Ed’s Portugal Week 12

Another fabulous week on the Algarve with nice warm temperatures and lots of sunshine. We also welcomed our friends Joy and Henry, who will be staying with us for a couple of weeks and we are excited that they are here!

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This week, we experienced a couple of new adventures with Pat, Sheila, Joy and Henry. The first of these was a catamaran cruise from Albufeira to Benegil. The boat company, Mara Tours, usually has up to 60+ passengers on this 4 hour sailing but because it is early in the season, there were only 16 passengers on board. Lots of room to move around and get some great pictures. They also served a BBQ lunch on board and we could buy beer during the cruise…what more could you want? We anchored at one point for the lunch and those brave enough to try, could go swimming. Actually a couple of guys from Romania did take the plunge but weren’t in the waters for too long. They also took us in groups of 6 in the zodiac to go right into some of the caves we could see from the boat.

This was one of the best adventures we have done since we arrived and we enjoyed it so much, we are hoping to do a second boat trip in another part of the Algarve in our final week here.

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The second great adventure of the week was doing the Seven Valleys hiking trail. This 6 km hike took us up along the tops of the cliffs for some fantastic views and nice trails. This hike was a little more intense as we were up and down quite a bit with a little more rugged conditions. It was fantastic! About 2/3 through the hike we stopped in Benegil for a nice lunch and refreshment before carrying on. Another great experience here in the Algarve that really took our breath away…several times actually!

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That’s not all we did this week. We of course went to the Quarteira market with Joy and Henry and explored a few new beaches. We had a down day at the house to enjoy the pool and sunshine, went out to several lunches and dinners and really have enjoyed all our company. Sadly, Pat and Sheila left us on Saturday to their accommodation in Lagos but we hope to catch up with them again before the end of our trip.

Other friends, Randy and Cathy were expected to arrive for their visit on Saturday as well but due to a mechanical problem in Saskatoon, their flight was cancelled and they had to be re-booked. Thanks to the hard work and effort of our travel consultants Joanne and Georgia at the Circle Drive location of UNIGLOBE Carefree Travel, we were able to pick them up on Sunday.

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This next week looks like another fun and memorable one with Joy, Henry, Randy, Cathy, Karen and I exploring more of what the Algarve has to offer.

Have a great week…I know we will!! Saude!

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Ed’s Portugal Week 11

We had a fantastic week since our last blog.  On Sunday, Virginia Zalys joined us for a week and on Tuesday, Pat and Sheila O’Connor joined us for 2 weeks.

The weather was spectacular all week and looks like it will continue in the 20’s with plenty of sunshine.  Since we will be taking our company to many of the places we have already blogged about, I will limit these updates to new and exciting adventures we have with them.  We actually now have company until the end of the month and then it will be our turn to head back to Canada and our families.

Our first new stop this week was Praia da Gale, the beach closest to our house.  We actually hike through the rocks and along the beach to some very interesting sights.  We also walked to the marshes at Salgados for a look at some birdlife, most notably flamingos.  Each beach here is quite different than the last and we love going for these hikes as far as we dare or can.  These pictures really don’t do the scenery justice, but we hope you enjoy them.  We carried along a cooler with a picnic lunch today and had a nice little feast on the beach.

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Face Time with our Grandson Levi…

 We have been to Loule before as this was the site for the Carnaval parade we blogged about.  However, they have a nice market there and we had not been able to get into the castle in our previous visits.  This time, in addition to stocking up on some fish, fruit and veggies, we did get into the castle.  However, to our disappointment, there is really not much to see…

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Pat and Sheila O’Connor arrive from Lisbon!

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While we had been to Portimao before, we were able to extend our walk way past where we had been previously and hiked along the cliff tops for some spectacular views (Prainha Beach).  A little unnerving for a guy that doesn’t like heights but worth pushing my inner fears for.  This is a hike that we will definitely do again before we leave, it was so beautiful…

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A bad bit of luck on this beach hike…I lost my cell phone and didn’t know where or when.  In desperation, I started to retrace my steps and hadn’t gone too far when a gentleman approached me and asked if I had lost a phone.  As it turns out, his son and daughter in law had found my phone quite a way back and the family were scouring the beaches looking for the owner of the phone.  Talk about a sigh of relief!  Wouldn’t you know it but is was a Canadian family from Ontario who found it and they absolutely refused my persistent offers of a reward…great people and typically Canadian, eh!

