Posts tagged with “cuba”
Dec 24, 2015
It was a very nice journey through Cuba but also very exhausting. Lots of walking and lots of transfers. Cubans are really nice to talk to outside of touristic places. The best encounters have been made during my two walks in the barrios of Cienfuegos. Overall, there weren't too many tourists except in Havana, making the trip so much nicer. That said, Viñales was fully booked when I got there, and it was the same with the Havana in the last days.
31 mojitos have been drunk during the travel and by the end, I switched to piña colada due to a lack of successfulness in the result. Only one daiquiri has been drunk. The top three best mojitos where at: Cienfuegos casa, Martha's and the bar near the Orthodox Church.
Reflecting on renting a car or not, I'd say it would have allowed a little bit more sightseeing on the way and gave the possibility to break the long transfers. However, seeing how the roads are, I am dubious about having made the transfers as fast.
Things that have been missed due to the lack of car: - a better one day excursion instead of Cayo Jutías when being in Viñales, - the view on the national park during the transfer between Cienfuegos and Trinidad, - a stop in the vale de los ingenios during the transfer between Trinidad and Camaguëy.
Due to the short time in Camaguëy and Baracoa, the car wouldn't have helped and there was too much things to see and do in Havana and Santiago that would have required a car.
About remaining money, that was a well fitted management. 20 CUP, which is equivalent to 1 CUC remain. They are not changeable at the CADECA. Getting the CUP the day before leaving makes it really hard to get rid of them. The 4 CUC got changed into 4 USD after buying a few things at the airport.
Dec 23, 2015
Early departure to Baracoa airport. The taxi driver makes a detour to the obelisco José Martí, which is situated where he arrived from the Dominican Republic to fight against Spain.
Then, there is a long wait at the airport. The plane to Havana was expected to leave at 9.45 but will only do so at 11 am.
The flight goes North-Northwest following the coast. It goes over Cienfugeos and the view over the bay is very nice! It is less cold in the plane than in the bus.
In Havana, a walk to the city to do some bars: one on the Malecón and the Bodegita del Medio, which wasn't so nice. There is a lot of hype around the Bodegita bar. It is supposed to have the best mojitos in town but they are only average.
In the evening, a nice restaurant mostly filled with Cubans. Good food for a low price!
The day starts by following Gervasio towards the Vedado. There, the Focsa building is the host of the Emperor bar, which has a view. Unfortunately, there is no room upstairs.
Continuing to the Malecón, there is the American embassy. There are 136 flag poles in front of the embassy, which stand for the number of years Cuba has been independent. Then, there is a statue of Macéo, and one of Martí, pointing at the embassy from 500 m away, saying that Cuba will always be free.
From there, a long walk (5 km!) towards the Orthodox Church. Ice cream and mojito at the coffee nearby.
Museums are closed on Mondays. More walking around in the old Havana. The Granma is inside the Revolution Museum, but it can be seen from the outside.
From the Malecón, cab ride to the Castillo which is on the other side of the channel. It is not possible to cross it by food or bicitaxi. There are a few things to see, the Castillo, another fortress, the museum of the Missile Crisis, the house of the Che and the white Christ of Havana. It is an easy walk but the cabs try to extend the ride to include a tour of all that.
A very nice red Chevrolet makes the ride back to the casa.
Late departure to the Central Park. On the park, it is possible to take an hop on hop off bus for only 5 CUC which goes to the end of Havana. However, there are only two interesting things on the way: plaza de la Revolucion with the monument to Martí and the Necropolis de Colón.
The plaza is not that interesting in the end. It looks like an oversized parking lot. The monument has a statue of Martí and a tower. From the monument (it is not possible to get into the tower), it is possible to see the palace of the government, which is highly recognizable by its large building and its area prohibido signs.
The Necropolis de Colón is more interesting. It is 5 CUC to enter if you do not have family there. There is even a barrack called oficio de turismo! Most of the tombs are made of white marble and bear statues. However, after walking a few quadras, it looks like statues are part of a catalog where they can be picked.
Back to the Habana Vieja, finding the museum of the city is hard. The building itself is nice and was the previous palace of the Spanish Captains. The museum itself is interesting for the furnished rooms. Sadly, you need a guide to visit but it can be seen from the doorstep with the normal ticket.
Back to the casa early. It feels like the end of the trip. Lots of walking in the recent days and the crowd of the city makes Havana exhausting to visit.
Luggage are packed! One last day tomorrow to spend the remaining CUC.
Last day in Cuba! I dropped the luggage at Martha’s before heading to the city.
I passed by Floridita (skipped), the home to the Daiquiri, before going to Obispo street to look for postcards.
I went to the museum of the bellas arte for Cuban art, which is apparently one of the most interesting museums to see in Havana with the museum of the city. It is nice and has lots of modern art. There was also an exhibition on a photographer who covered historical events.
One ice cream on the Malecón nearby the Orthodox Church before walking back to Gervasio.
Surprisingly, during these last days in Havana, I had less requests in the streets. That's very nice. Maybe I got used to decline even before the question gets asked? Or maybe I a tanned enough to look local?
Back at Martha's to wait for the taxi who's coming at 5 pm to drive me to the airport. At the checkin I learn that you cannot be upgraded twice. Mmmm. At the control, there is a problem with the system and I have to wait 10 minutes. In the end, it still doesn't work but upon saying I had no issue on arrival, they stamp it and let me go through. With tickets bought recently, there is no need to pay the tax at the airport as it is now included in the ticket. Hence 25 CUC remaining.
One bottle of rum and two cigars at the 'duty free'. Quotes are mandatory since goods do not have taxes in Cuba.
Departure for the Viazul station at 7 am to get the ticket. The departure is almost on time.
One stop at Guantanamo (GTMO) bus station. After leaving the town, on the right side, there is the road that goes to the US Naval Base.
The road is a good 1 hour of turns, with large valleys looking very tropical.
In the mountains, the bus stops as a break for the driver, then starts again. Less than 1 km later, the EON bus is broken and we take some passengers to Baracoa.
Arriving in Baracoa under a grey but dry weather. The city looks empty and there is almost no cars.
There is a few museums to visit such as The Matachin museum, which is located in a fort the Spanish built to protect the city and the cathedral. There are a few more, but as the weather is expected to be worst tomorrow, this is a leftover just in case.
The weather is getting better around 8 am and by 10 there is a blue sky everywhere.
Following the Malecón of Baracoa, there is the stadium of baseball and then the playa del miel. It is a black sand beach. At the end, is the rio miel. At high tide, the path crosses water!
To cross the rio miel, there is a small bridge made of wood and a couple of boats as well.
The area is part of a national park. Entry is 3 CUC for The mirador. There is no need to pay for the access to the playa blanca as the sea is too agitated to swim. The beach is not interesting though.
The mirador is about 160 meter high, but the hike is rather easy. From there, the view on the bay of Baracoa is very nice. There is also the Yunke in the background, which is the highest point around here.
A quick drizzle over the beach on the way back.
After a stop at the casa, a visit at the hotel El Castillo which gives a nice view on the North of the city. From there, a walk to the North of the city, to the port and the end of the city, where the Viazul station is.
A walk back on the Malecón to go home, passing in front of buildings just a few stories high. Everything looks desert and poor here.
Just nearby the casa, is a group of people preparing a fire to cook a pork just outside their building.