Thursday, January 12, 2017

Off to Cuba and Day 1

We have planned this trip for quite a while and booked with OAT Overseas Adventure Travel. We have travelled with this small group company already several times and have always been very happy. The trip is called: CUBA - A BRIDGE BETWEEN CULTURES
Here are things copied and pasted from their website:
Uncover the mystique of Cuba with Grand Circle Foundation on a journey that reveals Cuba’s complex history, natural beauty, and cultural riches in the most authentic way possible—through its people. Interact and engage with a variety of artists and writers, fishermen and farmers, and Cubans from all walks of life as you stroll the colonial streets of Old Havana, experience Afro-Cuban rumba rhythms of Cienfuegos, and discover the colonial gem of Trinidad. Toss aside any preconceived notions you may have of Cuba—and prepare to be enthralled by the welcoming spirit of the Cuban people and the unforgettable experiences that await you.


OAT Itinerary:
  • Day 1: Arrive MiamiAccommodations: Sheraton Miami Airport HotelAfter arriving in Miami today and transferring to your hotel, meet with members of your group for a Welcome Briefing and what to expect for your charter flight to Havana tomorrow (Please note: No meals are included while you are in Miami).





Monday January 9, 2017

Ben came promptly at 8 am to bring us to the airport. It was VERY VERY cold but the sun was shining and the sky was blue and the traffic not impossible. Thank you Ben.

We were checked in and through security in no time. A coffee would be nice. Neither one of us likes the taste of Starbucks so next door had to do.


Too much time? I was reminded though why I try to get sausage muffins (and not sausage biscuits) if I can.


In the plane on time.


Tried that selfie again.


Today is monthly lace meeting in Williamsburg. Thinking of you, my friends. But tatting is what I can do here. No scissors though in the plane to finish it off.


BNA to IAH and IAH to MIA, both flights on time and then the hotel shuttle to the Sheraton for two nights. One night is included in the trip but everybody was encouraged to come a day earlier since we all (20) come from all over the US. At check-in they linked the reservations and we don't have to move.

Half an hour until "happy hour" is over.


Seemed like finally our vacation started. We started to relax. 50% off a cocktail is not bad. We each had a caipirinha. The bartender was disappointed that we didn't like it with pineapple juice and made us a second one each how we knew it from Brazil. He was very excited that we were going to Cuba because that is where he is from. He said that everybody says that they loved it when they come back.
Sitting there we have fun trying to guess who else might have come early and be in our group.
The back of the hotel looks over a golf course. Good thing there is a fence because from there we see a sign: beware of the poisonous snakes and alligators. Oh really?


Back in the room I want to use James' gadget to bring photos over to my iPad for my first blog ... not signing on to the Internet since we were told there might not be any in Cuba. I had tried it out in Nashville and it had worked. Can't get it to work here. We tried til 1 am. Using the internet now but are worried for Cuba. Oh well.


Tuesday January 10

A good night sleep is always a blessing. Today is a strange day though because there is nothing on the agenda until 6:30 pm when we meet the group and are briefed. We didn't have a day like that in a long time.
Here is a picture of last night's fence from the 8th floor.


We can make hot tea and coffee in the room and we actually had a banana for James and some stollen in the backpack. We decide to walk across the street and take the Sky Train to the airport to take care of something. We are quite impressed with the airport and the public transportation. I think this is actually called "MIA Mover". On the way back I took a picture of our hotel.


We decided to keep walking past the hotel and the golf course to a little shopping area we found on the Maps App on our iPhones. It had a Walgreens which was not "on a corner of happy and healthy". It also had a Kmart. In both we found what we were looking for. It was interesting because the sales people hardly spoke English and one didn't understand me and had to get a translator. Sigh.


Lunchtime! Not far across the street was Don Camaron Seafood Restaurant and Market, not a chain but very local how we like it. We enjoyed it very much. Caesar salad with grilled shrimp. 2 for 1 beer from the tap.



Why not? We walked about 5 miles today. Postre! James didn't think he wanted any but I wanted the Crema Catalana. James changed his mind and had a Bahama Mama. Both were "from scratch" and very worth the calories especially with those coffee con leche. Yummy!


Back at the hotel we had several hours to relax. James even took some reading down to the pool area. At 6:30 pm we were supposed to be in a certain conference room on the Mezzanine level. So we went short before that for happy hour. Many more people this time. There were several groups going to Cuba and people looked around guessing. We sat next to a couple at the bar and sure enough they were from our group.
The orientation was very interesting and detailed. We even had to fill out some forms. But for dinner tonight we were still on our own. James and I didn't feel like going out again and we didn't want much anyway. We ended up in the bar area were they had also tables and that same couple (Al and Ellen) joined us.

James had an individual margarita pizza and I had the seared tuna on greens with pickled ginger. It was excellent and not too much.


And now it's night night because the alarm will ring early tomorrow morning.

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