Tuesday 13 November 2012

Cuba Day 11: The Journey Home

The last few hours of our holiday and wouldn't you know it. The sun was shining.

The Mrs in her infinite wisdom had not packed any of or "Beach Supplies" so there we were, making our way to the beach for some last minute sunbathing.

We lasted two hours on the beach. In and out from under the shelter, dodging the rain and enjoying the brief glimpses of Sun that broke through the clouds. Within the two hours we probably got an even hour of sun and hour of rain.

Time was pushing on and we had to check out of our room so we abandoned the beach for the last time and went back to finish our packing. Bags packed and checked out we headed to the buffet for lunch. That was one thing I was not going to miss.

After forcing food into me, the rain was coming down hard again. We went to the games rooms for a few games of Ping-Pong and to the lobby bar for a farewell cocktail  In reality we were just killing time. I don't think either of us we too sad to be leaving.

Our pickup arrived at 3pm and once again we were the only ones in a small mini-van. As we drove towards the airport the sun finally came out. The Mrs fell asleep, I looked out the window as Cuba passed me by. I saw people going about their everyday lives, men working, kids playing, women carrying fruits. I was going to miss Cuba. Sandals wasn't Cuba in my eyes. Havana certainly was.

We arrived at the Airport around 5pm to find out that. due to the storm, our flights was delayed until 1am. We looked around a few shops and after being told there were lots more on the other side we got in line to check in.

It took forever. The queue for our flight almost wrapped around the whole departure lounge, after shuffling on for an eternity, we got checked in. Then came the Airport Tax. We had to pay 25CUC each to be allowed to leave Cuba. That queue moved fast enough, more than could be said about Immigration  Another age was spent shuffling along, sweating and for no apparent reason wondering if they will find something wrong with your passport.

On the other side of immigration was the security checkpoint. A bottle of water and a lighter were confiscated from us, we walked through the x-ray, collected our things and were greeted by a small shop that among other things, sold Water and Lighters.

It took a few hours to get through all the checks. Its harder to get out of Cuba than it is to get in to Fort Knox.

Once in departures we realised that we were duped. There was nothing there. One big shop, two smaller ones and a very limited food counter. We were starving at this stage and ended up eating a Cheese sandwich and cold fries. We devoured it.

We walked around the "Shops", which didn't take long and bought a bottle of rum and I purchased a 3 pack of Romeo y Julieta No.1. The little cigar shop, along with the advertising all over the airport, were pushing a cigar brand called Guantanamera. I have never smoked one and they were very cheep. I asked the woman in the store about them and by the look on her face I new they were not good. They were so cheep because nobody was buying them.

I bought a single anyway. You don't know unless you try.

So that was it for departures. Now it was a case of waiting around, smoking and playing games on my phone. It was after 130am before we finally boarded the plane. Tired, Hungry and Not Amused the flight back to Paris was torture. I would rather take a boat next time.

Once in Paris we went through similar checks again. This time not as stringent thank Higgs Boson, although our rum was confiscated  I explained to the guy that it was bough in a Duty Free shop in the departures lounge in Cuba. He didn't care (It wasn't bought in Paris Duty Free). We were given the option to check it in but the walk was too far and the Rum only cost 7CUC. We let him have it.

Departures in Paris was great, Shops, restaurants, massage chairs. Unfortunately / Fortunately we only had a short stop over. Our flights was again delayed but only by thirty minutes. The Mrs went off and bought bracelets and girly stuff and I went in search of Cigars.

The prices were more expensive than Cuba but cheaper than Ireland. Money was running very low at this stage so I only bought a 3 pack of Davidoff Perfecto's. (I love Davidoff)

So back on an Airplane  we were making our way back to Dublin. After enduring a hellish 9.5hr flight, this flight was a doddle.

Back in Dublin, the Mrs had a brief blonde moment as we went through Customs:
"Do we go through the Something to Declare gate" she said.
"Be quiet and just follow me" I mumbled angrily hoping nobody noticed the guilty heads on us.

Funny thing was that we were well below our allowance for Cigars and Alcohol. I just didn't want to take the chance.

