Tag Archive: winter getaway

Goodbye Cuba

I’m currently in self imposed exile.
We are leaving in a couple hours. Everyone is down at the pool and I’m on my patio. It’s an absolutely stunning, sunny day here but I got a few more red marks yesterday. I won’t say I’m sunburnt, i just have a few red spots/lines that either got missed by sunscreen or rubbed ect. So as much as I’d love to be at the pool – this is why I came – I don’t want to have to deal with the sunscreen process and then having to have a super fast shower and run across the resort to catch the bus. The skin on my face is quietly thanking me I’m sure.

I did go down to the beach for a bit. Correction, that’s why I came. I walked along the edge of the water and got my feel and legs wet. I had to pull myself away knowing if I stayed any longer my skin would start to get crispy.

So now I’m sitting here having a beer, this time tomorrow beers before lunch will be frowned upon.

I’m not looking forward to putting pants and stuff on to go to the airport, or the drive to the airport or the wait there or really even the flight but I am looking forward to going home. Actually a little bit anxious. I haven’t turned my phone on for a week and I’m terrified about what might be waiting when I do. I’m probably over thinking it, I’ll probably just have 800 work emails and a text from a friend who forgot I went away. But this one time I went away – 12 coworkers got fired. So that always plays on my mind. Geez I think I need another beer.


The parting shot



So bit of an adventure on the way to the airport . Our bus was super late picking us up but it finally showed up. Turned out they broke down and had to wait for a replacement but made sure we’d make it to the airport on time. We just pull away from the resort and some guy who had been on the bus for a while I assume starts yelling about carrying on about how we need to hurry up and was being so rude to the driver and the hostess. He was just loaded. And that continued all the way to Varadero – when we had to pullover at a gas station for him. Some guy that wasn’t even traveling go with him had to get off the bus with him and help him. You’d think after that he’d stop. But he didn’t. I was pretty sure they weren’t going to let him on the plane. There was some guy behind me too who was upset with a tour guide they had earlier the week and had some things to say about her. I turned around in my seat and gave him a look. He stopped talking.

Anyway, get to the airport and no sign of drunky. Standing in line and I heard someone talking really loudly but didn’t think much of it. I look over and there is an older couple (probably mid to late 50’s) talking with an airport official. They’re both holding beers. I did my best to heard what was going on and quickly learned the couple was drunk and airline staff though their behavior was unacceptable. The man was so mad at the airport guy and was all up in his face. Airport guy told him they need to go outside and get some fresh air and maybe some water and that once the rest of us were processed, they’d consider letting them back in. ¬† The couple, not satisfied with this, started talking to another airport person. Eventually they went outside. Fast forward and they did let them back in. But how embarrassing! You’re adults! I know you’re on vacation but standing in line at the airport drinking beer…and then getting up in the face of airport staff? What is wrong with you? Anyway, I finally got through security and who do I see? Drunky sitting in the airport lounge drinking! How he got in and was allowed to keep drinking…. He was a couple people in front of me when we boarded and I told the stewardess that he was drunk, she said thanks and then went and told the other staff. He ended up sitting next to this young couple I recognized from our Havana tour. And he was a big guy, I felt bad for them. He asked where they were from and when they answered, he replied with ‘oh, sorry to hear that.’ And that was that. I’ll check in later with a trip wrap up!


Cuba Day 6

Assessing the (sun) damage. My face hurts.

Today is the first day where its been hot and sunny allll day. The family went on a day trip to Trinidad and Cienfuegos and I stayed here.

Some people moved into the room above me last night and were so loud. Dragging chairs, talking on the patio, open and closing doors. Then I got a bit sick from our dinner – something we had touched the salmon and while it was very mild, eating salmon makes me feel like I’m having my intestines ripped out one at a time- so it was still not fun.

Anyway, got up and went and had breakfast, it was blah as usual. I went on a bit of a walk around to the backside of my building. There is a nice walkway.

Then came back and layered on the SPF 30 as thick as I could and headed down to the pool.


Happy Cat was down there, sleeping on a chair with a nice lady. I like people watching and I had noticed this woman and her boyfriend quite a bit around the resort. They’re both really good looking and seemed like fun people. Then I realized at the buffet this morning that they were signing to each other. I just found them so interesting to watch! Anyway, I started telling this British woman all about Happy Cat and our adventures. Her and I talked for ages and she told me the building beside ours had been struck by lightening the day before we got there and that was part of the reason we had no power in our building when we got here. She said that there was a fire that started in that building but the strike had knocked out the power and in turn the fire alarm. Luckily it wasn’t too bad and no one got hurt. It rained so hard that the pools flooded and they looked like big mud puddles. Glad we missed it!

