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MEMORIES FLAMENCO October 2020

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020

I know for some travelling during the pandemic is crazy but I felt safer in Cuba than I do at home in Canada. That said, I did my research and made sure that every precaution was taken before we decided to book our trip. In September 2020 I started reading that hotels were open again in Cuba, mainly in Cayo Coco and they were protocols in place to assure my safety. I saw videos of the cleaning precautions they were now doing, cleaning everything multiple times a day and sanitizers everywhere, and I heard they would give you a test at the airport after arriving and told within 24 hrs of the result. I then saw several videos from a gentleman who was the first to go to Cuba and he recorded everything. He showed us the airport here in Toronto and in Cuba and he recorded daily to show everyone how safe and amazing it was. After feeling safe, and talking it over with my boys we decided to book. We even had a couple of friends book with us, and we all travelled together. We were excited and not scared at all. We left on September 26 2020 . We did have our temp taken at the airport and we all wore masks and wore them on the plane. At the resort, every employee wore a mask and gloves, and they took your temp before going to the desk, and once we were showed to our room we felt comfortable enough to take off our masks. We were shown to our beautiful room, with an ocean view and since it was early afternoon we ventured off to the beach.

The beach is beautiful and empty, in fact we had our choice of palapas, and in total I think there were just over 100 people there and we all got to know each other for the most part. I think we all felt like an ease and an excitement that we were vacationing during these crazy times, and it was awesome. We all felt close and we all got along pretty well. We left with some new friends coming home.

The room was great, although we did not have water for a full day, they did drive us over to the paraiso so we could shower, and by the time we got back, we had water again. They have very comfy beds, except for the pull out bed they brought for one of my sons’, hard as nails, horrible bed, so the boys switched beds every night. We froze in our room at night, and they did not give us blankets or extra sheets for that matter, so I wore pants and a sweater and the next night I just turned the ac off because even turning it up to 24 made me cold. The shower in our 2 room suite was awesome, a bathtub with shower and a separate shower as well as a commode room and a small walk in closet, which I loved. We were in building 2, 2nd floor, 2116 and close to the snack bar and restaurant and the pool and the beach, so that was awesome.

The food was not that great. It was ok. We had a la carte the first night, italian and it took over an hour to get our food. We ordered spaghetti and I had lasagna, and had to ask for bread as it was taking so long and we were all starving. It was ok, and then we went to see the show. I was disappointed as they only have a few of the staff from animation and I felt although they were good dancers, I have been to Cuba so many times, they are always the same shows. The cuban dance show, the movie themed show, the love show, and usually have a guest participation show, all of which I just wasn’t really interested in. Our announcer Carlos was awesome and tried hard to get people to come to the shows, but there wasn’t much he could do to persuade us. I will say the karaoke night was the most fun though. We had asian the next night, which was pretty good except for the main course, some sort of pork but not really good. The snack bar was ok, but I didn’t go at night as I heard about the mosquitoes eating you alive there. I got eaten alive anyways, so I didn’t want more bites, lol. Although I did want a snack here and there at night but too afraid to go. I did try it a couple of times during the day and they served fries and burgers and poutine which I tried one time at lunch, all of it was pretty good. Lunch was at the restaurant or by the beach. It was nice to eat at the beach but it was repetitive, always the same choices, grilled chicken, pork or beef fajitas (with no tortilla and the meat was pretty tough). Never did get any lobster, or churros, or even cake and we celebrated my birthday there and they totally forgot, I was quite sad that I didn’t get a cake, didn’t want the fan fare but was looking forward to cake and never got it. The 3rd night they began the buffet again, this was much better. A server would go with you and you would tell them what you want and they would put it on the plate for you all while wearing masks and gloves and although it could take a few minutes to get a server, it was ok, I knew there would be a lot of things that wouldn’t be up to par as before the corona, so I didn’t expect much, which was good. It was a huge buffet, but there was plenty to pick from. Breakfast was at the same restaurant and there was pancakes, French toast, eggs, and you could order an omelet and they would make it and bring it to you. It would get cold in the restaurant so I would suggest wearing a small jacket, but you wlll be taking it off once outside. It was so hot, even at night, you would sit there and sweat and not even move a muscle,lol.

