Being a bit of a snob, I had avoided Andorra when we used to ski in Europe. It had a reputation for average skiing, average food and lots of stag parties. However, on this trip it stood between us and Valencia, we had some skiing gear with us, an ability to get a free hotel using air miles and J knew just how much I had enjoyed Whistler, so we decided to give it a go.
Being the end of the season we expected sub-optimal snow but lots of sunshine. Imagine our surprise to find ourselves driving up the mountain in a blizzard, with snow settling on the road……and me with nothing better than normal tyres on the car and distant memories of driving on snowy Northumbrian roads 30 years ago. It was a nail bitting couple of hours.
Some of my preconceptions were right. Food was average and there were large groups of lads skiing in fancy dress, getting increasingly confident and drunk as the day wore on. They reminded me of how I used to ski with my friends; our confidence was hugely disproportional to our ability and we were loud and dangerous. I wondered how many people had looked at me and muttered ‘Twat’ as I barrelled past them at breakneck speed thinking I could ski. They may still mutter ‘twat’, but now it’s mainly those who know me.
Other than that I found that was easily enough terrain to keep me amused and challenged for a few days, there was cheap-ish booze and a couple of ok restaurants on the slopes. On day one, as the sun was shining and we stumbled across a bar with champagne at a reasonable price, we though fuck being good children and stretched both the budget and the calories in/calories out equation for a few days.
The other great thing was that there was a couple of good dumps of snow then sunny days so we had almost perfect conditions and empty slopes.
When I consider the expense of Whistler vs Andorra, I would have to say that for up to 5 days skiing, Andorra is a great VFM location and unless you are an expert skier who wants to ski 10 hours a day, I would say save the cash and hit Andorra. If we were still in Europe, we would certainly return.
We only had a rough plan as we headed south. We needed to be in Valencia on the 11th April and wanted to get a couple of days skiing in Andorra es we went. Other than that, we wanted to find towns off the normal radar that had cheap AirBnBs available.
The first of these was Bourges, a few hours south of Paris and boasts a friggin huge Cathedral on a hill, some lovely parks, a huge reclaimed marshland full of small canals and allotments.
Next was a small, very old village a few hours further south and roughly in line with Brive-La-Gaillarde called St Cyprien. Our AirBnB was a basically a small shed on the side of a big shed. Small, but functional. My memory of the place will be a lovely long and flat run through French farmland and old villages.
To break the travel we decided to stop for a few days in Mirepoix, a reasonably sized town overlooked by the Pyrenees and surrounded by old castles on hilltops. Over the course of the next few days we discovered that most of the lovely castles were closed and in fact most of the area was closed, but we did manage to drink wine in the sunshine and I got to do the longest run I had managed to do since the Berlin marathon. Can’t say I enjoyed it too much but was glad to be heading in the right direction.
The tightness of our clothes and the state of our bank account made us realise just how much we had over indulged in Canada and England so we decided to impose a budget and food ‘hard routine’ and mostly in Mireprox we stuck to it, whilst sill enjoying ourselves. Aren’t we good children!!
Our clothes were also a bit smelly by then so e needed a laundry and discovered that in many French supermarket car parks there are huts with washers and dryers, so I got to spend a few hours in our car, sitting in a car park, watching our pants go round and round. What fun.
The moment we got off he Eurostar in Gare du Nord we realised that the adventure was starting again. The language, the food, the culture the way of doing things is all so very different. Spending time in the UK is like spending time with close family; Canada is a slightly more distant cousin. France is a mysterious stranger you meet in a bar. So much to learn, to understand and to enjoy.
Thanks to airline points, we spent the one night we had in Paris near the station in a very quirky and comfortable hotel called Robinet d’or before picking up a car and hitting the road.
One of the great things about being in France is that pretty much everyone knows the company I work for and many are rather proud of this huge French successes story. This also means that we get good deal with car hire companies, and I’m pretty sure the faux X 4 SUV I picked up is rather better than the 208 I booked.
Before we hit the road, I had a lovely run – following the canal south to the river, then heading west along the banks, around Notre-Dame and then back. Notre-Dame has had a tough time since then and I went to sleep rather upset the night it was on fire but was delighted that it was saveable when I woke the following morning.
