Monday, June 16, 2014

Honeymoon BLISS: Our Honeymoon Story

So I decided to gather whatever is left of my memories of our honeymoon (10 months ago) and capture those memories in the form of a blog post - so that I may cherish them forever! And perhaps even share them with my kids one day!

I will try to break down what we did on each day...but by now, the memories of the individual days are all kind of blurred into one story line in my I figured I could actually go back and look at the dates the original photos were taken to help me figure out what happened on each day (which is a bit tricky because there is a time difference about which our camera didn't know).


Where to begin???

How about on day 1.

Day 1 - Thursday August 22, 2013
 We had an early (6 am) flight from Midway Airport in Chicago, IL to Punta Cana, DR. The flight was largely uneventful. We alternated reading books/magazines with playing phone games with talking about how awesome it is to now be a husband and wife, about how smoothly and awesomely the wedding went, and about how excited we were to be spending a whole week together as newdlyweds.

Okay, I do remember one remarkable thing happening that morning - just something silly but it made me smile. While we were still at Midway waiting to catch our flight to our honeymoon paradise, I was sitting next to my husband...bored out of my mind...keenly observing the interactions of the other families around me that were going to the same destination. One woman was going through her purse. She found a bottle of medicine that must have been a generic (house) brand of an OTC there was no brand name on the bottle, such as Tylenol, Motrin, or Zyrtec. It simply said "NSAID," - pronounced en-said. I'm guessing this woman was not familiar with the NSAID class of medicines and proceeded to read from the bottle out loud: "N - S - A - I - D," spelling out every letter. She, then proceeded to say: "Oh, this must mean Nighttime Sleep AID" ...and all I'm thinking is: I sure hope you're not using this to help you sleep on the plane or on your vacation lady....because this is not a Nighttime Sleep Aid, it is a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug...probably Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or Naproxen (Aleve). But the shy person that I am, I wasn't going to get up from my seat, walk up to this lady, and be like: "oh hey...I know you don't know me...but I'm a pharmacy student and I overheard you talking...and blah blah blah." As a soon to be pharmacist, I can only hope that people read the labels of the medicines they buy more carefully...before they actually put it in their bodies. But anyways, I digress. Back to the real story.

We arrived at the airport (we have never been on a tropical island before or to a tropical country) and we were pleasantly surprised to see that the airport's roof consisted of dried palm leaves and had this open-air concept...unlike our American airports..which just seem to consist of glass, metal, and concrete. We were a little nervous about being able to find our way around the airport...but we just mostly followed people and followed advice of our travel agent: "find the guys in lime green t-shirts and khaki pants...they already have your information and will get you transportation to your resort and then schedule your pickup for your last day of your vacation as well." So that is what we did. Our transportation from the airport to the resort seemed like it took a while because there were other tourists that were going to other resorts in our taxi as well. But it passed by quickly because we had our eyes glued to the surroundings...especially when we entered a little village with lots of little shops, restaurants, and the locals walking and driving motorcycles on its narrow roads. What we mostly had seen between the airport and the resort, and right outside the walls of the resorts, was a lot of poverty. It was kind of weird. You arrive at your resort, and you have all this luxury...but right outside the walls, there is all this poverty.  It's definitely not how I imagined it. But anyway...

We arrived safely at the resort and were pretty stunned by its beauty. The resort we had booked was Paradisus Punta Cana. The whole resort's theme, it seemed like, was this Asian Spa/Resort/Paradise. There was a smell of incense and herbs in the air that were very calming and all the workers there were dressed in these Asian outfits. Most of the buildings were just open to the you always felt like you were outside and not like you were stuck in a building...because there were no walls.

 Upon arrival, when we were getting checked in, the lady that was helping us offered us an upgrade to their special VIP section of the resort, which they call "The Reserve"...and which, as she explained, is a more exclusive Resort within a which you have a whole separate pool, swimup bar, and buffet which the regular folks don't have access to. I think she offered it to us for an extra $100 per night. Greg and I looked at each other...quickly calculated in our heads that we would have to dash out an extra 700 bucks...and mutually agreed that we didn't want to spend that much money. We felt  blessed to be there as it was. So we declined the offer before the lady even got a chance to do some more convicing. So then the lady slashed the price in half, but she saw the we were not interested either. Then I came up with a brilliant idea, completely out of nowhere, and said "we would totally take your offer if you could give it to us for free" followed by some laughing from both sides. She said that because their resort was not at full capacity now (apparently August is one of the slowest seasons for travel to Dominican R.), she might be able to do this but she first has to talk to her boss. She disappeared behind a mysterious door and while she was gone, Greg and I beamed with excitement and hope that we have a chance at staying here as the VIPs aka the richer folks do.