We had to use credit card for everything and the only thing we used cash for was tipping and Cuba has it pretty bad right now. Its hard for them to get soap and detergent and shampoo and deodorant among other things, They are such hard working people with lovely hearts, always doing their best to make us Canadians happy. They were full of smiles and their hands were over their hearts to show us how much they appreciated us coming there again. They have all been waiting and wanting to work and its been really tough on them. We brought a suitcase of things to give out and I wish I could have brought them more.

We had a very lovely time at Memories Flamenco, despite corona and its horrible grasp on life right now, we didn’t allow it to stop us from living and we enjoyed our time away, enjoyed the hot weather and the drinks and the sand and the sun and even more than that meeting new friends including Stacey and George and Paul and Darren and Krista and Kristal and Aimee (hey, brrrrrrrr)and we all got along so well, enjoyed our time together and I truly felt we all had a special connection. That was the best thing we took home with us.

We loved getting away and were not one bit scared, we enjoyed ourselves so much that we are ready to do it again and are looking at going back in November because we love CUBA the people and the weather and there is no reason to stay away from them. So Vamos a la playa!!!

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Gran Caribe Club Cayo Guillermo September 2019

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

We have travelled many times to many different places but this little spot will hold a special place in our hearts. From the moment I contacted them (Sandor replied) and I was assured that the staff there would do everything they could to make our stay amazing and that they did.

As soon as we stepped off the bus, the manager Caesar and Nildrey and Rammary were there to great us with drinks and to take us to our room. We were surprised to find we were given a 1 bedroom bungalow suite. It was beautiful. My daughter and I had the bedroom and the boys had the living room, I didn’t know how much we needed that as we all got some privacy as well as our own space when needed. My daughter needed some quiet time and this suite was perfect and i really appreciate that they gave it to us, it was very thoughtful of them and so helpful to us. They took care of everything and we didn’t even have to go to the front desk. We were whisked away to our villa by the sea and next to the pool. It was perfect!! Even had food waiting for us in the villa as we got there late (thus the blurry image of my son eating, but it was the only shot I took of the food before it was all gone). We were all so excited and we had just arrived.

Nildrey took care of our little girl every day and our daughter loved her, she was kind and attentive and wonderful. We also got to relax a bit and not worry as our daughter was in good hands. Nildrey took her to see the dolphins, went on horse buggy rides, painted shells, went to a splash pad, took her on a catamaran, and even stayed up late with her in our room while we went to a beach party at a nearby disco. It was the first time that I felt so assured that my daughter was in good hands, they left the hotel together to go do activities and I was ok with that, no worries as I knew Nildrey was taking the best care of my little girl. This meant so much to me and helped me to relax and truly enjoy my vacation. Nildrey kept telling me that she wanted me not to worry, to rest and go to the beach and enjoy the sun and that she was taking great care of my little girl and she helped make sure we had the best vacation ever.

The food was pretty good, chef Jeremiah is awesome, and made us personally churros everyday and would deliver them to us wherever we were. Norje the cook would always make heart pancakes and heart shape omelettes for our little girl and always greeted us with a smile.

Alex was the other manager and he was always so happy to see us and always took a moment to ask if we were well taken care of and if we needed anything and he took care of many of our particular needs when it came to food. He always made sure my daughter got pizza every night, as she pretty much wouldn’t eat anything else. They didn’t have to do this, but that they did, was so awesome. They also made reservations for us for every night,. again another helpful thing to do and I appreciate that so much.

The entertainment staff was so much fun, they tried to include everyone and they were friendly and so kind. Jorge (George) was full of energy and took time to spend with the guests even when he wasn’t working. They made each one of my children feel special and this was so sweet.

