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


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

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana October 14th 2018

The day after Belize we arrived in Cozumel, a small holiday resort on an island off the Mexican Yucatan coast. The plan was to hire a taxi to take us to the nearby Mayan ruins, wait for us then bring us back to the ship. However, there were four cruise ships in Cozumel today. It was also another hot and sticky day. We had vison of the ruins being absolutely heaving with impatient tourists, those part of a ships tour and those independent travellers, probably all queuing to buy tickets!! All this, whilst tackling greedy taxi drivers and greedier little biteything bastards that take the piss when feasting on my ankles!! Having been to Cozumel less than ten months earlier we’d seen all there was to see in the town so we just stretched ... read more
Outside our accommo in Havana Centro
Deana, our hostess in Havana Centro
Breakfast in Havana Centro

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana August 17th 2018

We were very excited about our first trip to Havana by ship, and although Havana as it is today is appealing and very interesting to explore on foot, we hoped that at least some vestiges of the city's glamorous past remained, and that overall our visit would be a rewarding learning experience -- we weren't disappointed!! On that first visit in October, 2017, we decided to splurge on a wonderful, but rather expensive excursion --- a Havana city tour in a vintage American car. A good number of like-minded ship passengers, probably many from the U.S.’s “Baby Boom” generation like us, were doing the same. After being transported by bus to a parking lot not far from the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, we found an array of rainbow-colored, vintage cars waiting for us with their drivers/owners ... read more
Jose Marti Memorial - Revolution Square
Camilo Cienfuegos - Revolution Square
Angel Monuments - Cristobal Colon Necropolis

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana July 31st 2018

Until fairly recently, Cuba had remained a forbidden destination to most Americans since the Castro-led revolution changed the political landscape in the mid-20th century. The “Cuban Missile Crisis” of 1962 erupted after it came to light that the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev, was building ballistic/nuclear missile sites and installing troops in Cuba which is only 90 miles off the coast of Florida; these actions brought the US and Soviet Union to the brink of a nuclear war and, among additional more serious consequences, nailed shut the door for normal travel options to Cuba for more than a half a century. In late 2014, with the Cuban thaw taking place under the Obama administration, travel to Cuba became a more tangible possibility although some restrictions remained in place then as they do now. ... read more
Band at the Havana Club
Cesar at La Bodeguita del Medio Bar

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