Wednesday 17 October 2012

Cuba Day 7: Varadero Day Tour

I am going to skip over Day 6. A very nondescript day. Beach, food, drink. Nothing exciting.

Day 7 was a different kettle of fish. I was still suffering from lobsteritis and as the other sun worshipers worked on topping up their already bronzed bodies I decided that my sun-burnt body needed a break from direct sun.

We awoke to the sound of thunder storms and as I went back to sleep with a sly smile on my face the Mrs headed off to book a day trip to Varadero town. When I re-awoke  the thunder had scattered the cloud. It was now sunny with a few clouds. Showered and dressed we stood at reception waiting on our bus.

Our first stop was at Al Capones Villa, now used as a restaurant. Apparently Mr. Capone himself never actually visited the Villa himself however after a walk around I was assured he would not have been disappointed if he had. Unfortunately the walk around was very limited as the current proprietors didn't look too happy with us traipsing about the restaurant and not actually ordering anything.

The next stop on the trip was to Varederos largest Flea Market. The Mrs was now in her element and any complaints about not lounging on the beach were forgotten. We spent around 45 minutes looking around the stalls. Some of the stuff was very nice and some of the art work was amazing. The rest was just tat. The Mrs didn't mind though, she could have spent all day there.

After the market we stopped at a Cigar and Rum store. All of my cigars had been pretty much bought at this stage however it didn't stop my search for the elusive Edition Limitada range that seemed so scarce in Havana. An awkward conversation ensued and my English with some broken Spanish thrown in for good measure led me to the conclusion that the search was to remain elusive.

Slightly disappointed but not surprised we headed towards Xanadu Mansion. This was the former residence of Irenee Dupont de Nemours, a French American millionaire  It now serves as Cuba's only 18 hole golf course and club house.

We climbed the narrow stair up to the bar at the top of the mansion. Here we received a Cuba Libra, we brought it out to the balcony and took in the fantastic view. The sun was now shining brightly and the heat it gave off was just about bearable but as we sat and looked out over the green golf course and blue ocean, we wanted to stay there forever.

 After the Golf Club we made our way back to the resort. We went for lunch in the buffet and followed that by a few games of pool in the games room. Later that evening there was a Mangers Reception for all the people in the resort. We went back to the room for an afternoon nap before getting ready and heading towards the lobby bar.

At the managers reception all the heads of staff were present. Prizes were given out to a few lucky people and there was a bit of Cuban music to accompany the drinks reception. The whole affair lasted less than 30 minutes after which we headed to the bar for a few cocktails before dinner.

It was Cuban theme in the buffet that night and we enjoyed Creol soup and suckling pig. All very nice. This was followed by an hour of Cuban entertainment. An hour was 60 minutes too long.

After the show we met up with the Scots. As the rain finally came down with full force we headed to the piano bar. A couple of drinks here were enjoyable but as we were the only people in the bar we felt it was rude to talk as the lady played the piano. We decided to leave, face the rain and make our way towards the lobby bar for a night cap.

A couple of Pina Colada's later and it was getting cold. We decided to say good night to the Scots and make our way back to the room.

We had a very enjoyable day, away from the direct sun, but as we climbed into bed, the rain hammering against the window, we wondered would we get another chance to visit the beach.

Al Capone's Villa

The Man Himself


A Stone Car

Outside The Flea Market

View of Golf Course

View of Ocean


Playing Pool

Managers Reception

Pina Colada and Sandals Passion

Outdoor Entertainment Area

Monday 8 October 2012

Cuba Day 5: Hangovers and Sunburn

Day five and I awoke with a very sore head. The pizza that had remained untouched from the night before was now crawling with Ants. It was not a pleasant sight when you are hungover but being the strong alpha male that I am, I ran to the bathroom and got the Mrs to take care of it!!

I hate Ants!!

So with the apartment Ant free and the offending pizza removed I bravely (reluctantly) came out of the bathroom and prepared for the day ahead. I couldn't face breakfast so it was straight to the beach.