Julie would always take such good care of us while dining and Adonis was an amazing bartender. Everyone went above and beyond their jobs and made you feel like you were at home. We were very sad to leave and hope to come back soon one day. Just make sure you take lots of mosquito spray as that’s the only thing that one may complain about. Again thanks to everyone there for making our stay extra special. We can’t thank you enough and we consider you family.

I will recommend this hotel to anyone and will tell them that they will be well taken care of, they will feel like the staff members are family and they will never want to leave. This was even better than some 5 star resorts that I have been too. The personal touches and the extra effort they give you is just amazing and I can’t thank them enough for giving us a week in paradise, we will never forget this vacation!!!

(these pictures were not taken with my professional camera, so they are not the best quality)

Royalton – Antigua – 2019

Saturday, March 14th, 2020

I love travelling to different places and then writing about them as I think it helps others plus it reminds us of the adventures that we had. Ever since i was a little girl, travelling was and still is important to me and my family. I would spend my summers in Greece, a few weeks in Athens and then a month or so in Naxos where my dad was from and those trips will always hold such special memories for me and I wanted to do the same for my family. Even though we tend to go to caribbean now, one day I plan on taking the family back to Greece to show them their heritage.

In the meantime we will travel to various locations and I will blog about them. Usually I would bring my pro camera, but since my car accident in 2016 its been hard to carry my beast around, she’s pretty heavy and although I miss my beautiful images, for now, I will just use the olympus tough tg-5.

This trip my best friend and I decided to try the Royalton in Antigua and let’s just say we weren’t disappointed. Once we got to the airport we were directed to the Royalton booth where thWe have travelled many times to many different places but this little spot will hold a special place in our hearts. From the moment I contacted them (Sandor replied) and I was assured that the staff there would do everything they could to make our stay amazing and that they did. As soon as we stepped off the bus, the manager Caesar and Nildrey and Rammary were there to great us with drinks and to take us to our room. They took care of everything and we didn’t even have to go to the front desk. We were whisked away to our villa by the sea and next to the pool. It was perfect!! Even had food waiting for us in the villa as we got there late. Nildrey took care of our little girl every day and our daughter loved her, she was kind and attentive and wonderful. We also got to relax a bit and not worry as our daughter was in good hands. Nildrey took her to see the dolphins and even stayed up late with her in our room while we went to a beach party. The food was pretty good, chef Jeremiah is awesome, and made us personally churros everyday and would deliver them to us wherever we were. Norje the cook would always make heart pancakes and heart shape omelettes for our little girl and always greeted us with a smile. Alex was the other manage and he was always so happy to see us and always took a moment to ask if we were well taken care of and if we needed anything and he took care of many of our particular needs when it came to food. The entertainment staff was so much fun, they tried to include everyone and they were friendly and so kind. Jorge (George) was full of energy and took time to spend with the guests even when he wasn’t working. Julie would always take such good care of us while dining and Adonis was an amazing bartender. Everyone went above and beyond their jobs and made you feel like you were at home. We were very sad to leave and hope to come back soon one day. Just make sure you take lots of mosquito spray as that’s the only thing that one may complain about. Again thanks to everyone there for making our stay extra special. We can’t thank you enough and we consider you family.ey put our diamond club bracelets on us and gave us a bottle of water and off we went to the resort. We were greeted with a tropical punch and warm towels and then shuttled to the diamond club lounge where they had little appetizers for us to nibble on while we waited for our butlers to come and take us to our rooms. Rooms are beautiful and although there was a little mishap with our suitcases going to the wrong room, we were well compensated for the 2 hours of worry that we went through. After that we did not have one problem. The food is amazing, the restaurants are fantastic, we love Hunter steakhouse, fillet mignon was like butter in your mouth. We never waited for our table, and although the food took a bit of time getting to us it was worth the wait and we were well taken care of by our wonderful waiter.

