> Well it all started one day just after Xmas when we went round to our
friends to discuss where we would go this year. After a bottle of Bombay
sapphire and a lot of fever tree tonic the only sober one me, (
designated driver) was out voted in a democracy by three to one. So five
star hotel paridisius de oro in holguin Cuba was the destination chosen.
It did look very nice right by the clear blue sea with big pool and good
entertainment. We booked and paid and looked forward to our departure
date of May 22nd. As we were going to Cuba I should have exercised my
right as the self imposed Dictator of choosing our Annual holiday and we
would have had two weeks in Vilomoura .
> Departure date minus one week.
> Holiday getting close now, decided to check weather, rain and
thunderstorms and cloud for the next two weeks. Not good but things
could improve. Decided to read some of the reviews of people who had
just come back. A lot about terrible food, a sickness bug, a lady who
ended up on a drip, lots of rain, power cuts and shabby swimming pool
etc. Now the shabby bit I could live with, you don’t go to a third world
country and expect Sandals quality but the sickness thing was very
worrying. Discussed maybe changing destinations but the travel agent
basically said too late, it will be fine.
> Departure date minus three days
> A passenger jet flying from Havana to Holguin ( our airport) has
crashed killing over 100 people. Around 20 of them were Priests which
means when calculating things on a good bad balance there must have been
a lot of very bad people in the other eighty, if of course that’s how it
works. As a nervous flyer this is not the best news. I check the weather
again and it’s thunder and lightening on the day of arrival.
> Departure day.
> Up at five, I got to bed around 11ish my wife joined me at around 2am
having deep cleaned the whole house and emptying everything into black
bin bags to cram into our black bin ( a standard yearly ritual just in
case we don’t survive the flight people will think we live in an
immaculate house. This really stresses me out and this year is no
exception. Leave at 6.00 to collect our friends, I notice that the phone
hasn’t come up on the blue tooth, that because it doesn’t reach from our
kitchen where it was still on charge to the other side of Fleet. Back we
go, when we get home my wife asks me for the door key, the last thing I
said as I shut the door was do I need my door key. The answer was no. We
now have no door keys between us. My wife recalls a slightly different
conversation regarding the Keys so we had our first tiff at 6.05 day
one. We dig out the rusty old one we buried in the garden some ago for
emergencies, retrieve the phone and charger and arrive at our friends 15
mins late. (Lateness is my pet hate so already a bit stressed out).
> Still we had a good drive to Gatwick, no traffic jams and went
straight through customs and check in. Had a decent if what a little
over priced breakfast and made our way to the for our 9.50 take off.
This was all going too smoothly.
> Thomas Cook airlines would like to announce that due to a *ire on the
plane you will all need to go back to the departure lounge. We will
update you at 12 o clock. I thought it said fire on the plane and am now
getting very jumpy about the whole thing. Turns out it was a tyre, the
captain explained that one of tyres was a bit bald and as we were likely
to be landing in heavy rain we need to make sure we have some grip. (
This guy is really not selling it, but then I suppose it’s better that
going up in flames).
We then got back to the departure Lounge around 11.30. I am looking
around at our fellow passangers weighing up the good / bad balance, Not
a priest to be seen, the four of us nice friendly honest people are
counteracted by the four fat, balding, foul mouthed tattoo laden pissed
up yobs from London and to be honest their husbands weren’t much better,
I frantically count in some kids and a few normal people, I am now at
64% and quit while I’m ahead.
> We eventually took off at 1.o clock after they removed the bags of
the four passengers who couldn’t drag their arses out of the drinks
lounge. ( we met up with them on Friday after they had flown in from
Manchester on Thursday on the next flight.)
> Well we are now settled in with very comfy seats, good selection of
films and music and good leg room. For once we were the posh side of the
curtain. This should all be good from here I thought. How wrong could I
be. Twenty minutes in to the flight some filthy stinking animal that
must have eaten a dead badger raw decided to let us have it. The most
disgusting smell I had ever encountered was invading my personal space
at fifteen minute intervals, my stress levels were now at a blood
bursting level, why doesn’t this filthy pig go and use the toilet. I
swear to god if I could narrowed it down to who it was I would have
committed a murder. I did flap my airplane newspaper with venom and
asked out loud which dirty b****** keeps doing that to try to shame them
in at least going to the loo or trying to hold in, but no he continued
for the duration of the flight.
> We landed, luckily in the dry so we could have got away with the bald
tyre in hind sight, and the food on the plane was very good.