After a return visit to the beaches around Aljezur, we decided to head home through the town of Monchique, best known for its mineral baths.  A quaint town that had a nice walk through its older streets, I am not sure it was a highlight other than if you wanted to visit the resort hotels with the mineral spas.

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On Virginia’s last day, we decided to tour around Albufeira a bit and discover some more new beaches (there are just so many of them!!)  For our last meal together, Karen and I decided to cook a seafood Cataplana, a traditional Portugese dish that we learned at a cooking school we attended way back in January.  It turned out very tasty and a dish we think we will make later in the month when the other two couples, Joy/Henry and Cathy/Randy arrive for their visits.

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Today is Sunday, the day I typically write this little blog and we have been up since 03:45 since Virginia had a really early morning flight and we drove her to the Faro airport.  As always, it is sad to say goodbye to our company but we are returning to the airport tonight to pick up Joy and Henry when another new adventure will begin.

Hope you have all had a great week…we sure did!!   Thanks for following the blog…I hope you find it fun and educational.  Saude!

Georgia’s Cuban Cruise – Part 3

The last day was spent in my new favourite place, Isle of Youth (aka Punta Frances.) We couldn’t anchor the ship because of the amount of coral underneath and we had to tender onto the island. There were no excursions; it was just a beach day, but I don’t think anyone complained. The beach was absolutely stunning and extended almost the whole side of the area with forest directly behind. Only about 100,000 people live on the island so the area was practically untouched and the locals set up beach loungers, a bar, and a few souvenir tables. We had to board by 1:30pm and I didn’t want to leave. On board they hosted a delicious good-bye barbeque party with the singers and dancers entertaining us. It was so much fun that the thought of having to leave in the morning made me sad.

 

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We visited the La Scala one last time for supper followed by the evening entertainment Cirque Fantastic. The talent they have for the entertainment crew is amazing and has many of the things you would see at a Cirque show in Vegas. We had to hurry back up to our rooms to pack as our checked luggage had to be out of our stateroom by 12am for pick up so it would be ready for us once we disembarked. It was sad getting ready to leave as the cruise was really personal and I got to know so many of the crew as well as passengers.

 

When we woke in the morning we had to be out of our staterooms by 9am so they could get them ready for the new passengers however, we couldn’t disembark until our luggage was off the ship and went through a customs check. At about 10:30am we were given the okay to disembark into Havana. This is where we got a bit confused because the crew had said our transfer was leaving right away but once we got outside and spoke to the Transat rep she informed us our transfer wasn’t scheduled until 1:30pm. It was a nice surprise because I didn’t think I would get the opportunity to see Havana from anywhere but the transfer bus. They kept our luggage so we went out on our own for a few hours walking throughout the four town squares they had right outside the pier. It is an interesting city and different from any of the other cities we saw during our trip probably because they have quite a bit of tourism. Where we walked it was only foot traffic which I liked because as a pedestrian in Cuba, you do not have the right away to cars or bicycles.. or horses. It was a clean city and the part I found most interesting was inside most of the buildings they had massive gardens with vines going up several stories. The buildings were very old and very colourful with stained glass windows and locals were polite. We made our way back to the pier for 1:30pm to meet our transfer bus which didn’t happen to show up until 3pm. The transfer again was about 2 hours from Havana to Varadero and we made it with a good amount of time to grab a bite to eat and look around at the shops in the airport before boarding our 8pm flight home to Calgary. Check in at the airport and boarding went very smoothly once again and we arrived shortly after midnight into Calgary where we are staying overnight and driving back to Saskatoon in the morning.

Stephanie’s Trip to Cabos!

Earlier in February, Stephanie paid a visit to San Jose Del Cabos. Here’s her take on her trip!
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Day One and Two

This is the first time either I or my husband have been to Cabo. I love being able to visit a new destination. So we started this journey in the very early hours on Monday morning, with a drive to Regina. It was easier to get flights, and saved us some money, which made it worthwhile.  Luckily the roads were good and the driver didn’t fall asleep on the way. We flew with Westjet, which was a nice change from the charters we usually take. Our luggage allowance 50 lbs, plus 22 lbs for a carry on. There is no meal service, so make sure you have a bite to eat beforehand. There are also seat back TVs with live satellite in Canada, and free movies afterwards. All the flights were on time, or at least within 30 minutes, which put us in Cabo around 3 pm.

