Bahamas / Cuba 2003

November 2003

Thirteen months after moving into The Haytor and with our first season as hoteliers behind us (and a pile of Air Miles and some tax rebates left over from our previous lives in London under our belts), we looked for a suitable venue for a Well-Deserved Break.  Our research on the Web led us firstly to examine the best places in terms of weather for a November holiday and then secondly (after some negative experiences during our last Caribbean break in Jamaica) which islands were safe for a gay couple to visit...

Compass Point, New Providence Island, the Bahamas

Painted in 'Junkanoo' colours, Compass Point is a small resort of cottages located about twenty minutes drive east of Nassau (the capital of the Bahamas).  It is a former home of the owner of Island Records, and is (slightly) less Americanised than a lot of the other resorts of New Providence Island.  We had rented a seafront cottage, with a balcony overlooking idyllic Love Beach, and did very little for our entire first week other than sunbathe by the pool.  In the evening, we might (if we could be bothered) jump into the hire-car in search of a restaurant.

Click Here to visit the Compass Point website.

  Our Bedroom at Compass Point Phil on the Bed Us on the Balcony in Rocking Chairs
Phil on the Balcony, overlooking Love Beach Compass Point Pool Shot Compass Point Pool, towards Love Beach
Compass Point Sunset

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Havana, Cuba

The aircraft we took from Nassau to Havana on Cubana Airlines was a bit tatty, but Jose Marti International Airport was just like any other airport - although perhaps a bit quieter than most.

It had been a long time since either of us had been in a country without a single branch of McDonalds, and the first time ever in a Socialist country for Steve.  Although some western influences were present (particularly in our 5 Star Dollar-only hotel!), it was the past (pre- and post- communist) which was the most noticeable to our eyes.  The fabulous buildings in the "old town" were mostly in a state of disrepair, but at least they hadn't been demolished to make way for anonymous, multinationally-financed developments.  It was fascinating to see that people were happily getting on with their everyday lives, and not living in the kind of Prison state that Mr Bush would have us believe.

During our stay we took many forms of transport (although not the packed bus/lorry hybrids we saw), but our favourite was a 1957 Chevrolet, allegedly with the original engine.

   Havana Street Scene Steve in Front of the Partagas Cigar Factory  
 The Capitol Building in Havana  Photo Taken by a Camera Dating from 1900 The Cameraman with the 1900 Camera
Steve in Front of Parque Central - Our Hotel is in the Background  The Rooftop Pool at our Hotel Havana Public Transport 
Choppy Waters on the Malecon, Havana's Seafront Road A 1957 Chevrolet Taxi we Took from the Capitol Building Our Chevrolet, on the Malecon
Phil in a "Coco" Taxi View from the Coco Taxi  


Day Trip to Vilaes,West of Havana

We did leave Havana for one day, on a coach tour of an area to the west of Havana called Vilaes.  The dual carriageways were devoid of vehicles but there were plenty of people waiting for a lift at every junction.

Above ground in Vilaes the sights and hill formations were amazing, and underground proved no less spectacular when we took a boat trip through a cave system!

We were also taken to see a giant painted mural.  It stretched across a whole cliff-face, and depicted the evolution of humankind.

Before finally returning to the capital, we visited a Tobacco farm and met the farmer who explained how the plants were grown and the leaves dried (and something about government quotas, but we kind of lost interest).

  Steve and View of Vinales Hills Phil & Steve and View of Vinales Hills Steve in Vinales Cave System
Boat Approaching in Vinales Caves Approaching the Exit of the Vinales Caves Out of the Vinales Caves
Phil Outside the Vinales Caves Steve Outside the Vinales Caves Vinales Mural
  Tobacco Farm  


Return to the Bahamas

Our decision to return to the Bahamas (rather than hop to Florida to shop) was in hindsight perhaps not the best one, as the clouds had rolled in whilst we were away.  So we had no choice but to chill out and go shopping once more, whilst advising the locals that they didn't need to call us 'Bud' or to wish us a 'Happy Thanksgiving'!

Risking the weather, we took a sailing trip out on a catamaran.  We passed a giant complex called Atlantis, and realised we had made the right choice of accommodation.

  Steve About to Board the Catamaran Phil on the Boat Trip  
Steve About to Snorkel Where We DIDN'T Stay!  


Back Home (The Comedown)

Crossing the Atlantic overnight plays havoc with your sleep pattern at the best of times, but when the Americans re-route you so far north that you have to re-fuel in Cardiff for a couple of hours before you can eventually arrive back at Heathrow...  and then have to wait to be towed back to Torquay when your car won't start...!   Steve is Not a Happy Bunny! The Car is Towed Back to Torquay  


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