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


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

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 surp... 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 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
Paseo de Marti
Coco Taxi

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana February 5th 2019

Cuba. 2019. Summary Cuba, an island of contradictions. Havana is a busy city where there are obviously people making a reasonable living and some taxi drivers etc. wearing heavy gold and using smart phones and yet you see beggars on the street and older people with lowly jobs looking impoverished. I think most people are quite industrious and willing to make money wherever they can but there appears to be working age people stood about, or queuing up for meat or something. These paradoxes also apply to the countryside but with the emphasis of more on the poorer end. Much farm work is done by horse and pony and old Russian tractors. A few farms had larger and more modern tractors but I suspect these were government owned and run by cooperatives. There are large area ... read more
 Che Guevara

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana February 3rd 2019

Day 13. Havana return Good meal last night with red wine and gentle music in background with good keyboard player. Maybe best meal yet and maybe best sleep. Breakfast of fruit, followed by bacon,ham, tomato and scrambled egg. Out into a hot day of 30 degrees again and little cloud. Some climbing past some decent sized dairy farms with Jersey type cows, which may be a cooperative of some sort since they had the odd new tractor about of Chinese origin. Of great interest was the multitude of pony and traps on the roads today with heir best harness and bells jingling. We must have been 100 or so throughout the morning with all the family on board, which we believe were going to a regular gathering of such families and horses. The climb was on ... read more
Saturday trotters
Cuban coffee stop
Matanzas Road sweeper

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana January 23rd 2019

Cuba. Day 1. Monday 21 January 2019 Another adventure awaits. A drive down to Gatwick yesterday to stay overnight at the Airport Inn with inclusive parking. A bargain at £200 with B&B for four of us. Nice to meet up with so many familiar faces but sadly Anita has had to cancel at the last minute do to family circumstances. Another drink of coffee and an early afternoon flight to Havana arriving in the evening after a 10 hr flight with plenty of food on Virgin Airlines. Since they are 5 hours behind us we arrived in Havana in the early evening so a quick shower and a beer before going to bed at 12pm, which is 4am UK time but feeling ok. We are not at the Miramar Hote, but next door at the Four ... read more
Stall in Cathedral Square
Old taxi.

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

Cuba was the most eagerly awaited port of our December cruise. This tiny island has held such a big role on the world stage for most of our lives. From Batista to Castro to the Bay of Pigs to the Soviet Blockade and Missile Crisis to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has dominated headlines. Once a notorious gambling mecca and mobster hangout ruled by an infamous dictator, only to be replaced by another strongman and it became a hardline Communist country that endured decades of embargos, travel restrictions and isolation. In the 19th century, Havana was one of the wealthiest business centers in the Americas. Now it is a rather impoverished country making its way into the 21stcentury. As Castro once said, "A revolution is not a bed of roses." Since some of sanctions have been lifted, cruise ... read more

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