After having an awesome time in the Dominican Republic, the next year we started looking for a new southern destination to visit. So many people we know had been to various places in Cuba and absolutely loved it. We figured why not give it a chance. We went with two other couples.
We booked the four year old five star Barcelo Marina Palace. First lesson about Cuba – a five star there is the equivalent of a three star at the most in Mexico or Jamaica.
We knew in advance that Cuba may not have a lot of things we were used to, no biggie. It is vacation, you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. One in our party had to have her Pepsi and Heinz ketchup so she packed it in her suitcase. Crazy!
The resort was ok, really big. The beach was huge but had no services at all, including washrooms, on the beach. No snorkelling. Food was what you expect in Cuba, not great but edible. Drinks were meh. Hubby said mojito tasted like it was made with pool water. The pools were freezing. We got in just to say we did, but only once. The rooms were really nice and most of the service was good.
We went to the free market on the double decker bus. The vendors there could have cared less that we were there. We actually had to seach for help when we wanted something. We walked down to the beach there, it was nice. Varadero Beach as a whole is very nice.
We also rented scooters to get out of the tourist area, lots of fun but not really safe outside of the tourist area. Also, after we found out that if we had an accident we were considered guilty until proven innocent. If we had known that before we never would have rented them.
You see Che, the Miami Six and Revolution propoganda everywhere. If you aren’t familiar with these topics I encourage you to do an internet search. There is also a documentary about Che on Netflix right now. It is very interesting to see how and why Cuba became what it is today.
We had thought Varadero would be lush with palm trees and the like. Nope. Defintely not like other places we have been. It was disappointing. It just didn’t feel tropical.
For my husband and I we can go anywhere and make the best of whatever comes our way but not everyone can. So ultimately we had fun. Played lots of cards in the lobby.
We brought our own toilet paper, a cooler and other things we figured the resort would be lacking. It was a good thing we thing we did, we used it all. It is now something I do every trip, rarely use it but I would rather have it and not use it, then not have it at all.
Cuba isn’t for everyone and we likely will never go back. We have thought about it many times, but just can’t bring ourselves to do it. After visiting places like Punta Cana, Jamaica and the Riviera Maya, Cuba just can’t measure up – in any way no matter what the price. We work too hard and wait so much for our annual trip that we won’t just settle. I honestly found Cuba to be just like Florida weather and scenery wise. For the money, I would rather go to Florida.
The Cuban Convertible Peso was a pain as well.
Now that Cuba is going to open up to the American tourist market and will be able to import more goods it might improve, but it will take a long time.
For those who love it, it is great and I certainly don’t begrudge them but we just want more than Cuba has to give.
The resort we stayed at had the distinction of being on the point closest to Miami. It is where many many refugees left from before the resort was built. As you stand on the beach in the dark you can’t help but think of those people. Those who made and those who didn’t. It is a very moving experience.