Out of the Airport we went and not long after breathing in the Irish air again, we were back at home in the apartment.

Havana was fantastic and Sandals was an experience but for now, our Cuban adventurer was over!!!

Flip Flops

Watching Men Clean The Beach

Left For The Maid - Barely Used

Our Key Cards

The Mrs Bracelets 
My Cigars

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Cuba Day 10: Rain Bathing

What was that? I had been so long since we had seen it. Could it be? Yes, there was a glimmer of Sunshine.

The Mrs catapulted herself out of bed and before I could even realise what was going on she had the bag packed and sun-cream on. I guess we were going to the beach!!

To her dismay, it was a better day from the inside looking out. We trundled on anyway and arrived at the beach. We got our usual spot, which wasn't hard considering there were only a handful off other people there. Towels down, sunscreen on, lounger situated for optimum sunshine, we were ready to get our tan on.

Then it rained.

We were in and out from under the cover of our parasol like a Jack in the Box. guessing when the rain would start and when it would stop. After an hour or so, shivering under our towels, we decided to give up.

We returned to the room for a shower and a change of clothes and to try to get a bit of heat back into our shivering bodies. Once recovered it was off the the buffet for lunch.

All this eating was wearing thin. I don't have a regular eating pattern at home and sometimes I even forget to eat. With the weather the way it was I had nothing to do but eat.

After Lunch we had a look around the few shops the resort had to offer. The Mrs bought a ridiculously over priced T-shirt and I flirted with the idea of buying more cigars. In the end I decided not too. Instead we went to the "Super-market" and bought a load of snacks to munch on while watching TV (Weather Channel)

It was a good job I did have the snacks as the buffet option that night was terrible. It was almost as if they brought out the leftovers from the week.

Entertainment time again and it was as bad as the buffet. Some auld granny trying to be cool while singing Beatles songs...badly!! It was so bad it was almost funny.

We met the Scots outside "Varaderos" after the show. We had a drink and a chat outside the club and were enjoying ourselves until the rain forced us to part. The Scots went off as the Mrs and I went to the lobby bar for a night cap.

When we got back to the room we started packing our clothes for our departure the next day. As the Mrs packed the clothes and I packed the cigars, Sunshine and Havana seemed a long time ago.

The Mrs Leaves Her Mark

Our View

A Little Brighter


Sunday 4 November 2012

Cuba Day 9: Isaac Arrives

We awoke with a fright on Day 9, and a lot earlier than usual.

There was banging, hammering, thumping and rumbling sounds coming from out on the balcony. It was only 5:30am and we opened the curtains with alarm. It was as we feared but expected. Isaac had arrived!!

So we went back to sleep!!

When we awoke again, at a reasonable hour this time, Isaac was still raging. Is it Issac, Isaac or Isacc? I spelled it Issac in my last post but Wikipedia tells me its Isaac. Anyway, I digress.

I turned on the TV and scanned for the football (real football, not the American kind) Man Utd were playing Fulham but I failed to find it so I settled for Spurs vs West Brom. I couldn't tell you the score, I didn't really care but United ended up winning 3-2. That cheered me up a little but not so the Mrs who was once again denied her time in the sun.

After the football we went to the buffet for lunch. I got a humongous plate of prawns and while struggling to peel them, destroyed my shorts in the process. Too much hard work for not enough reward.

Lunch finished, we decided to have a look at the beach. The walkway was roped off but that wasn't going to stop us. We got to the end of the sand and the place was deserted, the sand was no longer golden and the sea looked just down right angry. It reminded me of home!

I come from a seaside town in Co.Donegal called Bundoran. It is a surfers paradise and if the people there saw what I was looking at, they would be running towards the water with a board under their arm.

Unfortunately I wasn't of that mindset so the Mrs and I headed back to the resort I decided to have a look in the Cigar Shop. I bought a few packs of cigars:

3 x Partagas Series P No.2
3 x Montecristo No.2
3 x Montecristo Petit Edmundo

Cigars in hand we headed back to the room to watch the weather channel and some movies. I had planned for a relaxing holiday but I didn't expect it to be spent watching TV in my room.

