Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Back from Dominican!

Hola!  So The Boy and I just made it back from five days in the Dominican Republic and we're still dating! It was our first vacation together and we had an awesome time. If you love gorgeous beaches and fruity drinks, I highly recommend it. However, if you are looking for good food and decent service, I definitely would NOT recommend staying at Majestic Elegance

Luckily, we were just so damn excited to be on vacation that it overshadowed most of the negatives, but I thought I would do a little run down here in case anyone is looking for tropical vacation recs. 

  • The beach. White sand and turquoise water that is crystal clear. It was BEAUTIFUL. Prettier than everywhere I've been to in Mexico- it even puts Maui to shame. Just gorgeous.
  • The rooms. Everything was very modern and well-appointed.  There was a bottle of champagne waiting in the room and a mini bar stocked with a few beers and waters that they refilled every day. No complaints here. 
  • The entertainment. Our resort had shows every night at 10pm.  Since you don't really want to leave the resort, it was nice to have something to do after dinner.  The nights we were there they did Cirque du Soleil, Michael Jackson, a magic show, and a 70's/80's show. Cirque du Soleil was good, but our favorite by far was the Michael Jackson show. 
  • The service. Ohhhh, the service. I think that being Texans we're probably more sensitive about manners than most. People are just friendlier in Texas than in most parts of the world. But y'all. The people at the resort were RUDE. I have so many examples that I won't bore you with, but if you are looking for a resort where you get attentive service- or even service without an attitude- then Majestic Elegance is not for you. 
  • The food was hit or miss.  The restaurants that were open for dinner were all pretty decent but the breakfast and lunch spots were sub-par at best. They're also lacking in the beach bar department. They did have a waitress walking around, but no bar or casual walk-up snack bar on the beach. When we tried to go to what was considered the beach restaurant, we were sent away and told to come back with a cover up on. 
  • The bars weren't consistent. You could order a drink at one bar and order the same thing at another and get a different result. They also struggled with pretty basic drinks. Dennis realized on the second day that the whiskey and cokes that he thought tasted funny were actually scotch and cokes. I guess technically scotch is whiskey, but c'mon…. any bartender should know that you typically don't mix scotch with coke. I also tried to order a pina colada close to closing time at the pool bar and the bartender curtly responded with "No. Strawberry Daiquiri" and handed me some sort of strange rum and grenadine concoction that was not remotely close to a daiquiri. 
  • The excursions were a bit on the rustic side. See below:
Experience #1: We went parasailing on the second day. It was a lot of fun and I would definitely recommend it. However, don't expect to be picked up on a pier and gently helped onto a docked boat. They pick you up in a small boat, you wade into the ocean, and hop in. Then the small boat takes you out to the larger parasailing boat, pulls up beside it, and you have to JUMP IN WHILE BOTH BOATS ARE STILL MOVING, JAMES BOND STYLE. All the while you have three Dominican guys yelling at you to hurry because if they slow down too much, they will dunk the people that are up in the air parasailing.  I'm assuming they do this to save time and cram more people in?  Either way, it was a little intense. We had a great time though- just be warned that if you aren't very nimble, this one could be a struggle. 

Experience #2: Scuba Diving. Do not, I repeat, do NOT go scuba diving through the resort. I was told to show up at 1:30 for an afternoon dive and got update after update of "they'll be here in 15 minutes." The dive boat finally arrived at 2:30 and could only be described as a dinghy at best. It was crammed with nine other people and all the gear. They took us out in water so choppy you were flying up out of your seat with each wave. There wasn't even room to stand up in the boat, so you had to contort your body to get your gear on. To get in the water, you had to sit on the very edge of the dinghy and fall backwards into the water. The dive was fine, but afterwards is where it all went to hell in a hand basket. 

The dinghy didn't have a ladder so when we came back up, we had to take off our BCD's and then hang on to the edge of the boat for dear life while waiting to get back in. It was so choppy that while I was hanging on, my arms would go from fully extended to completely bent with the edge of the boat almost hitting me in the forehead. I literally felt like I was on that show The Deadliest Catch. They told us to hang on the edge and then kick, kick, kick with our fins on and that would propel us up out of the water and into the boat. 


Two flimsy pieces of plastic are going to propel my 100+ (we won't discuss specifics of the "+") lb. body into this boat that is being tossed around like a toy in a hurricane? Lemme just tell ya how well that worked out: 

On my first attempt, my flipper came off. I put it back on with one hand while clinging to the boat with the other.

On my second attempt, I was successful. And by "successful" I mean that I made it into the boat with the assistance of two guys and with about the same amount of grace in which you see a walrus on the Discovery Channel attempting to launch its two ton body onto a slippery iceberg. And I was the only one who opted out of a wetsuit, so this graceful act was performed in a string bikini. Thank goodness five other people were already in the boat to witness this series of events. I have bruises all over my body from this debacle.

And then I vomited. And vomited. Annnd vomited some more.

Worst. Diving. Experience. EVER. 

Needless to say that diving boats with ladders are no longer a luxury that I will take for granted. 


Aaaaaaall that aside, we STILL had an amazing time!

1. Pre-flight mimosas at 4am.
2. Sunrise somewhere between Dallas and Atlanta.
3. Finally {somewhat} awake.
4. Yay, we're here!

Our first day!

