Having fun in Varadero

Sunday night – Valentine’s Day – we took a short walk along the promenade and were greeted by a wandering band and their dancers.  Very noisy and not sure what type of music it was but everyone seemed to be enjoying them following the minstrels around like the pied piper.   

Travelling minstrels

We then headed into the waterfront seafood restaurant for a special Valentines dinner.   We were greeted with pretty rum drinks….

Welcome drinks

….then our starter turned up which was salmon and shrimp ceviche…along with champagne and a bottle of white wine for later….

Salmon & shrimp ceviche

Time for bubbles

Then the main course of fillet steak with foie gras was delivered to us – sadly a bit too ‘blue’ for our taste – but there wasn’t any option to return it as the waiters were moving around delivering plates to everyone without paying much attention to anything else – but we soldiered on and were happy to pour our own champagne LOL!

Happy Valentines Fillet steak

Then desert turned up which was a lovely chocolatey and strawberry concoction.   It was all very nicely done – sitting on the balcony overlooking Morphie in the marina….    And we were royally entertained by members of the local philharmonic orchestra who played in restaurants to earn some extra money – they were very good!

Desert Happy Valentines 2 Symphony

After coffee we left the restaurant onto the promenade and there was a show going on.    This overlapped the all-inclusive and the cash area so wasn’t sure whether we could get a drink or not to watch the show – we asked a waiter and he was happy to serve us, so we took seats had another couple of glasses of wine and enjoyed the spectacle.  The lead singer was very flamboyant and reminded us a little of Shirley Bassey….followed by some acrobatic dancers.    What a lovely end to the day.

Singer Happy Valentines 3 Dancers

Monday morning and Richard finished the varnishing in the heads while I had a massage, which was a lovely treat.  Don and Michele from SV Hemera asked whether we could help them to try and resolve an autopilot issue.  Not experts but happy to try.   So we went on board….and decided that the autopilot needed recalibrating as it may have reset to factory settings whilst on the hard and disconnected from any power source.   Really just an educated guess as the compass differential was showing blank settings.    We decided to leave the calibration for another day as it involved a sea trial and ended up staying on board Hemera…. and chatted…. and drank beer alternating supplies between the two boats… and chatted… and drank beer… and then rum….    Was a lovely impromptu afternoon / evening which meant that we returned to Morphie for a very early night.

Tuesday morning we were up bright and early and boarded Hemera – cast off – and went just to the lagoon beyond the marina.   We started doing slow and wide 360s before the harbour master appeared in the chase boat – making sure we weren’t heading off anywhere we’re not allowed to go!  We finished the 360s in one direction and it looked positive on the instruments but then it fell over again…. so we did 360s in the other direction and it looked even more positive until it fell over again.   Damn – they need this working as they are heading to the Bahamas and beyond to Prince Edward Island, Canada, this year and that is a long way for hand steering.   But we did find another option in the manual so hopefully that will fix it – all fingers crossed for when they get a chance to swap the cables over.

They headed off into town while we took ourselves to the pool near Morphie and took a cooler with us as we are not allowed to buy drinks at this bar.  During the afternoon we enjoyed watching the birds using the (freezing cold) pool as their bath and the large American motor yacht that arrived into the marina.  This caused a lot of excitement and the officials were queuing up to get on board – along with every other staff member who came out to watch it all going on.  

Bird bath American Yacht arrived

Don and Michele joined us for a final couple and, having had enough sun, we left for the afternoon.  Big downside to the wind dropping today and the weather heating up is that the bugs are out in force – we all got quite badly bitten sitting around….

Later on that evening the four of us headed over to the Argentinian Steak House for dinner – had a lovely meal with great company – was a lot of fun.   On our way back to the boats we came across another show – so we took up a couple of empty seats and watched.  More dancing and the guys definitely enjoyed the skimpy outfits a lot!!!

Argentinian Steak House Don and Michele Another dancing show

Wednesday morning and we said our farewells to Don and Michele who are heading into an all-inclusive resort as their son is flying in to get married.    We are going to be the security detail for their boat while they are away – although it is illegal for Cubans to come on board private vessels there is no security from other tourists who wander around.   Actually we are thinking of charging them to wander our dock as we have featured in many holiday photographs, including one wedding and one model shoot so far!!!   

We went for a walk and found the other apartment complex pool.   This one has a cash bar – so we decided to spend the afternoon here…  But the walk is a long way and we’d already done it once today there and back so took dink for a run out.   Check out the view of the marina from the other pool – not to mention the whole area still under construction.  This place is absolutely huge!    Lovely cloud formations today too….

Other pool View from the other pool Still under constructionAmazing clouds

Oh yes, and for some perspective on sizing, check out the US yacht against the apartment buildings.

Big boy

We had a lovely afternoon bobbing – yes the water was actually warm enough to go in – and came back for a quiet night on board.

Hot day

Thursday morning and we awoke to a brilliant blue sky and pretty warm temperatures.   So we decided to go to the beach after doing a few chores like changing beds etc.   This is a public beach so although we have to walk through the hotel grounds – armed with our marina passes – we can take beds there.   But again we took a cooler as we were not sure whether we could get drinks.

Varadero beach 2

Varadero beach is a very long strip of sand and, with the wind blowing from the north, it had some pretty impressive waves breaking.  Varadero beach Busy day on Varadero beach

We lazed around for a while and did a bit of bobbing in the sea – first time this year!!! – before returning to Morphie via the hotel’s large pool.   We were not questioned by security so we sat down for a little while to watch the goings on – obviously this is all-inclusive as lots of people are drinking lots of alcohol – and there were quite a few Manchester accents!  Richard was tempted to engage about the latest Spurs football results LOL.   It is very pretty although not a lot of shade to be had.

Melia Marina main pool Melian Marina main pool 2

We have decided not to take up the option for an all-inclusive day pass at 87 CUCs (around £65 each) as we thought it would take a lot to spend it.  For example, in the cash area, beers are 2 CUCs and our Argentinian steak meal only came to 60 CUCs for both of us which included three courses and wine!   

Thursday afternoon we returned to the pool near Morphie for a couple of hours – had a nice time with a couple from South Korea who now live in Canada – and chatting to the lovely friendly staff.   After a lot of sun and another lovely day we had an early night.

Friendly staff

This morning, Friday, and our laundry has returned – Jose the dock master takes it away and returns it done just like magic!   The sky is grey and the front has arrived – with very strong winds again – and it is pretty chilly.  We have been to the Cadeca for more drinking vouchers and are now sitting in the cockpit blogging /reading.    I think we will probably have a lazy stay on board day today although Richard is planning to do pre-departure engine checks while I sort out the route to Havana.     

The weather is looking good for a Sunday afternoon departure – an overnight sail along the coast – and into Hemingway Marina on Monday morning.   The east winds will give us a downwind run, although will be slow as we are heading straight into a strong current, and easterlies give us the best conditions for entering into the marina’s narrow channel through the reef.   We’ll continue to watch closely as we have to give 24 hours’ notice of departure to get our clearance documents – but hopefully next time you’ll hear from me we’ll be in Havana, the real Cuba!!!

Bye for now