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Published: September 6th 2019
There are multiple ways to travel from Varadero to Havana. We could travel by bus which would cost 10 CUC per person, plus the taxi to the bus station. So in total an amount of 40 CUC, plus the transportation from Havana bus station to your accommodation. For a taxi one way you will pay average 100 CUC. Thanks to the guard of the hotel we found another option, using the collective taxi, which is a ‘friend’ of the guard who collects a number of persons and share the costs. With this option we paid 50 CUC door to door by taxi. We agreed to leave the next day around noon.
The next morning, after breakfast and preparing a small bag to spend a night in Havana, we waited to the taxi. The other passengers were also in our hotel, 2 ladies which were coming also from the Netherlands. When we started our journey we noticed that the driver took the interest to the lady who was sitting at the front. He was taking selfies with the whole group and could not took his eyes away from her.
During the journey we passed
the city of Matanzas, the first real city of Cuba we saw until now. Half way between Varadero and Havana we made a small stop at a road cafe called ‘Mirador de Bacunayagua’ a small café in the middle of the jungle with a gorgeous view and the best Pina Colada’s of Cuba, which were served in hollowed out pineapples. We tried out the Pina Colada and for sure it was very good. We took some pictures at the nice café and the great view and it was time to continue the journey.
While we were enjoying the fabulous landscape of Cuba we slowly approached Havana. The driver asked where to drop us. While the ladies already had accommodation, we planned to search when we were there. The ladies proposed to give a try to the owner of their private apartment. As we were staying only for one night, for us it was fine. The driver called the owner of the apartment and there was one free room, so we didn’t had to spend time to search for accommodation.
We arrived to the apartment. It was in a working class district where we could
see the daily life of Cubans. The apartment was quite nostalgic. The price was 20 CUC for one night, like most of the private apartments in Havana.
After dropping our luggage, we went out to explore the streets of Havana. The main street behind our accommodation is the Paseo del Prado, a promenade which divides Centro Habana and Old Havana. From there we explored the streets of Centro Habana. Many nostalgic buildings which urgently requires renovation. We entered also some ‘shopping malls’. Wherever we enter we needed to leave our bags at the entrance to a lady and return it when we leave. Do not expect too much of shopping. Low quality for high price.
Also interesting to know, as the Communism is still existing in place there are no supermarkets in Cuba, where you can buy some snacks and drinks to go. At a corner we finally found a small coffee kiosk where we could buy some drinks. No place to sit off course.
From there we walked to the Paseo de Marti, where the Capitol and the colorful buildings are located. Close to the Capitol you can arrange a
city tour. The options are by bus, by vintage American cars or by Coco taxi.
The coconut taxi owes its name to its peculiar shape which, they say, resembles the fruit of the coconut tree. Despite that, there are some models of Coco Taxi that have a slightly longer shape. In reality, it is a tricycle with a unique egg-shaped chassis that allows the traveler to move comfortably and amusingly through the streets of the main Cuban cities.
Umut wanted to go with the Coco taxi. The price of a city tour with a Coco taxi is 25 Cuc. With a Classic Car it’s 50 Cuc. We agreed with one of the English speaking drivers to be our driver and guide. We started the trip at the Centro Habana part. Driving through the nostalgic streets while the guide is telling with his best English about the daily life in Cuba. One of the interesting parts of Havana is the China town. Since all the Chinese population left Cuba after the revolution, it’s the only China town of the world without Chinese inhabitants. From there the guide brought us to the “Callejon de Hamel”, a
colorful ally which was a project to show the African influence on the Cuban culture. We were lucky to see a rumba session as well.
The next stop was the Revolution Plaza. Our guide parked the Coco taxi in front of the National Theatre, which is an impressive building as well. The parking lot of the Theatre looked like an open air showroom for Vintage American cars. At the Revolution Plaza, many speeches of Fidel Castro was hold in the past. Today the landmarks are the Jose Marti Monument, the star shaped tower and the portraits of Camilo Cienfuegos and Ernesto Che Guevara.
From the Revolution Plaza we drove to the Malecon, the famous boulevard beside the Straits of Florida. Via the Malecon we drove towards Old Havana. There is a little park in front of the entrance of Old Havana with of many of non-Cuban heroes have made their mark in the arts as writers, poets, composers as well as having been revolutionaries with a just cause in their respectful countries or continents.. One of them is the memorial of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Founder of Republic of Turkey, with his famous phrase
“peace at home peace in the world”.
At this point the tour with the Coco taxi ends and we walked towards the old town of Havana, aka La Habana Vieja We stopped first at the Plaza de la Catedral. The plaza, along with its crowning glory, the elegant Catedral de San Cristóbal, have become a symbol of La Habana Vieja.
After walking through the narrow streets and a nice proper dinner at a pizzeria we went to explore some pubs. One of the best of Cuba is that you do not have to look much for live music and dancing acts. After some cheerful hours of listening music and dancing acts it was time to sleep for Umut. We walked towards our apartment. On our way off course many locals who are making music and are dancing on the street.
The next morning we left our apartment. After a small breakfast in old Havana we took a taxi to the bus station to go back to Varadero. In front of the bus station there were people searching for passengers who could join the collective taxi towards any destination. The bus we
wanted to take was unfortunately full and had to look for other people who wanted to share a trip towards Varadero. Luckily we found a Cuban couple from Miami who were going to Matanzas. The trip back was without stops and in the late afternoon we arrived to our hotel in Varadero.
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