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  • So I'm finally in Cuba. Its an interesting country to say the least! Getting internet access is difficult hence the lack of posts on here!
    I arrived on Wednesday and Managed to luck out sharing a cab to where I was staying with a couple who were staying nearby. Happened that they'd pre-booked a cab that was a classic car! Then I spent the evening drinking rum and coke in the hostel. A bottle of rum (Havana Club Especial) costs just £4.50 for 700ml!
    On Thursday I explored both the old and new Havana. Taking in the sites and the way the people live! Its a completely different world! Like stepping back in time 50 years with classic cars, old buildings and a very laid back way of life!
    We then went out that evening with a group from the hostel (4Germans, 3 Dutch, 1 Canadian and an Australian) and spent the evening dancing to a live Salsa band in a local club before spending a few hours walking the streets of Havana and picking up El Colectivos to try and find another place to party.
    The next day I went to the beach (playa Tropico) with the four Germans, the Aussie and one of the Dutch girls. We had a great day drinking beer and coconuts in the sun and swimming in the beautiful warm sea!
    On Saturday I traveled to Varadero and did a bit if snorkelling.
    Had a really early start on Sunday getting up at 6:15 to catch a bus at 7 to Santa Clara.
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  • I had a great time in Trinidad. Ended up extending my stay to 3 nights as I was enjoying it so much.
    On my second day I went to Playa Ancon on the suggestion of some people id met at breakfast. Ended up seeing them at the beach and spending the day with then along with some others they knew.
    When it came time to leave one of the groups had cycled but one of them did not want to cycle back so I took her bike and rode the 16km back.
    That evening we went to something called the stairs which is basically a massive set of stairs covered in a combination of tourists and locals all drinking and partying together with a salsa dance floor in the middle along with live band.
    After one more night in Trinidad I headed to playa Largo which was a small beachside town. I rode 15km each way to a beach called Playa Pesco for some of the best snorkelling I've ever done. Crystal clear waters and beautifully coloured fish.
    Then back to Havana.
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  • Absolutely loved Santa Clara. Was full of character and history made it an enjoyable place to stay for 3 days!
    Next I got the overnight bus to Santiago de Cuba. Leaving at 01:15 I eventually arrived in Santiago at 14:00.
    Spent the evening drinking rum and smoking cigars with the locals
    The next day I found a great little salsa bar during the day for a few beers. Got the night bus again to Camagüey
    Arriving in Camagüey at 06:00 I spent an hour sleeping at the station before heading to try and find a casa. Having no luck with finding a casa I decided id spend the day in Camagüey then get the 02:45 bus to Trinidad.
    Camagüey has some interesting historical buildings but is hard to understand without a really good knowledge of Spanish.
    On the way back to the station around 7 just before it got dark I managed to get into the Baseball stadium for a look around when it was closed. I also found some kids playing football on the street on the way so watched them for a bit.
    I got to the station around 7:30 only 7 hours before my bus.
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  • As we escaped the bad weather in Santiago, what better destination than the beach? I didn't spend too much time taking photos cause I was busy doing nothing, again. But you get the point: clear waters, palm trees, and the occasional 50's car (ok, the one in the photo was the only one there, but it was nothing touristy, it was a family parking their car on the beach to enjoy their day).

  • And when the beach in Santa Lucia was not enough anymore, the obvious choice was to go to an all inclusive hotel for more beach non-activities like sunbathing, drinking cocktails, eating too much or watching the shows. A special mention is needed for the two shows I've seen: one was remarkable due to the incredible dancers (think amazing Cuban bodies moving in a way that seems physically impossible), the other one got really funny when they picked spectators to join the dancers on stage and the funny chap with shorts was so off that I almost peed my pants. I would have taken a video, but I was busy not peeing my pants.Read more

  • Beach, clubs, gringos, big hotels, tourist harrasment, beers, quinta avenue with touristy souvenirs shops, bars and restaurants that never ends. Not as bad as we thought it would be but still Playa del Carmen. Nice little french cafe in quinta avenida called Chez Celine. Quick stopover to Cuba!

