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Old 09-29-2013   #1 (permalink)
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Royal Hicacos, Varadero, Cuba

Prequel

It was back in 1996 when my wife Helen & I visited Cuba for the first time, staying at the Sol Rio de Lunes y Mares in Guardalavaca (literally, Hide the cow!) on Cuba’s north-east coast. The hotel is still there and still getting good reviews but back then it was November and the hotel was half empty.

Wrist bracelets did not exist at that time and place; even though it was an all-inclusive, you actually signed everything to your room (it was on that trip that I learned the word pluma). I still remember my first trip to the bar and the bartender being mad at me for not knowing the drill.

The beach was down a flight a stairs and a gent would be there waiting to arrange the necessary number of lounge chairs for a small gratuity. Best of all, however, is that the man had a burro with him, and not just any burro.

This one had a couple of ice chests lashed across his back plus, importantly, a poop-catcher out back to keep the sand free of road apples. He and his master would go up and down the beach offering drinks to anyone interested in a cold beverage for a reasonable fee served up by a friendly burro.


Friendly burro with drinks - Guardalavaca, 1996

Exactly! Who wouldn’t like that? Helen and I still talk about how great that service was, that all playas should have such a set-up.

But that aside, one thing you can take to the bank is that food offered in Cuban hotels is generally bland. It won’t kill you but it's not fantastic. So with that on our minds we decided one night to go out to dinner. We were completely in the dark with respect to the local neighbourhood so we went to the front desk and put ourselves in their good hands.

We were told to show up later for dinner, which we did. We got into an arranged taxi and as we tootled off the property that electrical power in the area went out. No problem, but man was it dark without lights.

The taxi drove for some time along an unremarkable road and eventually pulled off onto a gravel side road and stopped at a chain link fence. There, guarding the gate, was a young soldier in fatigues with what looked like a 19th century rifle. The taxi driver wanted to drive inside the gate. The soldier did not want to let him. So a heated argument commenced and I started to worry about that rifle. Eventually the soldier relented, opened the gate, and in we drove.

We got out of the cab and it was still perfectly dark. Pitch black in fact. Darker than anything I’ve ever experienced. I had no idea where we were nor why we were there. I believe I rationalized to myself that, yes, I could make out the shape of a large palapa covered building; “Why that must be the restaurant! Yes, that’s it.”

The puniest part way down in some corner of my puny brain countered that if it were so, “where were the other patrons?” I brushed that off and sat down in a plastic chair, waiting for the lights to come on, the other guests to magically appear, and the food to come rolling out.

“Get up”, we were told. Or probably motioned. “This way” came next.

And so due to the near-complete darkness, we walked as blindfolded prisoners must, in close ranks with extremely short strides.

Soon it became apparent that we were going down an incline. Shortly afterward gently lapping water was heard. Next thing I knew we were in front of a 20 foot boat with an outboard motor.

“Get in.”

And so I did.

Because my brain was completely on stand-by.

Because of the language barrier, because of my unfamiliarity with the circumstances and the environment, I got in the damn boat. Worse still, I got in that damn boat and I took my wife with me.

The boat pushed off, the clouds broke ever so slightly, and I could see that we were traversing through the mangrove and heading out to open sea.

“What have I done?”, I finally – finally! - wondered. “I’ve got it easy. All they’re going to do is rob me, kill me, and throw my lifeless body overboard” – far worse was in store for my beautiful wife and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

But I was frozen in my seat. My brain was frozen in my head. My head was, figuratively speaking, in my seat.

The journey to our certain doom continued for a while but then the motor was cut. I could hear the wash from the boat lapping against the shoreline ahead. The boat drifted into shore and shortly thereafter I could make out a dock about stomach high when standing in the boat.

We docked. I stood. I flinched because although I couldn’t see it in the darkness, something passed through my personal space.