Sure enough, she came out with a smile and some paperwork and she told us we'd be staying at The Reserve for free! Of course our smiles were shining from ear to ear and both Greg and I felt proud of me for my courage to speak up. We did not finish the check in process because it was already ~ 2:40pm and she wanted to make sure we get a chance to eat some lunch before the buffets close at 3pm. So she took all of our luggage and told us to hop onto this buggy train (which is the free transportation that circles all around the resort all day and all night...since the resort grounds are huuuuge) which would take us to a buffet-bar-restaurant that's located right on the beach. We were sooooo excited at that point and couldn't stop from imagining what it would be like to eat our first lunch on the beach!

We got a chance to load up our plates and try their local beer called Presidente for the first time. We admired the view of the beach and ocean. We then caught buggy again back to the lobby and finished our check in process... then the buggy took us to the Reserve and to our suite.

 This is the building that housed our suite.

Our suite was pretty sweet.

I really wanted to use the hot tub but Greg has a phobia of public hot tubs and thinks they're dirty and that nasty stuffy will come out of them. So I compromised and gave up on it instead of nagging him. We had enough fun at the pool and on the beach anyways!

We unpacked some of our most necessary stuff i.e. the toiletries/ cosmetics, looked through the resort map, as well as a list of events that the lady at the lobby handed us, and made some initial decisions on what shows/events we must absolutely not miss this week. After that, we did what we like to do best: go for a holding-hands walk and check out the Reserve. We walked around our "VIP" pool and saw our "VIP" buffet and bar. It was pretty cool, as these were hidden away from the rest of the resort. I don't remember whether we went out to a restaurant that night or not...I think we just ate at the Reserve Buffet on our first night since we didn't have reservations made at any restaurants yet. We then proceeded to have our first Dominican drink at North Avenue Bar.

Day 2 - Friday August 23 

The next day, we basically did a lot of exploring of the resort and spent some time at the pool. We enjoyed the nice swim-up bar experience for the first time in our life. It was pretty sweet!
 This is the main building that connects with the lobby and which houses one of the many bars as well as a casino.

It was really nice to hold hands and walk around and enjoy all the tropical greenery....while our spirits were boosted by the newlywed/honeymoon high. Being the super introvert that I am, I really enjoyed the company of noone else but my husband. I absolutely looooved having so much alone time together without being disturbed by people/noise. I also found myself in very frequent internal conversation with God...because throughout the whole stay, my soul was in this state of extreme gratitude and disbelief that this was all even true...that I'm married to my soul mate and that we are blessed with all this time together in this wonderful place. So my head was constantly high up in the clouds and my soul was singing hymns of praise and gratitude to the Lord. It was impossible to stop... I felt like I was in heaven already.

This was our Reserve VIP pool. As you can see, it was pretty empty most of the time. Some mornings, we had the pool all to ourselves! When we checked the main resort pool a couple of days later, this was not the case - that one was full of people and was not as nice and clean as ours. (Again, with me being the super introvert that I am, I really would not enjoy being talked to by some random, drunk strangers all the time! Gimme a break and let me relax...there is enough going on my own head already, haha!)

So....I would say that our free upgrade was definitely an awesome gift from God! He knows me too well!

Feelin' like the world is ours!!!!!!

Taking another walk...our favorite thing. The resort was full of these little secret passageways with lots and lots of beautiful plants and flowers! It was truly like walking around the garden of Eden aka Paradise...(that's probably why the resort is called Paradisus...duh!)

Getting a ride to the beach....
(featuring my husband's foot)

Our first time at the beach.

It was gorgeous outside...the sun, the wind, the sound of the ocean...just perfect!
And all this beauty just made me dwell on the goodness of the Lord.

Then at night, we actually had dinner booked at a fancy restaurant...I forget which one it was that night. All I know is that we booked a different restaurant for each day of our stay. This one might have been Mediterranean. The dress code required us to wear elegant clothing...and so we took our sweet time showering and getting ready to go out on our first fancy date as a married couple!

All dolled up...

My handsome husband...on our way to dinner.
I don't know why I didn't take pictures of dinner that night...but after dinner we went out to a show. They had shows in the theater every night...I think we pretty much went to all of them except one. 

