Sunday, December 8, 2019

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Dominican Resort Drink Tour

Quandary - you have an unlimited bar tab at a tropical resort. How to you make the most of it?



Watch the Video!


Coming to you from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, this week's Cocktail Hour tries to make a dent in it. Watch as we go from lobby bar to plaza bar and swim up bar to sample the bartenders talents.

Trying to not get too lit up (yeah, right) while keeping the sunburn to a minimum, it's all rum, tequila, and vodka by by the pool in this week's on-location Cocktail Hour video. Enjoy!


Cheers,


-Darryl

Friday, December 6, 2019

Sand, Sun, and Fun - The Dominican Republic, Part 1


"You know I really miss going to Puerto Vallarta." Letty said to me...for about the tenth time.

"I know, hon," I replied "but you know that it's just too inaccessible for us now that Tim is grown up."


"I know, but I'd really like to go on a beach vacation," she finishes.


I really want to make her wish come true, but where can we go with the wheelchair?


Watch the Video!


Okay, PV is out. Much research time is spent trying to find another Mexican destination that would serve up a more accessible destination.  Cancun and Cabo just seem to overdeveloped and overrun to me. Ixtapa comes very close until we're finally able to contact the hotel that looked fantastic but ended up having "only" 234 steps to the beach.

We need something a little flatter, a lot tropical, and a little less Hawaii.  Here is where we ended up...



The little green gecko is not trying to sell me insurance. Instead, he’s being impatient as my wife tries to get him to pose for a picture. The little guy is on the door of our room. Soon, after my wife snaps the pic, he runs to the edge of the balcony and jumps off like superman, landing gently on the leaves three floors down.

The marble floor of the junior suite cools our bare feet as we enter from the hot, sticky humidity of the Dominican autumn. Our bedding consists of two full beds pushed together making a super-size king bed. The management has put in an extra twin bed because there are three of us. My wife likes the feel of that bed better so Tim and I sleep in the large bed.

A big flat screen keeps my son occupied during spells in the room between activities with American sports programing. A full slate of local Dominican programs are also on, which comes in handy to watch the local Dominical Baseball league in full swing.

Our assigned room came with a big, roll-in shower and step-free access for the wheelchair. It was also in the very back of the gigantic Riu Palace Punta Cana resort and came with its own set of maintenance and noise issues. It was obvious that the hotel rarely rented out this accessible room and it seemed like the ugly redheaded step child of the resort.
(Full Disclosure: The Riu used to be an affiliate advertiser on this blog - please see our Disclaimer policy)

After an almost sleepless first night, a visit to the front desk was in order. We were unhappy. Fortunately at the Riu, if you’re unhappy, you better be made happy or there will be hell to pay.



Another step-free room was found for us…closer to the beach…in a quiet area of the hotel with a nice terrace overlooking the main courtyard plaza of the hotel. Alas, this room only had a bathtub, but a shower chair was installed and it worked for us.


An extensive array of delicious breakfast foods awaited us in the morning. French toast, a couple of scoops of soft scrambled eggs, fruit, and a croissant fortified us for the day.

A quick stop by the reservations center located in the lobby of the Riu’s Italian restaurant secured us dinner for the next four nights in each of the hotel’s a la carte restaurants for dinner. Tonight would be Brazilian Churriasca followed by Japanese fare, Italian specialties, finishing up with a hearty dinner in beachfront steakhouse.

The last night of our stay would find us browsing in the casual buffet where we wouldn’t have to adhere to the a la carte restaurants dress code of long pants and sleeved shirts…it’s kind of a bitch to redress Tim multiple times a day but it’d be worth it to get the full resort experience.



After a change into swim gear, we head to the heart of the resort…the large pool located at the edge of Bavaro Beach. We get to know Carlos, a pool boy, who provides us with towels and finds the perfect spot to decamp into some lounge chairs steps away from the pool, the beach, and the bar separating the two. He quickly got to know us and would make sure that those two lounge chairs, with the space for the wheelchair, and the umbrella would be “ours” from now until we checked out.



