Kitesurfing in the Cayos

There were lots of kitesurfing efficionados in the water in Cayo Guillermo and Cayo Coco. The weather is perfect for this, as there is always a bit of a breeze, and some days are quite windy. Many travel to and from here, and some resorts allow it, some don’t. I am attaching a link for all  you need to know about this, as there are different rates, and restrictions.

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http://www.cayoguillermocuba.net/kitesurf.html

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Resort Review: Melia Cayo Guillermo

This was my first solo vacation south. I wasn’t planning on going alone, but my travel partner was unable to go, so I ventured forth by myself. I was in need of a relaxing vacation, and I got exactly what I went for. Let me tell you about it.

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The Melia Cayo Guillermo, is located in Cayo Guillermo, Cuba. It is a very small island with only a handful or resorts on it. You fly into Cayo Coco, and travel by bus, about 45 minutes. The check-in took a little time, but when you arrive you are greeted by hostesses and a tropical drink, or two. The lobby is beautiful, and expansive, with lots of seating, and 2 big double swings to sit on by the lounging area and the coffee bar.

There is also a cigar lounge by the lobby, we well, small tables and benches to sit anytime you want to just chill. A water pond is in the middle of the lobby with lots of couches to sit and drink your coffee, or use wifi.

The rooms were a bit dated, but very clean, and big. There was a hallway, a bathroom, and a closet complete with iron, ironing board, and 2 umbrellas. Also lots of shelving with a safe, and extra pillows and blankets. And a refrigerator. As a Distinction Club member, (which costs an extra $30, and is worth every penny), there is a free bottle of rum by the frig, lots of water, and two warm housecoats for those nights when you’ve had too much sun, and your body gets chilled). There is also a sink with large countertop outside the bathroom, with a large mirror. Great place to put on makeup (two-sided makeup mirror pulls out from the wall). Plug for hair appliances is there as well. Tip: Bring a small and a large sink and tub stopper; available at the dollar store. The other ones don’t work well, and they are invaluable when travelling south.

I apologize for the quality of the room photos; they were a bit yellow. I took them at night when I arrived, and didn’t remember to take any for the rest of the trip. Was having too much fun I guess.

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The buffet restaurant was great. It was very large, with plenty of seating, and the food was very good. Of course, there’s always a line for the omelets in the morning, and the freshly cooked meats at lunch and dinner, but always a good selection. Sometimes you had to search for a plate, but it seemed like when you turned around, there was a new batch coming out of the kitchen. Plenty of salad fixings to make whatever you wanted, lots of sauces, and plenty of breads and rolls of all kinds. The only thing I couldn’t find was mashed potatoes, but hey, there’s lots of other things to keep you fed. Btw, there were potatoes, just not mashed.

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There is also a beach grill which has fantastic food, if you don’t want to go all the way to the buffet for lunch. You are served from a menu, and I had the roast chicken. It was very good. And the ice cream is good also. Don’t leave that out. Then when you head outside, just turn to the left and head to the beach bar to fill up your cup before you step food on the sand.

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The beach is immense with lots of room to walk, play ball, catch, frisbee or whatever your heart desires. Why, you could even draw a huge heart in the sand thats as big as a car, and there’d still be room enough to walk by! In the morning, chairs are at a premium, but in the afternoon you shouldn’t have a problem finding one. When you do get one, make sure you mark it with your towel. Some were coming in the early morning hours to get their favorite spots. Tip: Take industrial clamps to use to keep your towel on your chair. Keeps them nice and neat; and is especially helpful on windy days. You can get them at the dollar store and they don’t weigh a lot in a suitcase.

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As far as the nightlife is concerned, I didn’t attend any of it because I was there by myself, however, I did talk to others and they said it was very good. They did have an aqua show, an International Night, an 80’s night, and a Cuban night. They also had a beach barbeque one day while I was there. A band played and danced all the way past the pool to the barbeque, so I followed, and I will say it was fantastic food! And there was entertainment. Great day and lots of fun.

There is also a plaza market only a bus ride away and it has everything you’d want to buy for gifts or souvenirs. The bus fare is 5 pesos, and you can ride both of the islands Cayo Guillermo, and Cayo Coco. It does stop at all the resorts, the Dolpinarium, and Pilar Beach.