I’ve mentioned before the tension I feel between my views on the negative impact of religion, past and present and the majesty of the buildings that are so many have produced. I find myself getting annoyed that so much money is spent preserving buildings rather than looking after those that need help, then getting annoyed when I see an ancient building crumbling away because the organisation want to spend all of their money looking after their communities.
The vast amounts of money pledged to restore the magnificent building shows one thing; we can afford to do both, we just choose not to.
We left Paris, keeping ‘The bear in the middle of the road’ – the phrase J uses to remind me to stay on the correct side of the road – and headed south to our first stop; Bourges.
In the past I have concluded that it is possible to love two, very different countries. The one you live in and know best is rather like the love one can have for a wife or husband; it is a deep down love that has been formed over years of getting to know them, understanding how they think, seeing the wonderful stuff as well as the less wonderful bits. The other country is a bit like a mistress; you visit rarely, have fun and get to ignore all the bad stuff.
The history we have had in the UK has helped to ensure that I have mostly seen it as the wife but this may be changing.
We loved the couple of weeks we spent there. The most fantastic bit is catching up with friends and family; seeing Nic in Birmingham, Jacquie and Nik in Netheravon, Mel and David in London, the whole gang at dinner in the Tower of London, the Booth/Tod clan at Andrew’s 90th at Mike’s house in Lincoln and our friends and neighbours around our lovely cottage in Devizes.
We also had a really strong feeling of what a lovely country England is; the countryside is stunning (and there is a lot of it….. those who say ‘We’re full’ clearly haven’t seen anything full), the history that is everywhere is incredible (Lincoln, and particularly the cathedral, was a real highlight). We also noticed how many pleasant people there are; working in bars and shops, chance encounters, staff on trains. Pretty much everywhere…. Even EE mobile phone shops. I guess they have always been there but when you live somewhere you don’t notice them, only the miserable bastards who appear to hate their jobs.
Out and about in England
It was great to see the cottage; it is a really, really beautiful house, in a lovely village in a very nice area. Our feelings were helped by the beautiful spring day we saw it on, a day which the estate agent remarked ‘is the best day in weeks; it’s been shit’.
Devizes and the Cottage
In Birmingham we ate a shit load of curry, all of which was lovely and pretty much everywhere, I drank a shit load of Guinness, all of which was lovely too.
Our time in London was a real highlight. We were lucky enough to be able to stay with Mel and David, south of the river near the Tate Modern. Since we lived in London 10 years ago, this area has gone from being somewhere that was ok but not a must visit, to a really vibrant area, helped by The Shard being on it’s door step. There are amazing new bits (near Tower Bridge), lots of revamped old bits, food trucks, interesting bars, shops etc and a really, really nice vibe.
On the other side of the river, the new buildings in the city were a real surprise and now, rather than The Vibrator being the biggest building in the area, it is dwarfed by many others, most of which are impressive feats of architecture. It is a very changed place and still one of the most interesting cities in the world (I hope the loss of £1tn and 6000 jobs due to Brexit does not effect the place too much).
We got the chance to see two plays whilst there. The first was in the Bridge Theatre and was called Always Alice which was completely unknown to us and turned out to be completely captivating. The second was Follies at the National Theatre (we would go and see just about any NT production in the NT). Neither of realised it was a full on musical…….we really should pay more attention to these things. It was a good musical, cleverly done and enjoyable, but not really as much of my cup of tea as Always Alice was.
Dinner in the Tower of London was fantastic. To have such a place to be able to get together with friends is very, very special. This one was a really international affair, with Carolyn and David coming from Oz, Fiona from Tunis, Mo and Bridge from Jerusalem, Kevin and Suzanne from France/Oz and the rest of the gang being spread out in the UK.
The Yeomen of the Guard, who come in to explain then guide us through the Ceremony of the Keys are always good and on this occasion he has fantastic, really bringing the ceremony alive.
From there we headed to a public loo………….. The Bermondsey Arts Club is rather hip converted ladies loo. Cool people with big beards go there, drink complicated cocktails and listen to cool music. They were delighted to have 20 old people in black tie turn up and pretty much dominate the 50 person bar. Some left. Those that stayed had a real treat. Mel took control of ‘the sounds’, blasting out cheesy hits from the 80s, 90s and naughties and soon everybody forgot they were cool and we all danced like lunatics until it was time to go.