  • Here we are in Cuba, a small island 50 minutes by plane from Cancun ... but not just any island, this one is definitely unique! What an interesting place! To start off, we could not download the offline map on Google maps and everything else like that, no access to the outside, access to internet virtually impossible, old law preventing locals to take tourists to stop or eat in the restaurant from a hotel, locals can´t get a lift from tourists and vice versa... Everything seems to be made so that locals can´t find out too much what´s happening outside of their beautiful island. What an amazing country, which is trying to give to the people but via tyranny. Beautiful utopian idea, but any successful country needs to open a minimum to the outer world, because no country can be lucky enough to have all the necessary resources to live well: petrol, minerals, stones/quarries, agriculture, care and any manufactures product... And Cuba either. This actually worked well when they traded with their ally the USSR, but after USSR collapsed in the 91, they no longer had enough resources to live well, and Cubans survived... and suffered. The moto was 'If you don´t have it, create it'. And it is only starting to change now. However, you still see most of the beautiful old American cars broken down on the side of the road or just horses being used as transport like in the early 1900, the charming colonial house dilapidated and the locals trying to fix it with shovel and bucket, the owner of the hotel having to run all around town to find bread, beer or vegetable... there are many other random examples like this, and this what makes the charm of Cuba for tourists, but not for the Cubans. They are happy people though, very chatty, very smart, quite handsome and charming, a real mix of immigration too. It´s a real multi-ethnic nation, home to people of different ethnic and national backgrounds. It was first inhabited by indigenous and then Colon conquired it. The majority of Cubans descend from the Spaniards settlers followed by other European migrants such as the Portuguese, English and French, along with African people (from the slave trade). That´s also what makes Cuba great and I think that´s where the music and charming atmosphere come from. What is a little sad is that they are now very interested in the tourists who bring the CUC and are losing their geniuity. Indeed tourism has created enormous injustice, a small guy on the street improvised guide earns much more than a doctor. The people suffer and no longer believe in the system. Old guys in good shape shout 'Viva El che' in the street, indeed they benefited from all these changes. Castro and Guevara revolutionized the country and started fighitng from 1953 to 1959. They did a big coup and entered the palace with guns and took the power. They quickly announced that all tenants have the pleasure to now own the home they inhabit, multinationals are suddenly Cuban (the US did not love it!), and the people are equal, the imperilaism is finished. They also thought education and health care was key. They educated the country and within a year most people even in the most rural areas were analphabetised. People are indeed very interesting and there are many libraries with book that even we wouldnt´read as they are way too intellectual. They implemented an incredible medical service which is still amongst the best, in fact many doctors are sent to central and South America to help (and they get other resources they need in return). The elderly are also in great shape, smoking big cigars and drinking mojitos at any time. If you time, you should visit the museum of the revolution, it is proper propaganda from Fidel Castro, quite interesting. You feel that he is trying to convince you of his ideas, as he did on the Cubans. Plus it is in the presidential palace.

    The funny thing is that they do control everything and everyone, they want to make everyone equal, free and involved in their ideas/revolution but they managed it with an iron fist! They re are so many stupid laws that I won't list now except for a few: casas particulars can't have more than two rooms and must call the immigration everyday to give every host´s details, the paladar (family restaurants) can't have more than 12 seats and it is onle open for friends and family... But Cuba needs tourism, and indeed Raul Castro knows that and has relaxed the policy to allow for more CUC. Cubans are adorable but begin to feel the profits of tourists CUC and finally we sometimes get caught in a very professional way. They are delicate and interesting, they love to talk and exchange so it's a pleasure to talk to them but often you end up in a place where they get a commission. But they got you so nicely that you don´t mind (well, not all the time!). And it is also very safe, no crime, they are too scared of the police which in that case isn't a bad thing. Havana at night can seem like a war scene (dilapilated house, no lights, everyone in the street at all times...) so it's great to know that it is safe! The government needs money from tourism so they protect it well! So once you know that, it's a fantastic place! Lots of live music and very nice buildings. And as the Cuban say, no mojito, no cigar, no salsa = no cuba!
    I highly recommend Cuba to anyone and I think there are still many places that aren´t getting so touristy in the East. Varadero, Trinidad and Vinales are quite touristy now. We went to Cienfuegos which might not be as pretty but the people are so much more pure. Owners in casa particulares are also very interesting and so nice! They treated us like family. Also nice to watch a baseball game, they are so found of the game and proud of their players. We couldn´t see one as there was a big international tournament at that time, very disappointing, expecially for Justin! Great to see the little teams playing in the local fields though. As they say 'sport is revolution' as well as education and everything else it seems like! Good old Che is represented in every corner with other revolutionary images. And of course Cuban music.... Ha! Can´t talk enough about it, it is just simply enchanting and make you so happy! You don´t have to go too far to find a musician.
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