Tropicana Club, Cuba

I figured out how to add videos! Better later than never! so this is older post updated.

We only had two days in Havana, Cuba – so we made the most of it – a day of everything, then an evening trip to the Tropicana Club.  I would describe it as an outdoor larger version of the “I Love Lucy” Show’s – Ricky Ricardo’s Club – which was also originally called Tropicana – then renamed Club Babalu.  David and I saw the Las Vegas review – Jubilee, and this show is superior, the dancers have a fire, the music is the over the top and beats Jubilee for me.

We took a bus on a 20min drive to the Tropicana, which had a huge entrance first with a Billboard show casing the Tropicana Club name and a dancing ballerina (club icon), then we drive down a tropical foliage filled drive to the entrance.

We stood in line a long line, but only for 5 mins to walk thru a lobby,  where a Tropicana show girl hands out a cigar to each man and a flower to each women.  There is a sign posted  – all must pay to take pictures inside the club, which we did (hence our photos and videos), but we saw no one else pay and no one was stopped from taking photos, so if you skipped this fee, I don’t believe there would be any trouble for you.  We then huddle into what we assumed would be an indoor theater, but instead we were walked outside to a lush outdoor garden amphitheater style venue, with elaborate overhead lighting.

20180409_210352

This picture does this location no justice.  It is a 180 degree theatre, with a waterfall dancing stage to our far left, a main stage for singers directly ahead, a mini dance bridge in between.  To our right was a three level tower of dancers and in between the main stage and this tower was a hidden full orchestra.

20180409_220304

This picture also does this club a small justice there is stages to the left and right.

The girls and the costumes are incredible.  There were tall statues of art with about 12  costume changes that each were more over the top than the previous, we saw bikini (no nudity) wearing model ladies, with fruit baskets 3 feet tall on their head, they wore chandeliers on their heads, they danced in the 80 degree night heat like it was nothing.

20180409_233913_007

There were acrobats and singers and non stop Mambo, cha cha cha rhythms action for the entire 1 hour 45 min show.

20180409_213746

You get an entire bottle of rum (and a big bottle, larger than a fifth) to split with four people at your table, each person gets a tiny glass bottle of Coca-cola along with a bucket of ice.  So of course we drank most of it in the flaming heat, which made our bus drive home a boisterous spectacle to our bus mates, we laughed so hard, I think we had everyone else laughing too.  I highly recommend the Tropicana Club for the Havana experience!  We sat at the back, and I would have paid the extra $30/ dollars for a middle closer seat, but the front section is not necessary – all views are amazing.

20180409_225611

Cruise to Cuba

After weeks of looking for a trip that we could take together (no kids) during the time our youngest would be on spring break (and could go to his mothers) we finally found a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico – Grand Cayman  – and two days in Havana, Cuba.  It is a Holland America Cruise, smaller older ship.  But the cost total for seven days and a day before stay in Fort Lauderdale is under $2100.  We searched Travelzoo, Travelocity, Groupon, Cruise.com and finally found a trip that meets all our criteria.  Whew, a lot and I mean a lot of looking (months of looking) our deal was on Cruise.com, but cheaper directly thru the Holland America site (like $150 each cheaper).    Now just to dream and figure out excursions, hopefully loose a few pounds and buy a nice outfit.

Disney for Two

David and I just returned from Disney today, What a fun time.  Two and a half days alone with my husband, what a treat!

Yes, we were just in Disney in July, but that was with four kids, which had its drama and I was exhausted at the end of the trip.

Florida this October weekend was cooler, and actually invigorating.

We stayed at the time share – Summers Bay, which is a timeshare my husband has from way back.  We went down for an owners meeting, that turned out to be a sales pitch.  We did not let that stop our good time, and it was interesting to hear their offers.  They start with a deal for $11,600 upgrade, then only $8,000 for a lesser version, then $4000, then $3000.   I learned alot, so my time did not feel wasted, but don’t think I will be sitting thru one of those again soon.

The rest of the weekend was wonderful.  Sharing some pictures of us at Universal City Walk, we also enjoyed an afternoon at Disney Springs (used to be Downtown Disney).

Ok, so reviewing the images, I realize, we  saw the blue man group show, and then mostly ate.

We stopped at the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium at Universal City Walk … they specialize in milkshakes, wow they looked amazing, the table behind us was a birthday party and they had one each.  We saw them making a potted chocolate cream, which was a pot of what looked like hot fudge – super decadent.  We had the chocolate bread, a peanut butter candy, baked apple macaroon, and a savory chili Brussels sprout dish to counter all the desserts.  I LOVED this place.  Steam punk meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

2017101495141433

On Saturday we took a break from eating and cooled down in Disney Springs, Jock Lindsays Hanger Bar.  The cool headed monkey was so lite and refreshing, I want one right now.

 

We also had a quick snack at Universals City Walk – Camacho Cantina.  The corn pudding in the enchilada was so moist and delicious.   I was just starting to enjoy the mariachi band, when the finished up for the nite.

20171015_210748

 

The nite before we went to Joes Crab Shack and David ate all he could. 20171013_213207

We were back home Monday early and we really just love these little escapes.  I forget sometimes just how much I love being with David, and then I Also feel guilty for wanting him all to myself, he is also a wonderful Father and sharing him when were home is important to me, but damn I love all this alone time.

Next alone trip…. Chicago in November for RSNA – Radiological Society of North America.

Sandos Eco Resort, Cancun Mexico

We decided to start rating the locations we visit on our travels.  Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as the best experience we could ever imagine.  The Sandos Eco Resort, in Cancun Mexico is a great family all inclusive.   We spent 7 days at this resort, and never ran out of things to do.   We are giving the resort an 7.5.

IMG_20170406_131419330_HDR[1]

IMG_20170406_130624699_HDR[1]

Our favorite dining locations were the surf and turf, Los Lirios, with the best filet I can remember eating in a long time, and the potato soufflé was also very tasty.  The Japanese Teppanyaki (table top cooking style) Steakhouse, El Templo, was a fun nite, but you will need a +5day ahead reservation, so do that when you book your trip.  We also really loved the Brazilian Steakhouse, Fogo De Brazil.  All of these are on site and included.  The two buffets, International and Italian, both were OK, but there was a large choice of food, and almost always open for a quick snack.   All of the dessert at the site we just above OK,  mostly dry cakes and the lower end of flavors.

IMG_20170404_191627991[1]

By far the best part of the resort, and the entire reason our daughter choose this specific location was – the animals on site.  This trip was for our twin daughter we are graduating high school, they wanted the beach, the Caribbean and site with lots of animals.  The Sandos.com website showed us quite a few animals and the location delivered.   There were rabbits, donkeys, dear, peacocks, sheep, pigs, monkeys, tapirs, coati, dogs and lots of stray iguanas and cats.  Animals were noted on signs as rescues and site animals are spayed or neutered and fed everyday, there areas were very clean and you could sign up to be an animal caretaker and feed them at lunch time.  There are signs not to feed the animals, but my daughters did feed them – a lot, and even though they look skinny they looked happy and would stop eating when full.

Baby Deer

IMG_20170408_094113200[1].jpg

There was plenty to do, and ALOT of walking.  We were in the furthest location from the beach, our daily location of choice, so much walking I have the blisters to show it.   There are bicycles to borrow, but we never used them.  There are several pools, including an adult pool by our rooms, a mini water park with quite a few water slides and a big sized kids pool.  We spent most of our time at the beach which honestly it was way too rough to actually swim safely.  This for my husband was the biggest turn off of the resort – he loves the ocean and it was unsafe to swim.   We did really enjoyed the man made cenotes for swimming, these were cool, and it was hot.  There were fish and turtles and quite a bit of algae in these cenotes, so not for everyone, but we loved it.

The nite time shows were actually great.  The Sunday Fire show at the onsite Mayan ruins were just incredible.  We recommend you go to all of the variety of ancient Mayan culture shows.  There was also a Freddy Jackson Tribute show, a Disney Princess show and a super hero show at the Theater – which were cute, but don’t worry if you miss them, save your show time for the culture shows in our opinion.

Our rooms were very clean, and huge, and the best part, there was really cold air conditioning, which is important, because the days were SUPER hot and it was so nice to sleep in the cool.

IMG_20170408_105735610_HDR[1]

So, would we go back, yes.  But we are the type of family who likes to see what is next, so maybe after many other visits to many other places.  Next blog, pictures of the beauty of the resort.

IMG_20170409_110857124_HDR[1]

 

Reykjavik, Iceland Trip

Volcano
Volcano Visit My favorite part of the trip, other than getting David to myself for fours days was the Golden Circle stop at the Volcano, Kerio.  It was POURING sleet and so windy I was cautious not to fall down into the volcano.   I am more of an inside type of girl, but I just loved this, I wish we could have walked down the stairs to the crater, but we only have a 15min window.  I read in the summer you can swim in this crater, and it looked so beautiful I pictured myself summer swimming even in this ice storm.

20170123_160005

We were just in Reykjavik, Iceland, enjoying our 4 day trip, I wrote a lot of this post from the airport awaiting our flight to JFK New York airport.

Since we had the hardest time figuring out how to pronounce Reykjavik, /ˈrā-kyə-ˌvik, -ˌvēk/  (Ray-clay-vick).  We heard about 4 different pronunciations prior to arriving but only one when there in Iceland.

There was a lot of expected and unexpected adventure.  The expected that came true:

  • It was raining, sleeting, snowing, overcast everyday.
  • The outside in January 2017 was as cold as in Detroit, MI.  30-40 degrees each day.
  • The seafood was very fresh and tasty. So we ate as much as possible.
  • There was so much to see and do the 4 days was not enough.  The Golden circle tour was overwhelming beautiful.
  • We loved every minute of it & would go again for longer, but after we travel many other places first.
  • Our tour group thru Gate One was Great, we heard from others they do a wonderful Peru trip as well.

The unexpected and what we saw:

  • The inside of all buildings were very warm/hot – this was due to the almost free geothermic (Volcanic) heat on the island.  We were told the average household could be heated and provided  as much hot water as they want for only $100 per month, so they crank the heat. So bring layers so you can take them off to prevent you from overheating inside.
  • Our dream trip to the Blue Lagoon was a fail, it was booked everyday we were there until after 7pm/dark (booking ahead would have been smart). So we didn’t give up and instead traveled  to the secret lagoon.  The secret lagoon, was much smaller with only about 25people visitors during our visit.  We booked  our tour for ~$90 US/person the night before in our hotel lobby, the next morning a van picked us up from our hotel and they drove thru sleet, 1hr 20mins to the lagoon, for a 2hr dip.  We loved this, and could have gone everyday, if it were closer.  The lagoon water was so hot near the edges it felt like we were starting to cook, but in the middle it was extremely relaxing.  We loved the apple and pear alcoholic beverages, we recommend buying these before changing.  David walked the pathway surrounding the lagoon, he said it was very slick so I stayed put.  We cannot compare this to the Blue Lagoon, but everyone in our Gate One travel group did say they thought it sounded better, and the Blue Lagoon was super touristy.

20170122_143140

20170122_143134

20170122_142428

20170122_142241

20170122_142150

20170122_142146

20170122_142144

20170122_142039

20170122_141758

  • While we did read the food was very expensive, it was still way over what we were expecting.  A small bag of chips from the local market was $5 US, a single soda was $5 US, a bowl of soup was $10 US, and  a sit down dinner anywhere with one alcoholic beverage each was at least $200 US.  Alcohol was about $7-22 US per drink, with most single drinks or a glass of house wine in the $11 US range. We wish we would have stopped at duty free and got a single bottle of liquor, and drank before we went out.  You can purchase an entire bottle at duty free for the price of a single drink in town.   We did pack snacks and ate them on the excursions, we were glad to have them.  We did have a Hot Dog House, plain hot dog for $4.70 US, which was extremely tasty.

20170123_193819

img_20170123_1915549181

img_20170123_1858297951

img_20170123_1343017561

20170122_175607

img_20170122_1851589651

img_20170122_1907467311

img_20170123_2027317861

20170121_190003

img_20170121_1820153721

img_20170121_1636242971

20170122_223125

img_20170121_1430223121

img_20170121_1430133891

20170122_212148

20170122_205657

20170122_195033

20170122_193218

20170123_194137

  • We stayed at Hotel Klettur in downtown.  It was clean, respectful, nice, with small minimal rooms – but who cared, we were out all day, and slept at night.  They had all the amenities we needed and a free breakfast buffet.  It did take us about 10mins to figure out how to turn work the room lights.  Turns out you have stick you room key (or other ccard) in the slot next to the door above the light switch.  Also if you take this out when you leave, your left behind electronics will not charge.

  • We did see the Northern lights, but they were not spectacular, in fact it just looked like a green smoke cloud and we only saw them for maybe 1-5minutes.  We were told when booking the package that you might not see the Northern lights so we felt lucky to get one good photo below.  We drove from site to site for over 5 hrs at this first site below, we visited a church (in the pouring rain of course), and I took these pictures, because we saw no northern lights at this location, but thought it was pretty.

dsc_0139

    • NOTE***  You will never get a picture of the northern lights with your cell phone, you need a higher end camera with a 30second time set, and a stand.  Your in a field in the dark, there will be no where to prop your camera, you need the stand.


We also visited the Hallgrímskirkja  a Lutheran parish and largest church on the hill in Reykjavik, Iceland.  The church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrimur Petursson (1614-1674).   My boss said I had to go, because he had been to Iceland twice and both times it was under construction and he could not see it – it was part of our Gate One downtown tour, but I took these pictures for my boss, Ray Carlson.   It reminded me of a smaller version of Gaudi’s church in Barcelona, Spain – BUT, all while no color.

Icelandic Horse. Short – Stout – Hardy Breeds – But they would have to be in this weather.
  • We visited an Icelandic Horse Farm Tour. It had a short presentation with time to pet the horses.  I really enjoyed this, especially since it was POURING sleet outside, and we were inside. We learned the Vikings brought over the best horses they had and to this day any new horses are forbidden to be imported to Iceland to preserve the purity of this breed.   David thought it was OK, he was more interested in the landscape viewing, which was still to come.
Icelandic Horses roam free all year, heading to the Mountains in the Spring and returning back to the plains in the Fall.

Because I could go on for more than any one person would want to read.  I included a few more pictures with captions to explain the beauty and awesome of Iceland.  So we would recommend you visiting for sure.  I did want to note, to visit most of the best of nature – you will have to first take a long bus ride, then walk – up hills, down stairs, often longer distances and in the extreme Iceland weather.  Many of our tour group decided to skip most of the tour – they were not interested in walking, or leaving the vehicle, for anything other than a quick looksee, then straight to the food area of the stop.  Therefore I recommend you go to Iceland before you cannot, why fly so far for a bus ride to a periphery view.   

Hot Springs
Driving to Horse farm view. – Pretty much most of the island view, notice no trees.
Every view in Iceland, notice the blur of the sleet hitting us from every direction.
Hot Springs – we were warned not to step to close, as these are severe burn hazards.
Bay in Town, with mountain view.
View at the top of the continental divide walk.

Reykjavik, Iceland Trip

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

We were just in Reykjavik, Iceland, enjoying our 4 day trip, I wrote a lot of this post from the airport awaiting our flight to JFK New York airport.

Since we had the hardest time figuring out how to pronounce Reykjavik, /ˈrā-kyə-ˌvik, -ˌvēk/  (Ray-clay-vick).  We heard about 4 different pronunciations prior to arriving but only one when there in Iceland.

There was a lot of expected and unexpected adventure.  The expected that came true:

  • It was raining, sleeting, snowing, overcast everyday.
  • The outside in January 2017 was as cold as in Detroit, MI.  30-40degrees each day.
  • The seafood was very fresh and tasty. So we ate as much as possible.
  • There was so much to see and do the 4 days was not enough.  The Golden circle tour was overwhelming beautiful.
  • We loved every minute of it & would go again for longer, but after we travel many other places first.
  • Our tour group thru Gate One was Great, we heard from others they do a wonderful Peru trip as well.

The unexpected and what we saw:

  • The inside of all buildings were very warm/hot – this was due to the almost free geothermic (Volcanic) heat on the island.  We were told the average household could be heated and provided  as much hot water as they want for only $100 per month, so they crank the heat. So bring layers so you can take them off to prevent you from overheating inside.
  • Our dream trip to the Blue Lagoon was a fail, it was booked everyday we were there until after 7pm/dark (booking ahead would have been smart). So we didn’t give up and instead traveled  to the secret lagoon.  The secret lagoon, was much smaller with only about 25people visitors during our visit.  We booked  our tour for ~$90 US/person the night before in our hotel lobby, the next morning a van picked us up from our hotel and they drove thru sleet, 1hr 20mins to the lagoon, for a 2hr dip.  We loved this, and could have gone everyday, if it were closer.  The lagoon water was so hot near the edges it felt like we were starting to cook, but in the middle it was extremely relaxing.  We loved the apple and pear alcoholic beverages, we recommend buying these before changing.  David walked the pathway surrounding the lagoon, he said it was very slick so I stayed put.  We cannot compare this to the Blue Lagoon, but everyone in our Gate One travel group did say they thought it sounded better, and the Blue Lagoon was super touristy.

20170122_143140
The Secret Lagoon in Hvammsvegur – 845 Flúðir

20170122_143134
The Secret Lagoon, the brochure said: Secret Lagoon natural hot springs are located in the small village called Fludir and are in the Golden Circle area. We have kept it natural and unique for our guests so they can get the true Icelandic feeling. The pool’s natural surroundings and steam rising into the air gives the place a magical feeling.

20170122_142428
We took our phone in the lagoon and took a few pictures

20170122_142241

20170122_142150
Around the Secret Lagoon you find several hot spots.A walking path is built for our guests so they can have a closer look at the boiling, spouting hot springs

20170122_142146

20170122_142144
Notice the pathway around the lagoon, slippery when wet (always wet)

20170122_142039
They definetly promote drinking in the springs.

20170122_141758
+4% alcohol apple drink

  • While we did read the food was very expensive, it was still way over what we were expecting.  A small bag of chips from the local market was $5 US, a single soda was $5 US, a bowl of soup was $10 US, and  a sit down dinner anywhere with one alcoholic beverage each was at least $200 US.  Alcohol was about $7-22 US per drink, with most single drinks or a glass of house wine in the $11 US range. We wish we would have stopped at duty free and got a single bottle of liquor, and drank before we went out.  You can purchase an entire bottle at duty free for the price of a single drink in town.   We did pack snacks and ate them on the excursions, we were glad to have them.  We did have a Hot Dog House, plain hot dog for $4.70 US, which was extremely tasty.

20170123_193819
Seabaron Fish Store. A very little dive restaurant downtown Reykjavik. The food was so tasty, you look at the food in the cooler, and order. I messed up and ordered WAY too much, I thought the Loster was with fish meat also, but it was Lobster soup with a plate. Also the place while had great food, looked like someone house not an eatery. We sat at long skinny table right next to others

img_20170123_1915549181
Kabob Dinner at the SeaBaron

img_20170123_1858297951
Lobster Bisque, so good.

img_20170123_1343017561
Lunch at the Geyser Restaurant,

20170122_175607
We had dinner here, but had to make reservations to get in the night before. This place had a 3 course meal for ~$

img_20170122_1851589651
Fish Stew at Old Iceland Restaurant. Chunks of fish, white wine, a so creamy shellfish soup. This was so warming and tasty. Kr 2890 in Icelandic prices ~ $27US.

img_20170122_1907467311
Dessert at the Iceland House, A brownie sundae, with fresh fruit, and some delicous brown butter sauce

img_20170123_2027317861
Hot Dog House $4.70US dog

20170121_190003

img_20170121_1820153721
We were hungry and A steakhouse sounded good at the Vinhushen Steakhouse, downtown Reykjavik. A meal of Mink Whale with gravy that was really good. The Mink whale $25US tasted like a tough steak. Glad I tried it., but dont need to eat it again. David had horse $30US, which tasted like tasty steak.

img_20170121_1636242971
Drinks – $11 US for a wine, $5 US for a bottle of pepsi. Expensive, but common prices

20170122_223125
The closest meal to our Hotel Klettur. Easy walking distance tasty food.

img_20170121_1430223121
At Jorgensen Kitchen and Bar, David had Cod with veggies. He loved it and not just because we were hungry after our 5hr flight and 30min travel to downtown.

img_20170121_1430133891
Lunch at Jorgensen Kitchen & Bar, this meal along with Davids bowlof cod and & veggies was $50.00 US, no drinks – this is typical prices for Reykjavik

20170122_212148
While we didnt have a meal or drink at the Drunk Rabbit, it looked like a great fun place to visit.

20170122_205657
We had a drink of blueberry liquor at this site, it was noted in the local flyer as the locals place. We tried both types of blueberry liquor, to me the tasted the same. One was $11US , one was $22US. David liked the cheaper version.

20170122_195033
Did you know Chuck Norris when he enters a room, he doesn’t turn on the lights, he turns off the dark!

20170122_193218
A candy store downtown

20170123_194137
We didnt eat here, but we did see quite a few Thai and Chinese food eateries. We figured lets eat Icelandic while in Iceland

  • We stayed at Hotel Klettur in downtown.  It was clean, respectful, nice, with small minimal rooms – but who cared, we were out all day, and slept at night.  They had all the amenities we needed and a free breakfast buffet.  It did take us about 10mins to figure out how to turn work the room lights.  Turns out you have stick you room key (or other ccard) in the slot next to the door above the light switch.  Also if you take this out when you leave, your left behind electronics will not charge.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

  • We did see the Northern lights, but they were not spectacular, in fact it just looked like a green smoke cloud and we only saw them for maybe 1-5minutes.  We were told when booking the package that you might not see the Northern lights so we felt lucky to get one good photo below.  We drove from site to site for over 5 hrs at this first site below, we visited a church (in the pouring rain of course), and I took these pictures, because we saw no northern lights at this location, but thought it was pretty.

dsc_0139

  • NOTE***  You will never get a picture of the northern lights with your cell phone, you need a higher end camera with a 30second time set, and a stand.  Your in a field in the dark, there will be no where to prop your camera, you need the stand.
  • We visited an Icelandic Horse Farm Tour. It had a short presentation with time to pet the horses.  I really enjoyed this, especially since it was POURING sleet outside, and we were inside. We learned the Vikings brought over the best horses they had and to this day any new horses are forbidden to be imported to Iceland to preserve the purity of this breed.   David thought it was OK, he was more interested in the landscape viewing, which was still to come.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We also visited the Hallgrímskirkja  a Lutheran parish and largest church on the hill in Reykjavik, Iceland.  The church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrimur Petursson (1614-1674).   My boss said I had to go, because he had been to Iceland twice and both times it was under construction and he could not see it – it was part of our Gate One downtown tour, but I took these pictures for my boss, Ray Carlson.   It reminded me of a smaller version of Gaudi’s church in Barcelona, Spain – BUT, all while no color.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My favorite part of the trip, other than getting David to myself for fours days was the Golden Circle stop at the Volcano, Kerio.  It was POURING sleet and so windy I was cautious not to fall down into the volcano.   I am more of an inside type of girl, but I just loved this, I wish we could have walked down the stairs to the crater, but we only have a 15min window.  I read in the summer you can swim in this crater, and it looked so beautiful I pictured myself summer swimming even in this ice storm.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Because I could go on for more than any one person would want to read.  I included a few more pictures with captions to explain the beauty and awesome of Iceland.  So we would recommend you visiting for sure.  I did want to note, to visit most of the best of nature – you will have to first take a long bus ride, then walk – up hills, down stairs, often longer distances and in the extreme Iceland weather.  Many of our tour group decided to skip most of the tour – they were not interested in walking, or leaving the vehicle, for anything other than a quick looksee, then straight to the food area of the stop.  Therefore I recommend you go to Iceland before you cannot, why fly so far for a bus ride to a periphery view.    Another reason we are sure 52years old is our goal to retire.

 

Next Travel – David’s close friend is getting married in India in March, still not sure of those details, but we are going – that should be fun.  Then spring break with our 20 year old twins in Cancun Mexico at an Eco friendly resort – Sandos Caracol Eco Resort