Westjet lands in terminal 2 at the Cabo airport.  It was easy to navigate, and everything ran smoothly. Our bags were at the carousel by time we made it through immigration.  After you pass customs/security is when the madness begins.  You have to make it through 2 hallways before making it outdoors to where all the tour operators and shuttle buses are. Anyone in the hallways trying to talk to you are timeshare sellers, so unless you are interested just keep moving.  They will try to get you to go speak with someone, saying your transfer is over there. I booked us a shuttle with TransCabo (fantastic service by the way) who advise they are waiting in an orange shirt when you book. The timeshare sellers even had someone at their desk in an orange shirt in hopes you’d go speak with them. We made it outside, found the real TransCabo, and were on our way in no time.

For the week, we are staying at the Barcelo Grand Faro in San Jose Del Cabo. It’s about 20 minutes from the airport.  San Jose is quiet, with all inclusive hotels, timeshares and private residents.  If you want a more active area, head to Cabo San Lucas – that is where the cruise ships and busy clubs are. I prefer quiet, so San Jose works for me.

The hotel used to be the Hola Grand Faro last year, but Barcelo took it over in the fall. It’s not a typical Barcelo hotel, for anyone that has stayed with them before. They haven’t even changed all the signage, and many things still say Hola Grand Faro. Check in was a little slow, and our room wasn’t ready until nearly 5 pm. They did give use our wristbands right away so we could go for something to eat. Our room is on the 3rd floor, but the same floor as the lobby, so it’s nice and convenient.  The room has 2 beds instead of 1, but they are big enough for a couple to share. The bathroom is a nice size, but with only a shower. But everything is clean and in working order, so we chose to not be too picky about changing rooms.

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After settling in, we went for dinner at the buffet. Each night has a different theme, which I think will give good variety through the week. The food was good, and the service was decent. We were so exhausted by the end of the night that it felt really good to crawl into bed and finally get some sleep.

The first full day at the resort was nice and leisurely.  I got out of bed around 8, and headed to the buffet for breakfast.  The breakfast and lunch buffet is fairly small, so hopefully the menu will change throughout the week. There is a great made to order omelet station that seems to be the favorite, as there is always a line.

The afternoon was spent by the pool, which was all I had planned for the first day. There are 3 pools at the hotel. The largest has the swim up bar, but is quite cold. For this reason, it’s the quietest. There is another pool on the other side of the bar, and the 3rd is an infinity pool by the ocean. Since it’s smaller, the water is much warmer. There are games in the 2nd pool throughout the day, and the hotel staff isn’t pushy to make you play. There is some waiter service around the pool, which is a nice treat I wasn’t expecting.

Dinner tonight is at 1 of the a la cartes. There are Mexican and Italian, and they alternate each night. Reservations are made on a daily basis via a phone call to the concierge between 9 and 5. We decided on Mexican for our first visit. The restaurant is very nice looking, with a great bar area. The food was pretty good, but not spectacular considering we are in Mexico.  The shrimp pozole soup was really good though – you are brought onion, avocado, cilantro and Serrano pepper to add to your liking. Unfortunately the service was poor. I think our server had one too many tables and we were the ones to suffer. We might try it again later in the week to see if things get better.

It’s early to bed tonight, as we are still catching up on sleep from our travel day. We booked an excursion for tomorrow, so hopefully all goes well on that. More to come throughout the week, so stay tuned!

Day Three and Four

It’s Wednesday morning, and we are getting ready for our excursion.  We booked an Outback Safari and Camel ride with Cabo Adventures.  The bus is coming to pick us up at 1020 am, so no sleeping in today. A quick breakfast in the buffet and off we go. The Cabo Adventures meeting point is in San Lucas, so we have a bit of a trek ahead of us. After picking up at 3 other hotels, we make it there about an hour later. We check in for the tour, only to find out we have to wait another 45 minutes before it starts. There isn’t much to do around their center. You can walk around the marina, but you just get hassled by all the sales people for water taxis, glass bottom boat tours and fishing.  The Cabo Adventures center has dolphins, but you aren’t allowed to go to them unless you have a tour.

Finally, at 12pm we are ready to go. There are about 30 people or so, which I’m thinking is pretty big. We all load onto a bus, and get ready for another 30 minute transfer to the ranch where the camels are. By this time, I’m starting to get pretty tired since busses put me to sleep. When we get to the ranch, we are split into three groups and get into the 4×4 safari busses. The ride is bumpy, as it should be, but there isn’t a lot to see besides cactus. You can take photos if you want, up until the camel ride. Then there is a professional photographer, so you have to put your own away. You take some pictures with one of the camels, but you don’t have to if you are a little nervous (they are a lot bigger than I thought). After donning a helmet the riding begins. Two people per camel, and each has someone guiding you along the coast.  It’s about 30 minutes on the camel, but you don’t go very far because they walk quite slowly. It’s pretty windy along the beach, so make sure to take a sweater.  When the ride is done, there is a short walk through some trails to the lunch area. This was probably my favorite part – eating! The food was great, with lots of selection and a little tequila information and tasting.  The guide also shows everyone how to make tortillas from scratch, which is still how most locals do it every day.

