Monday, February 1, 2016

Cuba part one - Making a plan.

This post is all about our recent holiday to Cuba. It’s the first time either me or Buffy have done an all inclusive resort. We wanted to get away from winter in Winnipeg, enjoy the sun and just relax – coming back refreshed and maybe even tanned. It was also a chance for us to try something different and see if we would like to do this kind of holiday again in the future. You may get the impression reading this that we had a shit time and hated every minute. That isn’t the case at all. We had a lovely time and enjoyed nearly all of it. Anyway, these first few paragraphs are stolen from Buffy’s journal and perfectly describe the first couple of days!

 What a strange strange strange strange start to the holiday.
Yesterday (Saturday) was pretty much a farce –Plane was two hours late leaving Winnipeg and unfortunately the only way to get two seats together was to be in the back row that doesn’t recline. By the time we arrived at our hotel (After being first onto but last off the transfer bus of course) we had left the house 12 hours before and spent the intervening time on a seat that was in some way uncomfortable – Be it airport lounge, plane or bus. Our hotel and room are both large and decent state – less run down than many we passed if still a bit rough around the edges.

The journey begins

Nice start!

Notice the woman in the towel behind! It was a chilly day. 

This morning found us with a sour taste in our mouths, so to speak. The weather is not great - about 20 degrees Celsius but mostly cloudy and very windy. The hotel seems equally empty and full of dicks from moment to moment – There’s no real atmosphere - everything seems bare and bland. We went for a wander only to find that our hotel which is at the end of a peninsular is surrounded by a whole lot of nothing, except for a hilariously shit mini golf course that consists of lengths of PVC pipe stuck into the ground with lips raised an inch above the half grass/half rocky mud of the 100 sq metre course with no ornamentation at all beyond the hand-made 1 foot tall flags with hole numbers on them. By far the most ridiculous thing we have seen.
St Andrews it is not.


No one could do this!!

By the time we had wandered around the whole resort, found the restaurants, had a pretty sub standard meal and meandered back to the room we were both feeling a little bit tired and gloomy.
So what was there to do? Well a drink wouldn’t hurt would it!?

The view was pretty good

A sea view too! Just.

We went down to the 24 hour lobby bar and started to work through all the free cocktails on the menu. They were going down very very easily.

While were were enjoying the cocktails we decided that we couldn’t spend the entire week in Cuba without seeing something of the country and so drew up a plan – We would head into the town of Varadero tomorrow afternoon and book a bus ticket for later in the week to Havana. There we would stay overnight in a hostel (Much more our type of thing) and see the city as well as have a night out. Then return to the hotel for the last day. How hard could that be? Well as it turns out – Very hard.

Now this morning was great. The weather had improved a lot – warmer by a considerable amount, less wind and a lovely hot sun rarely covered by the clouds. We spent most of the morning on the beach, lounging as you do. Then after a lovely lunch overlooking the ocean a few coulds appeared and mid afternoon we decided to put our plan into action...

Finally made it into the ocean

So did Buff

Lazing about

Catching some rays

Wearing a hat on land, next to the ocean under some light cloud - on a Monday.

Firstly the hotel ‘wifi’ isn’t good. If you do happen to get a signal then it comes and goes like a hasty lover (Quote from Buff) so we couldn’t book a hostel in Havana using it. Secondly after taking the open top ‘tourist’ bus into town – a bus which apparently takes you around the sights – All the other hotels  basically, we got to the bus station to find out that it was closed. Even though there was a woman in the ticket office, with a computer and stuff – she wouldn’t sell us a ticket. She said they were closed till tomorrow and if we turned up on the morning we wanted to go to Havana it was likely there wouldn’t be any tickets left. So we would have to go back to our hotel (another hour on the bus) and come back the next day (a 3 hour waste of time) to get a ticket. We walked away a little peeved but certain we would come up with a good enough plan and after exploring the local town finding a very nice beach and mulling it over we had a few ideas in mind.
Cuban photo

These are basically tuk tuks

I had the Gilled schicken 

Our alternatives –

CAR HIRE – Very expensive and a minimum of 3 day hire.

MOPEDS – Too far to ride to Havana  

BUS – Don’t want to waste another day buying tickets and without good internet we can’t even find a hostel much less book one online. Plus the earliest bus arrives in Havana at 3pm and the latest bus comes back at 515pm. So doing it all in one day is nigh on impossible that way.

TOUR FROM HOTEL. Not what we really want to do. We would like to explore ourselves and find things not get led in a big group.

After much indecisiveness we came to our conclusion:-

We had come away to a 5 start resort to ‘relax’. We aren’t travelling like when we were in Asia and Australia or in the USA and have only seven days here. So a another half day trip to buy bus tickets and then spend two days wandering around Havana wouldn’t be relaxing and that’s not even  including the  4 hour journey to Havana and the same back to the hotel. 

We would likely go home worn out like we did after visiting Paris last year. But we don’t want to come all the way to Cuba and not see Havana. It might be the Only time we come here, so let’s do it somehow. The easiest, most relaxing way is to take a tour. It’s a long day but isn’t expensive, has no driving so we can relax on the 2 hour journey, it has lunch included and a period of exploring on our own as well as a guided tour of the sights that we really want to see. It’s not what either of us really wants and it’s not usually how we travel, but it’s what we are going to do. 

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