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Jan 30, 2013

Cuba January 2013




Hola! We had an awesome time in Cuba. AGAIN. This is the third time we've been in 3 years. Previous to our first trip I was never very interested in vacationing there. But I've been won over. Probably because of the laid back attitude (once you're out of the airport - man, they are serious!) and the gorgeous beaches.


We arrived at the hotel in the early afternoon, which worked out perfectly. There was only a 20 minute wait for our room to be ready, the buffet was still open for lunch, and it was still sunny and hot. We changed our clothes, grabbed a drink, and found a couple of poolside loungers to relax in.

When we got to our room we were shocked to find out that we'd been upgraded to a VIP room. Hammock on the balcony, baby! And a free bottle of rum to take home. All I had mentioned to the girl at reception was that we were return guests and could we have a second floor room - I didn't expect that at all.


Since this was our second trip to the same place we didn't have any plans to go on excursions off the resort. The week was all about relaxing. Usually I over-plan our days so I only get around to reading maybe half a book, but this week I read the two books I brought with me and started re-reading another one that I'd brought specifically to leave behind. We brought about 10 paperbacks with us that we didn't want anymore, to leave on the bookshelf in the lobby. It was hilarious to spot our books later in the week being read by other guests.

We spent our mornings hanging out on the beach, and our afternoons by the pool. We also walked down the beach several times to another hotel to exchange money at the bank. The rate was much better than at hotel reception and we needed the exercise anyway. The buildings at the other hotel were prettier than ours, but their beach wasn't much to speak of, so I'm glad we chose the one we did.


While at the other hotel we wandered through the marketplace and Tom was fixated on buying one of these wooden scorpions.


I think they're disgusting. Lovely workmanship, but the subject? Yuck. He settled on buying a wooden crab instead and plans to hide it in his co-worker's drawer to scare him. Boys!

Part of the fun of vacation is having your room straightened for you each day and trying to guess what towel animal will be waiting for you when you come back from the beach. Our housekeeper favoured swans, but she found a different way to display them every day.


(Side note: on a cruise a few years ago our cabin steward left a towel dog one day and then a towel monkey suspended from a hanger the next. Tom thought it was the dog again and said, "What kind of sick person would hang a dog by its paws?!" It still makes me laugh.)

We managed to go horseback riding twice during the week - once for an hour with a couple who had never ridden before, and then again on our last day for a longer two-hour ride. We rode along the road, down some trails, and then along the beach. I think Tom got the same horse both days because he (the horse) would just suddenly wander off the path and start eating leaves. And each time he would get scolded by the trail guide, but I swear that horse had a smirk afterwards.


On the first ride, after stripping off the leaves, he even carried the branch with him for the rest of the ride - like a proud puppy. And my horse kept walking along leaning his head on Tom's leg - because he would scratch behind the horse's ears. I think we need to get horses!

The nightly entertainment didn't start until 9:45 each evening and we were only able to stay awake a couple of times. Such oldsters. One of the best nights was "Cuban night" when they told the history of Cuban art through dance. The dancers were so good! And the costumes were gorgeous. Tom decided he needs one of those flamenco jackets.



We did get to Playa Pilar, the star of the area, but it was an overcast and windy day so we only stayed for a couple of hours. The highlight was our taxi ride back to the hotel - check out this 1957 Oldsmobile. And the proud owner. He kept petting the dashboard every time he talked about it. Since Tom is a mechanic he really wanted to discuss it more, but alas, our Spanish isn't strong enough (yet).  New Year's Resolution - practice more often!



It was so great to re-unite with staff from last year, and to make new friends - Hi, Maria! - that we can't wait to go back again. Is it bad that I'm already checking out prices?

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