Varadero ᛫ March 5 – 19, 2018
The reason for traveling to Cuba was to meet my dad and sister in Varadero. We had booked a hotel right next to a beautiful beach that had food and drinks included. Apart from seeing my family, I was also very excited to change my lifestyle for two weeks. Not having to worry about buying and making food would give me more time for other nice things.
A Classic Car Journey to the Hotel
From Havana, it was a nice ride to Varadero. I took a colectivo (shared taxi) for 20 cuc (17 €/US$ 20). It was a nice classic car, built in 1925 by the company Buick. The inside was pretty spacious and comfortable. There were three people including the driver sitting in the front and three including me in the back without being cramped. My drop off was the last stop so I enjoyed the final minutes of the drive in the front seat.
At the hotel, I had to wait a bit to check in. Since it was only noon, the room wasn’t ready yet. So I got some food and drinks, got my bikini out of my backpack and explored the hotel and beach. It was huge with several pools, bars, and restaurants. The beach looked amazing with turquoise water and palm trees. I found a spot with shade and did a small workout because I hadn’t done it in a while. Afterward, I relaxed on a deck chair, drinking lemonade.
At 4 pm I could go into the room and really liked it. It had a balcony, two beds, and a pullout couch. My favorite part was the bathroom because there were separate doors for the shower, toilet, and sink. So we could use different parts of the bathroom at the same time. 😄
Reunited with My Family
Around 7 pm I went to dinner which was a nice buffet and a big change to the backpacker diet I usually eat. So I really enjoyed it, filled my plate several times and ate until my stomach hurt. Afterward, I chilled in the lobby, waiting for my family. When they arrived shortly after 10 pm, we hung out at the bar and chatted for a while. It was so good to see them again. The last time I had seen my sister Caro was half a year earlier in San Francisco, CA, and my dad even longer than that.
We had two nice weeks in Varadero. A great part of that time, we spent at the beautiful beach of course. Apart from sunbathing, going swimming and sipping cocktails, we also did a short catamaran cruise. It was offered by the hotel for free and we enjoyed floating on the water for 20 minutes. The hotel staff also offered dance lessons and other activities for the guests. I joined the dancing sometimes but did my own workout most of the times.
Luckily, my dad, sister and I share the passion for scuba diving. We had one dive per day included in our vacation package and pay for the second dive. Since the scuba dive shop always went out with a boat and did the first dive to a reef and the second to a shipwreck, you would have to wait if only doing one dive. So it made sense to join both.
One day, I went to the city center to buy a bus ticket to return to Havana from where I had a flight to my next destination. The taxis cost about 1 cuc (0.8 €/US$ 1) per kilometer. So the cheapest option to travel around the peninsula is the touristic bus tour called VaraderoBeachTour. It costs 5 cuc (4 €) for the whole day and you can hop-on/hop-off the bus on 46 different stations. Because of all these stations, the trip from my hotel to the city center took almost two hours instead of 20 minutes by taxi. 😄 On the other hand, it was also fun to see more of the city. The center was typical for a resort town. There were lots of restaurants and souvenir shops. If I hadn’t had to buy my ticket, I probably wouldn’t have visited that part of town.
Cuban Food, Drinks & Entertainment
Since we stayed at an all-inclusive hotel, I ate a lot during our time there of course. There were different buffet restaurants and several specialty restaurants that you needed a reservation for. The latter had menus and specialties like a Japanese or Mediterranean cuisine. For breakfast and lunch we always ate at the buffet and for dinner, we sometimes went to a restaurant with a menu. Although I usually don’t drink alcohol, I couldn’t resist sipping a few delicious cocktails. My favorite Cuban drinks were Mojito, Cuba Libre, and Daiquiri. I also often enjoyed fresh lemonade.
At night, there were different music, dance and/or artistic shows. It was a nice entertainment, but we didn’t go to watch it every night. Sometimes we played cards, like the game Wizard. One evening we went to see a concert by Buena Vista Social Club. I had listened to their music on YouTube for a long time. Even though the band doesn’t consist of the original members anymore, it was amazing seeing them perform the legendary Cuban music perform live on stage. In the end, everybody in the room was entrained and dancing. I can definitely recommend experiencing this part of Cuban culture when visiting Varadero.
Back to the Backpacker Life
The two weeks went by too fast and I was very sad to say goodbye to my family. After spending the last day enjoying the beach, food, and drinks, I took a taxi to the bus station. The taxi cost 15 cuc (13 €) and the bus to Havana 10 cuc (8 €). So it was already more expensive than the colectivo taxi (20 cuc/17 €) I took to get to Varadero. And I had to pay another taxi when I arrived in Havana.
See more Pictures of My Time in Varadero
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