Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Montego Bay (Doctors Cave) 2017

The sea was lively,.
Husb said "This is YOUR kinda sea!" and he was right, it was like being in the Atlantic Rollers but warmer.
The sand was fabulous as usual, although if I'm being a sand snob, we HAVE had better, and Dolly did some good digging...

the crabs scuttled right under the sunbeds...

and I had a lovely day thrashing about in the waves and doing my planks, 

But getting there was a bit of a palava. The locals seem to think all cruise passengers are loaded and they have all the time in the world. They want to charge you a small fortune for a 3 mile ride and insist they are the only option. And our driver wasn't driving off until he had a full bus which was annoying. It was more annoying for the other passengers than us...one lady only wanted to nip to town for some Blue Mountain coffee. It would have been easy to get cross but we were on holiday and it was sunny and it's a nice beach and we would go back there again because as Hobson's Choice it was the safest, cleanest option. It was just a pity the locals made us feel like it was all too much trouble.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Cozumel, Mexico 2017 CHANKANAAB

Met a crocodile. was kissed by a sea lion, was SUNG TO by a sea lion, lazed in a hammock, swallowed a lot of sea trying to snorkel, used the wifi to chat to Cub, tried to fly a kite and throw a ball but failed at both, planked in my mask and flippers and experienced total loveliness.  I had been SO looking forward to today and it did not disappoint.

There was only one other family at the sea lion show at Chankanaab Beach Park so we had Luna and her pup more or less to ourselves and I can tell you now... 
sea lions have TICKLY WHISKERS!

They were hilarious, and fabulous, clapping, barking, smiling and SINGING.
And then he kissed me.

The iguanas were huge....

the dolphins looked happy and well kept 
and the pelican showed off...

and Crocker thought it was all very amusing.

It wasn't cheap to get in to Chankanaab but it was worth every penny/dollar/peso.
There's plenty to do. In addition to the sea lion shows and swimming with dolphins (must admit I am not a fan) there are zip wires, Mayan temples, gardens, the lagoon, hammocks, Starbucks, beers...

Where WAS everyone? On a SUNDAY?

We basically had the beach to ourselves. And the hammocks.
Ooooh hammocks were fun. We were tempted to buy one to bring home.(yes, really)

I planked before I nearly drowned. 
Okay a massive overstatement but HOW HARD IS SNORKELLING!!!?

The sea was turquoise and clear and was full of fish, fish, fish which I saw with my superduper mask and I found the underwater statue of Jesus.

Dolly basked....

...and it was just so lovely.

A cracking day.
We would highly recommend a visit to Chankanaab and I want to go again.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Havana, Cuba 2017

Cuba and its cars!
We couldn't take our eyes off them.
We were mesmerized by the fact that they actually still worked. Some were looking very well looked after and in tip top condition but others had doors hanging off and ripped insides and they were all ...SO OLD!
It really was like a 1950's film set like everyone told us.

We had impressed ourselves with an early breakfast and after a lot of faff (and heated tempers) of customs and currency and queueing for the tours we finally boarded the bus for our Cuban Ride and Walk tour. (As we were there for two days we'd decided to go on a Thomson's Cruises tour to give us an idea of where things were in Havana.)

The largest town square in the world .

The Square of Revolution has many unique features and landmarks, including the magnificent Jose Marti Memorial. This incredible tower measures an astounding 109 meters, and from the top, visitors are treated to an absolutely breathtaking view of the city. In front of the tower is a sculpture of Marti, who is famed as a writer, poet, and hero of Cuba

The Square of Revolution is both a symbol of Cuba’s history and the place where it is still being made. Here, Castro has addressed millions of Cubans on a wide number of occasions, and it is also the home of Cuba’s National Theater. Few icons along Havana’s landscape have quite the history and story to tell as Revolution Square, and for those lucky enough to visit the island, no Cuba educational trip can be complete without a tour of all that the plaza has to offer.

But we couldn't help being fascinated by the cars!

Cuba is full of U.S. cars from the 1950s (approximately 60,000 classics are on the roads) because they are the only cars Cuban citizens can legally own. When Castro came to power and the U.S. started its embargo on Cuba, car parts were suddenly unobtainable so there were no replacement parts. Cubans had to be very clever and very creative to preserve what they had.

Penelope Pitstop was magnificent. And didn't look remotely out of place.