While at the resort pool, which was very nice, there was a guy who came everyday and did pencil sketches for you. It was 20 pesos and you could give him a picture, or show him your phone. I left my phone with him for about 2 hours, and he sketched my dog Coco. It was amazing. He is an unbelieveable artist. I would definitely get this done. If anyone knows his name, I’d like to give him the promo on here, so please post in the comment section if you know.

In short, it was a great place to go, and I will definitely go back. They are very friendly and caring: case in point: I did fall sick for one day and spent the day in bed. The maid came in and brought me an extra towel and water. I didn’t go to supper as I still didn’t feel well, but I did go to the shop and try and buy tylenol. He didn’t have any but did give me his own aspirin from his briefcase, no charge. I received a phone call at 12:10AM. Of course, I thought the worst, as you always do when someone calls you while on vacation. But, it was the resort Doctor. She said people were concerned about me and wanted to make sure I was ok. I was totally impressed. I did check in with her the next morning, and thanked her very much for caring.

I would not hesitate to book this hotel again, and will definitely return; maybe even next year. Loved it.

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A couple of things you need to know: The Distinction Club claims that you get free Wifi for an hour each day, but this was not true. You still have to pay for an internet card, and the wifi doesn’t always work that well; but, seriously; you’re on vacation. Put down the phone and just enjoy yourself. This wouldn’t stop me from taking the Distinction Club again. It was worth it.  Also, the website is slightly out of date. It shows hanging water hammocks, which they have taken down awhile ago, but it doesn’t matter. Plenty of space and palapas on the beach. Plus, they do not have yoga and meditation; but they do have stretching on the beach at 10am each morning, as well as salsa lessons by the pool and water exercise classes around noon each day. So, lots to do. And volleyball on the beach. Massages too; don’t forget that. You get a special price of $35 pesos for an hour and its totally worth it!

 

 

 

Travelling Solo; Should You?

A few weeks ago, I had a trip booked with a friend when the unexpected happened. My friend became ill, and was advised not to fly. Without the comfort of cancellation insurance, which I never purchase (i’ll get into that later), I was forced to either cancel my trip and lose my money, or go alone.

I thought about my options, and I’m not one to fork out money and get nothing in return, so it was a fairly easy decision for me. Go. But alone? I’ll admit I was a little trepidatious, to say the least, for a few days before the trip. But thankfully, since it was just 5 days prior to leaving, I really didn’t have a lot of time to mull it over.

I repacked my suitcase, taking out all the fancy dresses for evening, because, lets face it, I wasn’t going to need them. It was just me, relaxing and reading for a week. So, afoot and lighthearted I set out on the open road. I knew that travelling alone in Cuba would be completely safe, so I wasn’t terribly concerned; and I was at a resort with lots of other people, and not in a city alone.

The long and short of it is this: do it. It turned out to be one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. It was the most relaxing. I did what I wanted when I wanted. I ate when I was hungry, and I went to bed early and fell asleep when I was tired. I met lots of people whom I talked to for a short time each day, established a routine with others, and never pushed myself on others’ vacation but really felt like I wasn’t alone.

If you have the chance to do this, don’t overthink it. Just go for it and don’t look back. It just might turn out to be a dream vacation.

I don’t buy cancellation insurance because I don’t plan on cancelling. I’m going for a reason. Full stop.

Tip #1:  Remember your journal so that you can document each day and how you felt. That helps immensely.

Tip #2:  Take an empowering book to read. My preference this time was “You’re a Badass”.  I read the whole thing in 4 days, and it was amazing. While reading, I met a lady who commented on the book, said she had read it and that “Girl Boss” was as equally a fantastic read. That will be my book for next year!

Find the book here on Amazon

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New York, New York

All hail New York!  What a place!  If you want to feel like a cog in the wheel of life, go to New York City and become one of a million tiny pieces of the puzzle that is life in NY.

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The above photo is the water feature in Columbus Circle at night. Surrounding it are about 4 entryways of traffic, or more, I forget. I just remember it was a stunning thing to see right in the middle of a concrete city. And its next to Central Park, another amazing piece of greenery and spendor in the middle of all that grey.

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Central Park is so big, I didn’t even get to see it all. I could easily go back and see a different part each day, and still not see these places that I’ve already been to. Its hard to believe that you can be in the middle of the park, and it is so peaceful and quiet; and yet, outside the park is a caucophony of everything metal, human, and otherwise.

