Mimosas on arrival? Yes please! Mimosas every morning? Even better!
Thus began my sojourn in Varadero, Cuba. Yeah, we stayed at a resort, didn't really experience the "local culture" or even get to try real Cuban food. But you know what I did get to experience? Relaxation. Indulgence. And lots of mimosas. Happy mummy I is.
Like many other Caribbean destinations (especially those visited in the dead of a profoundly cold winter) Cuba welcomed us with soft sand, swaying palm trees and turquoise waters. We dropped everything in the room, switched into bathing suits and made a mad dash to the beach. The Smurf enjoyed taunting the waves, daring them to tickle her toes. The Doodle was ready to take up surfing lessons. Hubby launched into the first of several sandcastle constructs. And I breathed.
We stayed here, at the Blau. Verdant gardens, massive pool (albeit freezing cold), ample watering holes and feeding troughs. Enough space not to feel crowded, small enough to keep track of the kids. Just right.
The only schedule we kept was set by our internal clocks. Sleep when tired, drink when thirsty (or when the server comes around your side of the pool, whichever comes first) and eat when hungry.
I had read my share of not-so-glowing reviews of the food in Cuba but decided to keep an open mind. I'm an adventurous sort; when I go to another country, I don't expect to find the familiar comforts of home waiting for me. I'm here to experience something different. (If I could only get the Doodle to see things that way. Even the pizza and pasta at the buffet "didn't taste right." But you can bet the ice cream sure did ...)
Cuba is still under embargo with the U.S. and a bunch of other countries, so it's not that simple to get provisions. There isn't a Starbucks doling out half-caf double espresso lattes or a McDonalds down the street. You don't get lemons or strawberries here. There are more goats and horses than cattle, so think before ordering the steak.
I don't know what other people expect under such limitations, but I really enjoyed the food. Fish, chicken and pork were in abundance and well-seasoned. I had plantain, swordfish, kippers, bold Cuban cheese, Spanish tortilla, paella, huevos rancheros. Even a couple of the mysterious "hot dogs" that I didn't want to examine too closely but which were a big hit with the kiddies. And did I mention the mimosas?
Conveniently located right beside a giant bowl of Nutella big enough to do laps in, the mimosa station was stocked every morning with bottles of Spanish cava, jugs of fresh (ish) OJ, and a selection of fruit purées to amp it up a little: guava, mango and passionfruit, if you're so inclined. And I was. Frequently.
Oh, I tried other stuff, too. The odd glass of wine with a meal. Plenty of beer, too, generously topped up in my wedding-souvenir mug by the smiling poolside barkeep. But I preferred the mimosas. Right up to the last second, when we were dashing to catch our bus to the airport. The hostess poured my drink into a plastic cup so I could enjoy it on the road.
I miss those mimosas.