Wow, I can’t believe another year has come and gone. I know it’s a little late but it’s my first post of the new year! For the holidays, the bf and I decided to go on our first vacation together. We did research online for destinations and resorts to go to that ended with us booking our stay at the Memories Holguin Beach Resort, outside of Holguin, Cuba. It was my first time at an all-inclusive and wasn’t really sure what to expect other than unlimited food, alcohol and pool/beach time. We even splurged and got their “Diamond Club” upgrade. Unfortunately, there were perks to the upgrade that we weren’t aware of and inconsistencies carried out as we found out while talking to other travellers.
The facilities were nice: 5 pools, 3 bars (including a swim-up one), 4 a la carte restaurants, 1 main buffet restaurant, 1-24hr snack bar, beach access, grounds were nicely maintained, and much more. Check out Sunwing’s website. One thing we didn’t expect were the amount of stairs. Our room was in the 300s, which was closest to the lower pools but to get to the main restaurants, we had to hike up a lot of stairs – it was leg day, everyday.
My favourite was the swim-up bar because the bartender was awesome and kept us very inebriated most of the time. It was a good flow of drinks. Also, this was where we met a lot of other guests, mainly Canadians (not sure if the Americans have been travelling to Cuba yet, due to the lifting of the embargo). It was a delight when the entertainment staff would yell out Canadian provinces rather than American cities when asking where you’re from. Since I’ve never been to an all-inclusive, the drinks kept on flowing and after the second night, I realized that I can no longer drink like I used to from my university days, which I was absolutely okay with. It can be super dangerous and now that I’m an “adult”, I need to be responsible for myself.
I’m really glad we did the day trip to Holguin and got to get a glimpse of Cuban life (even though I was very hungover – too many rum and cokes the night before). We visited a cigar factory but it was closed for the holidays, so we only went to the shop and got a couple cigars. In the town of Holguin, we had free time to wander around and visited a couple of churches. Life seemed hectic but also a lot calmer than home, in downtown Toronto. For lunch, we had to climb to the top of the Hill of the Cross (Loma de la Cruz). It was a great view of the city! I have to say though, it felt like we had travelled back in time because a lot of the vehicles on the road were old American cars that some had seen better days, while others were in pristine condition. Then there was the tricycle taxis (see image below) that looked like a makeshift vehicle but was definitely cheaper to get around than in a real taxi.
Before leaving, we are also warned about the food. However, to much of our surprise, it was quite good – and there was ketchup available on the resort (they had started importing it from Mexico, about six months ago). The food was plentiful and mostly delicious. They know how to do a great pork! We found out that one of the restaurants close to our room also did breakfast (Cuban Restaurant) so we didn’t have to trek all the way up to the main buffet one. The staff were friendly and service was quick.
After spending a week of relaxation, I was ready to go home. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy it but I wanted more adventure and less confinement to one location. Onto my next adventure soon!