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When the tour is actually over, it takes us about 2 hours to get back to the hotel, since we have to go back to the Cabo Adventure center, and then drop off everyone we picked up.

When we are finally back, it’s right to the room to get ready for diner, as we made a reservation for the Italian restaurant tonight. I wasn’t going in with high hopes, since we aren’t in Italy.  Luckily, I was wrong and it was great.  The service was much better than the previous night, which was a lot of the reason we enjoyed it more. The food was pretty good too. We shared a capresse salad and thin sliced beef for appetizers.  Each of us had soup – mine was a creamy fennel, and my husband had a great vegetable soup. Main course for me was shrimp linguini, and lamb with mint sauce for my husband.  He was going to have veal chops, but the waiter was politely honest in telling him it wasn’t any good, which he really appreciated.  By now, we are both stuffed and aren’t thinking we want any more, but we get handed a dessert menu, and decided we better try the tiramisu.  It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but it was pretty good.

Now I am exhausted, so it’s time for a night cap and a good, long sleep.

Thursday is our 4th day here, and there are no big plans for the day. We sleep in, and don’t go for breakfast until nearly 10. Another great omelet, and I’ve started having this crazy chip thing too – tortilla chips, red or green sauce, onion and crème fresh – delicious!

After breakfast, we decide to explore the street a little. There is construction of a new hotel to one side of us, and the Royal Solaris on the other side. Our room has a partial view of their water park, which looks nice for younger kids. A little further down the street are a few shops, but nothing great. We did find a liquor store, and decided to get some rum for our room. I think tomorrow we will explore a little further, and maybe go to MEGA, which is kind of like Wal-Mart or superstore.

Really, all we did today was lounge by the pool and get some sun. The ocean wasn’t very rough today, so we wandered down to play a bit.  It was really nice to get in the salt water and play in the waves. You can still feel the current even waist deep, so pay attention to waves and how far from the shore you are. I wouldn’t recommend the ocean for small kids or nervous swimmers.

Dinner was just at the buffet tonight, and the theme was oriental.  Nothing was overly great, except the made to order stir fry beef which was fantastic.  Personally, I’ll stick to Chinese food at home. There is a Las Vegas show at the theater tonight, but I’m so exhausted from being in the sun all day that we don’t make it.  One of these nights I will be up late enough to catch a show.

Day Five, Six, and Seven

Our last few days were very relaxed. No excursions, just time by the pool and some exploring nearby. One of these days we decided to go to Shooter’s bar, which is owned by a Canadian Couple, who are originally from Saskatchewan. It was about a 40 minute walk from the hotel, and is pretty easy to find. I’m pretty sure everyone in the bar the day we visited was Canadian. There is great food, good Staff and inexpensive beer. We had 4 tacos, chips, salsa, guacamole and 4 beers for only 20 USD

Another day we went for a walk down the beach. There was a point in the distance I wanted to reach, but it ended up being a little too far away. It was still a great 2 hour walk. We made it to the start of Puerto Los Cabos, which is the new luxury area of Cabo. On the way back, we saw some dolphins as well as a stingray. I love being able to see wildlife in their natural habitat.

The special dinner of the week was on Friday, which is the Mexican Fiesta. They set this up in the theater Area of the hotel. No reservations are required, and dinner starts around 630 pm. It is buffet style, and of course, everything is Mexican cuisine. Fresh fajitas, Mexican rice, beans, chicken mole and my personal favorite, tortilla Soup! At about 7 pm the dinner show starts with a piñata for the kids, which was absolutely adorable. Then they continue on with a mariachi band. We didn’t make it much further than this, as unfortunately my husband wasn’t feeling great that night. We called it another early night in but that is just fine with me. I’d rather have early mornings and enjoy the sunshine, since there isn’t much at home.

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Our very final day was the most relaxing, with pool time and a few final hours in the Sun. I always save the last day to completely relax before the journey home.

