Wednesday, 31 July 2013


3 Reasons Why I Love Kijiji/ Craigslist

This summer I had to get quite a few items off of these classified ads; of course the availability is much more limited than that of a store catalogue but it's was still a really great experience

Reasons Why It's Great

  • Many of these items that are being listed are in great condition, its near 10/10 mint condition; yet soo much cheaper! 
  • You get to meet such interesting people - just the experience of trading with this stranger is pretty cool. I met up with one girl to buy her bed frame and it turns out she graduated from the same University as me, it was a quick/sweet bond and I learned some interesting stuff. There are some interesting stories as to why it is they are putting it up for sale, moving, unused gift, etc.
  • It's eco friendly- you're basically recycling! With everything being bought brand new, there is definitely a surplus of used furniture and just 'stuff' that is being thrown out and wasted when it could be perfect for someone else. Assuming it looks brand new, and it's cheaper, do you really need to go and buy a brand new one yourself? Why not take one off of someone else's hands? You could probably put it to more use than it is sitting in the back of a closet or basement.
As much as you really want to buy whatever it is that you want to buy (there is high demand from yourself), there are people on the other side who really want to get rid of their stuff and have no use for it.

What do you typically buy off of Kijiji or Craigslist? Have you had good/bad experiences?

Monday, 1 July 2013


Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Review

I just came back from my first trip to Cuba. The environment, and culture is completely different than that of North America. I've had plenty of friends who have told me about how great their vacations were but going myself was the real deal. I went with my family to a resort called Melias Las Americas, and for just over $1000 it included a round trip ticket there, shuttle service to the resort, food and drinks.

Places like Cuba, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica heavily depend on tourism, and as such there are a plethora of these resorts. What's different between them is truly the price and the quality. Staying at this resort, we were blessed with a postmark view. Since it's in Veradaro and on a peninsula, it actually works out in such a way that both sides of the hotel has an ocean view. One side; however, is much nicer to look at since it's shallow with the breathtaking blue water, whereas the other is more for fishing and is a lot less glamourous (but a view's a view).

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Beach View
I kid you not, this is the view when you step through the lobby of the hotel. 

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Beach View

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Interior
We walked around and saw a few other Hotels while we were in Cuba, but none could really compare to the level of detail seen in this lobby. 
Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Havana Club
Each room is given a complimentary '26' of Rum. 

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Room View
We were actually upgraded to this ocean view. 
Food: I've heard some interesting stories regarding the quality of food at these vacation places, but it was actually pretty decent/good. You pretty much receive all your food from their Buffet restaurant which consists of 4 areas.

  • 'Salad'/deli typed food with different cold cuts and cheeses.
  • Already Cooked meat/veggies and Interactive Cooking Station of Fish/Chicken/Beef (Pork?)
  • Already Cooked pasta/pizza and Interactive Cooking Station where you can customize the type of pasta and sauce
  • Dessert and Fruit Bar
Fair warning however, they keep their windows open almost all of the time which is really nice except for the fact that there are always flies around. It's not uncommon to see these flies sitting on some of the food that's already laid out (as such I would suggest eating whenever the buffet opens). 

To be very honest, the level of customer care and service that I received throughout my stay was the best at this buffet. They are extremely polite, and are always around to see to it that you have a beverage and that dirty dishes are taken away promptly. I don't think that there was a single instance where I felt that someone was being rude. One server actually recognized us the next day, and told us that he thought that my mother may have left her cardigan!

However; in addition to this buffet there is a '24 Hour Restaurant (Bar)' and a few stand alone restaurants. Room service is also available around the clock at no charge. Don't expect a large menu for the 24h Restaurant, they sell simple items such as cheese burgers sandwiches and fries. I wouldn't say that it was great, but if you are stuck between meal hours or it is simply the middle of the night it's still great to have the option to eat. 

We were there for 7 nights, and for 3 nights you make reservations for these individual restaurants (I believe you make them at the front desk but apparently ours had already been booked). We ate at the International Restaurant, Il Limoncello and Sakura.

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort The International Restaurant
The International
 The International actually had a really great atmosphere, it gave off an upscale vibe with the decor and the music that was played by a quartet. The menu was interesting too, composed of an appetizer a main dish and a dessert. I had an appetizer with hummus, shrimp and 'crispy spaghetti', it was interesting and not bad in my opinion. However, we made the mistake of all ordering Lobster. What we found was 3/4 of the lobsters were not of good quality (you could tell by the texture) and  only 1 of our orders was tasty. Ordering something more safe such a pasta may have lead to a higher level of satisfaction at this restaurant. Finally for dessert, I took the waiter's recommendation of their creme caramel - although it was good, I was slightly upset I hadn't ordered the crepe that my mother had ordered. It was cooked in a sweet syrup with a hint of orange liquor - now that I would recommend ordering.

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Pool
Il Limoncello was an interesting restaurant to say the least. It's quite hidden, and we honestly had no idea where it was until the night that we went. It's right next to the restaurant that's next to the further (shallower) pool behind a hidden door. Walking through it I was pleasantly surprised as the restaurant sits with a wonderful view of the beach (our reservation was around the time that the sun was setting), unfortunately that's about as good as the restaurant gets. We had a waiter who seemed as if he had little patience; he was not friendly, brisk and also quite inefficient. To our dismay, we spent nearly 1 hour waiting for our main course. At this point the restaurant was hardly close to being full, if the staff had made a mistake with our meal (which we were certain they had) they never came to give an apology or any explanation. This followed suit with our dessert, in addition to a mix up of desserts. What's interesting is that they have two types of menus, one is the stardard a la carte while the other one is a 'taste tester'. The latter menu provided smaller sized portions of what seemed like everything on the standard menu. It was also supposed to provide a "Symphony of Desserts", however this was never delivered. Furthermore, as we waited impatiently for our desserts (we had been at the restaurant for a very long time now) we noticed that there was a swarm of tiny ants walking around the table. It definitely freaked out some of us, but instead of moving us to one of the surrounding empty tables or even an apology, the waiter simply took a napkin and swiped them away to the side of the table.

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort BeachSakura is a Japanese restaurant as one can infer from its name. They serve everyone the same meals, and also have a "Teppanyaki" chef. The meal consisted with three pieces of sushi, miso soup, fried rice, cooked vegetables, beef/pork, tempura shrimp and chicken. Of course we were in Cuba, and it would be unreasonable to expect the same quality of Japanese food one would get in Toronto (which is extremely multiculturally diverse with some wonderful cuisine), but I would only give it a 'satisfactory'. Watching the chef cook the rice seemed to be worse since it was happening right in front of us, an unusual reaction. We watched as he poured extremely generous amounts of soy sauce and sesame oil. He actually would pour the stuff for what seemed like over ten seconds, flooding our meal. Of course the cuisines is quite forgiving and it tasted kind of 'okay' but regardless it is something to keep in mind. The rest of the meat was cooked alright with the seasoning, but I was ready to see what was in store for dessert. Japanese dessert usually consists of just ice cream, but we actually had what seemed to be a Tempura/Deep fried ball of Icecream. I was actually pleasantly surprised, the combination was pretty good and I ended up finishing all of it despite my initial thoughts of leaving half behind.

What my family and I concluded together was that the buffet is actually the safest bet. The food is pretty good, the service and care receive is excellent and the food is readily available.

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Beach

Melias Las Americas : All Inclusive Cuban Resort Wind Surfing
That's me windsurfing for the first time!

Leave a comment if this has helped you in your decision or just leave a comment with your own personal experience there! I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!