That evening it was the turn of the Seafood A La Carte. A nice meal but for me, the worst of the A La Carte options. I had Seafood Cocktail to start followed by a tepid Tomato soup. My main was a Prawn dish ( I didn't have to peel these ones) and I had Tiramisu to finish. The Mrs had a Lobster Bisque followed by a Selection of Seafood and a Chocolate Cake to finish

It was off to "Varaderos" again after dinner for the entertainment. Tonight's show was a Dance Extravaganza  The only thing extravagant was the costumes. Even a power outage and the doors flinging open from the wind outside didn't stop them. As they say "The Show Must Go On". It passed an hour though!!

The Cigar Bar was the next and final stop for the night. I lit up a Vegas Robaino and sipped on a 12yr old whiskey and watched out the window as Isaac got stronger and stronger.

The Seafood Restaurant

Selection of Seafood


Extravagant Costumes

The Cigar Bar Wall
My Cigar Purchases 

Thursday 1 November 2012

Cuba Day 8: Food, Walks and Rain

Day 8 arrived and from the start it didn't look good.

Looking out to the balcony a wet and cloudy day stared back at us, we turned on the TV to hear the news that there had been a shooting at the Empire State Building and there it was, in the corner of the screen.  Issac was on his way!!

So with no sunshine and nothing else planned we decided to check out the buffet for breakfast. It wasn't great, for me anyway!! There was all the fruit you could ask for along with salads, cold meats and even a crepe station. I scoffed in the face of this fantastic selection  I am a Man, an Irish man, who has a beer belly and receding hairline, I don't eat salads for breakfast, so I went in search of the sausages and bacon.

I found them, I ate half of them, I almost got sick, I never went back for breakfast again!!

It was raining by the time I had spat half an unknown meat, pretending to be a sausage, back into my napkin. There was very little to do but go back to the room. We chilled there, watching TV (mostly the News and Weather) for a few hours.

After the shambles that was breakfast (again, only for me, you might love it) I was hungry so we decided to hit the beach bar for Lunch. The Sun was breaking through the clouds but it was still spitting rain and windy. I forget what I had for lunch but it was probably a hot-dog or a burger.

Afterwards we decided to take a walk along the beach.We ended up walking up too three resorts to the left of Sandals, turned around and walked back as far as one resort to the right. It was evident that Sandals had by far the best beach. The resort on the right had no more than 10 foot of sand from the resort to the sea!!

We returned to Sandals and went to the games room. We played a few games of Ping-Pong followed by Pool and then went to the lobby bar for a drink. A couple of Kola's later and we were back in the room to watch the weather channel for a few more hours.

We had our Italian A La Carte meal booked for that evening and as the rain started to come down harder we got dressed up and under the protection of our umbrella (We are in Cuba remember) we made our way to the restaurant.

I loved the Italian!! After my rant about salads and cold meats earlier, I couldn't get enough of the Antipasta, the Stuffed Vine Leaves especially. I had Minestrone to start, followed by Chicken Parmigiana and a nice Chocolate cake to finish. The Mrs had Mushroom soup, Penne Carbonara and Vanilla Ice Cream. I think I came out better of the two.

After dinner it was time for the evening entertainment. Sandals World Famous Rock Show. due to the weather it had to be moved inside to Sandals World Famous Nightclub, the ever originally named "Varaderos"

The show wasn't too bad actually. A few toe tappers were played and we were joined by a nice Welsh couple. The couple tried to talk to us but it was very hard shouting over the music. They were then joined by a group of people who have got to know each other, over the week, around the swimming pool. They all seemed very nice and we watched the end of the show in a large group.

Once the music finished and the "Nightclub" started, the Mrs and I headed for the lobby bar. A little more relaxed and a lot more quite (Higgs Boson I am getting old). There we met a nice Canadian couple who had just arrived. We chatted to them for a while before heading back to the room for the night.

As we climbed into bed we heard tapping at the window. Issac was calling in to say hello!!

A Walk On The Beach

Stormy Sea (For Cuba)

One of the other Resorts

The Italian Restaurant

The Rock Show