The trip home went very well, for the most part. We were picked up by Trans Cabo right on time and the service was great again. The Westjet bus was picking people up at the same time as us, and it probably took 30 minutes longer than our transfer. We beat the rush to the airport, and were able to check in and get through security very quickly. I would compare the Cabo airport to Calgary. There is a Corona lounge, plus a few fast food restaurants and a few shops. There isn’t anything too exciting, but it is an easy area to navigate. Our flight left Cabo on time, and was an uneventful 4 hours to Calgary. We had just over an hour for our Connection, which is cutting it close. It’s about a 6 Minute walk from the gates to customs and Immigration, and it can get pretty busy if there are multiple flights landing at the same time. All went well for us, and we got through without a hitch. Since we were connecting, we had to drop our bags off, and then go through security again. Just as we were approaching Security, the fire alarms started to go off. We were ushered to the exit and found out that one of the Westjet terminals had an electrical fire. Security was shut down, and the airport pretty much came to a halt as the fire and police departments were called in to assess the Situation. Even though the small fire was out, no one was permitted through security until the police determined that the incident was isolated. The whole ordeal took about 60-90 minutes before we were on our way. Luckily, because there were about 40 people waiting for our same connecting flight our plane was held back. We made it back to Regina that night, about an hour behind. With all the mix up in Calgary, one of our bags didn’t make it. Westjet was very good about it. We filled out a report, and they said it would be shipped to us as soon as it was found. By lunchtime the next day, I got a call that it was already in Saskatoon. We chose to pick the bag up at the airport instead of having it delivered, and Westjet provided us with a $100 travel bank in return.

All in all, it was a great trip. I’d definitely go back to the area, but hopefully I get visit a few new destinations first.

Georgia’s Cuban Cruise – Part 2

Our port for the fourth day is the city of Santiago De Cuba. My mom had a half day excursion booked for the morning that took her to different grave yards, museums, and churches which she said was really nice. I started my morning off enjoying the Riviera Pool area and relaxing. I had lunch at the buffet in the Triviata which has a good selection for any tastes. Once my mom returned we set out to do our own exploring of the city and were met by two guys who offered to give us a walking tour of the city. They were very knowledgeable and took us into local Cuban bars, showed us some of the oldest houses in the city, and took us to see first hand what the hurricane did to some of the houses. At the end of the tour they charged us $20 CUC but it was worth it as we got to experience some of the city we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. They also answered a lot of our questions about life in Cuba and made us feel more comfortable because there were quite a bit of people who would approach you asking for things. We got back to the ship quite a bit early so we enjoyed a quiet supper at the La Scala once again.

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That night the ocean was quite rocky and mixing that with too much sun resulted in me staying in bed and missing the next day in Jamaica. I was quite disappointed. I did get up later in the evening for supper so we went to the Sports Lounge where they have a pub type menu that you can order from at any time of the day for an extra charge of about $10CAD.

 

I was good to go for our next day in Cienfuegos which is another city we decided to explore on our own. We wondered into the square where all the vendors had their souvenir booths set up in the middle of the street with local grocery stores and clothing stores along the sides. They have cobblestone streets and very old buildings but the city is kept quite clean and the people are lovely and inviting. It was very hot with not a whole lot of shade so we only spent a few hours in the city before going back and boarding the ship. We decided to try out the Alberta Steakhouse for supper which is an extra charge of $30CAD per person and is very fine dining. It was a 6 course meal which included a huge tray of appetizers, a salad big enough for at least three, soup, an ice cream with vodka pallet cleanser, a very large main course of your choice of meat, and finally a desert. We spent about two hours eating and didn’t leave hungry. The experience alone was well worth the extra charge. The entertainment of the night was a Crew Talent Show. After being on the cruise for almost a week now we got to get to know a lot of the crew so it was the perfect time to see their hidden talents. They had everything from Elvis to Opera singers and even a dance routine from the movie Magic Mike done by some of the dining room servers. I was very impressed.

Ed’s Portugal Week 10

The weather improved greatly this week and we opted to spend a little more time around the pool at our villa and to stick our noses into a couple of books.  In other words, we had some down time…well deserved or not!

We did get a chance to discover the closet beach to our villa.   Praia de Gale was a pleasant discovery.  Nice beach with a couple of restaurants seaside but also a series of trails that we hope to explore next week when our friends Virginia Zalys and Pat and Sheila O’Connor come to visit.

Each beach we find is very unique and beautiful in its own way…

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageWe did also get a couple of rounds of golf in this week.  On a repeat visit to Salgados Golf Course, we discovered flamingos in the marshland beside one of the holes.  We were paired with a couple of very nice German fellows who were here for a week of golf, complete with lessons, with a group of other Germans.  It was supposed to be a day off golf but they wanted as many rounds as possible as they only started playing golf last year.  Very nice guys and we appreciated the beer they bought after the round.