 1. Hitting the beach on our first full day.
2. Me pointing out to Den that I just kicked his ass at Connect Four. ;)
3. On our way to go parasailing.
4. Up, up, and away! That round cloud looking thing in the middle is our parachute.

 1. When the entertainment committee came to the pool looking for guys to participate in the Mister Sexy contest, I volunteered my boyfriend. I thought he was going to kill me at first, but he was a good sport. And I have it aaaaall on video! Blackmail material.
2. I also made him pose under the sign. He lost the title of Mister Sexy to an old man who used his unsexiness to be funny thus winning the sexy contest. Oh the irony. He won in my book though.
3. Covered in sand. That's the last time I start a sand fight. 
4. Cheese.
5. Mimosas every morning.
6. I crafted a sand turtle while Den was boogie boarding.
7. The turtle at the exact moment the waves destroyed it.
8. Boogie boarding.
9. My new favorite picture.

 1. Testing out the panoramic camera on the iPhone.
2. At the 70's/80's show.
3. Right before I almost died on Excursion #2.
4. Dinner on our last night.
5. I got back from diving and the Tech game was on AND we were winning AND there were West Virginia fans there for me to talk trash to. Totally redeemed my afternoon.

1. Showing off the bottom of my feet which were ORANGE the day after diving.  I don't know if there was a weird chemical in the fins or what- very strange.
2. One last photo in the lobby of our hotel.
3. Sad to leave.
4. See ya Dominican!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lost Memories

Don't you just love it when something great and unexpected happens and then the universe gives you a big ole bitch slap to put things in perspective? Such has been my life lately dealing with computers and my beloved Apple products.

Low: I take my macbook in for an issue I'm having with my calendar and they tell me the hard drive is crashing.
High: Bossman freaks about me being without my files for a week and tells me to get a new one.
Low: A week later (during my move), I put my brand new macbook in my trunk while I take a load of stuff to my new apartment. Upon my return, I pop the trunk and it slides off the box it was situated on top of and lands on the concrete, corner first. 
High: Take my busted computer to Apple store to see about replacing the bottom casing that is bent open and the perhaps-a-little-TOO-friendly associate tells me he'll just replace it for me even though I admitted to dropping it "since no one wants to bust up their two-week old computer." *
Low: Major issues with back-up hard drive lead to loss of every digital photo I had prior to 2010. 


Talk about a sad, sad day. All those incriminating photos from college? Gone. All the funny pictures I was saving to hold over friends' heads one day? So much for that. Basically every photographic memory from the age of 22-28 was erased. I can piece some of it together through Facebook and the blog, but there is still a ton that will not be recoverable (moose's puppy pictures for one....). I never paid much attention to cloud back-up services like Dropbox, but you can bet that I will now! 

I love digital photography and the versatility of it, but today I am wishing I hadn't jumped on the technology bandwagon quite so quickly. 


*The experience with the perhaps-a-little-TOO friendly Apple guy resulted in the following gem from my mother: "You know Natalie, I'm happy you were able to get a new computer, but you are going to HAVE to grow up and become responsible before you get old and haggy looking!"  

I have quite the knack for getting iPhones that have met their untimely death replaced for free, but this was my first ever successful computer replacement. I guess she thinks my luck will decrease as my wrinkles increase. Gotta love moms that call it like they see it...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

September in Pictures

Fall is here! I'm happy to be a cliché because I love every part of it! Here is the beginning of my favorite season- September in Pictures!

Who says you have to go to a sports bar to watch football? I have nothing against chicken wings and beer, but sometimes flatbreads and fancy cocktails do the trick as well. We kicked off the first Cowboys game at Victor Tango's.

 I find myself outnumbered lately.

 Boys have such random things in their closets. Moose was NOT a fan of me wearing this.

 Al and I had our last "Roomie Night In" the night before we moved. We ordered take out from our favorite Thai place, played Wii, and drank wine. 

Celebrating being done with moving!

 I didn't have cable for about two weeks after moving so Super Nintendo provided some much needed entertainment. I have to say that old school trumps new school many times over in some situations.

During the move, my mom was asking me where I wanted my aprons hung, and I rounded the corner to find her wearing the statue of David apron I got on my last trip to Italy. Disturbing and hilarious all at the same time.

Citizen Cope...

 with Al and Chris!

 The concert was at Strauss Square which is usually BYOB. Citizen Cope wasn't for some reason and getting a beer was a nightmare. The venue itself was great and I would definitely go to another show there despite our issues (especially if it was BYOB).

 We went to Addison's Oktoberfest with some friends. Enclosed Beer Garden + Hay Floors + Guy with Asthma = A Little Time Spent at the Medic's Tent. Luckily, ten minutes later and he was as good as new!

 We came back from Oktoberfest to find that moose has thrown a little party of his own. He got in a lot of trouble for this one.

 Pretty fall flowers delivered to my office. 

Headed Southbound to Houston! I had a work function the same weekend Den had a wedding- both in Houston, so it was a perfect reason to take our first road trip together. It's not a proper road trip (in my opinion) without two things: Big Red and beef jerky. Luckily we found a great stop where we got both AND some good old fashioned blackberry preserves.

 Kung Fu Saloon in Houston.

Karaoke with the wedding party.

 With my parents at our party the next night.

 No Texas themed party is complete without a full-sized bronze bull, right?

 Our party hosts' dog. It reminded me of Tommy Boy... faaat dog in a liiitle bed.....

Happy Fall, Everyone!