> We get our bags and board the coach, delay before we set off of
around half an hour as of course no one had told the rep that the four
passengers they were waiting to board the coach were in London.
> Around an hours drive to the resort, just want to get settled in. Our
friend Gill races to the front of the queue we have all the cases and
then sheepishly push our way from the back to the front to join Gill.
Could feel around a hundred eyes burning into the back of my head
thinking where the f *** are they going. A shrewd move that probably
saved us a hour. Get to the desk, sorry your ocean front rooms that you
booked five months ago are not available until tomorrow, so we will put
you in a garden suite tonight and change you over tomorrow. Not happy
about that all bearing in mind it means we have to unpack twice, I was
about to go into one when he mentioned compensation. Okay what you got,
we will give free upgrade for dinner at the Royal service and free full
body massage for all. Ian seemed okay with that so I agreed and we
boarded the golf cart to our room. You can decide yourself a little
later if you felt the compensation was value for money.
> The rooms we were given were functional, smelt a bit damp and the air
con was extremely loud but it was only for one night. Went to the buffet
restaurant for dinner, quite a good choice but around ten per cent I
would class as edible. Went for chicken and chips should be a safe bet.
Chips were very good but the chicken was a bit rubbery. Ice cream for
pudding ( still not taking any chances). Went up to watch a show which
was good, Cubans doing Butlins dancing.
> Retired to bed, very tired long day, but not tired enough to override
the air con which sounded like a plane trying to take off. Put it on the
lowest and quietest setting and managed to get off to sleep before we
got too hot and sweaty.
> Woke in the morning to cloudy / sunshine went down to the beach and
got some sun beds. Now this is not the German heritage within me but
Roxane cannot go into direct sun, so we must get a bed with a sun shade.
These were limited but we managed to grab four. As the holiday
progressed this became less of an issue as a lot of people were going
home as the resort starts to wind down and by the first week we didn’t
need to bother. Glad we didn’t go in the high season as I would be
getting up at six to get a bed.
> Went to breakfast, help yourself buffet, full English consisted of
eggs and bacon. No tomatoes, beans, or mushrooms as they had been ruined
by some idiot mixing them all up with garlic and chillis. Not a fan of
Cuban tea or coffee for that matter so orange juice or water.
Acceptable,so we went to the beach.
> Having sat there for five minutes either the dirty b****** off the
plane had followed us down or they had some kind of drainage problem. A
waft of sewage every two or three minutes came over my sun bed. I don’t
where it was coming from, I hoped they were not pumping raw sewerage
into the sea via a pipe. I did a visual inspection but all appeared
clear and then discovered a little further up was a stagnant lake at the
back of the beach. Why is it there, it is messing up the resorts best
asset it’s white sandy beach. Quite a few rocks getting into the sea but
we are seasoned travellers and have encountered this before, our rubber
shoes would make mincemeat of these rocks, only trouble was they were
still packed in the original room. So we stumbled into the sea and had a
swim which was pleasant. After a while you sort of learn to accept the
sewerage smell. We were not that fazed by it as our first house when we
got married was just opposite a sewerage works.
> 2.00pm and our room was ready, we literally moved our cases across
the road to a new room with ocean view. This room was very nice, big
bed, no damp smell, no noisy air con and a nice view. We settled in and
unpacked ready for our free gourmet experience at the very posh and
world renowned Royal Service Restauant. This co-incided with our wedding
anniversary for 38 years of marriage. They sent a golf buggy to pick us
up and the decor was very grand.
> The food however was total Shite, if they gave their Royalty that
crap to eat no wonder they are run by a dictatorship with no Royals
anywhere to be seen.
> They also didn’t want you hanging around in the restaurant because
they turn the air con up so high that if you stayed for coffee you would
turn into an ice sculpture.
> Back to the paupers part of the resort on a golf buggy, couple of
drinks and off to bed. I am feeling absolutely knackered and drop off
> Day three breakfast repeat Day two.
> Back to the beach, this time were unpacked and prepared with rubber
shoes and snorkels. Did some sun bathing went snorkelling, few fish out
there nothing to get excited about, think we got spoilt in Antigua last
year. May try a trip to sea life, see a lot more fish and don’t keep
taking in salty water.
