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This is the last post about our trip to Varadero, Cuba in October of 2012.

Day 6 – The day after the hurricane.
Ok, not to sound quite so dramatic, WE didn’t experience a hurricane, more like the tail end of Hurricane Sandy – a tropical storm. It wasn’t a horrific experience, it could have been MUCH worse given that the hurricane hit the eastern end of Cuba, but it was still something that neither Salem nor I had ever lived through before. That being said, I will take a blizzard any day of the week over a fierce tropical storm. I cannot imagine what living through a hurricane would feel like. Then again, I am sure many people living in very warm places would feel the same about some of our winter storms.

We went out for a walk around the hotel and on the beach. There was a bit of flooding around the resort and the beach looked like it had taken quite a beating with seaweed everywhere, beach chairs strewn about, beach hut roofs tossed around and part of the beach-side eroded. We walked all the way to the tip of Varadero and found a nice little spot there where the water was calm but the sand was so unstable that we didn’t go in. We just stuck around to enjoy this quiet little place no one really ventured to.

Flooding at the resort. Des innondations à l'hôtel.

Flooding at the resort. Des innondations à l’hôtel.

Red Flag - No swimming, kids!   Drapeau rouge - pas de baignade les enfants!

Red Flag – No swimming, kids! Drapeau rouge – pas de baignade les enfants!

Washed up on the beach. Retrouvé sur la plage.

Washed up on the beach. Retrouvé sur la plage.

Seaweed. Des algues.

Seaweed. Des algues.

The beach. La plage.

The beach. La plage.

Our little "private" beach.  Notre petite plage "privée".

Our little “private” beach. Notre petite plage “privée”.

The next 2 days were going to be about relaxing, enjoying the sun and swimming. I was starting to feel better but,unfortunately, Salem started feeling sick that day. Since the beach was off-limits to swimmers, we stayed by the pool which is not what we usually do. But you take what you can get!

The pool! La piscine!

The pool! La piscine!

A little bridge over the pool. Un petit pont pour traverser la piscine.

A little bridge over the pool. Un petit pont pour traverser la piscine.

The sun, water to swim in, my husband and a book - what more could I want? Le soleil, de l'eau pour aller me baigner, mon mari et un livre; pourrais-je souhaiter pour mieux que ça?

The sun, water to swim in, my husband and a book – what more could I want? Le soleil, de l’eau pour aller me baigner, mon mari et un livre; pourrais-je souhaiter pour mieux que ça?

Fresh coconut water for Salem! De l'eau de noix de coco frais pour Salem!

Fresh coconut water for Salem! De l’eau de noix de coco frais pour Salem!

Caro had some too! Caro en a profité aussi!

Caro had some too! Caro en a profité aussi!

Food was mainly from the buffet for breakfast and lunch. As always, a great assortment of things.

Lunch buffet - fixings and pickled things! Le buffet à l'heure du dîner - des marinades!

Lunch buffet – fixings and pickled things! Le buffet à l’heure du dîner – des marinades!

The lunch buffet - fruits galore! The buffet du midi - des fruits, des fruits et encore d'autres fruits!

The lunch buffet – fruits galore! Le buffet du midi – des fruits, des fruits et encore d’autres fruits!

It's not a buffet without desserts! Ce n'est pas un buffet sans le dessert!

It’s not a buffet without desserts! Ce n’est pas un buffet sans le dessert!

More walking around the hotel too (of course).

Pool seen from the lobby. La piscine à partir de la réception.

Pool seen from the lobby. La piscine à partir de la réception.

Hotel grounds where they host shows. On vient ici chaque soir pour les spectacles.

Hotel grounds where they host shows. On vient ici chaque soir pour les spectacles.

Show plaza. Quartier des spectacles.

Show plaza. Quartier des spectacles.

We tried out the resort’s Italian restaurant, Firenze. The lighting was a bit bright but the food was good and the service was great, as always! A nice little bonus: a pianist played a bunch of love songs. Funny thing: I told Salem we’d have to get up and dance if they played our song. As it so happens, he started playing our song just after we got our main meal. We didn’t get up to dance though – we’d look a bit weird dancing alone, no actual dance floor, our food getting cold. We did get a good laugh out of it though and it made us enjoy our evening that much more.

Bread basket to start off dinner. Un assortiment de pain pour débuter le souper.

Bread basket to start off dinner. Un assortiment de pain pour débuter le souper.

Alhamdullilllllllaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!

Alhamdullilllllllaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!

Pasta with an alfredo sauce - we kept it simple. Pâtes avec une sauce alfredo. Nous avons décidé de simplifier les choses.

