February 2 - Toronto to Varadero
No wonder people from Toronto love flying to the Caribbean ... three and a half hour flight that left at 10:55 am instead of the 6:00 am departures we often have from Vancouver! The flight from Toronto was FULL, but we managed to get the exit row which had only two seats. Time went by very quickly and we are excited to land in Varadero Cuba.
Arrival was quite a breeze considering we both had only carryon bags. The bodeca (currency exchange) used to be across from the luggage carousel but is no longer staffed. Now, the bodeca is only in the departures terminal. So, out the door, tour companies all there to greet people (Nolitours, Sunwing, WestJet etc), then a u-turn to the left and into departures. To the left are four tellers and the process is very fast. Current rate of exchange 100CAD equals 86 CUC. So, we are losing 14% per dollar.
Coach to our hotel -- Barlovento -- about 25 minutes and we arrive a little road weary. Our room isn't quite ready, so we plunk down with a gin and tonic in the lobby. A little exploring and half hour later we check in. Room is right on the road and quite noisy, so back to the lobby to request a quieter room ... it will have to wait until tomorrow.
It's off to the beach to be, once again, startled by how turquoise the water is ... how soft the sand is ... how warm the water on our toes. Ahhhh Cuba!
After a relaxing couple of hours on the beach, we shower and enjoy our buffet dinner. Salmon, chicken, pork, lots of salad (a surprise), veggies and fruit, fruit, fruit! The papaya is sweet, juicy and a refreshing treat. Lured by the sounds coming from the theatre during dinner, we venture over and plan to watch the show. At 9:00 pm, the house band starts up LOUDLY. It is a typically talented group who play tourist favourites (e.g. Guantanamero). The "real" show is slated to start promptly at 10 (remember, we're in Cuba). The band stopped playing at 9:30 and despite our best efforts, neither of us can stay awake. By 10 the entertainment is still nowhere to be seen and we wearily head off to bed. Our first day in Cuba ... it's still such a treasure!