> Now we had to leave the beach at 3.00pm for our free massages. Now I
do not do massages, I hate people touching me other than my family and
the thought of some fat bird rubbing her hands all over me is not
appealing. Only once have I ever been for a massage that was about three
years ago in Crete. Basically my wife made me, and having a daughter who
does massages for a living I suppose I should find out what it was all
about. In Crete I was given a pair of paper pants, I thought that was a
nightmare, apparently paper pants in Cuba don’t exist.
> These massages were for a couple in a private room for free how bad
could it be.
> We had been chatting about massages earlier over drinks, apparently
Ian has had lots and loves them, he said just think about cold water and
ice to concentrate the mind. I had even considered the embarrassment of
getting a right little fit bird, so water and ice sounded like good
advice. Now with this extra thing to worry about i was getting more
apprehensive by the minute. Then I start thinking for most of the male
population my daughter would come into the fit bird bracket. I started
to think, did she only do women, her massage bed was in a woman’s
hairdressers so surely no men went in there. What about before that,
when she was training at college, did she do men there. Did a bloke ever
get a stiffy on, perhaps I should have asked more about it, I could have
waited outside with a bucket of cold water and a machete and she could
sound a stiffy alarm so the pervert was dealt with in an Arabic style.
Something’s a man will discuss with his sons but not his daughters.
Let’s file it under don’t need to know and move on.
> We are now in the waiting room with another couple, in walks Helga
the Russian shot putter and her uglier sister, then the thunderbolt the
one thing that that hadn’t crossed my mind, mincing in behind was a
Lewis Hamilton lookalikey, hellfire if you say my name I am gone. Next
thing Helga says Kenneth, we are led off to the room,
> Helga seemed very pleasant, she looked a little like the result of a
one night stand between John Prescott and Fatima whitbread in the back
of his jag. No need to worry about water or ice here.
> I actually know a good joke about Fatima Whitbread. A bloke in a pub
drinking his beer and it tasted like shite, he turns to black lady and
says you fart in me Whitbread, she replies no I’m Tessa Sanderson. Now
my 18 year old niece will say I don’t get it, so for Stormies benefit
and any one else under the age of forty,Fatima Whitbread and Tessa
Sanderson were javelin throwers in the eighties and big rivals and
Whitbread was a type of beer in the eighties.
> Anyway we arrive in the little room for our massage with two beds, I
do a quick recce looking for the paper pants, there are none, right says
Helga to my wife you take off your top and you can keep your pants on,
she looks at me and tells me my swimming shorts are too long, they need
to come off. She hands my wife a little bell to tinkle when we are ready
and they will come back in. Roxane whips her top off and goes to get
under her sheet, I jump on my couch face down and Roxane tinkles the
bell, just as the door opens I frantically puli the sheet over my arse.
I remember thinking I hope I wiped properly this morning. What if I
missed a bit, then I reassured myself that I had snorkelling in the
meantime so all should be well.
> So the fat bird dabbled her paws and elbows all over me ( apart from
best bits) for about half an hour or so. Nine days on at the time of
writing both my shoulders ache and I can only move my neck about three
inches in each direction. Whether this has been caused by the virus I am
about to be served up or from the massage who knows.
> Could have ended up worse, i since found out Ian got Lewis Hamilton,
I hope he didn’t end up in pole position. He’s not saying a lot about it
but I’m sure it was fine.
> Day three, Friday breakfast repeat, we give the pool a go, The girls
do water aerobics and Ian and I play water polo. Rox and I went for
lunch at the pool bar, I had a crab salad which turned out to be
shrimps, never mind I like shrimps as well. As I ate the last one it
felt a bit squashy and old, not sure that was a great idea. Couple of
hours later Rox and I went for a game of pool. Half way through I had to
make a run for the loo. I think I left around 10% of my body weight in
there. Aborted the pool and went home and took some ammonium and had a
kip. Felt okay so went to the Mediterranean Restaurant, called for Gill
and Ian, only Gill arrived, ian was bad, couldn’t get off the shitter so
it’s a table for three. I ate a baby’s portion and some bread and got
through it. We went back and had an early night.
> Day four Saturday, A very big day, champions league final, ian didn’t
make breakfast, I had some fruit and a bit of bread. Managed to get the
footy on in the room with Fox only trouble it was all in Spanish, oh
well at least I didn’t have to listen to Roy Keane bleating on about how
this key Stones kop Liverpool side will never make it out of the group
as long as he has a mother. (Well take that you b******).
