La Vida En Cuba – Part 1

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We will chat about our travels to Cuba in a 2 part series for our podcast. During our first trip to Cuba, we decided to book with a travel agent, mainly because hotels weren’t showing up in a basic Google search! We also had no clue how to get there since some travel restrictions were lifted between the US and Cuba. We booked our travel with a Flight Centre location in Downtown Vancouver. Our agent made it very easy for us! We provided a date and a budget and asked for  beach vacation for Christmas. She found us a lovely all inclusive adults only 6 star resort in Varadero, Cuba called Blau Privelages Cayo Libertad  Varadero is a popular tourist city in the Northern part of Cuba and is known for its beautiful beaches.

Our hotel was amazing! The resort had a small private beach, pool, a cigar bar, and all the lobster you could eat! For real though, there was lobster on the menu every night for dinner. If you wanted to enjoy live music or shows, you had to catch a golf cart ride or walk about 15 minutes to the connecting resort, Blau Privelages. This is also all inclusive but had all the entertainment and activities. Our resort didn’t allow children so we felt it was more upscale and was very quiet compared to Blau Privelages. We tried the buffet and other smaller restaurants too but felt the food was a lot better at Cayo Libertad. Hello? Lobster every night ya’ll! We loved the fine dining feature and nightly intimate performances by the stringed band. We never swam in the pool because the ocean water was so clear & blue! We couldn’t pass up on swimming in tropical warm ocean water!

During our 2nd day in Varadero, we checked out downtown. There is a coach bus you can take that is only $7 for an all day pass, which is mostly for tourists and loops around Varadero stopping at all the major hotels and attractions. We did a bit of shopping and checked out some of the markets and small restaurants.  There are also banks downtown so you can get everything you need in the city and take the coach but back to your hotel. Its really safe and the locals are very friendly, especially if the locals just happen to be market vendors. Since we went during Christmas, the town was packed with tourists casually strolling around.

During the middle of the week, we booked an overnight tour to Havana with Air Canada at our hotel. We were excited to finally get to see what all the hype was about. We were in a group of about 20 and saw most of the important monuments and attractions in Havana. We even stopped at a lookout point in Mantazas and went to some of Ernest Hemingway’s old haunts.

The tour was a bit rushed because there was so much to see so for the 1 night we spent in Havana, we fell asleep in our party clothes and never made it out to the discotecas. But the next morning we got up early for a tour of Old Habana. We only spent about 2 hours there and there was so much to see we barely touched the tip of the many streets in Old Habana. During our bus ride back to the resort in Varadero, we vowed to go back to Habana as soon as we could!

During our last few days in Varadero, we finally got to enjoy night life in the city. We checked out Havana Club downtown in Varadero with our new friends that we met on the Habana tour. We partied until about 3a! The DJ played a mix of top 40 & reggaeton mashups all night. When salsa came on, the locals showed off their most lit dance moves! It was inspiring to see them dance and to learn some new sexy salsa moves!

Unfortunately, we booked our return flight back to Vancouver during New Years Eve, we would be counting down 2017 on the plane but it was the cheapest flight we could get back. So during our last day, we checked out La Marina, which was a 10 minute walk from our resort. There are a bunch of new shops, hotels, cafes, live music and fun activities to do. Since it was New Years Eve, the city was setting up an outdoor stage for the night. There were lots of families walking about, kids were playing and some people were dancing while the music played outside. You can also catch sunset cruises from the marina.

We spent an amazing 7 days in Cuba and we are thankful that Flight Centre was able to manage everything for us. Now that we had some more information about Cuba, we were able to plan our 2nd trip to leave from NYC and to bring along Shay’s sister and her husband. The planning was a bit different for that trip. you can listen about how to get to Cuba as an American in the La Vida en Cuba podcast. Have you ever been to Cuba, if so tell us one memory from your trip that you will always cherish. If you are an American, go as soon as you can! The travel restrictions may go back in to place, Happy Trekking!

-Ty and Shay

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