Shepherd Entertainment takes you on a tour of Varadero, a resort town in Cuba and one of the largest resort areas in the
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The rays of the tropical moonlight broke into pieces rocking on the waves. Here in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, the breeze brings the sweet smell of blooming lemon trees and burnt sugar. A quick sniff of the air was enough to know the islands are not far away. They’re like green twinkling scattered emeralds in the sea and you could feel on each of them that the other one will be more unspoiled and intact than the previous one. It’s an ideal home for Robinson Crusoe. Paul Monette starts his novel Havana with these lines. The atmosphere and the natural beauties of Cuba have also inspired others to write poetic lines. It’s enough to think of the revolutionary poet Jose Marti and of course Hemingway whose spirit follows the traveler all the way wherever he goes in the country. A long narrow peninsula reaches into the sea 140 km from Havana and 20 km from Matanzas and it separates the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s Varadero, the world famous resort of the islands which was a popular destination of vacationers and foreign tourists even between the two World Wars. In the 1950s American businessmen invested here having hotels and casinos built in this way. 100000 Americans arrived here to relax and soak up the sun. Life was great. Champagne and rum flowed, cigar smoke was abundant, Caribbean music with its spinning rhythm wafted over the beach and on stage, Cuban girls danced in bikinis decorated with features. Millionaires had their luxurious villas built here. Then politics intervened, there was a revolution and the relationship between Cuba and America is strained yet today as a result. Hotels and villas were taken over by the state. In the meantime Varadero has again become the most popular tourist destination in the world but especially for Europeans. Next to the old ones, new four and five star luxurious hotels meeting everybody’s requirements have been built. The majority of them belonged to the former Spanish colonists. On the snow white sandy beach dignified royal palm trees nod. The waters crystalline, turquoise and incredible shades of blues and green. Shops sell Cuban cigars even today and at the bars of the hotels, skillful bartenders mix daiquiris, mojitos and the Cuban libre. The peninsula is closed by a barrier. Here, only taxis or hired cars can enter so tourists can have their holiday without being disturbed. The breeze blowing from the sea moderates the tropical heat. The hotel rooms are of course air conditioned. Restaurants offer specialties of the Caribbean region and international dishes as well. It’s especially worth trying the roasted dishes and the aromatic fruit and there are cocktails made without alcohol too. Cuba gives tourist from former east bloc countries a chance to reencounter their past as if they were taking a trip back in time. At the markets, we can buy mainly wood carvings and pottery as souvenirs but cigar boxes equipped with the vapor meter, original machetes, maps drawn on leather and paintings in bamboo frames can also be had. In the street, we can see small two seat motorbikes with yellow cabins which almost look like the tuktuk of Thailand but there are also carts which function as taxis here. In the city, you can take one of the open sightseeing double-deckers. In the city center, we can also see some of the old wooden villas. Among the simple small bungalows, there’re some colonial palaces and luxurious vials which have been converted into restaurants. A sort of American travelling monument of the 1950s are old timers and although the most can be seen in Havana, they also add color to the panorama of the city of Varadero. Don’t be surprised if somebody starts the engine of his car with a crank. The ignition key may have been taken away by the American owner of the car 40 years ago. The markets are full of scale models of these cars made of wood ceramics or paper but of course, we can also find small barrels of rum and musical instruments. This peninsula is the closest to the coast of Florida so it has been the scene of bitter attempts to emigrate several times when Cubans tried to reach the land of unlimited opportunities in small aquatic vehicles making their fleeing an impossible dream. Luxurious hotels not only provide their guests with a comfortable place to rest their weary heads but also three meals a day including drinks and ice cream. The service is extraordinarily polite and helpful. We can lounge in the tropical park next to the pool, listen to the palm trees rustling, sip something cool at the pool bar, lavish in the Jacuzzi and if we’re bored with all this, we can try out the wide range of sports. Group activity organizers encourage vacationers to try their hand at archery, play water polo or beach volleyball. Of course, there’s a wide range of water sports as well. At many hotels, we can use canoes, surfboards or catamarans without extra charge and we can participate in diving courses too. To entertain guests, there are new programs everyday. By day, the audience is dazzled with water ballet performances. At night with Caribbean shows, beauty contests or costume balls.