1.11.2014

Memories of Cuba

This was our first time to Varadero and our second trip to Cuba.  We had been once before in 2007 for our wedding. We were married on the beach in Holguin and it  was lovely.  From the moment we got there we instantly fell in love with this little island.

So when we were planning our winter getaway, there was no question we were heading back to Cuba.  We decided to try Varadero this time.  A little more touristy, but it was in driving distance to Havana which, since we were kid-free, we really wanted to check out.

We travelled from November 30 to December 7, 2013; a perfect pre-Christmas getaway. And we didn't want anything fancy or expensive, we were just looking for something on the beach where we could relax and maybe go on an excursion.  And that's exactly what we did.  We stayed at the ROC Arenas Doradas, a 3.5 star resort about half way down the peninsula. It was simple, clean, comfortable and relaxing.

Now everyone online always seems to complain about something in Cuba, or anywhere for that matter.  And mostly it seemed like the food wasn't up to par. On both of our trips to Cuba, we loved the food and never had any issues with feeling ill.  I actually prefer their food to what we've had in Mexico and Dominican Republic. This resort had a huge buffet and 4 a la carte restaurants.  From chicken, to beef, to turkey & fish, there was no shortage of things to eat.  Every time we travel we always try to eat the traditional local dishes. I'm not going to Cuba to eat pizza or hamburgers.  I want the seafood and rice & beans and lovely salads and soups with that island flair!  We had the most wonderful, fresh calamari and there was even tongue & heart on the buffet.  The Cuban people definitely make use of everything they have available.  It's pretty safe to assume that the meats they get are local and free range.  What appeared on the buffet each day was simply what they got from the farmer or fisherman that day.  And you could tell! They may not have much, but they have a wonderful way of creating hearty dishes with just a few basic ingredients. And the fruits!  Talk about amazing and refreshing; I think I might have developed a Guava addiction!


So if you're planning a trip to  Cuba, my advice to you to start, is don't go there looking for what you expect at home.Remember, this is a 3rd world country with limited resources. And with all their trade restrictions they aren't going to have all your comforts from home.

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Our liaison from the tour company, Hector, was a fantastic resource on how things work in Cuba. Sometimes they run out of things, like diapers or batteries and they have to wait months for the next shipment.  So they may not have your favourite ketchup or gum, but that just how it goes.  Things break down in Cuba and they may not have the means to fix them.  So there could be delays or services that aren't available.

And for me, I'm OK with that. I get it.  But there's definitely a good amount of people that don't, the gentleman that was ticked that there wasn't WIFI in the hotel or the lady complaining that they were out of her liquor of choice.

When I go on holiday I want to see the landscape and experience the culture.  I don't care if the phone in my room doesn't work or that the hair dryer looks like something from the Cold War era, that's not what I'm here for. I'm here to enjoy, embrace and experience Cuba.

If you want all the things you have at home, then stay home.  If you want new experiences, tastes and memories, then explore!
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6 comments:

  1. Cuba is a wonderful place to visit. I'm planning a trip in March to visit my family. As you mentioned, many things that we take for granted are hard to find for the locals. Common everyday items like toilet paper is a commodity. They get by with what they have. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip.

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  2. Great tour and tips of visiting this country, one of these days I would love to go to Cuba...Hope you can come and link up with us today with your post for Travel Photo Mondays, the link is live, thanks

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  3. I've never been to Cuba, but definitely want to one day. I love your points about not caring about if things in your room work, etc. That's not what it's about at all. Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler!

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  4. Cuba is such a popular destination these days, it can be so easy for the average traveler to forget about the realities of the country. The food you describe sounds amazing. I love tropical fruit and it feels like that is all I eat when I'm in a warmer country!

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  5. I agree with you that when we travel we shouldn't look for the things we have home. Otherwise we can as well stay home. I've been to Cuba many time (although, more than few years ago). Loved the country.

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  6. I don't think everyone can beat the Cubans in terms of their passion for ice cream (not even the Italians). Coppelia, the nationalized ice cream chain, is practically in every city.
    Legal Cuba travel

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