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  • Day6

    The Night Plane to Havana

    March 7, 2020 in Cuba ⋅ 🌙 21 °C

    Today was always going to be a bit messy. The problem was that my flight from Toronto to Havana was not due to leave till around 8.30 pm in the evening. "So what ?", you may well ask. The complicating factor was that I was supposed to be checking out of my apartment at 10 am in the morning, so what was I going to do with all those spare hours ?

    The singularly unhelpful concierge had already told me that there was nowhere I could leave my luggage. At least I thought I could spend a couple of hours sitting in the lobby before my taxi arrived to take me to the airport. That was about as much of a plan I had been able to come up with.

    Unlike the beautiful blue skies of the previous day, I awoke to a leaden cloud cover. On closer look I could see that there were intermittent flurries of snow falling. It was quite spellbinding to watch.

    After making myself my final breakfast in Toronto, I sat by the window and spent some time watching the falling snow gradually build up on the branches of the trees. Although I was supposed to check out at 10 am, there was no point in being too early. I needed to steal every hour I could.

    By 11 am I thought that I could stretch the matter no further, collected my luggage and made my way down to the foyer. I found a quiet corner, opened my computer and started watching a movie. It did not take long for my favourite concierge to come over and ask what I thought I was doing. Of course I told him I was waiting for my taxi. Since no one else needed my seat, I could not see that there was a problem. Of course I was wrong.

    "This is not a hotel", he repeated his now familiar refrain. "You will have to go". While I could have been confrontational and reminded him that it WAS snowing outside, I really had had enough of the pathetic little weasel. He obviously thought that being a concierge was only a step or two below being the Prime Minister, so I decided to pack my stuff as slowly as I possibly could and then roll my way out of the building for the very last time.

    Fortunately there was a very warm shopping centre just across the road, so that is where I went. I purchased a coffee, found a spare table and made it my home. My taxi was due at 1 pm, but did not arrive till 1.30 pm. I had spent the missing thirty minutes waiting in the doorway, while the cold was slowly permeating into every corner of my body. We just don't know what cold is in Australia, but I should have been grateful it was only about -3 C. Last year at this time it was apparently -26 C.

    Alex and I continued our discussions about the cricket all the way to the airport. I completed the self check in without incident and made my way through security and immigration. Another very long wait at the departure gate. Outside the snow was still falling. The time passed slowly. I continued watching my movie.

    The time for boarding finally arrived and we all jammed into the modest plane. There was not a spare seat in sight, but it was only a rather modest three and a half hours, so I did not really care.

    I was seated by a window which gave me a great view of the never ending succession of brightly lit cities we passed over as we flew over the eastern states of the USA. The night was crystal clear, without a single cloud to obscure the view. In some ways there is something cosy and comforting about a night flight. At times I dozed. By almost midnight we started descending into Havana Airport and another adventure was about to begin.

    As I retrieved my bag from the jammed overhead lockers, I noticed that my luggage label had somehow gone missing. I suppose I should be grateful if that was the only thing that went missing - I still had that anxious time of waiting to see if my main luggage would appear on the carousel.

    Back in Australia we had all paid significant money to the Cuban Consulate for a visa to enter their country. You can imagine my surprise when the hostess walked around the plane, handing out blank tourist visa forms and telling us to fill them in ourselves ! It looked like we all may have wasted $100, but it would not have been worth the risk.

    In spite of preliminary fears about the difficulties of entering the country, the immigration process was quick and easy. I was soon reunited with my luggage and went out the exit door into the unfamiliar world of Cuba. I had been told that a driver would be waiting for me (even though it was now about 12.30 in the morning).

    Once again the arrangements went perfectly and soon I was being whisked along in the back seat of a comfortable taxi. Even at this late hour there were plenty of cars on the road and plenty of people wandering the streets. The temperature was a comfortable 22 C. It did not take long to see the old cars that Cuba is famous for. It was like being at some sort of a retro car show. Obviously they just never get junked, they just keep rolling along.