Here someone was trying to be Michael Jackson...I think.
Day 3 - Saturday August 24

The next day...we once again went to the pool. We swam, talked, laughed, flirted, and then retired in our cabana. My husband took a nice nap while I read a book. The book I brought along was St. Josemaria Escrivas' The Way (about which I posted here).

So cheesy...He he

Hubby taking his afternoon nap. And me taking pictures of him because he's so cute!

In the afternoon, the resort offered free fingerpainting class (Clase de pintura) by the pool. I ain't no artist but I thought, what the heck?! The guy that taught the class was really really funny! He talked mostly english but threw in a lot of spanish...basic spanish that most people understood. Everybody laughed so hard because he picked on each one of us and our paintings in really funny ways.

Here is me...laughing hysterically at the instructor's funny comments.

In the afternoon, after we got burnt like crabs by the pool, it was time to go out to dinner again. That night we had an authentic Mexican restaurant booked. Once again we showered and enjoyed our time getting ready to go out on a dinner date! I was so WOWed by all of this honeymoon many back to back dinner date nights....I felt like we didn't deserve all of this was a dream...but it wasn't!

On our way to dinner, we decided to do some more walking and exploring..this time taking different paths than on previous days. There was soooo much time on our hands and sooo much freedom to do all the exploring our hearts desired. It was truly blissful.

We discovered some very pretty gardens.

We stopped by the beach, since the Mexican restaurant was very close to it and we still had some time before our reservation time...and we witnessed a beach wedding for the first time in real life. It was nice, but pretty short, since it wasn't a religious wedding but just a few words said by the Justice of the Peace. The maid of honor and best man did read some passages from the bible that was nice to listen to.

 But is a funny story that happened right before we witnessed this wedding!!!!! OMG, I still want to pee my pants everytime I think of this....Ready? Ok....

As we are walking peacefully to the beach...we see that there is a wedding heading there as well. We see the bride being driven on a golf cart in the direction of the beach as well as some other people dressed in fancy clothes. All of a sudden, from one of the buildings, runs out one of the bridesmaids. She was pretty heavy set, probably 2-3 times my size. She was running late (the bride was already at the beach) so she just RAN for it. We also guessed she was the maid of honor since she had a crown on her head. All of a sudden, we see her running towards us...all while holding her dress in place with her hands because it wasn't even zipped at all. She asks me to please zip the back of her dress. So I'm all like, okay let's do this! Yeah...except there was like a 2 inch gap and how in the world was I supposed to zip that up? It took my husband to hold the two sides of the dress together and me, trying to zip it all the way finally get it together. The whole time this was running through my head: "OMG...this zipper is gonna snap!!!! This dress won't zip! She's too big for this dress. This dress is too small on her! She is gonna freaking kill me if I rip her dress or break her zipper!" But thank God with the help of my husband, we were able to zip her up and off she went, running toward the beach. My husband and I couldn't stop laughing at the situation after she ran off. We got to the beach just in time for the bride to start walking the isle. Then when we saw "our friend", the maid of honor, read her reading at the podium....we're like "there she is...there is our friend! Her dress is still holding up!
It was just hilarious!

And finally made it to dinner!

Comida Mexicana!
(Ha, I made my hubby black and white in this one because he came out red as a crab!!!)

After dinner, we went back to the beach...since we haven't yet experienced the beach and the ocean at night. It was Saturday night so they had a lot of events going on at the beach.

Just chilling...pondering life. 

They organized a Beach Party (Disco en la playa). A lot of people showed up and it was a lot of fun! We met this couple from New York, who were there with their 3 year old son, and we spent that night partying with them.

Then there was the fire show...

Then I convinced hubby to take a walk along the ocean at night. It was probably close to midnight...It was pitch black...some distant lights from the bars lit our way. It was But did not last very long.

I absolutely loved the peace and calmness of the ocean at night. The lovely sounds of waves...the smell of the all just raised my soul toward heaven..toward God. I couldn't help but talk to God at that moment...couldn't help it but thank Him for bringing me here...for creating such a beautiful Earth for us to live on...for giving me such a great husband..and for allowing me to spend this time with him on our honeymoon.

My hubby wasn't all into the romanticism of the we pretty quickly headed back home. I mean...back to our suite.

Day 4 - Sunday August 25

 Just the usual...ate some breakfast...chilled by the pool, ate some lunch...drank some beer...and took some more walks!