We bring an inflatable inner tube for Tim to float in when we go swimming. Carlos took it for a minute, disappeared to some unknown location where there was an air compressor, and returned with a fully inflated tube.



For the next few hours, Tim and I would float around the large pool getting to know Jim, Heather, and their baby Lucas from Chicago; Roger and Ivy from Ontario, Canada, Simo, Elisa, and their disabled daughter Nailia, from Argentina; and Tom and Vanessa from Flint. When Letty would get too hot from sunbathing and join us in the pool, we’d float over to the swim up bar and get to know the extensive bar menu provided by Juan the bartender.

Steps away from the pool, La Altigracia…the resort’s steakhouse…would lay out a spread for the swimmers and beach goers consisting of steak, pork, chicken, seafood, and a giso of rice topped with saucy spare ribs and black beans…a delicious local specialty. Kids missing home could also have their fill of burgers, hot dogs and pizza.



After every meal was the extensive dessert and ice cream bar.

A little time in the sun was in order after the meal where our biggest concern was whether we’d lathered on the sunscreen thick enough.



Animacion…the resort’s entertainment team…would lead dances by the pool, set up archery and ping pong tournaments, and keep the guests involved in the experience. We’d take the afternoon and head over to the beach.



An accessible, paved beach path connects all the Riu resorts along the beach. When it gets over to the neighboring Palace Macao resort, the path takes a nice detour towards the water where it’s only about 30 feet from the water. Here we can get the wheelchair onto the sand, grab a couple of lounge chairs and relax on the sand.

Nearby is Scuba Caribe which serves as the resort’s watersports activity center. Snorkeling gear, boogie boards, wind surfers, and much more are available at no charge (a refundable cash deposit is required).



The lounge chair are on runners like skis, so it’d be easy to drag Tim to the water, put a mask and snorkel on him, swim out and watch the fish. Unfortunately this week the water is just too rough with some strong offshore winds kicking up the murkiness.  I’ll just have to be content with a boogie board, a little body surfing, and drinking rum in the sun on the sand.

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming very soon...

-Darryl
Copyright 2011 – Darryl Musick
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Monday, December 2, 2019

Heading Home from Nova Scotia


It's been a fun and eventful couple of weeks checking out history, natural phenomena, and even riding out a hurricane in Halifax, Nova Scotia but now it's time to make the long flight home.


Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from California so we have to change planes in Calgary before getting our last flight back to San Francisco. In between, we have a 16 hour, overnight layover.


To make things easier for us, I book a suite at the Delta Hotel, located in the terminal of the Calgary airport.

It's not an accessible room but Tim's wheelchair will fit in and, really, we're just looking for some comfortable beds to spend the night in before catching our connecting flight in the morning.


Calgary is a big airport. Lots and lots of walking here and it's not always easy to tell the domestic checkin from the internations. The U.S. has its own departure hall on concourse E.

This is because U.S. Customs and passport control are here in Calgary, processing you before you board, so when you get home you can just collect your luggage and leave. It's kind of a neat system, saving you a lot of time when all you want to do is just go home.


The flights are uneventful but we were delayed an extra two hours in Calgary. It sure was nice to get home.

Here are links to our Nova Scotia posts, in case you've missed any:

Travel Day - San Francisco to Nova Scotia



Sunday, December 1, 2019

THE COCKTAIL HOUR: Tropical Storm



If it's not quite a hurricane, it must be a tropical storm.

Watch the Video!


This week's cocktail is a one-off of that great New Orleans tradition.  Ours uses ingredients on hand but is still rum based. 

Here is the recipe...

INGREDIENTS (makes two drinks)
2 oz. light rum
1 oz. dark rum
1 oz. mango juice
2 oz. sweet and sour mix
splash of grenadine
2 oz. orange soda

Mix all ingredients, except for the orange soda, into a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Strain over the rocks into two highball or pint glasses filled with ice. Top off each glass with the orange soda.

Cheers!

Darryl