    Our home for the next few days is the huge and very imposing Hotel Nacional de Cuba. This vast place was the place of choice for the rich and famous back in its heyday of the 30s and 40s. Even all these years later, it is still an impressive place. The foyer is massive and filled with colonial character. There was even a working lift !

    I was relieved to discover that my allocated room was clean, huge and had fully working air conditioning. I think I will enjoy my time here, but my first thought was to head for the bed and finally get some sleep.
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  • Day51

    Havana ooh na na.

    July 6, 2019 in Cuba ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    We hopped over to Cuba from Cancun, taking with us a toy truck for a random mans son in later dwelled upon suspicious circumstances... in hindsight maybe not so wise (Schapelle Corby). Anyhow, we got through thank goodness and had two nights in Havana before our sailing shenanigans.
    We spent the mornings walking the streets, always a friendly person to meet. The people are warm and the weather even warmer.
    One of the oldest cities in the Americas with a rich history, there was plenty to explore.
    Cubans are fiercely proud of their country and after the efforts of the Revolution who can blame them. It is slowly becoming a tourist hotspot which has been good for the Cuban economy. However, the Cuban Government still takes much more from the people then necessary and doesn’t allow the ultimate amount of freedom they so desire. However, the people are still awfully friendly (sometimes too much).
    We were tired of all the wolf whistles and being hit on every two steps so off onto a boat for a week to explore the Cuban Islands and swim in the Caribbean yeeha.
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    Natalie Shaw

    Hmmm 🤔

  • Day193

    Dem Fidel sein Schniedel

    July 28, 2018 in Cuba ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    Zurück in Havanna bleiben uns weitere zwei Tage, ehe es zurück nach Mexico geht. Haben wir an unserem ersten Tag in Kuba den zarten Versuch, eines der inoffiziellen Taxis zur Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC) zu ergattern, noch nach vierzig Minuten genervt und desillusioniert abgebrochen, sitzen wir dank einem etwas forscheren Vorgehen nach rund fünf Minuten in einem furchtbar klapprigen und umso authentischeren Oldtimer-Taxi. Es stinkt, aber wir findens toll. Kostet ja auch nur einen Drittel im Vergleich zu einem offiziellen, modernen und total uncoolen Taxi. Die Heimreise um ein Uhr morgens verläuft hingegen weniger souverän. Kaum auf der Strasse, empfangen einen die offiziellen Taxi-Fahrer - ruhig und anständig. Quasi die Löwen dieser Steppe. Der aufgerufene Preis in etwa gleich stolz, zwanzig Stutz. Wir lehnen dankend ab und laufen weiter, um wenige Schritte später den Geparden über den Weg zu laufen. Etwas hektischer als Löwen und die selbsternannten „Haus-Fahrer“ der FAC. Der Preis von zehn Stutz scheint nicht verhandelbar, schliesslich haben Geparde auch einen gewissen Stolz. Die Fahrt findet in einem privaten Auto und somit wohl am Staat vorbei statt. Was den halben Preis durchaus nachvollziehbar macht. Wir lehnen erneut dankend ab - schliesslich haben wir es für fünf Stutz her geschafft - und gehen erneut ein paar Schritte zum Ende des Blocks. Und was kommt am Ende der Safari-Rangordnung? Knapp vor den Geiern? Genau, die verdammten Hyänen.

