Cuba – Matanzas

After our stay in Havana, Karen and I had a taster of how difficult it is to travel in a country with limited organisation or WiFi. We chose to make our way to Matanzas using the Hershies train that was once used to transport Coco beans by the American chocolate company.

Having asked advice from a few different people we made it onto a small boat that took us across the Dock. The water was filled with rubbish and had a slick film of oil on the top. Unfortunately all around Cuba you see people carelessly discard their rubbish and it spoils some of the beauty of the island.

The boat took us to Casablanca, where we found out that the train line had been damaged during the Hurricanes 9 months earlier. Apparently none of the 3/4 people that we’d spoken to before knew about it. We walked around the small town of Casablanca, from where you could see nice views of Havana and stopped for a fresh coconut at a bar at the road side. A young guy and girl gave us a few different options of getting to Matanzas and in the end we took a local bus, a taxi that looked like it could break down at any moment (because the second bus we were going to get was crazy busy) and another bus that looked as though it could have transported a battalion of soldiers rather than paying public.


We stayed in Matanzas for 3 nights, at a nice Casa Particular that had a couple of rooms separate from the main house and a small swimming pool in the garden. We took a bus (again one that looked like a military transport) to one of the most beautiful beaches on the island in Varadero, and did a tour of some local caves.


Getting to the caves we took a bus that did a lap of the town that took about 20 minutes. We were pretty confused when we returned to the same stop having not reached our destination and even more confused after we got off, found a taxi, only to see the same bus arrive at the caves 10 minutes after us!!

Karen was my translator during the tour of the caves and right at the end our tour guide noticed and apologised saying that he, like so many others on the island, presumed that I was Cuban.

With not much else to do in Matanzas we planned our next stop to Santa Clara.

Sailing around Greek islands


It has been a really crazy two months, which I can’t believe has already come to an end. Today I will be concluding my tour of the London airports and flying out to Puerto Rico to join Adventure of the Seas. I’ve been constantly on the go since signing off the Ovation, at the end of June and I feel like I’m going to need a holiday to get over my holiday (yea that’s right, I’m still not calling it a vacation even if I do work for an American company).

The first week at the end of a contract, as always, consisted of catching up with friends, sleeping and coming back to reality. After that, a bit of work for my good friend Alex Eadle’s electric company helped fund trips to Greece with mum, flying from Heathrow, Barcelona, with 4 out of my 5 old university housemates, flying from Stanstead and finally Budapest with the fifth university housemate flying from Luton.

Each of my trips were completely different from the next and this post is going to go through the most unique of the three holidays which was a week on a 40-foot yacht sailing around some of the Greek islands near Athens.

DSC_0015_1My mum Christine, or Mrs C to those of my friends that are lucky enough to know her, has a highly stressful job working as a therapist so I was more than happy to join her in a relaxed trip on a boat sailed by an ex colleague. Her ex colleague, John, has recently begun a business with his partner Katie, providing sailing holidays where you can learn the basics of sailing or simply kick back and relax.

Flying with mum meant going a bit up market from my usual easyJet holidays and catching a British Airways flight from Heathrow to Athens. By coincidence we caught the same flight as John who had been to his daughters graduation the day before.

In Athens we shared a half an hour taxi from the airport to Flisvos marina where we met Moli, the centre piece of Santipurna Sailing and our home for the next week.

We each had our own cosy little cabin that had a double bed and not much else. That evening we ate at a nice taverna overlooking the harbour, with a view of Panathinaikos football and basketball stadiums, which sit side by side on the opposite side of the marina.  We were then rocked to sleep for the first time. Sleeping on a boat is so easy I’d spend a large chunk of the next week doing it.


Early the next day, safety briefing completed, we made the way out of Flisvos using the engine before being able to unfurl the head sail and make the most of a light wind to float soundlessly across the small channel toward the island of Egina. Relaxing is not a sufficient way to describe that five hour sail in the 35 degree heat. Sleeping, reading and a bit more sleeping was how I passed the time before arriving in a beautiful little bay surrounded by hills and a small taverna.DSC_0045_2

We spent three nights in two amazing little bays, out at anchor held steady by a rope around rocks on shore (which I swam out to attach myself whilst avoiding sea urchins). The other two nights we spent in marinas wedged in amongst other yachts like a car park.

DSC_0059_2Each morning, Katie would produce amazing breakfasts and delicious lunches in the afternoon with just two small hobs to work with. I’ve been to restaurants with huge kitchens that don’t come close to the quality of food that she produced in the confines of the tiny galley. In the evening, more often than not, we would eat at reasonably priced tavernas where the fresh Greek salads put all salads everywhere else in the world to shame.

IMG_20170724_083003_063I spent the week in the crystal clear waters, relaxing and learning how to paddle board. Whoever it was that told me that those things are easier than they look is a liar because the first three attempts to stand up left me with salt water up my nose. I paddled around for a while on my knees and it did actually become much easier after that.

We headed back for the mainland on Thursday and battled through waves that were definitely higher than the forecasted 3 meters. A very rocky journey got us back to where we began for our final night.


We weren’t flying until late on the Friday so we had the opportunity for a cultural experience as John and Katie welcomed their next guests to the boat. The tram took us half an hour to get into Athens centre where we looked around the first stadium to host the modern Olympics, a temple of Zues and finally the world famous Acropolis. The whole experience left me marvelling at the ingenuity of those that came before us, especially when you see the cranes and scaffolding up for renovation work and you imagine how they must have built the amazing structures without such help.

We caught our flight later that evening, mum with a healthy tan and looking immeasurably less stressed out than a week before when she had just finished the school year.

I sit here on the plane (that looks more like a bus) at Gatwick airport, the fourth different airport I’ve seen this month and reflect on how amazing my last two months have been. Thanks to my

friends that I’ve caught up with, however briefly, in the last two months, see you next in February