatest dishes I ever tasted. Get a recipe here and try it by yourself.

  • Caldo Verde

1371096514_688dd9557b_b

Caldo Verde is soup, but not any soup because… it has chorizo! Just kidding, it’s a really good soup with lots of tradition. The soup base is just composed by potatoes, onions, water and some seasonings. To this we add curly kale cuted in really lean stripes (caldo verde shape) and chorizo. A simple soup but obviously delicious.

Next post will be obviously about the Porto wine and Douro wine and what type of drinks you should try. Stay tuned!

XOXO,

S.

Travel #2: Porto (Part 1)

Hello there!

I usually go on a travel at least 2 times a year and usually it happens in September and in February. Last year, I decided to travel with my best friend to Porto for a 5 days getaway without boyfriend (for those who are pitting him, he went to Amsterdam with his friends, so his fine!).

IMG_2684
Porto in a cloudy day seen from D. Luís Bridge

Why Porto? It’s a beautiful city with so much nice people! It’s the kind of city where you can enjoy some historical monuments and buildings, but also where you can eat well and drink even better! Anyway, I’m going to give you five reasons that made me visit the city and you may like and agree with at least 3 of them:

  1. I live in Portugal so it just takes 40 minutes by plane and 2 hours by train to get there;
  2. Amazing food;
  3. Original and the greatest Port Wine (everywhere);
  4. City’s history;
  5. Cheap, like everything is cheap.

Here, you can also enjoy Douro River margins and visit some Port Wine Cellars or even the vineyards. You are just a leap away from some historical and beautiful places.

800px-oporto_terraced_vineyards
Vineyards in the Douro Valley Рclassified as a World Heritage by UNESCO

With that said, now let’s start planning your trip to Porto? Awesome!

How do you get there?

  • Plane
    • Porto has an airport which is Francisco S√° Carneiro Airport. The airport is located near the city and you can get there to the city center and the other way around using public transportation. (check more info here);
  • Train
    • Porto is one of the biggest cities in the north of the country so it has Campanh√£ Train Station¬†where you can get¬†trains that establish international railway connections;
  • Bus
  • Car
    • If you enjoy road trips, you can get to the city by car. If so just enjoy all the motorways that were built around Porto and the excellent road connections.

Where to stay?

Where to stay in Porto it’s easy to answer. Nowadays you have so many options that you just have to choose based on your budget. I will just share with you some¬†options:

  • Hotel
    • In Porto you have great hotels, some cheaper and some expensive but you can always count with a very professional service. You can either choose for a Bed & Breakfast, a Hostel or even a 5-stars hotel. On this matter I advise to search on TripAdvisor and this Telegraph article what are the best options for your pocket
  • House rental
    • Usually when I go on vacations I just go for a house rental. I always do some math and I find it cheaper to prepare home meals and have a full house to myself than just rent a hotel room and to pay for meals everyday on restaurants. I always use AirBnb¬†website to search for the house that suits me best and the one I believe to have a fair price.

After this, I promise to return briefly to let you know where to go, where to eat and what¬†to drink! Don’t miss the second part…

XOXO,

S.

Travel #1: Introduction

Hello there everyone,

One of my passions is to travel. I was never able to travel much through out my life and the first time I stepped a foot into an airplane was only 3/4 years ago. I believe that traveling is an addiction and once you start it is really hard to stop.

For me it’s not only the vacation part that counts, it’s the knowledge I get and all the experiences that enrich my life and change me as a person. From now on I will do some regular posts on traveling places and also some traveling tips to help you on getting the perfect holidays.

Hope you enjoy all the recent changes on the blog (even the name, omg!) and I hope I can count on you in this new journey.

XOXO,

S.