Tower of London Dinner
London is a place that it is very easy to party in, which probably explains why, on our last night, I found myself ‘making shapes’, standing on Mel and David’s dining table, dressed in shirt, shoes, swimming shorts and goggles, recapturing a memorable night in Sydney in 2009 after celebrating me accepting my first job in Australia. This kind of behaviour is only ever acceptable with the mistress…
Dressed in my 20 year old bright yellow smock, resembling a giant, skiing banana, I had forgotten just how much I enjoy skiing until I hit the slopes in Whistler. For me, skiing is a perfect mix of physical activity, difficult skills, speed, risk, challenge, beautiful scenery and booze. I must admit that the booze is easing off a little as I get older and think back, with some fondness but mostly embarrassment, to the days when I was either drunk or hungover on the slopes, skiing with a speed and confidence that my skill most certainly didn’t warrant.
Whistler is a great place for skiing, with a huge amount of varied terrain and good old Canadian efficiency. The big draw back is the cost. At CAN$ 170 a day for a lift pass, CAN$750 for a day of private lessons and CAN$250 for a day of group lessons, it makes France look bargain basement.
We jumped in to the group lessons and am not sure I would again. The good news is that there are only 4 people in a class, but that where it ends. Groups change each day, so the first half hour is spent with instructors ensuring the groups are right. There is then the tension between breaking for lunch, wanting to maximise time on the slopes and acknowledging that not everyone can easily manage 5 hours on the slopes…….. On two days, my instructor was a little bit lazy and I think I probably had about 20 mins proper coaching in those days and spent the rest of the time merely following her.
I had 6 days on the slopes and J had three. Mostly I was smiling from ear to ear.
The initial plan was to bounce through Vancouver, fly to Toronto for a few days, then on to the UK….. until we found out that internal flights are far more expensive than international flights, so we changed plans to have a few more days in Vancouver then only connect in Toronto.
It was an opportunity to do some of the things that we hadn’t done because of our previous illness, to catch up with L&S one last time, and to eat really, really well (The Jam Café is absolutely fantastic).
I ran, we walked, we ate, we slept and we were re-united with some foutas we bought in Tunis and which Fiona had very kindly arranged to ship to her brother, Iain, in Vancouver (we have quite a lot of stuff in various places around the world right now (thanks Guy, Liz, Melinda, Tom and Nic…………).
It was lovely to visit Canada, to see Larry and Sandra, to ski and to be in a land of plenty. It felt rather more like a nice holiday than the adventure of the past 8 months, but that can be no bad thing. It is easy, relaxing and a perfect place to explore further when our bodies are less up for adventure.
It was bloody freezing, there was snow on the ground and J went out on the water………twice! Why? Creatures!
Tofino is a small town on Vancouver Island, a large Island off Vancouver. When I came last time, I thought it was a large island like the Isle of Wight but at 32,000 sq km, it’s 100 times bigger. Bloody huge.
Larry and Sandra knew a great place to stay just outside the town and it was our chance to enjoy a bit of wilderness without going too wild.
The Pacific Sands sits on a beach about 7km outside Tofino town and the windswept beach was a gorgeous backdrop. It was here that we realised that when it comes to being organised and wanting things to be right, J is an amateur. Sandra showed us how it is done and by the time we settled into our cottage on day two, at least 20 man hours had been spent getting it right. It was a very clean cottage!
Tofino has some great stuff to see; whales, sea otters (the dirty little fuckers), seals, eagles, a hot spring and some really, really big trees. We got to see most of the above on a day long trip to the hot springs; Humpbacks and greys entertained us on the way back, seals lounged on rocks and sea otters (the dirty little fuckers) frolicked at the entrance to the bay. The hot springs could have been a bit of a mare as only a few people can fit in at any one time. Luckily, when it’s 7c outside the majority of sensible people do something other than sitting in a small hot spring on the edge of a bay, so for the majority of the time, there was just J and I and the other guy on our trip (who we think was competing in the ‘Most negative man in the world’ awards and would have been drowned by us if the springs had been any deeper). I did feel sorry for the group of 12 who passed us as we were leaving as they were going to experience lots of strangers pressing cold flesh against their own…… It would have been like a very intimate none sexual orgy where everyone is wearing swimmers (so not that much like an orgy……. I imagine).
Hot Springs and Whale Watching
The big trees and the eagles we saw on a kayaking trip around the bay, wrapped up warm in a kayak made for two, guided by the lovely …… from Paddle West Kayaking. We covered about 10km and walked for a couple of km along the Big Tree Trail on Meares Island, which is exactly that. Some of the trees are 1800 years old which seems unimaginable. They are huge and rather awe inspiring.
