Cuba proves to be the ideal destination, price wise and location wise, for a couple planning a cycling tour and craving respite from the Canadian winter.
By Paula Webber
When I found out last fall that both of our children were NOT going to spend Christmas with us in Smithers, my husband tasked me with finding an active vacation in a warm climate. We’d done a cycling tour of the South Island of New Zealand a few years back, and another major multi-sport trip to South America in ’05, but nothing like that since. In fact, it had been a few years since we’ve even had a vacation together since my intense two-year stint with the 2010 Olympic Games Organizing Committee. It was indeed time for an extended vacation.
Both of us love to cycle, so that was a good place to start. I contacted a good friend in Calgary who happens to be a travel agent specializing in adventure travel, gave her our budget, travel dates and put her to work. Within a few days she came back with a few options including trips in Hawaii and Cuba. Gap Adventures offered an eight-day trip which sounded pretty good and at pretty good price point, and Exodus offered a 15-day trip that also looked promising. Both companies have very good reputations.
Next, we got the scoop on Hawaii. Backroads does a six-day trip of the Big Island and, while that would have been our preference, by the time we priced out the trip per person, and then airfare (we didn’t have enough Aeroplan points to get there) Hawaii would be way too expensive, especially as December is high season. And we also had three weeks of vacation time. We crossed Hawaii off the list, at least for this trip.
We really liked the sound of the Exodus trip: the timing, itinerary and pricing were all good so once we discovered we could get there and back on points, we made our decision to spend Christmas in Cuba. There was only one last thing to do before booking: we had another few days at the end of the trip and wanted to spend New Year’s in Cuba, so we found a 4 star all-inclusive in Varadero to relax, recover and hang out on a warm beach before heading back to a cold Canadian winter.
Everything was working out so well so far, and easier than I thought, plus Cuba had been on our radar as a place to visit for sometime, and this promised to be a great way to see a country rich in history and culture. As well, it would be a nice change spending the holiday away from all the North American Christmas hype. No brainer, so we made the plunge, booked the trip, and now we had two months to train. Cuba DOES have mountains. With winter upon us, our challenge would be to put miles on our indoor bike trainers and be fit and ready for our December departure.
About Paula Webber
Paula Webber is a communications professional currently living in Smithers, British Columbia. Career highlights include include taking on the project of a lifetime as a media relations specialist for VANOC, the organizing committee for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
All photos © Paula Webber.