Pasta with an alfredo sauce – we kept it simple. Pâtes avec une sauce alfredo. Nous avons décidé de simplifier les choses.

Chocolate covered ice cream ball. Yummies!   Boule de crème glacée recouverte de chocolat. MMMmmm....

Chocolate covered ice cream ball. Yummies! Boule de crème glacée recouverte de chocolat. MMMmmm….

We also walked around the resort and on the beach to end the night.

The (empty) pool at night. La piscine le soir.

The (empty) pool at night. La piscine le soir.

Pool and pond at night. La piscine et l'étang le soir.

Pool and pond at night. La piscine et l’étang le soir.

A show at night. Un spectacle la nuit.

A show at night. Un spectacle la nuit.

The beach at night, long aperture opening without tripod...  La plage le soir avec l'objectif ouvert pendant plusieurs seconds (sans trépied).

The beach at night, long aperture opening without tripod… La plage le soir avec l’objectif ouvert pendant plusieurs seconds (sans trépied).

Beach at night, again, no tripod, aperture open for a little while. La plage le soir, toujours sans trépied et avec l'objectif ouvert pendant quelques secondes.

Beach at night, again, no tripod, aperture open for a little while. La plage le soir, toujours sans trépied et avec l’objectif ouvert pendant quelques secondes.

A palm tree and the full moon. Un palmier et la pleine lune.

A palm tree and the full moon. Un palmier et la pleine lune.

On our last night at the resort, we tried out the French restaurant – Marseilles. It has a very nice decor – white, flowing curtains and lots of low lights. We ended the night with our usual stint at the lobby – coffee and espresso!

Getting ready to go eat some French food! Salem prêt à manger de la bouffe française!

Getting ready to go eat some French food! Salem prêt à manger de la bouffe française!

Marseilles, the French restaurant. Marseilles; le resto français.

Marseilles, the French restaurant. Marseilles; le resto français.

My starter - asparagus and cheese shavings. J'ai commencé avec des asperges et du fromage.

My starter – asparagus and cheese shavings. J’ai commencé avec des asperges et du fromage.

A huge shrimp cocktail. Des crevettes géantes!

A huge shrimp cocktail. Des crevettes géantes!

Chicken with vegetable vol au vent. Du poulet avec un vol au vent aux légumes.

Chicken with vegetable vol au vent. Du poulet avec un vol au vent aux légumes.

Caro on our last night in Varadero. Caro lors de dernière journée à Varadero.

Caro on our last night in Varadero. Caro lors de dernière journée à Varadero.

Another view of the hall with its huge chandelier. Le hall avec son immense chandelier.

Another view of the hall with its huge chandelier. Le hall avec son immense chandelier.

The lobby at night. Le hall au soir.

The lobby at night. Le hall au soir.

Day 8 was our departure, bright and early! Everything went well except for our return flight home – I had the worst experience I have ever had on a flight. Cabin pressure + what’s left over of a headcold = you feel like your brain is going to come right out your ears! It was excruciating and everything I tried didn’t help (chewing, taking a decongestant – too late, and drinking water). Alhamdullilah for the flight attendant who knew a trick that worked for me almost instantly – 2 little cups with paper towels stuffed in the bottom that have been moistened with hot water. Put that over your ears and give it a few moments. I am forever thankful for that. I apologized to the woman seated next to me for my crying and general state of panic for a good 5 minutes. It honestly was one of the worst feelings I have ever had in my life. Nowadays, I take 1/2 to 1 decongestant before takeoff in hopes that it’ll work. So far, so good.

After all that, our trip was over. We were back home, happy to see family and our dear little Pumpkin. Although we were trying to decide when we could go back for our next trip.

All in all, we really loved the resort, we really couldn’t complain. The food was good and we had plenty of selection, the staff really tried to do all they could to please you as well. The grounds were well maintained, so were the rooms and the beach. You feel safe walking around and taking public transit. The only somewhat negative thing – people will hassle you here and there when you’re walking around in the towns or cities. Most of them are just trying to make a living, offering you a service or selling you some artwork, etc. It’s fine, we all need to make a living.

I’m honestly debating making a post about my impressions of Cuba – on a more political level, simply based on my observations from this trip, but also from our latest trip to a very similar place (trip journal to come soon). Maybe Salem could join me on this one given that he loves politics. We’ll see what the demand or interest is.

Otherwise, please do go to Cuba if you can – it is a place so very different from what we are used to. It can be a very cultural experience, like it can be a relaxing one – you decide which one you want.