Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights

Dec 27 2015

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights

Anyone who really knows me knows that I hate Christmas. I absolutely despise it. I hate the clashing colours green and red, I hate the music, I mostly hate snow and I hate how you see Christmas decorations in the stores before the Halloween stuff is even on the shelves – I hate it all! It’s not that I’m not a joyful person, I just didn’t grow up celebrating it. So, when Christmas time was rolling around and I saw that I had some vacation days to use up before the end of the year and my bestest buddy was having a milestone birthday, I thought “why the heck not?”

Since I had already exhausted my OCD trip-planning skills on the Ireland trip, I wanted a no-effort trip to somewhere warm where I didn’t really have to think about itineraries, visas or extra accommodations. Enter stage right: all-inclusive vacation package. It was easy enough to sort out, just pick a southern destination where the beaches are nice. We have a few Cuban friends, so Cuba became the top destination. We didn’t want to go anywhere overrun by tourists, so we picked Cayo Santa Maria by the recommendation of a friend (see, Santa is in the name – so I can’t hate Christmas that much…?). We travelled back to Toronto on Christmas Day (I didn’t want to rob anyone of their actual Christmas Day celebrations), so that was also a very interesting first – travelling on Christmas Day.

Cayo Santa Maria Beach

Most, if not all, day tours or excursions can be booked on  site at the resort. If you are interested, below is a high-level summary of our 7-day stay in Cuba trip (spoiler alert: a lot of it is just relaxing on the beach not checking our work emails):
#DirtyDancingHavanaNights (Cuba) Itinerary

Day 1:

Flight from YYZ to SNU and transfer to the Melia las Dunas Resort. Full day of relaxing on the beach.

Day 2:

Think, maybe we should book some tours or look into excursions, but again decide to just relax on the beach all day and explore the resort’s offerings. But we won a game of egg toss on the beach against these idiot frat boy types that thought “girls can’t throw”.

Day 3:

Uh oh! I got stung by a jelly-fish 3 times! I guess I should lay by the pool instead today.

Day 4:

OK, now we actually decided to book our Havana day trip because the resort life isn’t as exciting as we thought it would be. And I’m too scared to swim in the ocean, because jellyfish suck.

Day 5:

A full day trip to Havana by bus. Jam packed with sites to see and food and drinks to consume!

Day 6:

Early morning train trip from Dublin Connolly Station to Belfast with a Black Cab Tour of Belfast and a stop at the Titanic Belfast Museum and harbour.

Day 7: 

After staying up all night puking my guts out, we painfully waited to board the flight back home. Now we know why you need 3 hours at the airport… because 2.5 hrs of it is spent waiting in a massive line just trying to check in. SNU back to YYZ for Christmas Subway sandwiches with the family.

Cayo Santa Maria Walkway to Beach

Cayo Santa Maria – Boats on the Beach

Epic Sand Castle

This was our first ever all-inclusive vacation. We’re adventurous type of people so we thought this would be a nice change of pace from our usual busy vacations. Not sure if I would sign up for this type of vacation anytime soon… it’s always the “easy” vacations that get you. I was more exhausted coming back from this trip than I have been coming back from any other trip. I think I’m too busy a person to really relax, so going on a vacation where you do nothing but relax, it was a little anxiety heightening for me.
All that said, Cuba is a great place for a vacation! I’m not saying anything bad about it at all. It just wasn’t my thing. I’m a cool-weather creature who likes moderate temperatures. Cuba was hot, hot, hot! Never have I truly appreciated sunscreen and aloe as much as I did when I was there. It was a lot of fun swimming in the ocean (up until I got stung by a rotten jellyfish! The culture is great and I love the language and dance. Our day trip to Havana was definitely the highlight of the trip. I would definitely go back just to do the entire time in Havana.

Havana – Architecture

Havana’s standard taxi

Sunny Havana

Havana – Faro del Castillo del Morro

Havana – Architecture

I think all that time out in the sun coupled with the motion of the ocean on an all-day Catamaran tour was the cause of my sickness on the last day. I was dehydrated and got food poisoning (it’s very difficult to find vegetarian food – there is a lot of meat crossover in foods). We spent our last night in the hospital. I was unable to keep anything down or in me… I’m just happy I was well enough to travel home on our flight day. Hence why Subway sandwiches were the meal of choice for Christmas dinner. Feliz Navidad, indeed!

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Farah Tamachi

Toronto-based, typographically-obsessed, MIT & RGD-certified senior UX designer at AppCentrica Inc., focused on crafting beautiful & usable experiences.

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