Mum’s Cuban Adventure (Ireland to Havana, Trinidad & Varadero) by Sandra

I’ve been given permission by the Boyz to take over the blog briefly this time. So with Golden Boyz all tucked up in Richmond Harbour as hinted at last time we’ll be having some different land adventures this year. The Boyz went off on holidays to Happy Tails Kennels & I flew back to the UK.

There I made an exciting purchase as we added Toddy the Peugeot Boxer Symbol to our fleet. Toddy or Todd as he was originally called was owned by Joy & as she’s upgrading campervans I bought Toddy (as in Hot Toddy!!) so I can explore the bits of Ireland I can’t get to by water. We’ll be sharing more of Toddy’s adventures in the future.

As ever when I’m in the Uk it was a whirlwind tour with a couple of nights firstly at Joys learning all about Toddy & having driving lessons around Reading University campus! Then I was off up to visit Mick & Jackie at Newport with a lovely surprise of Susie & Dave being there too. Then it was a quick lunch with Dom & Jane before driving up to Pelsall for Jims big 70th. Next it was up to Dad’s for a couple of days where I had my first proper night wild camping at Pilling on the beach & then a chance to catch up with family at Margaret & Grahams. Then finally lunch with Heidi before returning to Angela & Jims ready for my flight out on Birmingham to CUBA!!!

So onto Cuba. In my full time working days I ran the Yorkshire franchise of an events company called Spice who as well as local events do holidays abroad. In my 20 years of running the company I got to travel all over the world accompanying trips as a coordinator from white water rafting the Grand Canyon (twice!!) to about 50 ski trips to Lake Garda to Borneo to China to Canadian Rocky Mountaineer to India & Thailand to masked balls in Venice to loads of cruises and many more… This time I’d chosen to book a Spice trip as a customer which was fabulous to not be in charge for once. Full details of all the Spice trips can be found here including the 2023 trip to Cuba Spice Escapes

So of at set in the middle of the night for a flight firstly to Paris & then onwards to Havana. We were delayed a couple of hours at Paris & Air France were particularly dreadful all round but we finally arrived in Havana tired but happy to be there. After a while getting currency for everyone at the airport as you can’t bring it into the country we were off by coach to our Hotel Nacional de Cuba. My oh my how wonderful it was.

In its 92 years, the majestic Hotel Nacional de Cuba has witnessed some of the most important events in the history of Cuba that link the republican and revolutionary stages, and it also has a long list of famous guests, including Gary Cooper, Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Keaton, Erroll Flynn, the Dukes of Windsor and José Raúl Capablanca in the 1930s, Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Winston Churchill, as well as Italian-American mafia bosses and Mexican movie stars like Maria Felix , Jorge Negrete and Agustín Lara in the 1940s, and Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Nat King Cole and Walt Disney in the 1950s, Yuri Gagarin, Gabriel García Marquez, Jean-Paul Sartre and his wife, Fidel Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara in the 1960s. Hundreds of celebrities and among them more than 100 heads of state have been hotel guests, their photographs, as well as historical objects are displayed in the Hall of Fame, a must-see site when in the Cuban capital.

It was late as we arrived so after a quick bite to eat it was off to bed but we later all took part in the wonderful tour telling you all about the history of the hotel & we even got to have a look inside the notorious Mafia Suite. Heres a few photos from around the hotel.

We had 3 fun days in Havana including a tour around Havana & enjoyed a mojito or two or three!!

Plus a trip out in the classic cars which is the bit I’d most been looking forwards to.

Myself & two others opted out of the big show in Havana one night & instead found a wonderful pirate themed restaurant & went to the hotel show

And we also went on a quirky horse drawn tour of Havana finishing with lunch at Buena Vista Social club & had a splendid evening meal at a Colonial restaurant again transported there is style in the classic cars

All too soon our time in Havana was over you could easily spend a month there & not do everything. Next we were transferred To Trinidad which was more rustic but had a lovely beach front hotel so we enjoyed a few dips in the sea as well as an interesting night our where the town was under blackout so only premises with generators were open & had lights on.

Next on our schedule was the much more touristy resort of Varadero where we had plenty of chill out time round the pool

One of the days our fabulous coordinator Pam organised an adventure day with a classic car trip, horse riding along the beach, a jeep trip, Snorkelling, lunch then swimming in the crystal blue waters of the sea & than finishing with cave swimming. It was an amazing action packed day.

All too soon it was our final night finishing with our last trip in the classic cars & a lovely meal as we enjoyed our last night together with lots of friendships made.

After a final day by the pool it was a flight home to a very rainy Birmingham. Angela & Jim kindly picked me up at the airport & after a nights rest I had a night out with Angela & Billie before starting my journey in Toddy over to Wales. On the way I called in at Llangollen to catch up with my boaty friends Jan, Toastie, Jules & Pete before overnighting in Toddy & catching the ferry back to Ireland.

I returned to a very wet & flooded Ireland & picked the Boyz back up from Happy Tails. It was straight back at it on my return as I started a new winter job (more about that in a future blog) & we were off straight away having new adventures around Ireland in Toddy but I’ll let the Boyz resume control of the blog again next time to tell you all about those


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