Sunday, April 5, 2009

Our Cuba Vacation: March 23-30/09

This is just a one picture of many; I will up load a few more to blogger this weekend! This is from our excursion into the fishing village! It was a beautiful view from this look off spot!! Absolutely stunning!

As you know, John and I got a smokin deal on a trip to Cuba this winter. We were so excited to be able to go south again this year and were really looking forward to it. I was a little nervous about the mixed reviews on our resort and Cuba in general that I had heard but let me tell you that we had an absolutely amazing vacation!! WOW! What a place! We had an awesome time! Our resort was great, the food was fine and the people were amazing!! Here is a little play by play of our Cuban adventures:

We left Monday morning VERY early. We woke up brutally early and headed to the airport. We did park n'fly so we got to the airport with what we believed to be plenty of time. It would have been fine time wise but the Sunwing airlines check in counter either opened too late or were under staffed. We waited in a line up that was painfully slow and long. Our flight was departing at 6:30am and we didn't even get to our turn at the check in counter until 5:55 am. After we hurriedly checked in our bags, we bolted for security, which just so happened to be lined up to the Clearwater store that morning. Panicked we were going to miss our flight, along with a few others in the same position as us, John ran ahead and found out that if we had our ticket agent with us, we could jump ahead of the line up and get through security immediately. So he runs back to get her and there is a group of us that are all in the same boat. We get through security and race up the escalators just in time as we hear "final call for boarding on flight 631 to Holguin". Anyways, we made it and were super duper relieved once we were sitting on the plane. This was our first time flying with Sunwing and the service (other than the mishap at the airport) was great. They came around with a glass of champagne, hot towels and a hot meal. It was far better service than Air Canada. We arrived in Cuba as scheduled and got our bus to the resort. Once we got to the resort we checked in and changed our clothes (I had the brilliant idea of wearing a dress with tights on the plane so I was so excited to get rid of my tights and long sleeved dress and put on a bathing suit and sundress). The first day was a little windy so we just hung out at the pool and then went to a nice dinner. After the first day though the weather was absolutely gorgeous. So hot and beautiful!! We met so many awesome people on our trip and had so much fun.
We ate at 3 A La Carte restaurants! They were all really good. The first night we were there we ate at the Cuban A La Carte restaurant and it was very yummy. We asked our waiter to choose from the menu the most authentic Cuban dish and he did...great choice! Oh and I must state for the record that Cuba has the best, most falvorful ice cream ever! They had a variety of flavors but my 2 favs were the strawberry and the coconut flavors. Delish!!
The next 7 days we spent a lot of our time between the beach and the pool. John loved playing beach volleyball every morning at 11am. We got into a pretty steady routine, which we enjoyed a lot. Every morning we would wake up between 6:30 and 7:30, we'd laze around and get ready and head to breakfast for 8-8:30. After breakfast we'd go to one of our favorite bars for a cappuccino and espresso (John got cappuccinos and I usually got espressos). We'd sit and relax and then head to the beach or pool until beach volleyball and beach games time. After beach volleyball we’d either sit and chat with the other players and the Cuban guys that coordinated the activities and then John was usually in need of cooling off with a swim and a beer!! After a dip in the ocean or pool we'd go for lunch. After lunch we'd go back to the each and the pool. Sometimes we'd also head over to the local market, which was right next to our resort. They had a lot of really cool vendors and it was a great place for Cuban souvenirs. We usually did that in the morning though. Afternoon was strictly beach and pool time. We also did an excursion into a fishing village one morning/early afternoon. We were supposed to go on a rubber wheel train ride into the town but the train was not workin so we went on an air conditioned bus instead...haha! It was a nice tour though. The village was really something to see. We went into a medical clinic that was nothing like ours here in Canada and it made me realize how lucky we are to have what we have here. There was also a local lady who invited our small tour group into her home for coffee. She was so sweet and she was very taken with John, haha! She kept talking away to him and showing him a picture of her in her much younger years. She was speaking strictly Spanish so John had no idea what she was saying, it was very sweet though! They had a pig that had just given birth and so there were about 5 or 6 baby piglets, which were cute to see. We also saw a school and some other pretty cool sites. I had taken some gifts and Janet had given us toothbrushes and toothpaste to give to the locals so we handed them out at the village. We really enjoyed the tour and were happy we did it. Janet and Rick recommended that tour to us so we knew it would be good!!!
Friday was our 6-month wedding anniversary...hard to believe we've been married for 6 months already!! We had booked an A La Carte restaurant for that night (not for that purpose, it had just ended up for that night) so we went to a very nice and quiet one of the restaurants. When we got there we noticed there were champagne glasses on only our table and we were very much at a table out of the way from the others. Once we were seated, a waiter came over and said "Happy Honeymoon". haha! Oh right, that honeymoon upgrade I had weaseled for our "second honeymoon". hehe! We had temporarily forgotten all about it since all we had really wanted was a room upgrade. Well it was very nice. We had a great dinner and the champagne was a nice touch. We had a lot of fun that night at dinner and it also just so happened to be our 6 months anniversary so we did have a reason to celebrate after all ;) We had a lot of laughs over this meal as well, you see John and I both ordered the shrimp and we were really looking forward to it. Little did we know that the shrimp was nothing like the shrimp we get here in Canada. They brought us out our plates and they were these HUGE shrimp with the heads still on and everything. We looked down at this big plate and all we could see was the tentacles/antennae and eyeballs...LOL! It was sooo funny! We had a good hard laugh over that one. The flavor of the shrimp was really really good but the look on our faces when we initially got our food was priceless. We were so caught up in the humor we forgot to take a picture. We did eat it though and it was good.
Saturday night we ran into some people from back home. Janet and Rick had told us their friend Cheryl Thompson's mother and father would be arriving at our resort during the week we were there. Janet gave me a picture of Charlie and Ariel (Cheryl's parents) so we would know what they look like and be able to recognize them. Saturday evening John and I are sitting in one of the main bars for the evening entertainment when I look over the other side of the room and I say to John, "look over at the table on the terrace, is that Cheryl's parents?". He had no idea if it was or wasn't so I boldly got up out of my seat and walked over to where they were sitting. John and I had developed a plan since the bar was packed that he would sit at the table while I went over to investigate so we wouldn't lose our seats if it was not them. So I march over and I ask, "excuse me, are you Mr. and Mrs. Thompson?” Well at first I had forgotten their first names so that was kind of funny. Anyways, it turned out to be them. I signalled to John and brought over our chairs and we sat with them for the evening. It was really nice to see them. They were a very sweet couple! Funny though, we have known Cheryl for a while (obviously John longer than I) and go all the way to Cuba and meet her parents. We met Charlie and Ariel for breakfast the following two mornings and then they were very nice to allow us to leave our luggage in their hotel room while our flight was delayed and delayed again! It was nice to have a spot to be able to change for the plane and not have to worry about our luggage.
Sunday night John and I had another A La Carte reservation. We ate at this great Italian place and had a very yummy meal...probably my favorite there! After dinner, we took in some typical nightly entertainment. The activity coordinator guys at the resort that John and I had met and spent some time with all week were there and they volunteered us to enter in a dance competition. That was totally hilarious!! I was so nervous and embarrassed and I had not been drinking (other than a glass of wine with my dinner) and if I was I am sure it wouldn't have been as bad. But there were a few hundred people there watching and there were 2 couples on stage (out of 7) that were REALLY good...I'm talkin professionals! hehe! A couple we had met during the week who also played beach volleyball everyday and they had actually taken some pictures of John and I on stage during the dance competition. They said they would email them to us so here's hoping they do. It was hilarious. And the activity coordinators got a big kick out of the end of the hour long competition (that’s right an hour and I don't know how many songs they had us dance to) we got em back cuz they asked all the competitors to grab a couple friends to drag on stage with you so we of course went for those guys. It was fun being the entertainment for the night though ;) That night the guys who were the activity coordinators asked us to go to the Disco, we wandered over but didn't stay very long.