The only downside is that J’s cold turned into such a violent cough that she sounded like a 90 year old Chinese man with a 60-a-day habit….who had a bad cold. She was so worried that she was likely to offend the rest of us that she confined herself to our room one day and missed out on the lovely surroundings.
When not out and about, we ate well, drank some booze and had a thoroughly relaxing few days.
From here, we headed back to the mainland, then on to Whistler!!
Out and About Around Tofino
So what does going from +30c to -37c in a short place of time do to a body? Our considered research suggests it fucks it….
On our return to Vancouver, initially all was well. Laura and Paco had travelled up from San Antonio for a couple of days to meet us and we had a lovely couple of nights with them doing what we do best; drinking and talking bollocks in bars. We really are very good at it.
Fun and Games with L & P
We also visited the Vancouver Aquarium, which for an animal prison is pretty good. It does a lot of good work on conservation and is a really good at subtle, or not so subtle education, about looking after our planet a little bit better. They also have sea otters, which are the cutest most wonderful creatures in the world. Or at least they would be if they weren’t completely evil bastards masked in a nice public persona. Think Jimmy Savile…………. but without the tracksuit…….. and gold chains……….. and mullet……….and all the other things that in retrospect shouted ‘SEX OFFENDER!!!’. I won’t go into detail, but Google Sea Otters, sex, baby seals and all will become clear (dirty little fuckers). Maybe they should wear tracksuits. If you don’t know the UK too well, you may want to google Jimmy Savile too, but probably not at work.
A Sea Otter practicing evil stuff
We also enjoyed a wonderful cultural experience with Larry and Sandra going to the ice hockey. It’s not ice hockey in Canada, just hockey (I assume the other is called ‘running around a field hockey’). It’s a big deal. We went to see the Canucks vs the Anaheim Ducks from California (who knew), and whilst the Canucks haven’t had a great season, the other team were worse so expectations were high.
It’s a fast game and to be it just looked like a bit of a fast moving wrestling match until they started fighting, when it slowed down a little. There are lots of things going on, like loud sirens when the home team score, sharks playing drums, sharks firing tee shirts into the crowd and music being played on a very old organ every time there is a break in play. Great fun, and the Canucks won (thankfully…. Imagine if they lost to a team that comes from a state that lacks ice).
Fight! Fight! Fight!
After all this fun and games, my body first got a headache, then just said ‘Fuck you!’ And I spent the next couple days in bed, shivering, shaking, coughing and being miserable. On this journey, Canada turns out to be one of the better places to get sick due to the easy access to drugs and comfort food, like mountains of chocolate and shepherds pie with baked beans. The same situation in Cuba would have been truly horrible (having only rum and detergent to perk me up), but at least I would have been as miserable as the majority of the locals.
Out and About
J then got a version of the same, but obviously less bad, and we kind of wrote off a few days. We did recover for the grand finale of the Vancouver Food and Wine Festival though, an amazing event which L&S had very kindly bought us tickets. It was the FTs perfect environment; great food, plentiful good wine and in the stunning location of the Convention centre, over looking the harbour. So, with about 500 of Vancouver’s similarly disposed inhabitants we had a great party, which culminated in Sandra leading a massive conga line around the dance floor (this is a Sandra’s superpower and the last time I saw it in action was probably the only time in its long and esteemed history that the restaurant in London’s Ritz has seen one). Great fun.
The middle aged and middle class behaving badly.......
After a few days acclimatising to Canada, we jumped on a flight to Yellowknife, which is a mid sized town about 400km south of the Arctic Circle. At this time of year people go there for one thing: to see the Northern Lights. Whilst seeing the Northern Lights, you get to do one other thing; get fucking freezing. The coldest it got was -37c, and for those who have not been in this kind of cold, this means it is really, really cold. Snot freezes, I got a nosebleed, exposed bits of skin go red, lakes have ice metres thick covering them and ice roads become a normal thing. And no matter how cold it is, when you say to a local ‘This is fucking freezing’, the say ‘This is nothing, you should be here when it is really cold’. After 7 months in sunshine our bodies asked ‘WTF?’.
It is a strange but rather wonderful place to go. To survive up there, people do things differently; they dress differently, rarely walk anywhere, drive cars that need to be plugged in at night and seem to have lots of live music.