She was telling me how her and her husband have traveled lots. They’ve been to Cuba quite a few times and all over Europe. Said their son is a special forces police officer back in the UK. I should have asked if he was single! They were great to talk to and then she came over a bit later and gave me another book. They disappeared later so I guess I get to keep it!

After a while I made myself go in the freezing cold water (I’d much rather been in the ocean but I figured I’d go after lunch). I tippi toed to the swim-up bar and had a beer with some people from Ontario. As I sat there I could feel my back getting warm so I decided to go for lunch – I only had that one beer and a Pina Colada earlier but I figured I really needed more water and a break form the sun for a bit. My poor fish belly white skin can only take so much.

I came back up to my room to re-slather the sunscreen, I find it much easier to do when I can see in a mirror and headed back down. Some new people had moved into the chairs beside me and I think they are the noisy ones who moved in above me last night ’cause today is the first day I’ve seen them and I saw them come down the stairs behind me. I thought they were foreign at first and then I realized they’re just from very northern England and that’s why I couldn’t understand a thing they were saying (so still foreign but less so than someone who doesn’t speak English).

It was so hot by this time – it was great but I could feel my face burning. I made myself a little head canopy with my swimsuit cover-up. I kept making sure I topped up my sunscreen it but I find my face still gets reddish and hurts a bit. My cheeks are pink now but it usually goes down, it always does later in the day so I don’t think it’s sunburnt it’s just that this sensitive – pale little white girl from Canada doesn’t really tan – just turns different shades of pink, red, and white.
I found that when the rest of my crew (especially my well tipping uncle) isn’t with me, the staff at the pool bar here tend to ignore me. I tip them too but when it’s only me, they don’t get as much. So I walked over there and got a strawberry daiquiri. I was trying to tough it out and stay out by the pool, so I thought this would be a good way to cool down with out freezing my tail off in the pool and then having to reapply the sunscreen all over. It was a very strong daiquiri and was a bit instant drunk – the heat never helps that (remember that Las Vegas post from a couple years ago?)
So I packed up and thought I’d try out the beach for a bit. Down there you’re facing away from the sun and they have those cute little palm umbrellas, I know there is an actual name for them but I can’t remember what it is. I lasted about 10 seconds out there – the wind was blowing so hard, it was not enjoyable.  Probably a good idea, I still have one full day here and the last thing I need is sunstroke.

So here I am on the patio of my room. It’s only 2:30 but I had a shower and got all the icky sunscreen scrubbed off.

I don’t have anything to do now until 7:15. I booked in at the French restaurant by myself because I don’t know what time everyone will be back. Maybe I’ll go nap.

So it’s just about 6 and I’m in the lobby bar killing time before dinner. I felt lame just sitting in my room watch TV. I went out briefly and got some chips. I started feeling really gross in my room but I think I was just hungry! I didn’t really want to go to that one restaurant that’s always open – I just wanted a snack. Anyway, I did get slightly sunburnt – thankfully it’s fairly minor as far as sunburns go. Just across the bottom part of my chest, so when I was tanning my back, it’s where my sunscreen would have rubbed off on my towel. Though I was being so careful to!. And I have one little red patch on my back. It could be so much worse so I won’t complain. And now as I sit here – I’m watching what appears to be quite the wicked storm rolling in. I better drink this Pina colada and search for cover.



Ok last update for the day!
The family was back much earlier than we all expected so they joined me in the lobby for a bit. They said their trip was great and the pictures are really cool. So if you’re thinking of Cuba and a trip other than Havana, this could be a great option. Like everything here, there is a lot of history down in that area.
I went off to my reservation at the French restaurant. It is lovely inside. Great decore and a live pianist, who was wonderful! I ordered the grilled lobster, thinking if it was half as good as the stuff in the buffet I’d be in good hands. It wasn’t. It was gross actually. It was mostly raw and came with a small scoop of vegetables. No one really came over to see how my food was so I picked at it and ate what I could and left. I met the family over at the lobby and we all went to the buffet. The lobster guy was there, so I loaded up my plate and ate as much of the salty, buttery goodness as I could. I was much happier ūüôā

After dinner, you guessed it, more courtyard sitting. It started to rain so we moved our table and chairs under the covered walkway area. We all got a bit buzzed which was nice. Our waitress there the past few nights is fantastic. Her name is Mary and she’s super funny (calling my not so old uncle Papa because he ordered coffee and we all had drinks), really pretty and is really good at her job. Just an overall great personality and someone we enjoyed interacting with.