The beach was gorgeous and diamond club members have their own little area, we were well taken care of but at times the wait was a bit longer than we liked, it was ok though, we were in paradise and we know that not everything is always going to run smoothly all the time. We loved the cabanas with the private little jacuzzi’s so we rented them for 2 days at $95 per day, again well worth it, it was a highlight of our trip.

We did a catamaran cruise for a day and it was so much fun, and thrilling as we would go over the waves and it was almost like being on a roller coaster.

We also did some shopping in town, not much to choose from but both my best friend and I love blue diamonds so we both purchased blue diamond rings.

We loved getting all dressed up every evening for dinner and then the show, which was ok, sometimes better than other nights but one night they had a silent dance party which we ended up having a great time at. It was our first time doing this, you go to the roof and choose a pair of headphones and you can choose between 2 channels and then you dance but no one else around without the headphones can hear the music. It’s a cool and interesting event and we were so happy that this couple told us to go and check it out, we almost didn’t but really ended up enjoying ourselves.

The only complaint we had is the concierge on every floor, at first they are so nice to you and offer to do anything you want them too and then they hit you. Our nice concierge lady called us one evening and asked if she could come and talk to us. I had a feeling I knew what she was going to say and warned my bestie but my bestie has a big heart and when our concierge basically told us that she doesn’t get paid unless she gets customers to go to this “special presentation” my bestie persuaded me to go. Even though that I knew it was a waste of time, and it would not be just 30 mins long, and I knew they would try every tactic to get us to purchase into their “club” I sighed and went along. After a very long 3 hours of breakfast and then touring the cabins on the water and told if we bought in at $17,000 then we would get to go to any Royalton and get an automated upgrade plus perk after perk but in the end its still not worth it to us as we may not want to go to the Royalton and then what. The guy trying to persuade us to buy even told us that this was better than buying life insurance, and which I got upset that he could even compare purchasing a timeshare to purchasing life insurance and I was ready to leave when he went to get his boss. I was about to let the boss have it, but he was nice and just wanted to shake our hands and wish us well and then we left. So don’t get duped into doing the presentation and losing precious time from your vacation.

Other than that, we have an awesome time and were well taken care of. I do think that the Royalton in Antigua is new and has some work to do still, like quicker service and such, but hopefully they will get there. I give it an 8 out of 10 and although its a a bit pricey, I wouldn’t hesitate to go back.

Baby Aliza

Saturday, March 9th, 2019

I know this wonderful family for years and Mariam is just one of 6 kids and I remember her as a little girl and now she’s all grown with a beautiful daughter of her own and I was honoured when she asked me to do a photo shoot of her precious newborn.

Baby Aliza is only 3 weeks old but she’s already alert and ready to go. She’s usually a sleeper but she wanted to see what was going on when I came by to photograph her so we didn’t get many sleepy shots, but her eyes are so big and beautiful that you can’t help but stare into those big beautiful brown eyes of her in every shot. She is so adorable and both mom and grandma love taking care of her and she has become their little princess.

Thank you Mariam for allowing me into your home and your lives and for asking me to photograph your precious little girl. It was a pleasure spending a few hours with you all and getting to know your little girl a bit. She has a strong personality already and I look forward to seeing her grow up.

I couldn’t help but turn her into an angel for a few shots.

My day with Sue Simmons

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

Had a wonderful day up north at our cottage with Sue, she is the creator of Lemons to Lemonade, a guide on how to better interact and teach your child, and she is the owner of Equinox Family Consulting. She has a wealth of knowledge and information and helped me out incredibly with her course. I learned so much and I have a new way of interacting with my children and approaching problems in a different way which helps both the child and the parent. I met a few wonderful moms during her course and we laughed and cried and shared our stories and learned so much from Sue. I can’t thank her enough for sharing her techniques and helping us each to build better relationships with our kiddos.

I was thrilled to do a mini session with her and we even took a few images of her daughter, and we had so much fun trying to run from the mosquitoes, but we picked an awesome location and enjoyed our time together. Here are just a few images from our session.

to share one of her beautiful daughter too.