Varadero and the Solymar Resort

As you can see this was a huge all-inclusive resort. I’ve marked where our suites are. They were top floor overlooking the pool with an ocean view.
Both units were beautiful, but we ended up with this end unit with a huge balcony.

Nice deck.
A smaller balcony next to our bed overlooking the pool; there were two of them.
A spacious bath with his and her sinks, a jacuzzi tub, shower, walk-in closet and a separate area with toilet and bidet. There was also a second half bath off the great room.

Our view of the resort grounds.

And the ocean.
Our deck from out on the roof looking back. Yes, that’s my Bucanero beer!
The lobby was equally beautiful with these enormous vines hanging down!

More close-ups of the grounds.

One of the numerous bars available.
And of course, the white sandy beach!

We did venture into town for some shopping and sightseeing. We took this carriage for our return trip to the resort.

On our trip back we suffered a “flat tire”; the rubber slipped off the steel rim and our driver had to stop and re-attach it.

But alas, our vacation is over, back to the grind 😎

Goodbye, Cuba. Until next time! We would love to return and see even more of this fascinating, beautiful country !


Our Cuba Adventure with the Hoffman’s

We started our adventure in Old Havana, the older section of downtown Havana. Most of the buildings were from 1930’s or older. Our apartment was refurbished over a 2 year period. Not much to look at on the outside but really nice inside. It was all of this corner building except for the first floor. They are planning to someday turn that into a coffee shop or something similar.
You entered through the ground floor up this narrow stairwell. Very long stairs since the ceilings in this building are about 16-18 feet! ┬áNotice the red string? That is how you unlatch the front door for visitors so you don’t have to go down to do so!
The second floor entrance hall. You can see our dining table in the living room towards the back of this picture.
A very nice living/dining room with old bentwood rocking chars and floor to ceiling wood shuttered doors that open out to a wrap around balcony overlooking the street below.

It had a nice kitchen with a fridge and induction cooktop. We only used the fridge and coffee maker. The fridge had a bottle of rum and 4 large water bottles, all included! The funny part is we ventured out to find beer and the closest store only had Miller Lite! NO Cuban beer to be found!
At the back of the hallway was this rather narrow spiral staircase for access to the rooftop deck with sunroom. Halfway up the staircase there was a landing that gave access to a small room with a very nice Samsung washing machine! The guys who did the remodel said they had to hoist it up there before the staircase went in!
The deck was pretty nice with palm trees and a sunroom. There was also another deck above the sunroom with a couple of Adirondack chairs.

Part of our view. Notice the steel I-beam structure? That’s how they hoist anything up into the apartment; bringing anything up that narrow stairwell would be near impossible!
This is Steve greeting the gardener who came every other day to tend to the plants on the roof.
A view down the street in our “hood”. Lots of cool old cars everywhere!
Laundry day!
The auto shop across the street. They re-paved our street during our visit. No barriers or signs, just don’t get run over by the equipment!
It’s obviously been an auto repair shop for a very long time!

Every morning and evening these street vendors would come around selling their wares. Mostly either some form of bread or onions.
The bread guy. Ever wonder how the people on the third floor get their products from these vendors?
A long rope with a basket on the end works just fine! Apparently it takes a committee of 3 or more to accomplish this task!

On one of our days there Yordin, the owner/manager of the apartment we rented, arranged a car tour of Havana for us. Guess what our chariot was? Yes, a 1958 Ford Fairlane convertible, bright pink! On closer inspection though it didn’t start life out as a convertible. He took a two door coupe and cut the top off! Like magic, he has a convertible; just hope it doesn’t rain, there’s no top under that boot!

It even has the original steering wheel. That’s unusual here, most cars have newer ones from a Toyota or something!
And the original Ford V8 with 2 barrel carb; also unusual; many of these cars have different engines, like Russian diesels from trucks!
Touring along the Malecon, the boulevard that ran along the ocean and it’s adjoining wide sidewalk.

Along our way we saw many beautiful old cars. They are privately owned and mostly used as taxis.

And a few odd ones, like this old Triumph.
Touring this old fort, so much history here! From way before Castro and the revolution!

Steve posing with one of the many statues.
Along with a bird!
When I could get pictures of the old cars with no modern cars around, I just had to convert them to black & white! Makes it look like your there back in time doesn’t it?

We got to see Castro’s personal tank from the revolution!
With whitewalls?!?

This fort is from the time the Spanish ruled here, the early to mid 1800’s

The view of downtown Havana from the fort. They are across the bay from each other. There is a tunnel built by the French between 1957 and 1958.
Back to the Malecon in Havana via the tunnel.

Cruising the Malecon and downtown Havana
Our guide took us to the Hotel National of Cuba, built in 1930. You can just feel the history in this place!
Their signature drink, the Mojito!
They make them by the dozens!
The cigar and brandy bar outside on the patio.

The main lobby.

More history of the glory days!

An interesting painting in their lobby. Depending on the angle you view it, you see 3 different paintings!

And of course Fidel.
And Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.

More guests arriving.
After drinks at Hotel Nacional Cuba, ┬ámore sightseeing. Here’s the Capitol building; it’s undergoing a major renovation as you can see.
There were other forms of transportation besides the classic car taxis.

Back in Havana the next day, we visited the oldest Cigar factory in Cuba. The actual factory here in Downtown closed several years ago, but they still have 2 other factories on the island still producing cigars.

There are some streets blocked from vehicles where you can walk and shop and eat. They apparently have lots of leftover cannons and cannon balls to use for this purpose!

We stopped in this bar for a little refreshment, very cool old wood bar!
And entertainment!
notice the stand-up electric bass?
A rather odd old picture!
Deana shopping, Steve waiting.

We came across this guy feeding the street cats.

We couldn’t leave Havana without going to the Floridita, the bar Earnest Hemmingway used to frequent often.
Their signature drink on the right, a daiquiri
And a bronze statue of Hemmingway at the bar.
Which of course everyone needs their picture with!
And a giant daiquiri at the front door!
Along our way we came across this “statue”.

Who moved when you least expected it!

On our last night in Havana Yordin made us reservations at one of his favorite restaurants, La Guardia. Great food and superb rooftop sunset views!
It was upstairs in this old building that used to be a very exclusive hotel back in the day.

So considerate, don’t you think?
The restrooms were different. Individual unisex enclosed stalls with this community sink!
Their rooftop deck and the spiral stairs to the upper deck.

This seat was kind of cool, a picture frame!
And the view from the second upper deck was awesome! That’s the capital building in the distance.
Other parties enjoying the sunset!

on to varadero……..