> Ian manages to struggle round with Gill, we give him the couch or
treatment table as it is now known. Match starts and Liverpool look
good, nice and lively, closing down, then that dirty filthy cheating
Spanish git Ramos gets Salahs arm locked in a nice
> Judo hold goes to ground and does a hatchet job on his shoulder. Can
this get worse. Karius goes to throw the ball out, Benzema puts his foot
up and blocks him, book him we all shout as the ball rolls in. Hang on
wtf is going on he’s given a goal, has he lost his f****** marbles.
Apparrantly so. What can you do, we come back score a good goal, then
hit the post and Bale scores a cracker. Should be 1-1 with all to play
for, instead we’re 2-1 down, but we’re on top we can get this back. Bale
fires in an aimless shoot from Fifty yards, you can do that all day son
I say arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggg
> Wtf, wtf, wtf. Loris Karius resigns his career ti the bundesliga
division three, my holiday is over and I don’t want to talk about it.
> Went for tea somewhere, can’t remember where and don’t really care.
> Day five Sunday
> Woke up depressed but with a banging headache, aching all over and
with constipation. Ian still got the shits on his ninth Imodium. Went to
the pool after a few pain killers and some fruit for breakfast, stayed
by the pool. Started to overheat, I went to lie down, I just need the
inner sanctum of my lovely air conditioned room, opened the door, no
lovely cool air, the cleaner had turned it off, I switched it on and
went to get on the bed in heat, click, a power cut, you could not make
this up. I lay there on the bed sweating like a pig with my head
pounding for about an hour before it came back on and I got some sleep.
Next day we had booked a trip with a guide called Raul. He was a young
lad of about 30 who had inherited his Grandads old 1954 Ford which was a
throw back to fifties America. He waited for us in reception for our
guided tour in and around Holguin. The car was bright orange and cream
and pretty much totally authentic other than the Diesel engine that ran
it and the air con that Raul had retro fitted. Lovely set of chrome
wheels and bench seat leather upholstery finished it off really nicely.
We set off, first stop was the cigar factory. On the way Raul excitedly
pulled over to the side of the road to show us a coffee plantation. It
didn’t really look like a coffee plantation, more like an overgrown
ditch with some bushes at the back. Perhaps this was why there espresso
coffee tasted so shite. We had to drive into
Holguin to get the tickets first, I went off with Raul to buy them while
the others stayed in the car. My short experience sort of told me the
excursion around Holguin later wouldn’t be too much to get excited
about.We arrived at the cigar factory and Raul told us two bits of
disappointing news. Firstly no photos and secondly we could only see the
trainees making some cigars but we couldn’t see the finished product
incase they tried to sell them to us cheap. I don’t think if they had
told us this before we went we probably wouldn’t have bothered. We
bought a few of the very best cigars they made and continued back into
holguin. We parked the car and continued to walk around Holguin in 90
degree heat. Raul showed us a plaque on the wall which depicted the
history of Holguin from when Christopher Columbus originally found it to
present Day. It was around thirty foot long made from bronze. I didn’t
hear all the short narrative as I was trying to a young lad who was
asking for money to b***** off. In the end he picked up his coke and
shuffled off in his havanias to accost another tourist. (Note to twat,
try losing the drink and the thirty pound flip flops you may have more
We the went to a little craft market where surprise surprise Rauls
mother had a stall. Earlier Ian had said he probably would take us to
his brothers shop and I told him not to be so cynical but not far from
After the market we visited some very run down almost derelict shops,
dodged some piles of bagged up rubbish and coped with some too nice
smelling drains. I think 30 mins in that heat was more than enough, when
he asked if we had seen enough we thought get me back to that air
We then went on a trip to the highest point on the top of the mountain.
Raul explained that it was 644 steps to the top and he does it every
day. I was starting to think that’s a hell of a lot of steps and with my
and Ian’s current situations could end up embarrassing, but I was
prepared to give it a go so as not to be a party pooper. When Roxane
said she didn’t want to do it as it meant her being exposed to the sun
for too long I hastily agreed, well I say hastily it did take about a
nano second of soul searching. However all that bullshit was for nothing
as Raul was just having us on, he would be driving us to the top in the
car. He dropped us off for twenty minutes as he wasn’t allowed to park
there. The view was spectacular but at the end of the day it was a view
of the city that you couldn’t wait to get of half an hour before. Ian
got us a bottle of water from the cafe to drink while we waited for
Raul. A really skinny little dog was there, he was just skin and bone
poor little thing, we gave him some water in a little indentation in the
stone floor which he lapped up. We ended sharing most of our water with
him, his need looked greater than ours.