Then I heard a noise that seemed to come from some sort of monster. Not that I believe in them but that’s what it sounded like – the unbelievable inhaling of some sort of other worldly monster.

The dock was rickety and so we did the blindfolded perp walk again. The boards creaked as we shuffled along, not knowing where we were headed. We went some distance around a bend and then . . .

Bang! An excruciating white-hot pain!

And as my eyes adjusted – the pain was from the lights having been turned on - I could see that we were in a fairly fancy dining room with palapa roof, glass walls, a number of tables with linen, cutlery, and wine glasses, the whole shebang.

It turns out that we had been taken to the local aquarium located out on a quay (“key,” as in Florida Keys, if you’re American), which normally closes long before dinner time. But since two gringos were going to be spending $100 on a steak and lobster dinner, it was worth it to them to keep staff on and re-open just for us!

That monster I heard earlier? That was a dolphin surfacing and taking a breath.

That thing that earlier walked sight unseen through my personal space? Merely a staff member headed for the back of the house.

Still shaking in our sandals, we nervously sat down as our captain transformed himself into our waiter and took our orders. We settled in but our nerves never did calm while there; we joked lightly about the situation we thought we’d been in, but we never got back to normal.

After dinner we still had to endure the trip back to the mainland by boat. Then an awkward wait for the taxi. Then back out the gate past the soldier and on to our hotel.

We both let out massive sighs of relief and pent-up emotion only when we were back in our room with the door locked. We talked about how utterly foolish we had been - we still occasionally talk about it to this day.

And so I have some sympathy for people who go off on vacation and get themselves into trouble through their own stupid actions. I was there. In the end we never really were in any danger, but all it takes is a dumb move or two.

Still, I don’t know why that friendly burro didn’t tip us off before we went.

Last edited by Matt_Toronto; 09-29-2013 at 02:26 PM..
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Old 09-29-2013   #2 (permalink)
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Guardalavaca, Cuba

I remember that hotel well. It was a lot nicer than the hotel my husband
and I were staying at, Club Amigo Guardalavaca. We were there for two weeks, breakfast and dinner were included and there was a quaint little restaurant nearby where we usually had lunch. I remember the fantastic beach; you could walk out quite a ways. We returned to the Holguin area twice more; same hotel (villa section) and we also had a great holiday in the
Camaguey/St. Lucia area. This coming winter we are visiting Varadero. We've always wanted to try this area of Cuba and take a side trip to Havana. There are some nice hotels like Breezes Jibacoa and Melia Peninsula Varadero and a few others that we're looking at. It looks like you had a great time at the Sol
Rio back then!
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Old 09-30-2013   #3 (permalink)
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This year I achieved old goatdom. In actual fact I've always been an old goat in spirit, and unlike the female side of my family, I have been "blessed" with genes that make me look 10 years older than I really am. Whatever the case this year's age is evenly divisible by 10, the numerator being a number that, when younger, I felt was the beginning of the end.

But now that I'm here, it's not only not so bad, it's a reason to celebrate. And what better way to do that than with a trip? (I don't know why I'm asking you people - you're all about the "trip" 24/7).

So, having gone to Punta Cana in May last year to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary, and to Playa Paraiso in Mexico to celebrate Helen's milestone birthday in December (you think I'm going to divulge the number? Ha! Death wish for me if I do), the natural progression seemed to be to go to Cuba. And so I selected Varadero, which we had never been to before and settled in for some research.

Cuba is a funny place in that everyone says to lower your expectations and, for comparative purposes, to take a star off any hotel review. And it's true: those are the best ways to approach any trip there.

I settled on Varadero because the beaches were supposed to be spectacular. I picked the Royal Hicacos hotel because it had 4.5 stars and it was couples only. Being an old guy I didn't want any rowdiness to interrupt my afternoon nap.