    Diese traurigen Biester mit ihren kurzen Hinterbeinen und hässlichen Fratzen. Und davon hat es hier viele. Im ersten Moment gefällt mir der Auflauf. Grosses Angebot heisst gute Preise. Die Verhandlungen bleiben für einen Moment bei acht Stutz stecken, ehe sich die hungrigen und daher teils aggressiven Hyänen anfangen zu unterbieten. Schnell geht es sieben, sechs, fünf und für einen Moment sogar runter bis vier. Die Situation wird unübersichtlich und immer mehr Hyänen mit ihren sabbernden und stinkenden Fressen wollen sich ein Stück vom von Löwen und Geparden übrig gelassenen Aas sichern. Diese Meute markiert definitiv die unterste Stufe der hiesigen Transport-Industrie. Das sind gar keine Fahrer mit eigenem Fahrzeug, sondern viel mehr ununterbrochen quaselnde Schlepper, die Fahrgäste für eine kleine Kommission bei etwas weiter entfernt parkierten Collectivos abliefern. Vielleicht wartet man dann noch eine kleine Ewigkeit, bis die Karre voll ist. Steht man dann bei einem der Gefährte, sollen es anstelle von fünf doch wieder acht Stutz sein. Verdammtes Gesindel. Kaum habe ich das System im Ansatz verstanden, gerät die Situation auch schon ausser Kontrolle. Als ich geschätzte fünfzehn Hände an und auf mir spüre - wahrscheinlich waren es nur zwei, aber ich bin bei solchen Dingen etwas empfindlich - und Sue, die ich für einen Moment aus den Augen verloren habe, ein lautes „Hey!“ von sich gibt, breche ich die Übung ab. Hände weg ihr jämmerlichen Hunde! Mit einem einzigen Roundhouse-Kick wie Van Damme in seinen besten Zeiten, strecke ich vier der dreckigen Hyänen nieder. Zumindest im Geiste. In Realität laufe ich einfach davon und verteile ein paar „heb doch d’Schnurre!“. Zurück zu den Geparden. Die hatten wenigstens Anstand. Zehn Stutz sind ja auch nicht schlecht. Ist ja schon nach Eins. Und Sue? Sue hat auch überlebt. Wie immer nur ganz knapp. Verdammte Hyänen!

    Mein Fazit zu Kuba fällt trotzdem durch und durch positiv aus. Das Land in dem die einfache Taxi-Fahrt zum Flughafen mit fünfundzwanzig Stutz mehr kostet, als die achtzehn Stutz Rente, die unsere Casa Mama im Monat bekommt. Ich war von Beginn weg überrascht, wie viele der alten amerikanischen Karossen noch immer das Strassenbild prägen. Nostalgiker kommen auch in diesen Tagen noch auf ihre Kosten. Viele der ausladenden Strassenkreuzer aus den Vierzigern und Fünfzigern sind aufwändig restauriert und dienen für überteuerte Stadtrundfahrten, die meisten sind aber einfach nur alt. Ausserhalb Havannas dient aber erstaunlich oft das Pferd, mit oder ohne Wagen, als Fortbewegungsmittel. So steht auch an überfluteten und schlammigen Wanderwegen ein Kavalier, der einen für ein kleines Entgelt auf die andere Seite bringt. Vervollständigt wird das Bild von unzähligen Ladas und anderen unaussprechlichen Fabrikaten aus sowjetischer Produktion, gemischt mit ein paar moderneren Gefährten und mehr Elektro-Scootern, als in jedem anderen Land, das wir bisher besucht haben. Keine Ahnung woher die alle kommen. Wohl von unseren kommunistischen Freunden aus China. Eine skurrile Mischung. Das gilt auch für das restliche Erscheinungsbild Kubas. Eine farbige und oft widersprüchliche Optik aus mondäner, kolonialer Prunk-Ästethik, einer grossen Prise sowjetischer Kälte und einem ordentlichen Schuss kommunistischem Zerfall. Dafür machen sie gute Zigarren die Kubaner.