Anyway, bed time. Tomorrow is our last full day!

Cuba Day 4

Did I want to go to Havana? Yes and no. No, because I go somewhere everyday when I’m at home and vacation (this one anyway) is about sitting and doing nothing. Yes, because it’s Havana and I’m here and who knows if I’ll¬†ever come back.

So off we went really¬†early. First to be picked up –¬†it made for a long trip. I’m not a big fan of guided tours/bus trips. I like to go at my own pace and I’ve found there is always someone on those tours that either ruins it, is dumb, ask too many questions, gets lost or is rude. Or all the above. And I’ll tell ya what, this one was no different. I love my fellow Canadians but oh man where there some folks…

We went though the city of¬†Matanzas which is the capital of the province, also named Matanzas. It looked neat, everything here is so different compared to what I’m used to. The cars, the buses, the scenery, just how day to day life looks in general.

The countryside is nice, lots of leafy valleys and green, green, green. I did briefly doze off, our tour guide had a very monotone (but informative!) voice. I liked seeing the neat little old houses tucked away with cows in the yard and random roadside bars.


We stopped at one just over halfway to Havana. I didn’t get anything but was watching two cats scour the floor for food. One disappeared under a tree and next thing you know, had three kittens with her! They were SO small. The little runt was one of the smallest cats I’ve ever seen. I played with the little black one and his grey brother kept jumping on him. These¬†sweeties were not like the resort cats – these ones had fleas but I couldn’t help myself. After a few minutes¬†it was time to go!

We arrived in Havana about 45 minutes later.
It was everything and nothing like I expected. Lots of people, lots of colourful old houses and smelly cars. I was not expecting how built up it was, like office buildings and apartments-¬†¬†it was¬†taller than I expected, I always thought of it as a ‘short’ city.

Driving though was just incredible. I love old architecture and this city is not short of that, though all I want to do is take a big power washer and spray everything down. Our first stop was Revolution Square Рprobably some of the most recognizable scenes in the city. There is of course the government buildings featuring the iron images of  Che Gevera and Camilo Cienfuegos. Across the street is the  Jose Marti Memorial. That includes the star shaped tower that Fidel Castro built and it is high enough so he could see all around his island to make sure no one was attempting to invade. Or so we were told.

We had about 15 minutes there before it was time to move on. Our bus drove us all around and we got to see some cool buildings. We drove past the federal building which is still under construction so we could not get close or stop.


Then it was off to this store where they sell rum and cigars.


Unfortunately this was not a tour which takes you to an actual rum or cigar factory. Our group had done that on their last tour and I was really looking forward to it. So I do recommend if you’re going on a¬†tour of Havana, make sure this is included.¬†This time they just wanted your money. The owner of the store briefly explained the different¬†rums and prices points but that was it.
As we waited to get back on the bus, I just sat and watched the people go by. People watching¬†is so much fun, especially in a new place.¬†It’s so busy and it’s just so interesting to watch the people and see how their daily life is. Some kids in school uniforms walked by and one was carrying a pigeon. I don’t think it was a pet, I think it was dinner. Our next stop was this area where they let tourists off and we walked down a couple streets and saw a few buildings. To be completely honest, I don’t know what most of them were. This is part of the reason I said I don’t like guided tours. It went too fast and¬†if I don’t have an interest in what your showing me, I won’t absorb it as well. I like doing my own research and then going and seeing things. The scenery itself is¬†great and I loved walking around and seeing the buildings and really getting a feel for old Havana but I can’t tell you what I saw. We did stop by the Cathedral of The Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception and the surrounding plaza. This cathedral has been visited by the last three Pope’s including Pope Francis earlier this year.