They also go curling, which is a very cold version of lawn bowels. We went to visit a curling club, which is like a very cold version of a bowlo in Oz; cheap beer and a mixture of the very serious and the very amateur.
Out and About in Yellowknife
We had two goes at seeing the lights. One was with an Aurora Hunter and involved a 45 m drive to the middle of a frozen lake and parting with a significant amount of cash. The other involves Sandra driving 10 mins out of town, alternating between sitting in the warmth of the car and standing on a lake looking skywards.
Nature doesn’t care how much you have spent to see something and generally does its own thing, so on night one we had an ok display and night two, with just the 4 of us in the car, we had a much better display.
It is a very special experience, to stand in the freezing cold, watching the green light swirl about in the sky, peeing in the snow whilst a fox sniffs about (‘Is that a sodding wolf?’) and I am very glad we did it (not so much the peeing in the snow with a furry audience). I was also reminded how lucky some of my army experience was. In 1996 I was based on the prairies of Alberta at BATUS and spent many nights under the stars. I remember one night waking up and seeing an amazing show of colour above me, swirling and shivering like a bad effect on the 60s version of Lost in Space (if it had been in colour). I had no idea what was going on and had to ask someone. It’s only now I fully understand the lengths people will go to to have such an experience.
The other thing I was reminded of is that I like North American bars. They have more in common with UK pubs than Aussie ones in so much that both men and women go in roughly equal numbers and they just feel friendly. You can sit at the bar and chat to people without seeming like a weirdo for doing so (though some may conclude you are a weirdo after doing so) and it feels like a comfortable place to be.
I took a liking to the Black Knight bar, as it had everything a simple man like me needs: good beer, good service, proper pub food and atmosphere. We had a lovely experience on our first visit, when on asking for our bill after chatting to a local at the bar who left before us, we found that he had bought us a round. How friendly are Canadians!!
One of our visits coincided with a open mike music night upstairs which featured some great acts, so great that when we heard some were moving to another place to play, we followed them there, watched some great line dancing and local drunkenness and nearly followed then to the after, after party…….
A musical highlight was a visit to The Northern Arts and Cultural Centre to see 2 DJs, who together are know as Miraj, play an ‘Ambient Trance’ set, complete with light show. Sandra booked this. Now, at 48, I was the youngest of the group and the oldest had more than 30 years on me…. From the outset I wasn’t convinced that everyone really understood what ambient trance was, and knowing Jodie’s taste in music was pretty convinced only I would enjoy this. I was mostly right. As I sat with about 40 other people in a hall that could take 800, with 3 people dancing oddly (one of whom was obviously a man who needed help), watching two people put together reasonable music on a stage decorated with pot plants and and lava lamps, my appreciation deserted me after about 45 minutes.
It didn’t last too much longer, though no one was sure about that. In fact, the end was so un distinctive, they came back on stage to tell us all it was over, took some applause then started packing up their pot plants. Larry had the right idea; Larry slept.
The Music Scene
Far better than the DJs was a trip to see the ice cave, pulled over the frozen lake by a pair of husky’s. It’s amazing what these creatures can do; just hanging around in -20 something without lots of cloths is a feat in itself, but add to that, pulling a beer and fatty food fuelled man, and it’s nothing short of a miracle.
Whilst the change in temperature was a little extreme, it was a fascinating way to spend a few days and I would recommend it.
We flew from Cuba with Air Rouge, Air Canada’s budget airline, as few full service airlines service the place and whilst we had images of the squalor, elbowing and general rudeness of Ryanair in our minds, we were pleasantly surprised from the off. The wonderfully helpful and cheerful Taylor in the premium cabin took note of our rather ‘spoilt kids’ need for comfort and variety after a month in Cuba and did what ever she could to make us feel comfortable. This mostly involved keeping the booze and food coming, both of which were good and we became happier by the minute. It was the perfect start to the Canadian adventure.
It was almost less perfect when we got carried away in the lounge in Toronto when waiting for our connection and where so close to missing our plane, the guy at the gate said down the phone ‘You can stop off loading their bags, they are here’. That is as close as you want to get to missing a flight.