Last time we went to Cuba the American dollar was the de facto currency. But that has since been dropped and replaced by something call a Cuban Convertible Peso, or CUC for short. Oddly enough, it's pegged at the value of the American dollar, but it's not an American dollar, comrade. Plus it can’t bought outside of the country nor is it supposed to be taken outside the country.

And just to complicate matters further, there is another currency simply called the Cuban Peso, or CUP for short. The CUC is for tourists, the CUP is for locals. The CUP is worth about 4 cents. A Cuban is very happy to get a CUC. A tourist, generally speaking, will not come in contact with a CUP but must be on the lookout to ensure it doesn't mistakenly get into his hands; that would be like getting 4 cents change when you really should have gotten a $1.

Here's an example in action: my wife Helen visits with a 96 year old Mexican lady as part of her community service work. When discussing our upcoming trip to Cuba the lady, who is very religious, mentioned Cuba's Virgen de Cobre. So when we were in Varadero we set out to buy her an icon or something of the Virgen. We were directed to a local Catholic church and a man inside showed us a small poster and told us it was 10 pesos. Helen didn't want to buy it, thinking it too expensive, but to me what's 10 pesos if it brings happiness to an old lady? So I gave the man a 10 peso bill and he went away.

Then he came back and essentially gave me most of my money back in smaller change.

You see, we were thinking he meant CUC $10, or about $10 dollars, when in fact he meant CUP $10, or about 40 cents.

So back to the airport, research implied that best exchange rate could be had at the Cadeca (casa de cambio) at the airport. So after finding our transfer van I ran into the departures area to change money. Only the lineup was too long and not wanting to inconvenience my fellow travellers, all 4 of them, I ran back to the van. I explained this to them and they, apparently on Mexican time, told me it was OK, they were fine with waiting. So I ran back into the building. After about a minute of huffing while in line, one of the locals looked at me and said "you know you need your passport to change money, don't you?", which indeed I did know but had forgotten. So I ran out of the building and back to the van to get my passport. Passport in hand I ran back into the building and during the intervening time the lineup had disappeared. I exchanged my money and ran back to the van. Then it was off to the resort. Where I found out that they had a superior exchange rate.

Drat!


Royal Hicacos, Varadero, Cuba

The Royal Hicacos is an architectural oddity in that everything is built off the ground, perhaps due to water pooling concerns. Everything is 4 feet off the ground, and as a result most of the pathways have white picket fencing on either side. And weirdest of all is the fact that watercourses had been installed to fill in many of the gaps. So there's what appears to be stagnant water aka mosquito central winding its way throughout the property. Every day workies are in their scrubbing the walls in order to keep them slime free. A bad idea that somehow got implemented.

We were given a top-floor room, which we like. The best comparison of it that I can make is to the basic rooms at the Catalonia Playa Maroma; a few years' back we stayed in one for a day before ponying up the money for a Privilege room. The room in Cuba was "tired": it could have used some fresh paint, new bed, new bedding, new furniture, properly-installed patio door, but hey, you don't spend much time in your room, right? Except we had some major rain a few days and spent more time in there than we had hoped.

As for food, that was problematic too. Because of it being low season we ended up eating in the buffet more than we had hoped. We had a bizarre conversation with the reservations manager, one that was decidedly Python-esq:

[Us] We'd like to make an a la carte reservation.
[He] Sure, the Italian and the Grill are available.
[Us] OK, we'll take the Italian since we've already got a reservation in the Grill.
[He] The Grill will be buffet service.
[Us] Huh? We lined up to book an a la carte and it's buffet?
[He] Yes.
[Us] (puzzled as all get-out) Well OK, we'd like to make a reservation at the Italian restaurant too.
[He] Certainly. Here is your reservation card. You have a reservation at 8:30 but I've written 9:00 on your card
[Us] Um . . . what?

Then upon looking closely at the card, we see that the reservation is for the Grill.

[Us] You mistakenly wrote down the Grill. We asked for a reservation in the Italian restaurant.
[He] Oh no, the Italian restaurant is all booked up, there is no room.
[Us] But we just spent the last 5 minutes talking about a reservation in the Italian restaurant . . .

