Today I left my aunt's at about 9h30, after having brekky with her and saying goodbye. Then I came to my bro's apart to hang out a bit. At 11h I went to visit my grandma who lives nearby for a short while. She's pretty much blind... So she asked me to do various tasks for her... Like look at the canned food to see what is missing and that she needs to order. Or sort through some religious medals that she wanted to send to a sick friend. I don't really know my grandma much and don't find I have much to say so I never stay long. By 12h I was at the mall(s)! I shopped for clothes, gifts for my angel at work, stuff bro needed, art supplies, etc. It was nice, but also tireing! Walking a lot, carrying bags! But I have to say it was easier than when I am with Happy, I don't have to focus on her/directing her...! Then at 17h45 I was at my bro's Uni to pick him up and go back to the mall. The mission: Find him new Winter boots, on sale, size 13. Yeah. That won't be easy... First we refuelled, with a slice of pizza each, and we set off! We went to the Place Laurier Sport Expert on the 3rd level, nothing. The Yellow on the 1st level, nothing. The Sport Expert on the same level, yeah! Bingo! Bro is really not a spender, so shelling out 124$ for boots is a lot for him. But I convinced him it's worth it. Tonight I'm packing my suitcases. Tomorrow I'm off to get Happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!! JOEPIE!!!!! OUI!!! Today's Photoblog pic is "Hasta la victoria siempre."
This morning I woke up early again, at around 7h... When my bro's neighbours were getting up and ready for work (as the walls in those apartment buildings are really thin...!). So I played around on his laptop, catching up on blogs reading and so on. When bro got up, we made brekky and ate. I got dressed and left for my aunt's place in Old Quebec. I said hello to my cousin and aunt and went right away to Place D'Youville to meet Vanou. She gave me a tissue box cover I'd asked her to make for me! So pretty! Then we went to have lunch at a creperie on St-Jean Street. It was nice to see her again and chat! Then a little walk around Old Quebec in the freezing cold (going from 30 degrees to -15 sucks!). Vanou left to go do some work, and I went to the supermarket... I went to pick up special items for a dinner at my aunt's. I bought a nice big fillet of salmon, bread, cheeses... Then at aunt's I hung out, we prepped dinner, bro arrived to join us, we ate, watched tele, talked, etc. On Tous Pour Un, Radio-Canada, it was a little dude from back home answering questions for that television quiz... The son of my old plastic arts teacher, back in high school! So neat to see them on tele and images from the village too! I just took a bath and prepped my bed with the help of my aunt. She's going to work tonight (she's so good, working nights!) and I will soon to go sleep in the comfy fleece sheets. I'll sleep like a princess I think.
Palm trees and Capitolio in Havana... Boy playing with a ball at Plaza Vieja in Havana... The sea on the Varadero beach, swimming or sailing...
(Back in time, to yesterday, February 27th.) I got up quite early, as all the other days of my holiday, at around 7h. I got dressed and went down to the buffet room for brekky. I'm always really hungry come morning! So I had the usual, bacon, toast, turned egg prepped by the brekky cook, chocolate croissant, fruit (pineapple and watermelon), hot chocolate and orange juice! Then I went to the beach for a last stroll... Goodbye beautiful sand! Sun! Warm sea! I went back to the room, packed the last of my stuff and headed down for checkout by the time of 9h30... I sat with the other people of Sunwing (we were 5 in total who booked that hotel for a Wednesday-Wednesday holiday) waiting for the bus transfer to the airport. It was scheduled for 10h but only arrived at 10h30. At the airport I went to check-in. Leaving Montreal for Varadero I had no trouble at all with my luggage, the dude quickly checked me in and that was it. No no... Not the samer for the way back! The guy here told me my luggage was 6 kilos overweight (20 allowed, so 26). He said I'd have to pay 10 Cuban Convertible Peso per kilo extra, thus 60 CUC!! WHAT?! No way! Why didn't they tell me I was overweight in Montreal, I would have made arrangements to store some stuff in a locker or so and not bring