For the next two days we all went to the holiday resort at Varedero. This is where most of the sun and sand type holidaymaker would go for a week or two, maybe taking a day trip to Havana or one of the other cities, but otherwise completely insulated from the real Cuba!
The journey there in our smooth air-conditioned coach was really interesting as we travelled through an ever changing countryside, getting a brief impression of rural and small village life.
We stopped at a road side "taverna" for a pina colada. When the barman handed us the bottle to allow us to add our own measure(s) we thought we'd died and gone to heaven. Our type of bar. (The band in the pic is playing Guantanamera, of course!)
We passed through Matanzas. The tour rep on our coach told us that it is called the city of bridges. There are seventeen crossing the three rivers that traverse the city. For this reason it was referred to as the "Venice of Cuba." It was also called the Athens of Cuba for its poets. I've got to say that the little we saw from our coach made this comparison very difficult to accept.
He also told us that the name Matanzas means "massacre or slaughter" in Spanish. Named in memory of the wholesale slaughter of the inhabitants by the Spanish in revenge for 20 of their soldiers drowning in the harbour during a raid when their boat flipped over and their heavy armour dragged them down.
The archipelago at Varedero has over 20 kilometres of the finest beach in the world. The all-inclusive hotel complexes that line the beach are very well run, full of pools, bars and restaurants. A very enjoyable day (and night) was enjoyed. Could it have been otherwise with the wall to wall drink and food? (Lost passport lad arrived and proceeded to try and catch up; mistake!).
A full set of my pics of the tour can be found at Flikr