    Das gilt irgendwie auch für Pizzas. Zumindest wenn man den Preis von vierzig Rappen und Volltrunkenheit beim Verzehr mitberücksichtigt. Daran könnten wir uns gewöhnen. An den vorübergehend exorbitant gestiegenen Zigarrenkonsum eher nicht. Ich wollte das mit den Zigarren ja selber herausfinden. Gekauft habe ich auf und vor Farmen, in Küchen, in offiziellen sowie weniger offiziellen Läden und auf der Strasse. Mit echten Labels, mit offensichtlich falschen Labels und gerne auch ganz ohne Labels. Geraucht habe ich nicht selten drei am Tag und ich komme zum Schluss, es stimmt. Obwohl die beste Zigarre, die ich hier geraucht habe, kein Label darauf hatte und sieben anstatt dreissig oder mehr Stutz gekostet hat, sollte man in offiziellen Läden kaufen. War ja klar. Denn es gab auch diverse grenzwertige Exemplare, die ihren Preis nicht wert waren. Kann man rauchen, will man(n) aber nicht. Nicht gut für die Stimmung. Und kosten auch. Bananenblätter oder mit Verschnitt gedrehte Zigarren wurden mir allerdings nie angedreht. Immerhin. Schlussendlich habe ich meinen Humidor - und auch sonst jede freie Ecke im Rücksack - mit Originalware aus Casas de Tabacos gefüllt. Nicht die billigste Variante, dafür mit Genuss-Garantie. Wieder was gelernt.

    Und was hat das jetzt mit dem Schniedel von Fidel zu tun? Hm, nichts. Ich fands trotzdem lustig. Wobei, welches Bier importieren die Kubaner am Liebsten? Natürlich, Heineken. Roter Stern auf grünem Grund! Das hatte der Fidel ja auch auf seinem ... äh, nein, auf seiner Kappe! Oder auf beidem.
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  • Day1


    March 23, 2018 in Cuba ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Heute kam ich gegen 1 Uhr nachts am José Marti Flughafen in Havana an! Ich habe mir dann ein Taxi genommen um in die Stadt zu Nora und Clari in unser Airbnb zu kommen🚖 Am nächsten morgen sind wir dann in die Stadt gegangen, sind etwas durch die Gassen gelaufen und dann nach ein paar Stunden bei den Markthallen angekommen! Anschließend sind wir zum Capitolio gelaufen und von dort aus mit einem rosa Oldtimer Cabrio zum Placa de la revolucion gefahren🌴 Dort haben wir das berühmte Abbild von Che Guevara angesehen mit dem Schriftzug „Hasta la victoria siempre“.Read more

  • Day15

    Abfahrt aus Santa Clara

    February 20, 2020 in Cuba ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Zu sagen, dass wir existierten, beschreibt den heutigen Tag eigentlich perfekt. Nachdem wir uns nach etwa drei Stunden Schlaf aus dem Bett gequält hatten und die zwei Kilometer zum Bus gelaufen sind, versuchen wir im Bus nicht einzuschlafen. Wir sind beide mit höllischem Beinmuskelkater nach unserem Workout "gesegnet" und können kaum laufen.
    In Havana geht es dann nur mit Scheuklappen besetzt zum Casa, wo wir den ganzen Tag auf der faulen Haut liegen und unseren Kater kurieren.
    Abends wagen wir uns dann wieder vor die Tür und gehen was essen und lassen dabei den Blick alibi-mäßig durch Havana streifen... Tourijob abgehakt 😁 na dann auf ins Bett
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    Larissa Griethe

    Gaaanz viel Mitleid, ihr Sportler und Party Mäuse ⛹️‍♀️🏋️‍♀️🧗‍♂️. 💃💃💃💃💃. 🍸🍷🍹. 🛌🛌. 😴😴🥰🥰

  • Day18

    In Hospital in Havana

    January 12, 2018 in Cuba ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Posting this out of order but its breaking news and I am so behind in my blogging.

    Poor Marge is not recovering from her gastro issues despite resting and cutting out all potentially hazardous food so the guide and I thought it best we see a Dr in Havana before heading off into the countryside.

    That means going to the designated foreigner hospital.

    So at 8am we set off to beat the crowds.
    We saw a Dr pretty quickly. She prescribed various medication (but didn't ask if marge had any allegries) and said to continue with the resticted diet and gastrolyte.

    One of the scripts is for an antibiotic you take once a day for three days so goodness knows what it is!

    Total cost - $25US for the consultation and $14 for the medication!

    So back to the casa so Marge can rest.

