Saturday, January 12, 2008

Havana, Cuba -- A Must See!

While we were in Cuba, we decided to check out the capital city, Havana. We booked our day trip to Havana through our Sunquest rep at the hotel, and we paid $125 CUB each for this excursion. For that we had a brand new tour bus take us to Havana from Varadero. We had a tour around the city, stopping at the International building to take pictures of the bustling sights, people and wonderful architecture that makes up this city. We stopped for lunch at a nice spot and that was included as well. It was a typical meal that you would receive at any hotel, and yes, the food in Cuba is somewhat on the boring side, but you have to consider you're in a third world country, and if you're going on a trip with the main purpose of what you'll be eating, then I suggest you go elsewhere in the world.

After lunch we carried on to Old Havana for a 45 minute walking tour, that was very informative by our guide. We were able to wander around on our own there for another hour afterwards, where we took in a mariachi band, and soaked in the sights. From there, at 5pm, we were whisked off to the Habana Libre, which was initially the Havana Hilton. We were divided into 3 groups; 2 of 8 and 1 of 7, and given a room for each group with a key for each person, where we could freshen up with a shower and get changed to our evening clothes. Also included was the buffet dinner and one drink for everyone of us. The buffet at this hotel was far superior to the buffet at our hotel in Varadero, and we really enjoyed it.

At 9 pm our bus picked us up at the hotel and we headed for the Tropicana. It was so exciting pulling up to this famous cabaret, and walking in to the wonderful courtyard area where the show is performed. Upon entry to the courtyard, each woman was handed a flower, and each man a cigar. Our seats were very good, in the third level up. I wouldn't want front row seats, as we saw another cabaret show at our own hotel the next day, and were in the front row. My personal opinion is that it is too close to take in the whole setting with one focus.

I had been reading a bunch of reviews online about this club, and found that people were pissed off at having to pay to use their camera during the show. I readily paid the extra $5. CUB to take pictures, and I don't think it's unreasonable for them to charge for this entitlement at all. How many shows have you been to where cameras are strictly prohibited? I know I have been to many, and I'm not that worldly at all. $15. CUB to take a video camera, and again, I don't think that's unreasonable either.

We were given one bottle of rum per four people, along with a can of coke and our table of eight shared a very large bucket of ice that certainly left no shortage for any of us. As well, we were each given a glass of sparkling wine, and a small personal plate of hor d'oeuvres, which we weren't hungry for from our lovely dinner at the hotel.

The 2 hour show was very colorful, and we found it extremely entertaining. Again, in the reviews I had read, people were bitching because there was only 30-40 girls onstage, and not the 100 that they were led to believe they would see. I didn't take the time to count the girls, but that wasn't something that was important to me. I don't see why it would be something that would require a certain number of girls in order to qualify as a good show. I do know that there were many of them on the stage, and in other areas of the courtyard, but how many exactly, who really cares?! I thought the costumes were very nice, and for all those people that left reviews about the old outdated costumes, they need to give their head a shake. Again, it's a third world country, where supplies are harder to get, and these costumes are used over and over for the shows, so there is bound to be some wear and tear on them, and I'd like to see what their shoes would look like after dancing a couple months like these dancers do. Scuffed up? Have you seen a ballerina's shoes close up? I think complaining like that is just petty and well, downright ridiculous! And where the repetition of the acts comes in, I don't get where they're coming from. There was definitely a variety of acts in the show, but if you think the butt shaking and parading around that these beautiful Cuban women do is supposed to look different with each number, then you just don't get it, period. Each act was unique to itself, but may have contained some of the same steps in the course of that act. I thought the choreography was great, and full of energy to keep the audience in awe.

Here's a small video from the show...

Our bus ride home, although late, was bustling with the satisfaction of money well spent for day we'll never forget! Once on the highway back to Varadero though, we all tried to catch a few zzz's for the rest of the journey.


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