And so we slinked off, puzzled as hell. It turns out that the Grill service was a la carte, not buffet as he had stated.


Helen & me at The Grill

So being largely shut out of the a la carte restaurants, we tired of the buffet pretty quickly. Fortunately, the town of Varadero has a number of possibilities, so one night we dined in town.

First a word about the town itself. The resort is about a 5-10 minute drive from the main drag and there are primarily two ways to get there outside of a car rental: a local hop-on/hop-off bus or a taxi. There are no colectivos unfortunately.

We had an interesting incident on the bus one day while going into town. We get on, say Hi to the driver, hand our money to the ticket taker, get our all-day tickets, and settle in. We get off at the market, but some items, stroll the street, go for lunch. Then we decided to head back, so we sat at the bus stop.

And then along comes a bus, and we get on. Hey! It's the same bus driver, the same ticket taker, in fact the same bus. So I show my ticket to the ticket taker and as I start to walk by . . .

[Ticket taker] Wrong bus. You've got the wrong company.
[Us] But you sold us these tickets.
[Bus driver] You're on the wrong bus. It's a different company.
[Us] But you were the driver when we bought the tickets from your colleague here. And this is the same freakin' bus!

Defeated and puzzled, we get off and wait for the next bus. When it arrives we get on only after checking the company name on the ticket to that displayed on the front of the bus. We defensively ask the bus driver if we've got the right bus, the right company. He sort of rolls his eyes and allows us on.

I have no idea what happened. Do the buses run under different companies during different hours of the day, as in the bus is a Company A bus from 10 to 11 and a Company B bus from 11 to 12? Did the ticket taker have a "borrowed" book of tickets that allowed her to make sales and pocket the proceeds? Or is there some design in the system to spread customers out amongst the various companies? Science may never know.

Of course they have all the classic American cars, many as taxis:



But the insides can be a little rough:



Or you can opt for this thing:


A Varadero "coco" taxi
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Old 09-30-2013   #4 (permalink)
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Great start!

We stayed at the Playa Pesquero in Gardalavaca a few years ago. Trip report is on this forum, somewhere.

Gorgeous beaches! We ate lunch at the dolphinarium in the bay, it must have been the same restaurant you were hijacked to. Too funny!
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Old 09-30-2013   #5 (permalink)
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Wow! Lovin this TR
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Old 09-30-2013   #6 (permalink)
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Love your photos, especially the classic car!
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Old 10-01-2013   #7 (permalink)
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Dressed for dinner in town, we walked to the front of the hotel to flag down a taxi. Immediately a man in a blue classic pulled up and offered us his services.


Varadero taxi

Cuban Spanish to my ears is very “thick”; where normally I can recognize every 5th word or so and often get the gist of what is being said, in Cuba it was more like every 20th word or so. I was convinced he had said 10 pesos when in fact he had said 15.

Asking us where we wanted to go I mentioned the one place that we had actually seen and that was well rated by TA. He responded with a torrent of a speech that went in one in and out the other, but magically I heard and recognized the words “Varadero Sesenta”. This too is a place that is well reviewed on TA, and furthermore a woman had stopped us on the street to show us the menu and to coax us into going. The only problem at that time is that it was three blocks from the main drag and we really weren’t interested in making that trek in the middle of the afternoon.

There was obviously a kickback in it for him, and looking back I should have asked him to lower his fee. But we did ask him to show us the place and we stated that we’d only stay if it looked nice.

The inside of his car was nicely done up in alternating blue and white Naugahyde, covered in the same kind of thick plastic used in the 70’s to protect couches. You couldn’t open the doors from inside, however – I think that was a feature.

The Paladar

A form of free enterprise exists in Cuba in the form of the paladar. A paladar is a private home that is opened to the public as a restaurant and occasionally an inn. Varadero Sesenta, or Varadero 60 (so named because it is on Calle 60), is a paladar.


