Blogs from La Habana, Oeste, Cuba, Central America Caribbean

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Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana February 24th 2020

So I've finally gotten around to doing my blogs, one and a half years later! Thinking back, we were very lucky to have squeezed in a two week trip to Cuba as a global pandemic was forming. A few weeks later and most of the world shut down! So after a while of not doing this blog, my memory is a bit hazy. Our first two nights were spent in Havana, a nice city with a mixture of less than glamorous buildings in dire need of a make over (on the outside but nice on the inside), history and colourful 1950's American cars. Most people will splash out for a city tour in one of these cars but we opted to join the one of the Free walking tours of the city which we tend to ... read more
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Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana January 18th 2020

After our ride Friday night in the classic cars, we were ready to learn about one man’s private enterprise to literally capitalize on these flamboyant vehicles. Julio Alvarez greeted us a bit late because he already had some tourists seeing his garage. Full of good humour and passion, he had us listening raptly to his story of passion and strategy. His father was a mechanic who trained his son from an early age; however, he actually wanted him to get a better education. Julio graduated university in Mechanical Engineering and later became a specialist in computer technology, rising to CIO for a part of the government. However, when his and the country’s circumstances were right, he gave up his job and invested all of his money into restoring one classic car. Competing with the government-owned classic ... read more
Boat Race by Kcho
"La anunciacion" by Antonia Eiriz 1963
"Una tribuna para la paz democratica" by Antonia Eiriz 1968

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana January 17th 2020

From Santa Clara to Havana was our longest road day, 293 km. We were on the main highway, and the land was flat, with bushes and scattered trees. Daniel generously endured my many questions; I had been sitting across the aisle from him for the whole trip. This time I learned that the mimosa bushes are invasive, but not the mimosa trees. Thus, the bushes are burnt at the roadside to kill them, and the trees are planted for shade, for example, in coffee plantations. I tried to make a list of all the different models of cars, prompted by the sight of a good-looking modern Lada, a make that used to be (maybe still is) the butt of many Russian jokes. What I learned is that many cars don’t have any indication of make or ... read more
Torreón de Cojíma
Elevator in character
Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana January 8th 2020

In our big (for 7 people) bus, we began our tour with a visit to a nearby fruit and vegetable market. Suppliers were still hauling in bananas, papayas, tomatoes, green peppers, pineapples and more. Bustling shoppers moved quickly through the crowded aisles, making their purchases with practiced efficiency. For a few items, short line-ups slowed the pace, especially for the vendor selling plastic shopping bags, which will be re-sold in smaller markets. We climbed back into the bus for a drive-by tour of major buildings in Havana. The Capitol, seat of government, was modelled on the US Capitol, complete with a gigantic dome, which was in turn inspired by the Panthéon in France. The Cuban Capitol dates from the 1920s, when US influence was paramount. Also surpr... read more
Old Havana
Ironwood paving
Guayabera shirt factory

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana January 7th 2020

Last night my plane landed at 11:48 pm, which technically meant we arrived today, since we didn’t clear immigration and customs until well after midnight. My seat-mate and I exchanged jokey remarks about not adhering to our visas. In spite of scary warnings about what might be asked at immigration, the process was conducted in grim silence and satisfying efficiency. Luggage took much longer, because it was unloaded by hand. With my usual relief, I found the designated taxi driver, and we drove for about half an hour into the centre of the dark city. He kindly came into the lobby to make sure the hotel would admit me, which they did graciously. The Capri Hotel is a slightly less expensive place, recommended by Eldertreks for the extra night. According to an online review it is ... read more
Hotel Nacional lobby
Contemporary apartments
El Morro 1589

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana November 13th 2019

We awoke early and had the lovely breakfast again that our host made. We got ready to go and sat around until it was time to go to the airport. The host drove us to the airport and dropped us off. The check in and security were quick and easy. The Atlanta flight didn't look good for stand by, we decided to take the Miami flight. The 30 minute flight to Miami was on Delta 650, an A-320 aircraft. We cleared for first class and I had 3 or 4 gin and tonics. Once in Miami, our customs and immigration experience was slow. It always seems to be and I really dislike the airport for that reason. Now we could have flown for free on Delta, Miami-Atlanta-Indianapolis. However it would have meant a long layover in ... read more

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana November 12th 2019

Our host offered to give us a customized driving tour this day. It was going to be a hot one. He gave us suggestions and then we could add or subtract things. Once settled, we were on our way. He first drove us to the little town of Cojimar. This is where Hemingway got inspiration for "The Old Man and The Sea". I really liked what I was seeing here, and thought that on a return visit, maybe we'd stay here. After walking around for an hour or so, he took us to the stadium that hosted the 1991 Pan American Games. We went inside to look around and there were some track teams practicing. Next up was a visit to the Christ statue, where there were some great views of the city. After this he ... read more
Plaza de la Revolución
Torreon Cojimar
Hemingway Monument Cojimar

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana November 11th 2019

We awoke early and ate the delicious breakfast the host cooked. We did a lot of walking this day through the old town. For dinner, the hosts suggested a few places. One of them was near the Capitol building. It had a wait and the line was out the door so we got on the list. We waited 15 minutes or so and the line seemed to not move. We removed our names from the list and went to see about the other suggestion they gave us. Glad we did because this place was great! It was called Sociedad Asturiana Castropol Restaurant and was located across the street from the Malecon. We ended up eating three times at this place! The food was tasty, the service great, and it was a good value as well. I ... read more
Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Del Morro
Iberostar Grand from our Airbnb
Havana

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana November 10th 2019

Ever since I visited Havana in January 2018, I have wanted to go back. I really like it there, and love seeing it before it becomes spoiled with commercialism. This time my wife came along, and since she speaks Spanish, it was very helpful. We were wanting to do a short getaway and Havana was perfect for that. My wife was not keen on Cuba for political reasons, and while I get it, I told her that we are not going for the politics, but for the people. We headed out early on Delta flight 1575 to Atlanta on a 737-900 aircraft. In Atlanta, we ate some Panda Express for lunch. In the afternoon, we boarded Delta Connection flight 5201, a CRJ-900 to Havana. We cleared for first class on the flight and I was able ... read more
Havana
Capitolio
Capitolio

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana March 1st 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 ... read more
Havana
Paseo de Marti
Coco Taxi




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