Next stop the castle of El Morro which was built by the Spanish to protect the natural harbour from pirates and invaders...

...with views of Old Havana and New Havana...

and a cannon to plank on!

The Walking Tour included music playing, the Cathedral, a mojito, Trumpyboy being inaugurated, green gardens inside hotels, Harry Potter's Dementors, Chopin on a bench, weird large ladies smoking cigars, cannons being used as bollards, stained glass roofs, the ugly uni, the perfumerie AND LOADS OF ACTUAL CHEVROLETS.

Chatting to Chopin on the bench.

Jose Maria Lopez Lledin  needed hugging.
Our guide had befriended him when he walked the streets of Havana. He died in 1985.

He has never been to Cuba but they like him.


And another one. AAARRRGGGHHH !

Birthday mojitos! The first two.

Cannons as bollards.
The buildings have been constructed out of such heavy stone and stand on top of an uneven coral bed so they need protecting. No cars here! Classic or not.

The beautiful stained glass ceiling of Hotel Raquel.
We went in just as Trumpyboy's inauguration was being shown live on TV.

Green garden open spaces inside hotels.

The cathedral.

More cars. 

 Jose Maria Lopez Lledin

It was a great morning but it was also Husb's birthday and he had cards to open and some tubes of fruit pastilles to unwrap (!) so we nipped back on board for those, had lunch, then headed out again for our own mooch around.
And we could STAY OUT because we weren't sailing until tomorrow!

View of the boat from the top of the building with the 360 degree camera.

And then we had a lovely walk along a leafy avenue which was full of children on anything with wheels. I'm sure inline roller skates went out of fashion YEARS ago but not in Cuba. 
Roller skates, inliners, scooters, skateboards, it was almost treacherous!!
We reached the sea.

And I did a plank while I was sill sober (!)
in front of a SKY BLUE classic...

...because we were just going the long way round to Ernest Hemingway's favourite bar.
La Bodeguita del Medio.

...which was packed.
Everyone was drinking mojitos but they know how to make a good mojito here, they make them 6 at a time.Heck they were strong.

But totes delicious.

Hemingway wrote The Old Man and The Sea which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. In 1954 he won the Nobel Prize which he placed at the foot of The Virgen del Cobre near Santiago de Cuba with the words,
"This award belongs to Cuba, as all my works were created and conceived in Cuba, with the inhabitants of Cojimar, of which I am a citizen".
We liked his bar.
If you visit La Bodeguita del Medio TAKE A SHARPIE :)

La Factoria PlazaVieja was ok that evening, nothing special, but it was great for people-watching. It took us ages to get our next birthday mojitos, and when they came they were very limey, but there was a local band playing so there was good atmosphere and the waiters were bringing out towers of beer (a couple of pints surrounding an ice column?) (there was a micro brewery on site where they brewed their own beer) and we sat outside for a bit ..in January...(!) just thinking 
"We ..Are.. In.. Cuba."  
And we were OFF the cruise ship. 
It felt a bit rebellious!
 Fabulous stuff.

And then we dashed back onboard for fish and chips...we couldn't miss THAT! Ha.

Day Two was cloudless and bright and everywhere looked so pretty in the sunshine.
Especially the Opera House. Even the being-built Capitol buiding glistened in its scaffolding.

This is the Opera House.
We enquired about shows but were out of luck.

Even the Chevvies and the Cadillacs sparkled.
Well they WERE pink.
And they didn't look out of place at all.

Husb got arty with the reflections of old buildings in the glass of the Museum of Modern Art.

The Museum of the Revolution.

With tank.

OMG Husb's FACE when he saw this!!!
ORIENTEERING around Havana!!
How fab would that be!!

After trailing up and down Mercedes street so many times it was becoming amusing and a challenge AT LAST AT LAST AT LAST we found Perfumerie1792
Its shutters had only just gone up which would explain why we literally couldn't find it.

I loved this backdrop because as soon as I saw it I read C HOL and RICOH 


What a great couple of days. 

However, Thomson Dream left 2 people behind.
2 peeps hadn't got back to the boat in time.
Thomson didn't have a lot of choice as the MSC ship was waiting for our parking space and THEIR passengers were flying home so had planes to catch.
The 2 NoShows would have had their passports with them and Thomson packed them an overnight bag but that was the last we heard about it.

Husb in his birthday shirt.