Here we are...drinking El Presidente. It was pretty good beer!

We headed down to the beach again to take some more pictures. This gazebo was so pretty!

We had to get creative and find good spots (ledges etc) to put our camera on so it could take pictures of the two of us together.

And another night out for dinner....
And another beer...

And some squid for appetizer! Yum!!!!!!!
I decided to be brave and try all kinds of weird foods.  (For my main course, I had goat ribs...or something like that.)

Coming back from dinner...

And time to hang out at the bar that was next to the theatre..until we catch the next theatre show...which was always at 10pm.

We made some friends! The bartenders were so nice...and they loved the fact that I could speak Spanish to them! I loved it too because I was brushing up on my Spanish speaking skills with real hispanohablantes!

Day 5 - Monday August 26

More time at the lovely pool...again...had it all to ourselves in the morning.

And the swim up bar....

Then, we decided to take a little trip outside the resort. We wanted to buy some souvenirs but everything inside the resort was expensive. One of the waiters/bartneders told us that we can actually walk about 2 miles and there is a lot of souvenir shops in the little town right outside Paradisus. So we did that.

As we are leaving the resort...

We were pretty dark by this point in time...

We bought souvenirs and then came find that my masterpiece from the day before was all dry now and ready to be framed!

Aaaaand another walk to the beach!
This time we wanted to experience the beach and the ocean at sunset. So we actually skipped our dinner reservation, decided to eat at the buffet, and go to the beach in the evening instead.

I love this picture of Greg! I just want to squeeze his chubby cheeks in this one, haha.

As sunset is nearing....

We took a nice, long walk along the beach. We actually got pretty far from our resort (we probably bypassed another 4-5 resorts) along the beach....and then of course...all of a got pretty windy...and...

Look at these gorgeous clouds...Tell me again, atheists, how this beautiful earth is just a product of millions of random chemical reactions...because that makes me LOL each time.

Without much of a long warning at started pouring and thundering!

And so we RAN FOR IT!

And this storm is what made my best memory of the entire honeymoon!

It was just awesome to be running on the beach, holding hands, while the rain was hitting us hard in our faces...and we were dripping wet...and still pretty far from the resort! So we ran faster...but running in the sand is hard! So Greg pulled me forward.....then when he got tired...I gave him a little pull! And then he stopped and screamed "OUCH!" and quickly sat down on the sand! He started panicking but wouldn't tell me what's going on! He was holding his foot and screaming so I was sure he cut it with a piece of glass that was buried in the sand somewhere...or perhaps he stepped on a crab and got pinched. But nope! He stepped onto a bee..or a wasp...or whatever that was. I took a few steps back to inspect the sand and identified the insect that Greg stepped on, then went back to inspect Greg's foot...and sure enough..the big ole stinger was stuck right in his foot. So I had to sit down and carefully take out the stinger, all while it was pouring rain over us! I took out the stinger and we ran for it again. 

Oh and I almost forgot....right in the middle of all of this..some guy tried to sell us marijuana and cocaine on the beach, but we kindly refused and ran on, haha.

Man oh man, it was quite the adventure. We made it back to our resort...and then back to our suite. Of course...we talked and laughed about the whole situation. We will always remember it!

Day 6 - Tuesday August 27

The following day...we had to get up early as we booked an excursion!
The excursion involved us riding four wheelers through this village and into this jungle, in the middle of which they showed us how they make chocolate out of the cocoa plant, as well as how they make cigars. After this fun experience, we rode the four wheelers out of the village and onto a beautiful beach, which was, supposedly, the most beautiful beach in all of Punta Cana. Then we went to this place where we got an opportunity to jump into the water inside of a cave.

Unfortunately, we have no pictures of the excursion because they told us that everything will get wet and muddy. So here is a picture of when we got back!

Muddy but!

And another show at night...

Day 7 - Wednesday August 28

  All partied out...time to take a nap inside a cabana!

Some more walking around the resort grounds.

Our one last trip to the beach...

And the picture I am most proud of.... I just think it look sooo perfect! The perfect blue sky and the perfect blue ocean water and clean, white sand.

That thing in the water is called a "Catamaran."

A Catamaran lesson with an instructor was included with our resort stay so we did go out on a Catamaran one morning. We had a lot of fun. Of course our instructor probably spoke all of 3 words in English so I was having even more fun speaking to him in Spanish. I remember there was one word I didn't understand that he was trying to communicate to me...and it took him like 3 tries...until he finally used sign language and I got it! He also taught me some additional words in Spanish and I taught him some words in English because he asked. He was a very nice guy!

