Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Viva Cancun

After our fantastic trip to Cuba, we are back in Cancun. Jenée is doing her best to relax, with a private massage at Monica and Mike's home

Monica's daughter Giovanna joins us for lunch and will spend some welcome time with us over the next few days. Giovi is deciding between Stanford and Harvard graduate school. Smart señorita!

Mike and I are sitting at breakfast the next morning, on our way to La Playa - about an hour drive south of Cancun

Not sure what this face was all about, but it was really funny. I kill me.

Monica and Mike canoodling

Check out the mini waterfall behind Monica. Nice restaurant.

We've been to quite a few of these outside venues - very nice. We will continue south on the Yucatan Peninsula.

We are visiting the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum. More on the history of this place later.

Tulum has a beautiful waterfront view

Mother and daughter are enjoying the tour

Jenée jumps in to the picture

The group is now reading up on the history and layout of Tulum

I think the Caribbean is that way. Thank you.

Tulum iguanas enjoying the sun

A beautiful beach and it's normally open to the public. Today's surf is a bit rough, so it's closed.


We take time for a photo nonetheless. Check out my cool Cuban T-shirt. I borrowed the hat.

We are getting a closer look at the ruins. Tulum was constructed originally in 540 AD and achieved its height between the 12th and 14th centuries.

This is El Castillo (the castle) - the main temple in Tulum

A closer view of the temple. The maximum number of inhabitants peaked aroun 1500 people in Tulum.

This is the "God of Winds" temple. There are a total of three temples in the ancient village.

And they all have these fantastic views of the Caribbean Sea. Tulum was once a major port city on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Quite spectacular. Right after taking this photo we headed out. The weather change dramatically, as it is prone to do, and we walked through a deluge! My cool Cuban shirt changed colors - adios to that. We are heading to the waterfront area of La Playa.

We visit a beach front hotel in La Playa and Monica does her best diva pose for the camera

Mike and Giovi relax at the hotel bar ...

... while Monica, Jenée and I tour the beach

I'm checking out both the beach and these two lovely ladies

The hotels are very laid back and blend into the beach front - well done

And we have the beach all to ourselves

The next day, we hop in Mike's boat and head east two miles from Cancun to Isla Mujeres. We drop anchor at this beach - that's Mike setting the stern anchor in the distance.

We tour some beautiful water front on the island

Very clear waters

We enjoy the sun

So does Monica

We are approaching Monica and Mike's condo, the dock is just ahead

Another view out to the dock from the condo. What a vacation! I'd recommend this to anyone. Mike and Monica are the best hosts ever! Tomorrow it's back yo US of A.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fun Times and the Cuban Missile Crisis

We are on the final stages of our Cuba tour. Today we visit the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. As mentioned before, everything of significance over the last century happened here.

Hotel logo

From its beginning in 1930, the hotel is an American hotspot. Let's see if we can spot some Americans ...

Impressive building - designed by a New York architectural firm.

With a very impressive guest list.

Beautiful grounds.

With the ever present Che.


Hotel bar is a classic

It's located on Havana Bay

Enjoying the view

These cannons date back to the 19th century

Pretty impressive

2nd cannon

We come across this bunker on the hotel property

Turns out, the bunker is a remnant from the Cuban Missle Crisis

This map shows the Cuban defense plan for the air/sea attack from the US - which never materialized

These are the ramparts of the bunker

We are touring the site - Monica is ready for a battle

These tunnels form a full circle

This is a piece of the U2 spy plane that was shot down with Russian surface to air missle. The pilot, Maj. Rudolf Anderson Jr., was killed immediately in the high altitude explosion.

We need to keep low passing through these tunnels

Exiting one of the tunnels into the rampart

Watch your head

We read a lot of material about the missle crisis - Cuban version

This is President Kennedy's response to Nikita Krushchev - the key was agreement to remove missiles from Turkey

This was Fidel's proposal to end the missle crisis, never adopted

There is even information on Maj. Anderson

Those green covers are the air vents for the tunnels we just passed through. The Hotel Nacional is in the background.

Jenée and Mike under the Cubsn flag

That's better

Lovely Hotel - rooms run $50-$100 per night. Not bad

Work still needs to be done to upgrade some of the properties in Havana

Mike and Monica under the flag

A view across the bay to the Spanish fort

Some of the famous guests to visit the Hotel Nacional over the years

Time for a cocktail!

A happy pose

A not so happy pose - but adorable

We found a great restaurant for lunch

Time for a tour through the outdoor market

Jenée and I have visited many of these over the world

Love them fruit and vegetables

Walking back towards our apartment, we see work being done to beautify this building

Now on the waterfront

A beautiful day

And beautiful sights

We are enjoying the sights

And the coastline

And the city

And this statue

We are now in the airport waiting room - our flight is delayed for many hours

There is the airport in the distance - Cuban Airlines treated us to this place due to the delay. I've been stuck at worse places. We fully enjoyed our time here. I got to achieve my goal of seeing Havana before it becomes Americanized once again. I might have a few Cuban cigars in my luggage, I'll have to check. Adios amigos.