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Posts from the ‘Travel’ Category

Hawaii Primer – More to Come

This is just a very short post to say we have not abandoned our blog and hope to catch up sometime soon. Hawaii was non stop action from we arrived in the Islands and we had little time to even download our pictures.  In Oahu we were given the royal treatment by friends, Janice & Tenny, who took days out of their lives to show us the “real Hawaii” which most tourists never see. Waikiki beach, although great, is not what Hawaii is about! We spent two days in Kauai and two & a half days on Big Island and then six days in Maui – & we arrived back home in Toronto at 7:05 am this morning.
An example of a typical day – leaving our hotel at 2:25 in the  morning for a two hour + drive to Haleakala in Maui to be awed by the amazing sunrise. It was very cold – 5 degrees celsius with a biting wind at the viewing centre. Most tourists took the blankets and towels from their hotels in an attempt to stay warm.  Winsome used her beach towel as a scarf!  We arrived at our viewing spot at an altitude of 9,740 feet just after 5 am to wait for the 6:04 am sunrise. It was worth the wait and on the plus side I now know I don’t need to spent a fortune on Hermes scarfs for Winsome – any old towel will do!
Hope to update you further with photos, etc. as soon as we get over our jet lag & hopefully before we leave for Jamaica on the 19th.

Havana

January 29th – 31st

Our vist to Havana was booked at the last minute in order to obtain availability at the Parque Central hotel in Old Havana which was very highly recommended to us.  The Parque Central is a beautiful old hotel managed by the Spanish hotel chain Iberostar and is very centrally located.

We left Grand Cayman on Sunday afternoon and returned on Tuesday afternoon, which we found to be sufficient time for our first visit to Havana. On Sunday night we went to see the Tropicana show which was about a twenty minute taxi ride from the hotel. The show was enjoyable.

Winsome and I were somewhat apprehensive about the trip as we had heard mixed reviews from a number of different people about the city and the food.  The transfers between the airport and hotel were flawless and we were always met on time. The hotel was beautiful and the room was very comfortable. The people were very helpful & friendly.

We spent a lot of time walking around Old Havana which we found very enjoyable.  The cobblestone streets close to our hotel were very busy and crowded with vendors some of which were no more than a hole in the wall.

We also took an open air tour bus tour of the city which was interesting but most of the time we had no clue where we were or what building and monuments we were seeing as we could not understand the tour guide. To fill in the gaps we hired a taxi driver who drove us around again & was able to give us more insight into the attractions.

Seeing the old cars around Havana was amazing.  It is like you are in a time warp.  Many were in terrible shape but their owners somehow keep them running. We saw a number broken down on the street.  I wonder what will happen when Cuba is open to the USA , will the collectors try to take advantage of the locals and export the cars out of  Cuba.  It would be a shame!

A colleague from work, Rohit Sandhu who was vacationing in Varadero with cousins, Ranvir & Sam, and friends, Ray and Sarb, made a ‘road trip’ to Havana to see the sights.  Rohit and buddies arrived at our hotel at 10pm on Monday night and we spent a few very enjoyable hours in the lobby bar together.  It appeared that they had been having lots of fun & many late nights.  Oh, what it’s like to be young!!!!

Stingray City

A visit to Grand Cayman’s Stingray City is a must see for anyone visiting Grand Cayman. Stingray City is located in the shallow waters off the northwest corner of Grand Cayman’s North Sound. It is just inside a natural channel that passes through the reef and consists of a string of sandbars crossing the North Sound from Morgan Harbour to Rum Point.

The stingrays found at Stingray City are the southern stingray that can grow to a disc width of 6.5 ft and weigh up to 300 lb. Their diet is made up of  crabs, clams, shrimp, marine worms, and small fish. They have few natural predators other than the occasional hammerhead shark.

Winsome & I along with her brother Nigel and financee Renee went to Stingray City aboard one of  Captain Marvin’s boats. We have used them before and they provide an exceptional service. It’s about a twenty five minute boat ride from the dock to the sand bar.

At Stingray City you get close and personal with the stingrays. After a short briefing on how to interact with the stingrays you get off the boat on a sand bar in crystal clear water a bit deeper than your waist. Almost immediately, you are greeted by stingrays wanting to get fed.  They are velvet smooth and glide by you with grace and elegance. The mates on the boat will catch one and the passengers can take turns holding and kissing the stingrays. You may also feed the stingrays with squid that is provided on the boat.