Wednesday, June 25, 2014


After staying in Casa de Particulars throughout our time in Cuba, we decided to treat ourselves to two nights in an all inclusive resort in Varadero at the end of our trip. Varadero is like Cuba’s Cancun, and normally we would be a little adverse to dedicating part of a holiday to a cheesy destination like this... However by the time we left Trinidad we were getting very excited about the prospect of minimal lengthy Spanish conversations (in which we understood very little), and the charade games you play with the owners are just endless.

Alex partaking in a scheduled beach volley ball game. He made the most of the free sports activities on site also playing football each evening and made friends with a lot of English chaps staying at the resort.
"Mmmmm hot dogs on the beach"
The pool at the spectacular Blau Varadero

We walked in and were offered a glass of champagne on arrival (more likely sparkling wine to be honest but all the same!), and with 15 minutes to spare on the lunch buffet we sped down to the poolside lunch restaurant. 

Spending the afternoon poolside with an array of delicious beverages we noticed quite a few fatty families on holiday. As well as the restaurants with set meal times, there are snack shacks with things like fries, burgers and hot-dogs available between meals. 

That evening we were seated in the hotels auditorium at bang on 9.45pm to watch the Michael Jackson tribute show. We had actually spotted him sampling the dinner buffet earlier, and top marks for the costume department - he looked great. Shame about the audio quality though, the sound was terrible, he only lip-synced and the whole thing was just bizarre. The largely Eastern European audience seemed to be loving it though with huge rounds of applause being had, and one grey haired tubby lady came running from the bar as we were ducking out yelling to her husband who was trailing behind “It’s Billy Jean, HURRY!!” - golly if only these people knew how good the live music in authentic Cuba was!

Yes this hotel was ridiculous, but the bed was amazing. After two weeks - no make that 5 weeks - in springy, hard excuses for mattresses we slept like little babies in our super king with silent air conditioning and black out curtains.

The foyer at Blau Varadero

Odd scene whilst entering the dining room for 'Themed dinner night' - the theme was Italian, but there appeared to be a welcome team dressed in Grecian costume. The punter speaking to them with the glasses on was asking these poor team members why they were dressed in Grecian costume if the theme was Italian...

Due to the never ending feasting we scheduled in a gymnasium visit for the morning, which proved harder for me than I could have imagined. Within 5 minutes on the bike at only a 2 out of 10 resistance I was dying. Alex tried to coerce me into ‘spotting’ him, to which I refused, largely due to knowing I had no ability whatsoever to hold anything near the weight he was attempting to ‘press’. 

We're not sure if we would stay in an all inclusive hotel again. By the end of our two night stay we felt rather ill and we hadn't even been indulging that much! I don't know how people did it for a week or so at a time, and to be honest it would have been a bit boring to have been there for longer than we were.

We ended our stay in Cuba in Havana back at Casa Lilly, and had after asking our taxi driver where he learnt his impeccable English he told us the amazing story of his family. His parents and brother had made a raft out of old car tyres and tarpaulins and sailed it successfully from Havana to Miami. The US have an interesting policy titled: 'Wet foot, dry foot' (more details here) which essentially means any Cuban who makes it onto US soil can apply for residency. Absolute miracle that they made it there on what sounded like a very poor excuse for a boat! Our driver didn't go with his family as he has children in Cuba - but his mum started sending him books written in English so he is almost entirely self-taught and always looking for opportunities to converse in English with tourists to improve. I won't go into the the rest of his story as he told us a taxi driver had divulged a lot of information to two German tourists a couple of years back, who then uploaded a video of the secret recording they'd made to YouTube and now that taxi driver is in prison for speaking ill of the government. Poor guy!

Sunset on our last night in Havana

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