Tag Archives: beach life

My first all-inclusive vacation

By the pool

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!

 

 

 

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Summer Vacation on Manitoulin Island

The last couple months have been hectic at work and I’m going to be moving out of my parents’ place soon (I’m super excited but also scared at the same time) so my mind has been in other places. It’s time to get back to writing and sharing my adventures.

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Puppy digging

I went up to Manitoulin Island for Canada’s Day week with the bf, some friends, and a puppy for some much needed relaxation and electronics free time. It was so nice not to have my cellphone on or internet – just tv, books, cards and the beach! There was a huge change to the property from last year. The septic system and tank needed to be replaced because the tree roots had damaged the tank so all the trees were cut down 😦 It was for the best but now the front yard is mainly sand/dust, ant hills and some grass. There are a lot of ants on the Island.

I spent a lot of time reading and finally finished Chris Hadfield’s “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth“. A light-hearted and optimistic book that speaks to his life experiences and advice on how you can live a more fulfilling life. I started on a sci-fi book called “The Martian” by Andy Weir. Not usually into sci-fi but seeing how intrigued the bf was, I wanted to read it as well. Basically, it’s about surviving on Mars, alone and relying on your instincts and abilities. I don’t want to spoil the book for those who are planning to read it. Let’s say it was a page-turner and I couldn’t put it down.

We did some swimming and hiking on the Cup and Saucer trail as well as out to the lighthouse on the other side of the bay. I miss climbing rocks and jumping over water – can’t do that in the city. Though when I tried to jump over water, it was too far and I ended up with a wet sock and running shoe for the remainder of the hike.

On Canada’s Day, there were fireworks down at the beach. It was awesome! There is something so magical about explosives being blown up in the air to create beautiful images. The bf also took his camera down there and got some amazing shots. It’s been a while since I’ve taken time to go see fireworks on July 1st because it’s always crowded at home so it was nice to have some space on the beach to ourselves.

We ate really well on the Island. Breakfast and lunch were casual meals but for dinner, on most nights we barbequed and ate together at the picnic table. We even managed to catch the pancake breakfast at the curling club, since it only happens on the first Thursday morning of every month. There is a butcher shop called Manitoulin Island Meats where we got sausage, bacon and burgers. It used to be Papa’s Meat & Deli but they took it over and it’s lost some of the mom and pop feel to the place. However, the meat is still delicious. For farm fresh eggs, we go to a nearby B&B that has a bar fridge stocked with cartons of eggs where you put money into a mason jar and take a carton of eggs. the first time we saw the sign, it was very shocking that people are very honest and only take what they pay for. It would never work in the city, which is another reason why I love being up there.

Being on the Island always makes me feel so free and joyful. I’d love to be up there all summer, like Matt, of the Lake Huron Fish & Chips. He’s opened up shop on the Victoria Day long weekend and will be up there for a couple of months. He is one of the nicest people I’ve met and the fish and chips are delicious! We went a couple of times for lunch and there’s always a line up but totally worth the wait.

For next year, the bf wants to have a bat house building contest. There used to be a lot of bats in the old garage until it was rebuilt to keep them out so he wants to create homes for them again (on the outside of the garage). On the plus side is, bats eat mosquitoes and their poop is good for fertilizing. Everyone wins!

Very glad we got to spend the week instead of a couple of days at the cottage because sometimes, you need to take a step back from the hectic city life and be able to enjoy a campfire with friends.

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