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The above picture was taken as I was sitting down for a rest after coming out of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; which, by the way, was the largest building I’ve ever been in in my life, and after 3 hours, I still didn’t get to even venture into the right side of the building. I started with the Roman Era, and didn’t even make it to the Midevil section. I was so tired, I had to save the rest for another time. When I went out, this great gang of guys was singing “My Girl”, and doing a fantastic job! One of the best things about New York City is that you can be anywhere, anytime, and you never know what kind of entertainment you’re going to see. It was awesome. And I loved it.

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One of the coolest things in the park was this bubble guy! The biggest bubbles you’ve ever seen. I had a hard time walking away from this guy. It was mesmermizing to watch the colors and shapes, and quite relaxing too.

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I’ll leave you with this final thought. I didn’t know if I would go to the 911 Memorial, but I did decide to go. I waited in line and through security checks for over an hour. It was a fairly cloudy day with a little rain at times, and rather sad. When we got inside, there were plenty of people meandering about. We walked over to one of the memorials and as I was standing there, there was a woman standing in the same spot. Her hand was gently running over one name on the memorial. I watched her stare at the name, and thought, how said it must be to have to come to this place to visit the loved one you’d lost. My heart goes out to those who lost that day; may their loved ones be at peace, and may they find strength each day from a higher power.

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Saskatchewan Plus!

A few years ago I attended a National Talent Competition, put on by Exhibitions in Canada, with a group of teen dancers from our local Exhibition. We not only got to go to a wonderful talent competition, but also got to do some sightseeing. We went to the Western Development Museum, which was very impressive, including life-size real trains, artifacts, displays and so much more.

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We also went to Banff, which, I have to say, was the most beautiful place I think I’ve ever been. I remember driving in the bus and looking toward the mountains in the distance. I leaned over and said to the girl beside me “You know, I thought they’d be bigger”. She replied “Yeah, me too”. Then we drove another hour or more, and boy were we wrong. It was the most impressive display from Mother Nature. Absolutely beautiful. I was in awe, as was she. When we arrived in Banff, it was just such a quaint little town nestled in the mountains that towered above us.

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Photo Credit goes to Banff Adventures online, as I could not find a good photo like this from my files, and really wanted to show the beauty.

The shopping was fantastic, and we went to a restaurant that served us bison burgers; and boy were they good. So moist and juicy. Who would have thought.

 

Toronto Zoo

A great experience for those of all ages is the Toronto Zoo. We went to see the pandas, but got so much more!

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The wait in line for the pandas is extremely long, and when we did get in, one was sleeping and the other one was in a position that didn’t warrant a good picture; so you won’t find any great panda photos here, unfortunately. I see that now they have a “panda cam”, so you can watch them all the time.

There is plenty to see at the zoo. Lots of really cool caves to walk through and into. And you really need to keep your eyes open. You never know where you will find something interesting.

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There are many places to eat throughout the park but make sure you hit up the bank machine before you go. There are machines on the property but you’ll pay a higher fee for using them.

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Plan for at least a few hours to explore the zoo. It took us a few hours and I’m positive we really didn’t get to see it all, or spend time on things that we really enjoyed. We were kind of on a time schedule, and you really need the whole day. Make sure to pack a raincoat in a backpack. We got caught up in a downpour; luckily there was a little shack to duck into, but you never know where you’ll be when the skies open up.

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Evans Family Corn Maze

The largest corn maze in the valley is in Wilmot, NS. Evans Family Farm Market boasts a day of fun and frolic in their corn maze. It will confuse and delight even the most experienced mazers.

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My friend and I attended this the summer of 2016 and we had a great time. We were in for a total of over 2 hours, and were amazed at the work they must have put into this to make it work. We started off with a fresh apple, and headed in. Despite the confused look on others’ faces, we thought “how hard can it be”. Well, its hard.

We got lost a number of times. You could see where others had left a “trail”, but had eventually gone over the same patch of trail many times. The same thing was happening to us.

Throughout the maze, you look for clues and mailboxes, and get your stamp once you’ve reached a new checkpoint. We got almost all of them, but not all.

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We did eventually find the exit, but only by coincidence. This, however, meant that we missed some of the maze. By the time we got to the end, it was getting quite hot in the valley, and instead of staying in and completing the whole thing, we gave it up and walked out of the exit trail.

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At the end of the trail, there is a smaller maze set up outside for the little kiddies, and also a tractor train which will take you for a short ride, so we did that too. It was truly a great day of fun, and after we were finished, we bought all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables from the farm.

If you get a chance to do a road trip to the valley, this is something you really don’t want to miss.