Saturday, 7 December 2013

Cuba 2013

I flew out for a week to Cuba and stayed in a lovely all inclusive hotel called the Breezes Jibacoa. The hotel is actually in Varadero, which is about an hour or so from Havana where we flew into. If you get the chance to visit Cuba, you have to stay on this hotel. The staff were so friendly, the food was amazing, there was a 24 hour bar and also, no children under 14 years old can stay there. Bliss! 
(The view from our balcony)

Okay, so the flight itself was pretty long, which I don't tend to mind as I love flying, but after a 5 and a half hour coach ride, along with waiting another 4 hours at the airport, I wasn't in the best of moods! I think the flight was almost 10 hours long, although I will have to double check! 

Anyway, we thought our luck was in as we were an hour ahead of schedule and then it all went tits up. The weather in Havana was so bad that we ended up having to circle the airport for what seemed like forever. When we did land, you could have sworn we had just flown back to Wales the way the weather was. Horrendous - although it was my fault for deciding to go during the rainy season! 

The airport was a nightmare.. It took over an hour and a half for the bags to arrive and then we had another coach ride of an hour and a half to the hotel. By this point all I wanted to do was have food and go to bed, which is what we did - along with a quick stop at the bar of course!


We decided on 2 excursions as there was also plenty to do at the hotel. 

The first was the Havana day trip. Initially we looked at the coach trip, but it worked out a lot more expensive compared to hiring an old school car with a tour guide and driver. I would highly recommend doing the tour this way as it is much more authentic and a lot more personal.

On the tour we visited an old fortress - which also housed the worlds longest cigar! From there we also visited Old Havana (a must see! There were beautiful chapels and other buildings there!) along with New Havana.

The second excursion was a Jeep Safari, which was my personal favourite! 

For the first part of the tour we drove through the farming villages of Matanzas and got to view a lot of the wildlife that Cuba has to offer. Our tour guide was very friendly and had some amazing information to share. 

First off, we headed to watch an Aborigine dance, which I ended up getting pulled up to do too. After this, we got to ride our own speed boat down the most beautiful river - this resulted in the other half wanting to buy a speed boat as his house is right next to a river.. We also experienced the best mojitos ever here!

After the speed boats we then headed to go cave diving! This was amazing - the water was ice cold and was 40 metres deep. 

The next part of the excursion I wasn't able to get any photos of as it was snorkelling. I've never been a confident snorkellor - it's too much for me to concentrate breathing in and out of my mouth without using my nose. Anyone else get that? No, just me then! Aside from that I really enjoyed - I saw some amazing fish and underwater life, plus I got to hold a starfish!

The last part of the excursion was a buffet at a park, where I also got to ride a very old bull, along with holding a crocodile, a "tree rat"?! and a falcon! 

The rest of the holiday was spent enjoying the facilities at the hotel. It was a very small hotel compared to some of the other ones I had seen advertised, but many different factors drew me to this hotel:

Word of mouth - Cuba is one of the "hot spots" with my colleagues as it is rather cheap. I would say about 90% of my colleagues who have been to Cuba stayed at this hotel. One person I know has been 4 times in a year.

The reef - the beach at this hotel is situated right on a coral reef, which is perfect for snorkelling, even if I do find it rather challenging!

No under 14's - don't get me wrong, I am not a snob, but the thought of children running around and potentially knocking my cocktail over just filled me with dread. I noticed a major difference with no children - a lot more peaceful and the poolside was quiet.

The 24 hour bar - need I say anymore?! 

Overall, this holiday was the best I have been on. I would definitely go back, but would wait a while, or until my rum collection has run out. If you head there, definitely stock up! It was so cheap - a litre only cost about £3 to £4!

I booked the hotel directly with Virgin Holidays, but you can check out the hotels website here;

Also, don't forget if you are heading out there to get yourself a Tourist Visa Card. I know that Virgin Holidays sell these when booking for about £30 pp. You won't be able to get past check in or on board the plane without these as it is checked when you arrive at the airport - at least it did with us anyway! You also need to keep a hold of it to leave the country too!

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