Varadero 60 Paladar

We arrived and liked what we saw, so we were seated where normally the grass meets the driveway, except the whole outdoor front of this establishment had been tiled, fenced, and gated. There were a number of tables prettily done up with table cloths, cutlery, and candles. Waitresses wore those cute little stewardess-style hats.

First up at the table was my beer. Can we make this universal? It was brought in its own individual ice bucket, lest my beer have anything but ice cold goodness.


Varadero 60: Beer

Then we each ordered a shrimp cocktail, which was served up on a slice of real pineapple and accompanied by . . . ketchup and mayonnaise ladled into shells. Not quite right, but for some reason the ketchup worked. I think it cost CUC $3.50.


Varadero 60: Shrimp cocktail

For our mains we both ordered the seafood tower, which consisted of (from bottom to top):
  • a slice of real pineapple
  • a filet of fish
  • scallops and shrimp
  • another filet of fish
  • more scallops and shrimp
  • a skewered lobster tail


Varadero 60: Seafood Tower

It was very good, although the lobster doesn’t match up to what is available at home.

Then we finished with a chocolate brownie and ice cream for two.


Varadero 60: Brownie

Like being in or near Playa, it was nice to have off-resort opportunities for shopping and dining.
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Old 10-01-2013   #8 (permalink)
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Royal Hicacos

Wow, the food looks scrumptious; love the shrimp cocktail. The entree was huge! Did you finish the whole thing?
My husband said that the 53 or 54 Chevrolet looked almost mint. Some of the cars that we saw in Guardalavaca didn't look nearly as nice.
Looking forward to more of your report!
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Old 10-02-2013   #9 (permalink)
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omg

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt_Toronto View Post
Prequel

It was back in 1996 when my wife Helen & I visited Cuba for the first time, staying at the Sol Rio de Lunes y Mares in Guardalavaca (literally, Hide the cow!) on Cuba’s north-east coast. The hotel is still there and still getting good reviews but back then it was November and the hotel was half empty.

Wrist bracelets did not exist at that time and place; even though it was an all-inclusive, you actually signed everything to your room (it was on that trip that I learned the word pluma). I still remember my first trip to the bar and the bartender being mad at me for not knowing the drill.

The beach was down a flight a stairs and a gent would be there waiting to arrange the necessary number of lounge chairs for a small gratuity. Best of all, however, is that the man had a burro with him, and not just any burro.

This one had a couple of ice chests lashed across his back plus, importantly, a poop-catcher out back to keep the sand free of road apples. He and his master would go up and down the beach offering drinks to anyone interested in a cold beverage for a reasonable fee served up by a friendly burro.


Friendly burro with drinks - Guardalavaca, 1996

Exactly! Who wouldn’t like that? Helen and I still talk about how great that service was, that all playas should have such a set-up.

But that aside, one thing you can take to the bank is that food offered in Cuban hotels is generally bland. It won’t kill you but it's not fantastic. So with that on our minds we decided one night to go out to dinner. We were completely in the dark with respect to the local neighbourhood so we went to the front desk and put ourselves in their good hands.

We were told to show up later for dinner, which we did. We got into an arranged taxi and as we tootled off the property that electrical power in the area went out. No problem, but man was it dark without lights.

The taxi drove for some time along an unremarkable road and eventually pulled off onto a gravel side road and stopped at a chain link fence. There, guarding the gate, was a young soldier in fatigues with what looked like a 19th century rifle. The taxi driver wanted to drive inside the gate. The soldier did not want to let him. So a heated argument commenced and I started to worry about that rifle. Eventually the soldier relented, opened the gate, and in we drove.

We got out of the cab and it was still perfectly dark. Pitch black in fact. Darker than anything I’ve ever experienced. I had no idea where we were nor why we were there. I believe I rationalized to myself that, yes, I could make out the shape of a large palapa covered building; “Why that must be the restaurant! Yes, that’s it.”