The weather was fantastic and surprisingly the beach was not too busy. We noticed that there were a lot of people beside the pool and once I stepped on to the sand I couldn't figure out why. We walked along until we found a suitable spot, not too far from the bar but far enough that the music would not annoy us.

A guy pulled out two loungers for us and we settled in for a day of relaxation. Sun cream on, lounger in position, book in hand I was ready to do nothing.

That lasted for little over ten minutes. I am Irish!! In an Irish heatwave you will see white pasty men walking around in shorts they have owned for five years and only worn twice. When we are basking in the sunshine, eating our ice cream, complaining about the heat, it wouldn't be uncommon to see a group of Scandinavian tourist walk past puling their scarves tighter around them. Bottom line, we can not handle sunshine.

So ten minutes in and the sweat was dripping of my head and dropping on to my pages of Dorian Grey. There was only one thing to do. Hit the water. So I casually jumped off my lounger and strolled towards the ocean. I would like to think of my self as bronzed Adonis striding along the sand before diving into the breaking water but as the sand was burning the bottom of my feet I began to walk faster and ended up looking more like a school girl running awkwardly, tripping over and falling into the water.

The ocean was like a dream. Crystal clear and warm. I had to walk a good distance out to sea before it was deep enough to cover my height. I jumped with the waves and swam like a dolphin although the Mrs said I looked like I was drowning and other beach-goers were ringing Greenpeace thinking that there was a whale in distress.

The rest of the morning went like that, in and out of the water. The sun would dry me off, I would get too warm, I would go for a dip and the cycle repeated itself.

We went for lunch at the beach bar. I had a very pleasant hot-dog and chips. The hangover was still there and it was all I could stomach. The Mrs headed back to the beach but I decided I would go back to the room for a bit of Air Con.

My back was feeling a bit sore and tight and as I walked into the room I caught a glance of myself in the mirror. I was like a lobster!! Burnt from head to toe. How could this be? I had covered myself in sun block and it said it was water proof. The Mrs later explained to me that it wasn't water "proof" it was water "resistant" Apparently there is a big difference. I do not operate well hungover.

I returned to the beach and sat in the shade for the rest of the day reading Mr. Wildes sinister and sarcastic pros and after soaking in all the sun we could for one day we returned for an afternoon nap before heading out for dinner.

We were booked into the Caribbean restaurant for dinner and we looking forward to it. We had an early booking so there were only two other couples seated when we arrived. The service was fantastic. The waiting staff wore white gloves and served butter with silver tongs!!

The food wasn't so bad either. I opted for Yukka fritters to start followed by a Caribbean Chicken dish for my main. The Mrs went for Cajun soup and the pork main. I think I fared better out of the two of us but both meals were great. The dessert on the other hand was not. I ordered what sounded like a fantastic dish. The menu described it as Candy of Molten Orange with a Caramel Foam. What I received was a couple of orange wedges with a sticky liquid that tasted like it was scrapped from the bottom of the oven. The Mrs ordered a simple rice pudding but received a stodgy bowl of rice covered in far too much cinnamon  We decided not to finish the dessert as it would leave a bad taste to what was otherwise a very nice dinner.

Cocktails in hand and still attempting to wash the burnt taste from our mouth we went to the outdoor entertainment area. The show was mixed music and culture themed and at times was so bad that it was entertaining. It only lasted an hour. After the show we sat in our seats and watched the Thunder and Lightening which seemed to start on cue. The rain came shortly after but didn't last too long however the temperature dropped drastically and it was a lot cooler. We headed towards the lobby bar and after the Macho(sic) day I had I thought there was no better way to finish it off than ordering a big girly Pina Colada. The joke backfired though, it was gorgeous!!

After the rain, a terrible smell came across the resort, a sewage smell, not pleasant at all. Unable to stomach the smell we only had one drink and went back to the room. After-Sun and Aloe Vera were applied in copious amounts and we went to bed.

It is hard work doing nothing

The Beach

My Shade

Dessert Menu - They found a new Cinnamon Species

The Show

More of the show