Our last dinner date!

The last discoteca...

We stayed up all the way until the very end since this was the last one. One of the dance instructors grabbed me since he recognized me from watching him so many times before and we danced salsa together. My experience with salsa is taking a few lessons in gym class in high school....but on our honeymoon, I  always stood on the sidelines and watched the dancers almost every night and practiced by myself or with my husband (who just doesn't get salsa lol) on the side...until that night...I got pulled into the middle. It was soooo much fun! So much hip shaking in salsa and oh so much joy! I just absolutely love dancing!!!! I could get lost in dancing and just dance all night brings me so much happiness. And actually, I came across a wonderful quote from St. Augustine of Hippo (the same St. Augustine from whose words stems the name of my blog) about dancing:

I praise the dance,
for it frees people from the heaviness of matter
and binds the isolated to community.
I praise the dance,
which demands everything:
health and a clear spirit and a buoyant soul.
Dance is a transformation of space, of time, of people,
who are in constant danger of becoming all brain, will, or feeling.
Dancing demands a whole person,
one who is firmly anchored in the center of his life,
who is not obsessed by lust for people and things
and the demon of isolation in his own ego.
Dancing demands a freed person,
one who vibrates with the equipoise of all his powers.
I praise the dance.
O man, learn to dance,
or else the angels in heaven will not know what to do with you...

-- Saint Augustine
Day 8 - Thursday August 29

On our last day...we once again...did what we like to do best. We started our morning with a wonderfully tasty breakfast at our Reserve buffet (I'm pretty sure I had omelet for like the 7th time in a row...because they just made such good omelet..and they do it right in front of I put like a pound of cheese in my omelet and lots of ham, onion, and peppers) and went out for a final morning walk around the resort. For the last time, we took in the beauty and peace of this wonderful place.

Here is our last moments in our suite...after everything was packed and we were ready to leave and head to the lobby....where we had an appointment for transportation to the airport.

Since we had some spare time before leaving....we of course...stopped for our final mojito at the bar. 

By this time, the workers (waiters/bartenders) knew our names and knew our story (because I used my wonderful (and a little broken) Spanish speaking skills to enlighten them throughout the week) and everytime they saw us pass by, they yelled loudly from behind the bar: "Agnes & Greg!!! Hola amigos!" So then we had to stop by the bar and say hi back. And right away, they ask you what you want to drink. And this happened on our final morning, too. We were passing by North Avenue Bar on our way to the lobby to drop off our luggage at the front and our amigo behind the bar noticed us and started waving and yelling out our names with his cute little Spanish accent. So we had to stop by to say Hola and he made us dos mojitos and we started talking again...about our lives back in the states and about his life and his family here. We made so many friends. Everybody was so friendly. I'm not sure if they were genuinely interested in our lives or just drooling for our tips but we still had a nice time connecting with people that are different than us, listening to their stories, getting to know how they live and their point of view.

I only vaguely remember our flight back home. Actually, I don't remember it much at all. I'm sure we talked about our memories and about how awesome everything was...but I think we were tired and ready to go A La Casa...Home Sweet Home. One thing I remember from the flight back home was that I uploaded the rest of our pictures from our camera onto my laptop. I had been uploading them in batches every single night because we had this fear of dropping our camera in the water or of it being stolen or breaking in some other horrendous way and of us losing all of our picture memories of our honeymoon...which only happens once in your life (or at least, should happen only once in your life). Our fears didn't come true so I finished uploading the last batch of pictures from that morning onto my laptop and started sorting them, editing them, and deleting the bad ones. My brother picked us up from the airport in Chicago and drove us to my parents' house in the suburbs, because mommy cooked us an amazing polish dinner and also because that's where we left our car for the week. We ate, showed them pictures, talked about how amazing of a time we had, showed off our tans, talked some more until pretty late in the evening, and then headed to our sweet together home!

We felt so blessed by the entire experience of our wedding, our honeymoon, and the fact that we had a home to call our own and come back to.

God is good. Soooooo very good.


(Here is footage from my cell phone camera from one of the shows)

And some wisdom...again from St. Augustine of Hippo...


  1. Wow! That was an amazing honeymoon. Your pictures are gorgeous. That location seems like heaven on earth, as you said. I am so glad you had a great time.

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