The puniest part way down in some corner of my puny brain countered that if it were so, “where were the other patrons?” I brushed that off and sat down in a plastic chair, waiting for the lights to come on, the other guests to magically appear, and the food to come rolling out.

“Get up”, we were told. Or probably motioned. “This way” came next.

And so due to the near-complete darkness, we walked as blindfolded prisoners must, in close ranks with extremely short strides.

Soon it became apparent that we were going down an incline. Shortly afterward gently lapping water was heard. Next thing I knew we were in front of a 20 foot boat with an outboard motor.

“Get in.”

And so I did.

Because my brain was completely on stand-by.

Because of the language barrier, because of my unfamiliarity with the circumstances and the environment, I got in the damn boat. Worse still, I got in that damn boat and I took my wife with me.

The boat pushed off, the clouds broke ever so slightly, and I could see that we were traversing through the mangrove and heading out to open sea.

“What have I done?”, I finally – finally! - wondered. “I’ve got it easy. All they’re going to do is rob me, kill me, and throw my lifeless body overboard” – far worse was in store for my beautiful wife and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

But I was frozen in my seat. My brain was frozen in my head. My head was, figuratively speaking, in my seat.

The journey to our certain doom continued for a while but then the motor was cut. I could hear the wash from the boat lapping against the shoreline ahead. The boat drifted into shore and shortly thereafter I could make out a dock about stomach high when standing in the boat.

We docked. I stood. I flinched because although I couldn’t see it in the darkness, something passed through my personal space.

Then I heard a noise that seemed to come from some sort of monster. Not that I believe in them but that’s what it sounded like – the unbelievable inhaling of some sort of other worldly monster.

The dock was rickety and so we did the blindfolded perp walk again. The boards creaked as we shuffled along, not knowing where we were headed. We went some distance around a bend and then . . .

Bang! An excruciating white-hot pain!

And as my eyes adjusted – the pain was from the lights having been turned on - I could see that we were in a fairly fancy dining room with palapa roof, glass walls, a number of tables with linen, cutlery, and wine glasses, the whole shebang.

It turns out that we had been taken to the local aquarium located out on a quay (“key,” as in Florida Keys, if you’re American), which normally closes long before dinner time. But since two gringos were going to be spending $100 on a steak and lobster dinner, it was worth it to them to keep staff on and re-open just for us!

That monster I heard earlier? That was a dolphin surfacing and taking a breath.

That thing that earlier walked sight unseen through my personal space? Merely a staff member headed for the back of the house.

Still shaking in our sandals, we nervously sat down as our captain transformed himself into our waiter and took our orders. We settled in but our nerves never did calm while there; we joked lightly about the situation we thought we’d been in, but we never got back to normal.

After dinner we still had to endure the trip back to the mainland by boat. Then an awkward wait for the taxi. Then back out the gate past the soldier and on to our hotel.

We both let out massive sighs of relief and pent-up emotion only when we were back in our room with the door locked. We talked about how utterly foolish we had been - we still occasionally talk about it to this day.

And so I have some sympathy for people who go off on vacation and get themselves into trouble through their own stupid actions. I was there. In the end we never really were in any danger, but all it takes is a dumb move or two.

Still, I don’t know why that friendly burro didn’t tip us off before we went.

lol.. omg you had me on the edge of my seat!
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Old 10-02-2013   #10 (permalink)
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. . . Did you finish the whole thing?
I never got the "there are starving people in China" line when I was a kid, but I certainly got the same sentiment. So yes, I polished it off.
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Old 10-02-2013   #11 (permalink)
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Varadero Beach @ Royal Hicacos

Every day was typically a beach day. But since it was offseason, I didn't have to wake up super early to plunk myself under a palapa in reaction to the towel game. Instead, we rose when we darn well felt like it, went to breakfast, and then rolled onto the beach when it suited us. And we could still get a palapa in a good spot.

