Posts Tagged ‘Cuba’

The Last Burger !

July 3, 2012
Varadero, Cuba

Close your eye’s and pretend

This holiday could not be complete without one last visit to the burger bar, just off the beach as part of the resort where we were staying in Cuba.

Thankfully I discovered this little gem on the day we arrived and I am ashamed to admit it, pretty much everyday that we were here it was granted a visit …ok, I lie, one day I had a hot dog!

My tough ritual became… relax on a lounger just off the beach (under a canopy of sorts – I just sizzle in the sun), read a book, listen to all sorts of music thanks to Mr Shuffle on the iPod, go for a long walk (very necessary to walk off breakfast, justify the burger and feel better about the dinner buffet!) and then make my way to the little food hut, where a very nice man served hot dogs, burgers and an assortment of fruit.

After that it was back to the sun lounger for more music before heading back to change for the dinner buffet …maybe a drink at the bar before or after or both!

All of 10 paces from the food hut was the beach bar!!!! A full bar serving cocktails including anything with the local speciality rum, other exotic concoctions and of course beer.

Cuba Libre

If only …

The burger was washed down most days with a beer, unless I was feeling more exotic and had a Cuba Libre (rum and coke mainly)… A hard life!

So, the week at the resort is over, my place on the beach will be taken up by some other crew who will take their turn at stepping off their treadmill for a while.

For me it’s back to “real life“, work and all the other fabulous challenges that come our way, and that brief little escape is over until the next time.

All I can say is thank you Cuba, now for that burger ….

P.S. The chef thought I had lost my marbles asking him to pose for a photo with a burger (all for the blog) – he did earn a tip for his trouble, so he got over it!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Vacation & Waiting for the Big Idea!

June 3, 2012
Varadero Cuba

Big Idea …. where are you?

I know that whenever I get a break new ideas start coming to me.

The minute you step off that treadmill of “doing“, the minute you let your mind settle and unclutter those ideas come to you. It’s as if all the other “stuff” is a block that prevents that clear thinking that is needed to come up with those fresh ideas.

So what’s happening? … I’m here sitting on the beach in Varadero, Cuba, sipping on a Mojito listening to the waves roll in gently. I’m surrounded by holiday makers lying on the beach, some asleep, some reading, all of them relaxing. A few of the energetic ones are in the water and some are walking the fabulous beach in their bare feet.

I’ve been on holidays for nearly a week now , I’ve managed to unwind (at least I think so) pretty much fully so where are you?

Come on big idea , major insight, incredible revelation…. I’m waiting!!

Maybe the Big Idea is I need to take more breaks!!

If that big idea comes over the next few days, I’ll let you know!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fidel & 5 Bars!

May 30, 2012

Havana – Cuba

To my surprise when I fired up my mobile phone after landing in Havana airport in Cuba it registered 5 bars of reception!

Wow.. after hearing about how backward the country was and in particular, that things like communications systems were at a very basic level I was pleasantly surprised to see my mobile phone registering a network. A few texts that had been sent while on the 10 hour flight started coming through.

I tested the service by sending a text message and I received an instant response! – Maybe Cuba, isn’t the backward country that we had heard it was after all?

The truth is the country is very backward , dilapidated and the seemingly happy natives are denied choice as part of the Castro communist regime.

In the next few days we see the locals queuing for their ration allowance of basic food stuffs, we constantly get harassed by men and women trying to sell black market cigars and looking for you to buy basic products such baby milk.

We see the locals packed into big classic American cars from the fifties and old Ladas, motoring on main roads with huge pot holes and carefully navigating the city centre roads and lane ways which are predominantly pot holes!

We see gorgeous buildings in the capital in ruins with no inhabitants and even the old Presidents palace, which is now the Revolution museum is in a very poor state despite being a major tourist attraction.

Along the streets of Havana you will see well appointed hotels, bars and restaurants as well as very basic offerings. Shopping is a total non event with city centre stores showcasing their wares with the most basic of window displays , which is no surprise as they have the bare minimum to sell.

Along the busy narrow streets you will see lots of people just hanging around, people living inside narrow doorways, sitting on doorsteps. The most unusual sight was huge queues of locals waiting for their turn to get a few minutes in one of the internet cafes to briefly connect to the outside world.

Credit cards work practically nowhere except for the very best of hotels – as the shopping is a non event this doesn’t matter too much but the restaurants and bars just take cash. By the way your regular ATM card won’t work in the bank machines.

Music is a big part of life here with musicians at every corner and even when you sit down at an empty bar, out of nowhere musicians will appear (and quickly disappear once you have bought a CD or tipped them!).

In Havana there even is an Irish influence with O’Reilly Street and yes there is a popular O’Reilly bar selling Mojitos but no Guinness! Even early in the afternoon a band appeared and a caricaturist.

After a few days we headed out of the city to a resort near a town called Varadero , heading past a few small villages on the way. You could see the poor condition of the homes and the other buildings and the very simple life that exists in the country.

I kept looking at my mobile phone on the journey into the country and was amazed to see that reception never dropped to less than 4 bars. Unfortunately I learnt from my son by text that Liverpool FC had fired the legendary manager Kenny Dalglish.

I am writing this blog post from the hotel room and my phone is registering 4 bars reception. Not once since I have been in Cuba has reception dropped, has a call dropped or a message not got through.

As well as sharing a little tale about a fascinating country I am leading to a question about the lousy phone coverage in Ireland. I was chatting to a really nice couple from Dublin and the subject of phone coverage came up – the couple live in Templeogue, a typical busy suburb and Tony was telling me that at best he gets 2 bars of coverage at his house and calls frequently drop.

How is it that in our “sophisticated” economy the phone coverage is so lousy? On the motorway from Dublin to Cork and on the other main routes there are regular black spots where coverage totally drops … I have swapped from O2 to Vodafone out of total frustration expecting that coverage issues would resolve but in truth one is pretty much as bad as the other.

If Fidel can do it surely we can – 5 bars please!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Searching for the Authentic

May 26, 2012

Havana in CubaWe landed in Havana in Cuba and wanted to explore the nightlife, the real Havana … Not the typical “tourist ” offering but something genuine and authentic that the locals would enjoy …. Isn’t that what we are all looking for?

We see the tour guides in their branded polo shirts with their clip boards and we reject them, knowing you are just getting the “tourist” serving, the typical places who are all probably taking you to the spots that are expensive opposed to the genuine , authentic places. What’s more in some places you know they will probably get a few quid for bringing a group there.

So … Off we walk, avoiding the taxis , heading down a road to the “old town”.

In no time at all a friendly couple start chatting to us, asking about where we are from and generously telling us about their lives …. They seem to know we want the “genuine” experience and guide us to a little bar where and old musician is behind a keyboard, who was from the original Beuna Vista Social Club!

Before we can scratch we’ve bought two rounds of drinks , which for some reason ended up being more expensive than the five star hotel, we’ve bought a CD by this old codger and we’ve bought cigars (don’t smoke, never will!) ….. Hmmmm, a genuine “authentic” Cuban experience.

The following morning (after being conned again in the street by a young woman who didn’t want money for herself but wanted some help for her baby … All of this happened in just 10 minutes while we were simply trying to buy a bottle of water…long story !) we opt for a tour from the hotel with a tour guide, which was really great.

He did give us good tips about being conned by people on the street!

The big problem with searching for the “authentic” is that it is often so hard to find. Delivering it and packaging it properly in a way that people will recognise is that little bit of illusive magic that will keep us from being conned and deliver the best possible experience.

I must head out now to find an authentic Cuban restaurant, it’s probably out there but we’ll never find it!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion