Sunday, April 23, 2017


Martinique was a wonderful trip. We were finally getting short and direct flights from our local airport to the Caribbean, I'm not sure that service is still available so I'm pretty happy to have taken advantage of it to visit this lovely island.

This is one developed island, but there are also a lot of gorgeous natural features. It's also a volcanic island so there are a lot of rolling hills, and some black sand beaches.

We wanted to hike on Martinique, so we did a pretty challenging hike into the rim.

The views were spectacular, and it was hot but not unbearable so we went pretty far.

I snapped a lot of pictures the entire way.

There were some steep drops, and once we got into what was once the caldera of the volcano, it cooled down and got very humid. The weather changed a lot on this relatively brief hike, but there were some decent altitude changes.

After our hike it was time to see some beaches. We found a car to be more or less essential for all of our activities, but we got to see a lot of the island.

Anse Turin is a beach that runs down one coast of the island. It's easily accessible and we basically just pulled into a parking space and then walked along the quiet beach.

It was nearing the end of the great day and time to get some food. We had rented a nice apartment (using TripAdvisor) and had some groceries to cook, although on our first night we had a decent takeout pizza.

The next day we headed down to this rocky little beach, Anse Mitan that's in the area of Trois Islets, which was easy to find. The road signs on this island were good, but traffic moves fast.

It was time to move on to a new beach, we had a couple right next to each other at our next stop and selected the black sand beach which was in a little cove, Anse Noire.

There were kayak rentals and plenty of locals hanging out around here. We spent a little time before heading off to the Grande Anse du Diamant, so named because of Diamond Rock, to the left in the photo below.

There's lots of action around this cool beach.
We met a new friend, below.

We also found a local cemetery in the town, and walked through for some photos.

On the way back to our place we took some photos of the setting sun and below, on our balcony in our rental we got to enjot the setting sun. It would be an easy rental car return and a walk (literally, it took 4 minutes) to the airport. 

I'd love to go back so please Norwegian Air, bring service back to these islands from BWI!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Cuba was fabulous. An ideal quick getaway, but with opportunities for more extensive travel, Cuba is a great place for Americans (while we are able to take advantage of the open doors). My husband and I traveled on a person-to-person educational visa, one of twelve options now given to Americans that wish to visit the island on their own. It was all streamlined for us by our airline, JetBlue, as well. We loved our trip, and I'd recommend Cuba as a destination for anyone.

The architecture is pretty incredible, and while it is sad to see so much of it crumbling before your eyes, it makes for incredibly reich ambience and atmosphere. I've been many places, and there is nowhere like Cuba. The lack of western advertising was quite refreshing, frankly. I really felt like we were getting away from it all here. It helped that we did not use the internet during our stay.
I did feel we were getting an education down here. We had a lot of chances to talk with locals.

The old cars are everywhere, There are lots of Russian cars too, but there are simply so many old American cars that it's just a typical thing after spending a short time there. What is terrible about them though, and something no one seems to talk about, is the exhaust. The fumes from these cars are dirty, real dirty. It makes the air thick in some areas, and the heat doesn't help. I hope they get some new stuff soon, for the sake of their lungs and their health. Of course the cars are cool and romantic though, and I never got tired of seeing them.

Another wonderful part of Cuba is the amazing people. Those we encountered were friendly and helpful. I'd taken my little instax camera and had a good time taking portraits of people and handing them out. The first victim was the guy below, one of many strangers we interacted with - no tour guide, no proper Spanish required (most people don't speak much English, but it's not unusual either).

We tried to get around on foot a lot and see as much as we could. Even with the exhaust, Havana is a great walking city and there is so much to see. We spent a few days there and still there was more we could have done; we were never bored. It was inexpensive too, surprisingly so for an island, and one locked out of doing business with the US. 

The weather was gorgeous too. It was hot during the day, but down by the water there was a great breeze and things cooled off quickly at night. Our little homestay had air conditioning, but it wasn't necessary. Finding a place wasn't difficult, I just used tripadvisor like I normally do, except I dug up an email address using a B&B/Casa name from tripadvisor and googling it. These places do of course book travelers all the time, just not from the states. I made our arrangements over email.

The waterfront of Havana meets the sea, and where we were walking obviously there wasn't a beach. Lot of locals were out fishing though.

We had a nice time on this strip, meeting dogs and snapping photos.

The fort below is part of the old city wall. We did not end up going over to that side of the city.
Havana is a big place.

Instax people, above, and paid posers in one of the main squares close to the cruise ship dock.

There are a few old pharmacies, some still in operation, in Havana. We had a look inside a couple of them. It's a fun throwback but not somewhere we spent more than a few moments.

There are many charming old plazas in the city. We stopped in several of them for people watching, resting and relaxing. 

Central Havana has been beautifully maintained. While the dome is surrounded in scaffolding at the moment, this is another wonderful part of Havana.

Havana at night was gorgeous, and safe. We spent several hours strolling around in the evening and one night, stayed out quite late. There were many people out even after midnight; it never felt unsafe.

We had some tasty food in Havana, at decent prices.

The Plaza de la Revolución of Havana has several  monuments to its leaders, a fitting way to end the post. We loved Cuba, and would like to return to see more of the country one day.

When we returned in early January 2017, our trip through customs was very easy. I cannot say what that might be like now, however.
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