We also saw a few places frequented by Ernest Hemmingway. Our journey took us to the Hotel Florida for lunch. It was pretty traditional, pulled beef, rice and beans. It was good! One of the best meals I’ve eaten so far. We had to make small talk with some of the other people, a few of them weren’t so bad but one guy – yah that guy – I wanted to tell him to stop talking. A band¬†serenaded us as we finished our lunch.
After that it really was just more walking. Our tour guide didn’t give us much time to stop and look at things. I didn’t get the chance to take many photos either. We stopped by a gun museum, an old church that had been converted into a concert hall – they had a enormous Christmas tree inside, a couple more plazas and the only mosque.

We were then given a hour of free time but I didn’t feel like walking around any more. We walked back toward the bus area that we were meeting at and did more people watching. A few people asked us for money but left alone for the most part. A man did ask my aunt for a lighter and then started talking to us. He was standing along the water line fishing. He told us all about the life he has. He makes about 20 pesos a month and his rent costs 12 but that includes utilities. He said that they do get some subsidies for food but we weren’t sure what that included because he was saying something about baby formula was not included. Maybe we just misunderstood. He was saying¬†how many of them are not happy the embargos are being lifted and they really don’t want the Americans¬†to start coming into the country.¬†He was really interesting to speak with and we enjoyed it. He gave us each a peso coin to show us what their money looks like. While I’m sure his intention was to get money from us too – we were almost happy to help him¬†because he at least took the time to engage and talk and ask questions. I gave him a Canadian loonie and my aunt gave him some Canadian money and some CUC’s. After that though, we started getting harassed by others who saw us talking to his man and giving him money. Thankfully it was time to get back on the bus.


We made one more stop in the city at one of the forts Рwe took a quick look inside, it was pretty cool. At little claustrophobic in some of the walkways. The views back on Havana were the best part!

We made another brief stop at a roadside bar area. No kitties this time but they did have Pina coladas in pineapples! I was told I could put as much rum in it as I wanted!


Now we’re back at the resort. The last people to be dropped off!¬†Time for dinner and bed. Tomorrow – beach.

Oh look! A swan! (I think)


Cuba Day 3

So after dinner last night we sat around in the court yard for a bit. It’s quite boring just sitting around to be honest. There was some music but nothing too exciting.

I came back to the room and watched an old episode of ER and went to bed. I had a bit of tummy trouble, nothing too serious but it’s never fun. Luckily it went away after a while and I was able to get some sleep. Still found it noisy though.¬†It not just people in the room next door, it’s creaks and cracks and the fridge, the¬†wooden doors that need to be slammed shut¬†ect.

Today I woke up and it was bight and sunny and exciting.

After a less and ideal breakfast (I still can’t get behind the food here) we set off for Varadaro. We went to the flea market and a couple malls. It wasn’t really worth it. It was cool being driven around in the old Chevy but it was just a bunch of crap (and I do mean that in a nice way, maybe I should say tack? Some people put a lot of time and effort in to some of those¬†goods¬†so I’m not discounting that – but how many fridge magents and t-shirts does one need?)¬†and women asking if I want my hair braided. I did buy a necklace for my mom (might keep it hah)

So I still need something for my dad, brother and maybe some friends. I plan on doing my Christmas shopping here. I just realized too that I didn’t take any pictures in town and now I’m a bit disappointed ūüė¶

We came back and had lunch and then I headed to the beach. It had clouded over a bit but wasn’t bad. I fell asleep for a bit on¬†my chair¬†– my own snoring woke me up. There were these really annoying French people were so loud.¬†They were playing with some ball thing that made a buzzing noise in the air. The one guy couldn’t catch a cold if you sneezed on him. The only thing worse was the LOUD Russians.

I went in the water for a bit. It was different today, lots of sediment and shells and sea weed washing up. I wonder what causes such a change from one day to another? I collected some cool shells, not too sure what I’ll do with them yet but I’ll find something.



We watched skydivers land on the beach. They asked if I wanted to try it and I said no. Then it was time to head back to the rest of the gang who were over at the pool.


Pool at Paradisus Princesa del Mar

We wanted to go back to our rooms for a bit before dinner and on our way we ran into our friend Mr. Happy. Well my aunt saved him some good from the buffet the day before and had it in her room. So, she (we) coaxed him to follow us and he did just that. And guess whose room he decided he wanted to stay in?