After so long in hot, non English speaking countries, why Canada? Our primary reason was to visit our lovely friends, Larry and Sandra, who we met in 2010 in the Antarctic and had then met a number of times in Sydney, London and Las Vegas. What we hadn’t done is see them in their natural environment of Vancouver and despite, their nervousness about us visiting at that time of year, we had decided this was the perfect opportunity to do so.
Arriving in the snow was a bit of a shock to the system, especially for J whose wardrobe was very much a summer only thing and had only Birkenstock’s to keep her feet warm in 0c, so first stop was an outlet mall. Talk about from famine to feast. From empty shops with grumpy staff to an orgasm of consumerism, staffed by people who are so helpful and charming it can feel a bit creepy to a stiff Englishman. It made us feel giddy.
The other shock on arrival in Canada was the cost of everything (besides all the goodies in the Outlet Mall). Mostly in Cuba and Colombia, as long as we didn’t go to international hotels or the very best city restaurants, it was pretty easy to stick within budget, without really thinking about it but in Canada it is all but impossible. The prices on the menu are high, but the cost at the end is so much higher. There is normal tax, liquor tax and then the tip. The tip thing is all very odd. In Oz and the UK, mostly you tip for good service. In Canada, poor service demands 15%, good service 18-20% and exceptional service 25%. On top of that, chambermaids expect $5 per day, taxi drivers at least 10% and pretty much everyone who provides a service expects something. The English in me wants to push back on this, but the only people to suffer from that would be the pleasant, hard working people who, in accordance with Canadian labour law are allowed to be underpaid by the employer who takes the profit. It’s all a bit odd and shit. Luckily we have a slush fund to ensure we can do most of things we really want to do that don’t fall in the normal daily budget.
On the upside, mostly this results in good service, though it can feel a little insincere at times (FWP). I’m not sure what is better; insincere politeness or genuine grumpy shits.
If I were to describe Canada with one word, it would be easy. By that, I mean the word is ‘easy’, not that it would be easy to come up with a word, though it is easy to come up with easy.
Firstly, whilst our Spanish is now ok to get by with, it hurts my head to think so much about just talking about normal stuff, so to be able to just talk without thinking (not something I admit to too often, but something my friends will agree with) is a real delight.
Secondly, it is a proper first world country so everything works. In the west we take much for granted; getting drinking water out of taps, having public transport that is understandable and reasonably efficient, safe roads, shops with everything you could ever need or want, restaurants selling every type of food etc. The last time all of this came together for us was September last year in Berlin so we really do know how lucky we are to be in such an environment.
The difference in places was hugely apparent on night 2, when we went for dinner followed by going to La Boheme in Vancouver (though we did get Cuba flashbacks when we were confronted with the not so faint smell of sewage in the first place we went to. We left). Being surrounded by the better off element of Vancouver society, watching a highly polished performance was a world away from our last cultural experience, watching ballet in Camagüey but not so different that I could resist some very ‘long blinks’ during it, which could be also described as a very expensive way to sleep.
We had left Havana nearly a month before and had friggin hated it. On our return we had decided to stay in a different part of town, Vedado, as we had heard it was a bit less feral than Barrio Chino (it would be very hard to be more feral). We got that right and were very happy when we arrived at our AirBnB in an apartment of what used to be a grand old house. The young couple who ran it were charming and the place so well provisioned (wifi, hot water, coca-cola etc) we were sure they must be related to the Castros.
This good start meant that Havana had every chance of winning us over on our second visit…….My jog around hen area and then back along the front to Barrio Chino to pick up some stuff we had stored there took me along some beautiful streets past incredible houses and filled me with hope. It failed to ride the wave though. Dinner on the first night was at an interesting Iranian place that reminded us it was Cuban when they decided they didn’t have what J ordered so gave her something completely different, got shirty when we complained, then brought out what’s she had ordered. We then dealt with every taxi driver trying to rip us off (I think there is a cartel in town that keeps the prices high), objectionable staff in restaurants and being treated to the worst haircut of the trip (it will take months to recover from it). It was still Cuba. It was a better experience than the first, but being in a prison cell without Mr Big is a better experience than being in a prison cell with Mr Big but neither are experiences one would rush to.
I won’t summarise the Cuba trip again as I did that at the start but I have to say that getting on our flight to Canada, despite our reluctance to go somewhere cold, was a real pleasure.
I wish Cuba the very best; all people deserve the best. Unfortunately I wouldn’t recommend helping the economy by spending your tourist money there unless you really have run out of other places to go.