ImageImageImageOur second round was at a course called Gramacho and it proved both beautiful and brutal.  It was almost impossible to stick a ball onto the green as it seemed every hole was like the top of a ball, sloping everywhere away from the centre.  Several times, my ball would land nicely on the green only to roll 20 or 30 yards off the green.  Frustrating but we hope to play the course again.  My handicap has gone up by at least 4 strokes this trip…I need more practice!!Image

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As I mentioned, we had some great weather so we spent a couple of days lounging by the pool with good books and our favourite beverages close by.

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To finish the week, Karen went to a pottery studio to learn some new painting techniques.  Her 3 hours of pottery classes allowed me to hit the driving range at Penina Golf Course.  A couple of buckets of balls, some time chipping and putting and I think I’m more confident to tackle Gramacho golf course again.  That will probably have to wait as we are really looking forward to having company again.

The biggest frustration this week was trying to use the outdoor grill here.  My first attempt was a dismal failure and I had the villa owner come over (he lives next door) and show me the trick to a better grill.  It seems that I need to double the amount of charcoal, add some paper and possibly some wood to the fire starter I am already using.  Once you get some of the charcoal to light, you fan the #$@& out of it for about 15 – 20 minutes to get the charcoal good and hot.  I will forever appreciate my gas BBQ from now on!!

Thanks for reading this shortened version of this week’s blog…off to the airport to pick up Virginia!  Saude!!

Georgia’s Cuban Cruise – Part 1

It was finally time for us to start our exciting journey to Cuba to experience the Cuba Cruise. My mom and I drove to Calgary and spent the night with my auntie. I checked both of us in online since Air Transat allows departures from Calgary to do the early check in. So at 8am we were ready to cab to the airport. We arrived 3 hours early which was a perfect time since the airport was very busy. We had to stand in line for about an hour to get through security. After we had breakfast we were able to board the plane. The Air Transat plane was newly upgraded and included the mood lighting, leather seats, larger bathrooms, and seat back entertainment. I found there wasn’t a lot of leg room and the seats weren’t very wide, but it was still comfortable. The entertainment screens had games, new and old movies, tv shows, kids stuff, even books. I was very impressed and it made a 5 hour flight feel like nothing. Our last leg of the very long first day of travel was the 2 hour bus ride between Varadero airport and Havana’s pier. I thought the transition was smooth and they gave us time at the airport before leaving to convert our Canadian dollars into CUC. Finally at about 10pm we were ready to board the ship. We checked in, got our charge cards and they took our bags while we were shown to the room. The bags were delivered shortly after and they had left a few sandwiches in our room because the restaurants were already closed. We then spent our time exploring the ship because we disembarked at 1am so we weren’t allowed off the ship.

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The second day of our cruise was a day at sea. We had breakfast at the Traviata buffet which was loaded with fresh fruits, omelets, pancakes, etc. After breakfast we went to a presentation explaining the different excursions offered and a travel agent meeting. For lunch we went to La Scala restaurant which is the main A La Carte restaurant. The tables seat 6 or 8 people so you are seated with different families which was a great way to meet new people. The menu is different every day and is 4 courses with about 5 different meal selections in each course including a new port specialty every day. We then went to the sun deck and had a relaxing afternoon. The only restaurant that offered supper included in the cruise price was the La Scala and it was the same set up as lunch. They have a casual dress code as well as open dining times. There is another restaurant on board but since there wasn’t enough people they did not open it. The evening entertainment was a variety night which included acrobats, magicians, dancers and singers and it was very, very good.

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On third day our port was Holguin where we had an excursion to Paradise Island already booked. We had to tender into the port and from there we got on the catamaran with our guide/bartender/entertainer Alberto. It was about a two hour sail but Alberto was very good at keeping us entertained! Before we arrived at the island we stopped in an area so we could snorkel. I didn’t end up going but Alberto brought a white sea urchin to the boat and we got to hold it. Once we got onto the island we had supper in an open air restaurant which is one of three buildings on the island. After a delicious lunch we went on a jeep safari inland and got really close to giraffes, buffalo, and zebras who were brought to the island years ago as gifts for Fidel Castro.

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We sailed back to the ship for 6pm and had a delicious supper at the La Scala. We didn’t go to the evening entertainment, instead I got a private salsa lesson in the Disco from two of the dancers from Havana (turns out it is harder than it looks, so I taught them how to line dance instead.)