Heading for Cuba – Spring break – March 10 -17, 2012
It was Spring break time and my wife was certainly looking forward to some R&R.
Because my father had been in the hospital, we had to hold off making final plans so were really happy when we learned that Air Canada Vacations had a couple of spots available for one of their package deals to Varadero, Cuba. It was a direct flight and left on the Saturday and returned on a Saturday which fit our plans. The only hitch was that the seats available were in J class rather than in economy. I expected that the price of flying at the front of the plane might bump the price up substantially but after a bit of discussion with the agent and comparison with other options through Montreal or Toronto, we arrived at an agreement that fit our needs. With one of my sons agreeing to drive us to the airport, we arrived on time but for some reason the lines for luggage check-in were not moving very quickly at all and 20 minutes after arriving at the check-in line we were still standing at almost the same spot where we had entered the line. I guess somewhat in Air Canada noticed that a number of their valued customers had not checked in and looked around and noticed all of us standing there in line and added a few more staff to the check-in kiosks and solved the problem. I refrained from saying anything to the Air Canada clerk when she took my bags and told me that they might not get on the plane because we were too late checking in!!! I don’t know why, but for some reason, I always seem to get into that kind of public service conundrum when flying with Air Canada but we did get though the process and up to our gate on time so that is what mattered in the end.
It had snowed overnight and the temperature was just below freezing so as a safety issue we had to line up for deicing before our plane could take off.
With the deicing process completed, we headed out onto the runway and were soon airborne. Due to wind direction, our take-off was northwrd so we got a nice view of Ottawa before making the turning and heading southward toward our destination, Varadero, Cuba.
Whenever I am flying on a clear day, I enjoy having the window seat so that I can look out the window and see the cloud formations and the terrain of the ground below me. For this flight, the weather was fine, and watching the mountain ridges, hills and valleys as they passed below me kept me occupied throughout the flight.
We passed over a portion of the Atlantic Ocean as we flew along Florida’s coasyline and it was interesting to see, from the air, some of the coastline area that I had cycled along about 15 months earlier.
It wasn’t long before we had passed Miami, crossed over the Florida Keys and were decending into Cauba’s Varadaero Airport.
It was nice to feel the wheels touch down and begin taxiing into the terminal. Our plane stopped on the tarmac short of the terminal and we got off of the plane and were transported over to the terminal by bus. Not as convenient as taxiing up tot he gate but, since it was nice and warm and not raining, it was only a minor inconvenience to have two step process.
Getting through Cuban Customs and Immigration was reasonably straight forward although they did ask me about my camera equipment and profession, etc. “Retired” didn’t seem to fit. Guess I looked too young 🙂 ! Outside of the terminal there were plenty of nice new buses waiting to transport visitors to their resorts. We didn’t have any problem finding the Air Canada rep with his red sign and were soon out at our bus waiting for the next paort of our Cuban adventure.