Monday came and as it was our last day we were bummed we had to leave and go back to the real world. Our flight was delayed a few times so we got to enjoy the full day and night there, as we did not even depart our resort until 11pm. We had decided to rent a moped and travel the 31km to Janet and Rick's resort since they were supposed to be arriving Monday morning. The trip took us about an hour and we enjoyed seeing the countryside and the town of Rafael Freyre. We did see some pretty great scenery. We got to Don Lino and asked the front desk if we could visit and that is when they told us they were delayed. Since the wait would have been about 3 hours, we decided to head back to our resort.

We hung out by the pool and then had some supper and drinks and enjoyed our last wonderful night in beautiful Cuba. Our flight ended up leaving Holguin at 4am. We didn't get into our car until almost 11:30am by the time we got through Customs and hitched a ride on the park n'fly bus. John was supposed to work that morning at 8am so by the time we arrived home there were plenty of calls from his boss and trainee wondering where he was. Luckily his friend clued in and passed along the message. So Tuesday we both stayed home and caught up on rest and unpacked. We were soooo tired.

We had a really great time. As I said, I was a little nervous about going to Cuba just because of all the mixed reviews we were getting from people. But I have to say we love love loved it and cannot wait to go back! It was a blast!!! Anyways, I'll post some pics this weekend of our trip! I uploaded some to good old facebook and it took a long time so I will get some patience and try uploading a couple to blogger this weekend!! Until then...

1 comment:

Heather Lee said...

I LOVED Cuba, too, despite mixed reviews! And our resort was fantastic, as well! I had to laugh at the shrimp. I saw a few of those, but at our Japanese a la carte, they were what we were used to it was DELISH! What did you have at the Cuban restaurant? I think we had a lemon fried chicken something or other and LOVED it! I am bummed I didn't try the ice cream, but Jody did and really liked it! I was so into all the coconut desserts that I forgot to go back and try the ice cream..hehe! So glad you enjoyed it! I know I will definitely head back again someday!