it all to Cuba! I bargained with the dude, saying I didn't have anymore dinero, that I'd spent it all in his country and only had the 25 CUC departure tax left! He talked with his boss and they decided on making me pay for 3 kilos extra, 30 CUC. By then it was 20 minutes later, so I decided I'd just go get money at the exchange office with my trusty Visa card. I then waited in line some more until finally they could handle me and my extra luggage fee. It's really stupid though... Why don't they just use equalization or so? Many other passengers had 10 kilos luggage, 10 under, so there's my extra 6! Grrr... Then the waiting at the airport began... Varadero airport is tiny. Once passed security, if I can call it that... They scan the bag quickly, make me walk through the beeping thing, I beep, but the lady shrugs and says no need for the search with the handheld device... Okie then. Nothing about how much liquid you bring onboard here! Yea, the airport, tiny and smelly. Because smoking is still allowed in public places. Sure, there are some designated smoking areas, behind a meter tall glass (ohhh that's really going to stop the smoke), but no one uses them. So after a few hours there, despite the strong airco, it still was yucky. And the plane was an hour late. On the flight the movie was Ratatouille, which I'd just seen before leaving Blanc-Sablon, so I put music on. The meal was a choice of chicken or pasta, I choose pasta. It was alright, but way to salty! I took a bite of pasta then a bite of bread and so on. I was so hungry by then I could have eaten anything I think! The flight landed in Montreal with only 30 minutes delay, they had made up some time in flight. The luggage was announced for carroussel 4, but then later also carroussel 8. How could I be at two carroussels at once?! Grrr! Took a little while, but I finally found my bag. Clearing customs was a breeze. I took my Winter coat out of my suitcase and dressed up warmly. I then went by cab from the airport to the parking lot downtown where my Communauto car was waiting. By now I'd been up more than 12 hours and travelling, which is tireing. But I had a mission! Get to Quebec City to my bro's appartment! So I took the road! René-Lévesque, Jacques Cartier bridge, Longeuil shoreside, to the 20. Once I was set on the highway the drive went well. The only thing I disliked was having all those huge long trucks passing me. In night, Winter, with recent snowfall, I was going 90-100km/h, the limit. But these trucks wanted to speed! And getting passed each time I had to concentrate lots! When I felt tired, I stretched a bit my legs, ate a cookie, sang songs, listened to stupid talk radio (talking back), etc. And I was at my bro's at around 22h30. I was so happy! I prepped the sofa-bed, showered and went to bed. Mmmm... Sleep!
My last night in Varadero, looking forward to getting back to cold Quebec (I know I'm going to regret having said this in a few weeks)... The sun/sea is nice, but I miss my bed and home... And Happy too. Ahhh... Really can't wait to put my pics online too!!!!
This morning I get up to go to the bathroom... Actually my alarm went off, supposedly set for 6h45... But it's now 5h30, go figure. So I get up, get ready for my day trip to Havana. And what do I see in the toilet room? A HUGE cockroach. I called the front desk and someone came, but it was gone...
I just had dinner at the resort's seafood resto. I ordered grilled lobster. Maybe not such a good idea. It was alright. But nothing like the lobster I get in Blanc-Sablon, bought straight from the fisherman in his truck! Anyhoo... Now full... Will go rest and get ready for tomorrow: a day of exploring Havana!
Today I rented a car... One of the few luxuries I'm affording myself on this holiday. It costs a bit, but gives me freedom to roam around. Today I went East of Varadero, to Carderas and then furter on to little villages. Man... Things I've seen. Cubans sure aren't rich. And there I was, riding around in my Audi (yep, the only automatic car they had), with my 200$ Lacoste sunglasses and 250$ Tiger shoes. Such a contrast! It made me feel so bad. I'll write more about it later, the Internet time is already running out! Now, back at the resort. I parked my car in front of the hotel, hope it will be ok there for the night. The concierge in front said yes, so. Hasta luego!