Those of you who read my Iberostar Paraiso Maya report may recall the "Plate O' Doom" and the negative effect it had on my gastro-intestinal system. I can happily report that the prepared scrambled eggs on the buffet at the Royal Hicacos were such a gruesome nauseating-looking pile that even a goof like me steered clear of them. Fortunately the made-to-order omelettes were excellent.

Out on the beach at the Royal Hicacos there is a gent or two who "help" you with your loungers, whether you need it or not. A man's got to make a living after all. On one occasion I had one lounger in place, the other in my hands about to be dropped in place, when the caballero came storming over to aid me with what I was doing. He made a great fuss about knocking largely imaginery sand off the lounger, and of course I tipped him.

He has a great life: he has to be in place probably by 8 am or so, and looking for allegedly helpless gringos for the next 4 hours, but after that he can be found snoring up a storm on a lounger in the dunes until about 5 pm, at which time he wakes and begins dragging all unoccupied loungers into said dunes.

"Into the dunes?", you ask incredulously. "Why doesn't he just leave them under the palapa?" Ah, well that gives him something to do the next day, something for him to fuss over and receive his pay.

Having been in Punta Cana and on Maroma beach in the last 14 months, and now Varadero, the question must arise: which is best? All I can say is that you can't lose being on any of them.


Varadero Beach @ Royal Hicacos

Varadero has an incredible stretch of sandy tan-coloured sand with that beautiful aquamarine colour. The beach in front of the Royal Hicacos is by far the best in the particular part of the peninsula in which it is located; other resort beaches are somewhat narrow from sea to dune, whereas the Royal Hicacos has about 100 yards. The fluffiness or depth of the sand there reminds me of Xpu Ha. The distances that you can walk reminds me of Punta Cana.

I would have booked the Iberostar next door if it weren't for the fact that I saw so many pictures of high tide waters engulfing palapas. The - stop me if you've heard this term - erosion got so bad over there that they resorted to - stop me if you heard this one before - beach reclamation by pumping sand from the sea floor up onto the beach. That has resulted in coarse sand and - stop me if this sounds familiar - a 3 foot drop as Mother Nature tries to reclaim her sand.

After dinner each night we would go to the bar and have drinks and enjoy some pre-show entertainment. The first night was a fantastic all-female group called Alma en Clave. They were extremely skilled, their voices and harmonies beautiful, and they danced as they played. I bought their CD and I love it. Helen calls them the Cuban Spice Girls, which is true, 'cept these ones have talent!


Alma En Clave

Then at 9:30 there'd be the main show at the outdoor theatre, which on most nights consisted on Tropicana-style entertainment, with the ladies displaying great quantities of themselves.

Do bear with me while I recount the grisely details, especially one dance in particular: the ladies came out garbed in traditional Central/South American skirts (I know in Panama they're called polleras). When the Cuban ladies turned around however we were confronted with the grim realities of the Embargo against Cuba: they apparently hadn't any thread to sew a final seam in the skirt, resulting in it opening fully whenever they turned away from the audience, which was often. In fact they seemed to flaunt it.

This was the fullfillment of every young man's fantasy, myself thinking back to the ads in the back of comic books in which you could send away for x-ray glasses, allowing you to see the bones in your hand and, ahem, better observe a desirable woman. It was incredibly sexy - whew! Gotta calm down!


And no I don't have pics; this is a family site and besides, isn't my description sufficient?

I conclude this trip report with our video of the whole thing:


As well as some random pics:


Beatles Bar: Gringo, Juan, Jorge, y Pablo


Another American classic


A Cuban classic
Matt_Toronto is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2013   #12 (permalink)
añejo
 
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Loving this TR!!!
SharonD is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2013   #13 (permalink)
very sparkly
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
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I'm really enjoying your trip report too!
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