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Published: July 26th 2018
Flight from Baracoa to Havana Tuesday 17 & Wednesday 18 July Day 12 & 13
We were to fly back to the other end of the island, back to Havana. The flight itself took about 2 hours. However there
are often delays and flight departure times do vary. Initially we were to get to the airport at 12md. Tom and I had gone for a walk to the very eastern tip of Baracoa and then back into the city centre for some wifi. Tom decided to go back to our accommodation before me. Luckily, he did because our guide Camilo was there to tell us that we had to go to the airport immediately - at 11.00am. They took all by bags to the car and then Tom raced down to get me while they drove to the other guest house where Jessica and David were staying.
When we got to the airport which was still being renovated and expanded, we waited another 1 ½ hours out in the heat because they wouldn’t let us into the building. The plane didn’t leave until 1.30pm. All the check-in process
was done manually without computers. The plane was an old Dash-8 and had seen better times. I was sitting in the seat with a view of the wheels. Some of the backs of the seats wouldn’t stay upright. We were served water or Fanta during the flight. Jess had never been in such a small plane or in such an old plane so she was a little worried to say the least.
The northern coast looked very under developed and very shallow for quite some distance off the coast. I also saw a massive open cut mine where there was a major plume of soil run off going out to sea for a considerable distance.
The first settlement founded by the Spanish in Cuba, Baracoa was only accessible by sea until the end of the 1960s.
All was well however, and we got to Havana safely. A medium sized bus picked us up. It was a similar bus to the one which took us around the western end of Cuba. We arrived at our guest house by about 4.00pm and
dropped our bags then went on the city walking tour. Tom & I had already done it but decided to go on it again with the idea that Camilo may tell us more about the history of the city. He did just that which was excellent. Camillo gave us more information in addition to that which we heard from our previous guide, Dany.
We then went to a restaurant called Mojito Mojito for a lovely meal. David had a large mojito which had a Mexican beer in a small bottle turned upside down in the mojito. It was too big for me!! There was a 4-piece band and singer entertaining us in the restaurant which was a great touch. We went to bed satisfied that we had another excellent day in Cuba and our time was coming to an end in this lovely country.
Thursday 19 July - Havana
After an 8.30am breakfast we walked with Jess & David to show them where to catch the hop-on-hop-off bus and then Tom & I tried to get onto wifi in
La Bodeguita del Medio Bar Havana
Our final lunch and Mojito with Jessica
a hotel without any luck. We wanted to go to the National Hotel so hopped into a cycle taxi who dropped us off at the water front. For the next 30 minutes we walked along the Manacon which is a long straight waterfront lined with old buildings mainly from the 16th
century all in a variety of states from falling down to beautifully restored.
By the time we got to the National Hotel we were drenched. It was so hot. We entered the beautiful Hotel with its chandeliers and period furniture. This is the hotel which was the meeting place for the mafia. Many, many dignitaries had also stayed in the 5 star hotel over the years. It now has a museum about its visitors which includes Fidel Castro and many Heads of State, actors, singers and sportsmen. It was fascinating.
Finding one of the restaurants, we sat down for a cold drink, lunch and coffee.
The back of the hotel looks out over the sea where the breeze was blowing to create a coolish atmosphere. There
The WiFi Card used in Cuba
This is the only way to connect to WiFi - 1 hour or 5 hour cards - 1 CUC per hour
was a large tree that was blown down in Hurricane Irma on 9th
September 2017. The building was not affected at all nor were the 700 guests staying at the hotel at the time. We visited the History Room, being impressed by the endless list of visitors to the hotel over the years.
We caught a metered Coconut Taxi (names this because they are shaped like a coconut) to the Rum Museum at the Havana Club. The tour guide (7 CUCs) took us through the process of making rum and ended up serving us a 40%!p(MISSING)roof, 7 year old rum. After a few sips I passed on it as rum is not my favourite drink. It was however very interesting.
We then visited Hotel Ambos Mundos, the hotel where Ernest Hemmingway stayed and wrote 3 of his best sellers. His room on the 5th
floor, faced the sea so it was very pleasant. The lift up to Hemmingway’s floor was operated by a lift operator and was of very old style. The room was filled with furniture from his House on the outskirts of Havana
which we visited before the 15-day tour. After that it was time to walk up a couple of more flights of stairs to the rooftop restaurant for a cold beer. The breeze was beautiful and so was the spectacular view of the city and harbour and waterfront.
That evening we met Camilo for our final dinner together. It was always sad to say goodbye to a group who you have lived with for 15 days and have had a lot of fun sharing new sites and experiences together. As we were a small group, we got to know each other very well which was fantastic. The food was lovely and we all took turns in thanking Camilo as did he of us. David was leaving for the airport at 5.00am the next day so we said our goodbyes to him after saying goodbye to Camilo. David, who lived in Sydney, was visiting his family in Montreal. Friday 20 July Day 15: Depart Havana
As Jess was going to a northern beach the following day for a week, we decided to spend the morning with her until we
were picked up a 4.30pm to fly to Mexico City.
We had seen so much in Havana, after being there on and off for 6 days but we still hadn’t seen the telescopic camera which had a live view over the whole of the old town section. For 2 CUC we went up on the elevator and was shown to a small room which was where the images of the town were directed onto a circular concave surface. The operator pointed out various features of a city we had got to know very well.
After the ‘show’ we went out onto the large rooftop to view the city yet again. There are so many rooftop restaurants in this city – because that is where the coolest spots can be found without using air conditioning.
After some use of wifi in our favourite air conditioned hotel, we then went to the La Bodeguita del Medio Bar where Ernst Hemmingway, Fidel Castro and many other dignitaries drank mojitos and had dinner. The tiny front bar was packed with people drinking mojitos
while listening to live music. We decided to go into one of the back rooms for our mojito and lunch. The wall of every room was covered with peoples writing and signatures as well as photos of the many famous visitors. We had a very, very light lunch as no one was hungry. The mojito was really strong, so I couldn’t finish mine.
We then said sad goodbyes to Jessica making sure we were Facebook friends and then went back to the air conditioned hotel while we waited for our taxi. We went back to our Guest House, had a shower, said our goodbyes to our new found friends, the owners and workers of the guest house and drove to the airport.
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