Raul arrived and we set off back down the hill. We decided then to visit
an authentic Cuban fishing village, a decision I was about to regret.
Fifteen minutes into the hour long journey I began to sweat and shiver
in equal proportions, I felt really sick and my head was thudding with
every jolt of his 1954 ford suspension. We arrived at the village and
Raul thought we may like lunch or some refreshments so took us to a
small outside restaurant overlooking the fishing village. It was about
93 degrees and I was shaking like I had just got out of the sea at
wittering in December. The place was filthy, we didn’t want to eat there
and I just didn’t want to eat. It was meant to be a shrimp restaurant
but as soon as we sat down he gave us the menu and said no shrimps. I
thought I would get a cup of tea but they had no tea. We ordered coffee
instead with milk. The coffees arrived with no milk. We asked for milk
and they didn’t have any. Is this some sort of joke. We paid and left.
Raul took us for a tour around the fishing village and then we travelled
the one and a half journey back to the resort. The way I was feeling it
felt like at least double that.
The next day I was really ill, aching all over, chronic shits, banging
headache and felt like I had been run over by a bus. Struggled to do
breakfast and dinner and had no appetite but I was concious that I
wanted to participate so as not to ruin everyone elses holiday. We went
down in the evening and watched a great show, one of the show girls
pulled me up for a dance and despite my protestations she insisted and I
danced around for a couple of minutes. Possibly my biggest mistake as I
could hardly put one foot in front of the other walking back to our room.
That night I was shivering all night and had to change my t-shirt twice
as they were soaking in sweat.
Next morning I was worse, I couldn’t even get out of bed and could
barely stand. I was very worried that I may be carted off to hospital
and Roxane would be left on her own, so I decided to get a doctor out to
see what was going on. He came to the room, the nurse then stuck a six
inch needle up my arse and I was golf buggied down to the medical centre
to go on a drip for two hours.
The drip made an improvement and stabilsed my temperature, stopped the
sweating and shivering and pill popping paracetemal kept my headache at
bay, so I soon began to feel a bit better. All this time Ian still had
the shits and was running out of immodiam. (A problem that continued all
the way through his holiday including stomach cramps on the day of return).
Ian and Gill went on a Horse and cart ride the next morning to the
market, we didn’t go as still not 100%.
That evening Gill and Ian went to a Fiesta in the village which ran from
8.00 to 11.00, we decided to stay at the resort and watch the Show of
shows. This was really good with magicians, jugglers, dancers and the
most amazing strong man act I have seen.
The rest of the holiday was spent trying to make the most of it whilst
always having a loo nearby. Played lots of pool with Roxane or should I
say losing lots of pool as she came out on top in every session (i’m
sure she practices at home when I’m working).
Gill was chatting to a chap in the pool who she said was a footballer
who played for Reading back a few years ago and now plays in Thailand.
The following evening we were having a drink in the bar and him and he
and his girlfriend asked if they could join us. He was Leroy Lita and he
had played for Reading, Swansea and Middlesborough and his girlfriend
was called Anna. They chatted with us all evening and were very nice.
Leroy had decided he was going to ask Anna to marry him and told us the
day before. Anna had just asked Roxane if she had any nail varnish as
her nails were looking awful. Roxane gave her her nail kit and Gill did
a re-varnish for her on the beach. Leroy had gone to Holguin to get the
ring and made some excuse to Anna why she couldn’t go so she was moaning
that she may as well come on holiday on her own.
Leroy was looking for a box to put the ring in and I located a flower
that had a ring box built into the petal. He put the ring in it and gave
it to Roxane to look after until after dinner. There was a group playing
in the evening and Leroy stopped them and called Anna up to the dance
floor and did the one knee bit. We then had a good dance and it was
probably the best evening of the holiday. It was also the first one I
had started to feel better. Roxane and Gill got shit faced as is
customary on the last night and we went to bed.
Next day we were due to leave at 1.15 but the coach was put off until
2.15 as the plane was already delayed. Ian was really struggling with
his stomach. We got to the airport where Roxane and I had our Rum
confiscated as we had in our hand luggage, I was not happy to say the
least. There was a further two hour delay before we got on the plane and
then when we were about to take off a massive storm hit and we had to
abort and wait for it to clear. I did another good / bad balance count
up and they all looked like they deserved to live so we took off and
made it home.
A very different holiday and one I have written about just in case in a
few years time I ever consider going out of europe I can look back on
this and remember exactly what it was like.