Category Archives: Cuba

Ready to travel around Cuba with me?

The Perfect 24 Hours in Havana, Cuba

Ready to come with me on a whirlwind 24 hours in the city of Havana in Cuba?

“You have to go to Cuba NOW before it’s too late!”

They were the words that rung out as I waited outside Havana airport in the pouring rain, unable to find a taxi, after spending two hours in the immigration queue.

This better be worth it,” I thought.

I don’t know how many people had suggested Cuba when I was planning my travels last year. There was a lot of talk about the country going through a period of change. Many said that the old charm was gradually disappearing. As I returned to the UK after my trip, I was met by the news of developments in the relationship between United States and Cuba. It seemed my timing was just right.

I visited Havana in November 2014. First impressions were of a strange but beautiful city. Over the next 4 days, it really grew on me. So, if you’re planning a trip, (and remember “you have to go now before it’s too late”) here is my guide to the perfect 24 hours in this crazy, magical city.

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10am: After breakfast, take a walk along the Malecon – the esplanade along the seafront. The views of the city are beautiful, particularly when combined with an endless stream of vintage cars passing by the ramshackle multi-coloured buildings along the water. Continue reading The Perfect 24 Hours in Havana, Cuba

REVIEW: Welcome To Barcelo Solymar – AKA ‘Fawlty Towers’ Cuba

My stay at the Barcelo Solymar  in Varadero was a real ‘Fawlty Towers’ experience.

“The best resort in Varadero, Cuba”… Unfortunately wasn’t where I stayed last week. Instead, I booked into the budget equivalent of Fawlty Towers. With a Trip Advisor rating of 3.5 out if 5 I wasn’t expecting pure luxury. Reviewers had complained about the food, service and state of accommodation. Needless to say, my expectations were relatively low, particularly when paying £50 a night for my own room and all-inclusive board. It was one of the only affordable options after spending months travelling around Central America.
Wanderlust Chloe Barcelo Cuba
My company for the week was my friend Rob, who had researched all the hotels thoroughly. We had picked this one partly for budget reasons, but also as it seemed to have a ‘young’ atmosphere and an emphasis on socialising, perfect for two friends wanting to meet people across the week.

After a few nights in Havana we travelled two hours to Barcelo Solymar Arenas Blancas and attempted to check in. It was around 1pm. The fun began when they could only find one room booking rather than two. This was rectified eventually, but the rooms weren’t ready. “Check in isn’t until 4pm. Come back later.” Ok then – seemed late to me, and if I’d been on a long haul flight I wouldn’t have been best pleased, but we grabbed our beach bags, sampled the lunch buffet, and lazed around the pool until 4pm.

This hotel is set in a large complex complete with buffet and a la carte restaurants, bars, two large multi-storey hotel blocks, three large swimming pools, several bungalow buildings, entertainment areas, a spa, shops and more. Normally when checking in, you’re presented with information on how things work, where to go for x, y and z, and at the very least, where your bedroom is. But no, simply provided with our room keys, we were left looking for a map to navigate where to go next.

My room (3107 – in one of the bungalows) had three double beds, covered in 70s curtain-style fabric. The walls were a strange shiny plastic with dents in and huge chunks missing. Some had been part filled with Polyfilla, but no effort had been made to redecorate. There was a strong damp smell that wafted through. It wasn’t awful but I had stayed in better places for similar money.

Wanderlust Chloe Barcelo Cuba Room 2
Wanderlust Chloe Barcelo Cuba Room

Continue reading REVIEW: Welcome To Barcelo Solymar – AKA ‘Fawlty Towers’ Cuba