En vrac... Will do a detailed trip report when I return or maybe in Quebec if my bro lets me use one of his computers! The trip went well, Sunwing is a good flight company... Then at the airport there was a bit of chaos trying to find my luggage... Two different carroussels for the same flight!!! The hotel is fine... The grounds are well kept, the pools are nice, the beach/sea even nicer! The room smelled a bit musty when I arrived, but with the door opened it's better now! The food at the resort is ok until now, I've only tried the buffets. I miss Happy and I hope she's doing well at Mira. And I hope there's not too much snowfall/cold weather back home for mom! Internet is quite expensive, 10 CUC for 1 hour... It works with cards/pin number, so I will be able to divide my time in many little Internet "outings"! This morning I went to swim in the sea. People were finding the water cold, I loved the temperature! Sitting afterwards on the beach was cold because there's a bit of a breeze outside... Anywho. That's it for now.
After some stress because they could not reach people who know me from my form, the lady just called to say it would be ready this arvo and she talked with everyone! Yay! Cuba here I come!
I'm not bringing my laptop... Sure, it's handy, but also heavy and would make me worry. For pics, I won't even need a new memory card. I remembered I had bought this gadget once, while visiting Toronto for silverchair gigs. It's a piece that allows me to transfer pics from my camera to my iPod. And since there is more than 10GB free on the iPod, it's a good enough storing solution I think! And for emails/blogs, they'll just wait.
Yesterday, on Valentine's day, I got some neat stuff! Even without a boyfriend there's a way to enjoy Cupidon's day! I got a rose from mom! As well as a postcard from Vanou! THANK YOU SO MUCH! It's sweet. (Plus today I got one from a friend who just went to Kenya, yep, during the political crisis.) Makes my day! I had to get up an hour earlier than usual this morning, at 6h, to be at work by 6h45... And so now tonight, 20h40, I'm exhausted. I've got to pack/clean and I leave Sunday arvo. I can't wait.
Ok, so an update on the passport thing. I searched everywhere Vanou suggested, and more. Really I've looked in every place where I have things (from the cupboard where I have flower vases to my tshirt drawer to the craft stuff box). And in this house, where I only brought half of my stuff, it's relatively easy to do. So yea. It's no where here. It's in a box somewhere else. So, I went onto plan b. I got two new passport photos made last night. Today I went to the post office to have my form signed by the post master. Then I went to the commissioner of oaths for another form. And I put it all together in a file. Monday morning, after having brought Happy to Mira, I'm heading straight to Passport Canada. I'll wait however much time I have to. Hopefully it'll work and by the next day I'll have a replacement passport. I'm so nervous about it all! I really hope I don't miss my trip. Because I'll spend most of Monday and Tuesday at the passport office, I'll miss out on most stuff I'd planned... Shopping, dentist, etc. But that's ok. As long as my whole holiday isn't messed up, it'll be fine. I have to make the best of every situation.
I am debating wheter or not to bring my laptop on holiday. I'm going for two weeks, to Montreal, Cuba and Quebec City. I thought about bringing my old laptop. But the wireless function on it doesn't work anymore and where I will use it with Internet, it has to be wireless... For example at the Montreal hostel or in Cuba. Bringing my new one could be an option. But it's risky. It's not just handy for the net, but also to empty my camera card... So yea. Don't know what to do.
When is the last time I used my passport...? Looooooooong ago, back in October 2006. In 2007 I didn't travel anywhere that needed it. And now, well I'm going to Cuba in 6 dodos and I can't find my passport anywhere. I've searched the whole house for it this morning, every place, as silly as it could be. And tonight my mom came to search with me once more. Nope. No where. So where is it? Somewhere in a storage with boxes and furniture, in Quebec or Rimouski, I don't even know. So, two options. First is cancel the trip. But that's touchy, even with travel insurance. The second is to have a new passport made. Fill out forms (203 for declaring the other lost/inaccessible and the passport demand), bring 2 new pics, 87$ for the passport fee, plus 70$ for the urgent status. It should take 24 hours then. So the two days in Montreal before my Cuba trip are no longer for relaxing, shopping, hanging out with my cousin... They are for the passport. It's so stupid. Usually my passport is in my gray travel pouch, in my undies drawer. And well it isn't. I suck.