My new friend Mr. Happy

Yup, mine. We’re pals. He ate his stolen food on the patio and then had a short bath while I showered and took a bit of a nap while I got ready for dinner. He didn’t really want to leave when I was ready to go. He seemed quite at home and happy on my bed. Poor dude. We got him to go though and he went his way and we went ours.

Off we went for dinner – though¬†I do find it odd that the buffet doesnt open until 7pm for dinner. That seems kinda late, no? We have¬†sat at the same table since we’ve¬†been here and have two really great ladies taking care of us. We once again just sat around for a¬†bit in the courtyard area. Not sure what the entertainment¬†is tonight. Anyway,¬†off to bed, have to get up early for Havana!

Oh yah, look at my blanket animal!


Pillow person!

Cuba Day 2

I feel so gross.

So last night after I typed away, I actually ended up watching the Michael Buble Christmas special.¬†It was great having a bit of home, though I don’t know why I’m so home sick. This is supposed to come at the end of the trip, not the start!

My aunt came and knocked on my door a bit after that to say my uncle sat down on their bed and broke it and they were being moved to another building.

I eventually fell asleep. Woke up to the sound of the pouring rain. Great.¬†Thankfully by the time I actually go up it had stopped. I took myself to breakfast. It was ok. I’m a big eater and I love food but was again underwhelmed by what I had. There was a cute little cat that came and joined me on the patio – looking for breakfast¬†I supposed.

After breakfast I stopped and got a mojito and¬†walked to the beach and it was exactly what I needed. This is why I came. Beeaach. I felt like literally running into the water but that’d be weird and I had a dress on.


I went back to my room to put on my swimmers and then headed back to the beach. I sat there for a bit, met up with the family, went swimming in the ocean. First time I’ve been swimming in the ocean since Australia, no sharks this time! Had my Ursula¬†Andress moment, no conch though¬†– wish I had a photo of me walking out of the water with my salty hair. Eventually it started to get cold – it was still cloudy from the morning rain¬†– so I walked back to the resort area and met up with the family. We sat around the pool for the rest of the day and drank, which is why I feel gross. I wasn’t super drunk but I was a bit buzzed and like I said, hungry. I’ve sobered up now but I just feel gross. Anyway, we ended up on a cabana and who joined us? A resort kitty. I love cats, made me a bit less homesick for mine, we had a nap together haha.

Now¬†I’m in the lobby bar.¬†That made me sad.¬†I still feel like barfing, I ordered the closest thing to ginger ale they have and a water. Maybe I just need that wall of bread from the buffet. Can you imagine if it had been hot or if I had really, really drank? I hope this passes. Might not check in until tomorrow now. Meeting the fam here before dinner at the buffet. Might go to Varadaro tomorrow and then we’re booked for a trip to¬†Havana on Thursday.

Cerveza’s and Cohiba’s

Hi everyone! Wow it’s been awhile! I didn’t go anywhere this summer, just did a bit of a staycation. Went to local festivals and activities, relaxed and sat on a lot of patios. But that’s not why I’m here. This week we decided to go to Cuba just before Christmas. I cannot wait to plop myself down on a beach and sit there. I haven’t been on a proper beach since I was in Australia. That was a lifetime ago. This will be my first time (the others have been before). So now I need your help! What should I know about Cuba before I go? I know the country is¬†slowly changing as their relationship with America changes.¬†We’ll be in Cayo Coco – so tell me what’s good, what’s bad – the lot. I look forward to hearing what all of you have to say.

Holiday travels

Happy Monday everyone! I can’t believe it’s already December… have you started thinking about a winter getaway? I sure have but probably won’t be in the cards this year. It was so cold here over the weekend – got down to the -40’s with the wind-chill. If that doesn’t scream ‘get me to a beach’ I don’t know what does. The good news is, if you’ve been thinking about it there are some ‘Cyber Monday’ deals out there… some of them aren’t the greatest but might be worth a look depending on what you’re in the market for…

Westjet still has their Black Friday sale on – you have to travel by January 5th and there is only one ‘warm’ destination on sale. Who knows, maybe they’ll add more later today.

Air Canada is having a Cyber Monday 15% off sale.

Expedia is offering 50% off but you need to travel by the end of the month. Great if you’re looking for a last minute deal.

Redtag also has a few offers, probably your best bet for a warm destination.

There are a bunch more so I won’t list them but it’s worth browsing around today if you’re looking for something. Let me know if you find anything good and what your winter travel plans are! Stay warm ūüôā


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