Miss V

Miss Vera

Miss V

This is all about travel. Not holidays. And there is a difference. There won't be much lazing around doing nothing... (well, maybe a little).

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana November 19th 2008

Back in Havana! This time we got to visit El Moro, a fortress built to protect the city from pirates. Also, we walked around the old city (La Haban Vieja), visiting various plazas and getting a good feel of the place. Havana is definately more wealthy than the rest of Cuba. You can see it in the way people dress, the state of the buildings, etc. The rural areas have little exposure to tourism, so there is no way for those people to get their hands on the CUCs (the currency foreigners use). The city is massive and very crowded. The stereo-typical old cars cruise by slowly, reflecting the overall slow pace, also known as 'Cuban time' of the country. We only had one full day in the city, which just wasn't enough. However, we did ... read more
Two posers!
Hanging out with one of the locals.
America built this building with an electric banner publishing US slogans. So, Fidel built lots poles in front of it so no one can read the propoganda.

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Este » Baracoa November 12th 2008

The day we left Santiago De Cuba it had started to rain. We were all very happy to leave as none of us liked the place. I can't tell you exactly why. Nothing bad happened. It was more about the feel of the place. It was just very dodgy. The drive to Baracoa, which is on the east coast, was quite a long one. We stopped in the town of Guantanamo for a break. (the town, not the detention centre). The road outside of Guantanamo is very secure - there was no stopping to take photos. I tried to capture 1 or 2 of one of the entrances to the detention centre as we drove by, but I don't think I got much. Apparently there have been other tour busses that have stopped to take photos ... read more
Merryn dancing with Jubal, our tour leader, at one of the bars in Baracoa.
We enjoyed a picnic lunch on the beach - lobster and fish freshly cooked and hand delivered.
Just one of the interesting characters we shared the beach with.

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Este » Santiago de Cuba November 8th 2008

This is the 2nd biggest city in Cuba. We had a long travel day to get here - about 8 hours. But 6 of us being on a private bus with 30 seats, it wasn´t too bad a ride. Well, apart from the roads... lots of shakin´going on. It´s also a lot hotter here. The city is surrounded by mountains so the weather basically gets trapped here. Very humid. Once we all settled into our guest houses and had dinner we met up for a walk into the city centre. Our guide told us that this place had seen some people robbed - walking alone at 3.00am, but it should be relatively safe. That theory got put to the test when some guy we had passed just sitting quietly on a footstep (which they all do ... read more
Musos hanging around the city square
Salsa dancing on the night of the so-called hurricane.
I got to practice my steps too!

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Centro » Camagüey November 8th 2008

Someone dug a whole in the ground and called it Camaguey. Well, not quiet that bad, but the place is a bit of a dump. Apparently I wouldn't feel that way if I could spend more time there - so I've been told. But on the 2 hours or so that I got to spend in the town, I have to say I wasn't that impressed with it. The city itself has some nice buildings that have been beautifully restored. It is also the place where many of Cuba´s artists reside. We visited a photographer´s studio, a sculptor´s place and also the home of two painters. None of the items struck any chords with me, so there were no purchases. We got hassled on the streets and in a bar for money, which is probably what ... read more
Participating in one of the local art displays.
An interesting bar we visited.

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Centro » Trinidad November 4th 2008

The road from Santa Clara to Trinidad is apparently the worst we would need to experince for the whole trip. This is good, because the road was seriously bad. I don´t think there are a lot of roadworks that go on. Perhaps it´s because there aren´t that many cars on the road? It is quite funny to see wide, major highways with no cars, or just one or two. It was quite a scenic drive and we stopped on a moutaintop lookout to have lunch. The Cuban landscape is quite stunning... very lush and green. We arrived in Trinidad late in the afternoon and were welcomed by the ´main house´host with a fabulous rum-based cocktail. It was so good we all asked for seconds. Have I mentioned that drinks here are super cheap? I bought 3 ... read more
Clean sand that goes on for miles. Warm Carribbean waters.  Sigh...  How lovely.

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Centro » Santa Clara November 4th 2008

I think Merryn and I have quite easily adapted the Cuban approach to time. I had thought of getting up really early and taking a walk through the old town of Havana, but instead, kept sleeping. Getting going was a slow process and we just took all the time in the world to get ready, have a leasurly breakfast, and then meet the rest of the group for the ´real´start of the trip. 2 people were still missing - they had visa problems and would be meeting us in Trinidad. We had a massive bus all to ourselves. It is specifically for tourists to Cuba. It was only 2 years ago when laws were relaxed enough to allow Cuban and tourists to visit the same restaurants or hotels, however, there is still quite a separation between ... read more
Dominos is a huge game here.  We came across some boys playing it on the street.
And here is the stereo-typical shot of one of their old cars.
You can get two types of beer here.  Cristal - 4.something % alcohol, or Buchanero, which is 5.something %. I loved the labelling of this one.

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana November 4th 2008

Hi all. We are alive and well. It took a few days to get to a place with internet. My mobile phone also doesn´t work here, so Irene or Nick or Eugene, if you can let my mum know I´m alive and having fun, that would be much appreciated. I can´t say much about Havana. We got there late in the afternoon, had dinner, went for drinks, then bed, then got up in the morning the next day and left town. Hopefully we´ll get a day or half a day to visit the place at the end of the trip. The trip from Mexico to Cuba had only a small hitch. We thought Merryn had an eTicket for her flight, but found out that she needed the good old paper tickets, which of course she didn´t ... read more

North America » Mexico October 31st 2008

It is unfortunate that one must go to a place like this - but it´s the closest town to the airport (apart from Cancun which is even worse). If you like being surrounded by bogan Americans, very few actual Mexicans, paying at least tripple for food and drinks that you pay in other Mexican towns, then this is the place for you. Playa Del Carmen exists only for the American tourist who thinks that they are getting a true Mexican experince here. Are you getting the sense that I don´t like it here? Tonight is our farewell dinner. And there is meant to be a big party for Halloween (how American.) So, we´ve been trying to work out what we can do to dress up... There aren´t any real costume places here and we have limited ... read more
All dressed up and somewhere to go.  A big party!
The party spilled out onto the street outside of our hotel. Everyone was in costume.

North America » Mexico October 31st 2008

We took a very early bus out of Merida and headed out to Chichen Itza - another set of amazing ruins. Although exhausting to get up at 5.00am, it was worth beating the crowds. We were at the site around 8.30am and got to see a lot of the various temples and ruins without hoards of people. By lunch time the place was packed. Apparently only about 10% of the site has been excavated to date with most of the building still covered by the jungle. Unlike the various ruins in Guatemala and Honduras, we weren´t allowed to climb any in Chichen Itza. It could be because the ruins in other places don´t get as many tourists as these ones do... I think this place is just too close to Playe Del Carmen so Americans find ... read more

North America » Mexico October 29th 2008

Merida is a very touristy town. Busy, loud, and apparently very safe. We got here last night and basically just went out to dinner. Today was fantastic. We went off to swim in the Centotes - basically water holes in caves. The water was beautiful and warm and the most amazing shades of blue or green, depending on the way the light fell. The only issue we had was with the transport there. Well, the main transport was private vans - no issue there. But we got to some village in the middle of nowhere and took horse drawn carriages along rail lines. All the horses looked fine and healthy except for ours... it was just a skinny old thing... it made those of us in that particular carriage feel pretty aweful. Also thought I´d add ... read more
How touristy can this get?
Our hotel was very interesting.  This is a shot of our lobby.  The rest of the place was also filled with wierd and wonderful items.
We took a lovely ride around town in one of the many horses and carts.

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