    Its pouring rain today so good day to rest. We were going to do the classic car tour but cancelled it.

    My mission today is to find wet wipes! Haven't seen any in Cuba so far but I spied some yesterday but the shop was closed.

    So set off and had lunch in a trendy restaurant which had its big tripadvisor banner displayed. A good trip advisor rating is gold in Cuba as thats where the tourists head for. I had an awesome chocolate milkshake and we all know how girlfriend loves her milkshakes!

    Next the wipes. Shop closed for 2nd day in a row and the shop assistants are just sitting inside. And lots of people keep trying to get in. Cuba takes weird to a whole new level.

    But then I found the holy grail - a shop devoted to toiletries with stock! And in the corner stacks of made in Italy wipes of different varieties! So I queue up and once in my umbrella rain jacket and handbag go in a giant heavy duty plastic bag which is locked by the security guard. I then carry that around with me! Security measures for what is basically a shampoo shop.

    Then back to the casa to check on marge. The casa is well located in the old city so easy to go to and fro.

    Then out again to check out some shops mentioned in a Havana guide published in Cuba. After finding the first two don't exist anymore I give up on this venture.

    Next its a hotel with wifi - I planned to sit in the huge leather chairs and have some tea while listening to the live music that usually plays in the lobby catching up on my blog. But no music no tea and the lobby is hot. By now I am exhausted and hot so head back to the casa to force feed Margy rice and gastrolyte.

    Next drama was tour company wanted us to change casa's for our last night in Havana. Guide had tried to fix this, I had said unless there is a good reason we should not have to move during a 3 night stay given there are so many available casas and it takes time away from our time in Havana. And on top of that its not appropriate for Mum.

    And the reason - despite tour groups generally being split between casas they decided they would keep a new tour group in the one casa. Yep go figure.

    So we had two days of the tour company saying we had to move.

    A lot of discussion and going back and forth with the tour company through the guide and eventually I just said I am not moving an elderly women who just left the hospital in the pouring rain (yes by the time we left the hospital it was torrential) to a new casa for no good reason!

    So we stayed.
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    Mary Maroske

    I am sorry to hear Margy is not well. Cuba is challenging enough at the best of times! Glad you found the wipes. Hopefully the antibiotics do the trick

    Way Out There

    Sending get well wishes to Margy. Cuba's medical care is supposedly world class so fingers crossed she gets sorted. So happy for you and your toiletries , I know how much you love themXX

    Mary Maroske

    Ps Don't suppose that restaurant was O'Reilly 304 by any chance? It was fab& a TripAdvisor recommendation

    7 more comments
  • Day5

    A short domestic flight!

    December 30, 2017 in Cuba ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Met the group and tour leader last night. Nice small group of nine. Both the group and tour leader are great. The tour leader has an english accent as he spent 6 months at Oxford.

    And the group and tour leader are 100% better than the central american tour I did this time last year! Suzanna you saved me on that tour!!

    Got up at the crack of dawn as our tour leader was adamant that punctuality is next to godliness. So we are all on time and a bus driver and bus are there. The driver loads our luggage and off we go - no tour guide. Of course we have gotten on a bus with someone we don't know and could have been going anywhere!

    Meanwhile the guide sees the bus going off without him! An expensive taxi later the guide catches up with us at the airport which is a long way out of Havana. Of course he had to ring his boss and say he lost his group on day one!

    A very long wait at the airport and we are off to Baracoa which is at the very east of Cuba and the first town established in Cuba.

    Late lunch in a hotel in the centre of town, supermarket stop to buy a massive bottle of water, bicycle taxi back to our casa then a rest before meeting the group for dinner. We were going to a place on the waterfront (malecon) but the recent hurricane had pretty much destroyed it so we went to a restaurant in an old colonial building.

    Then the rain really starts to pour. It rains every day in Baracoa. There is a lovely balcony in the restaurant where you can watch the passing parade on the street and with the pouring rain and a drink its quite relaxing!

    Marge and I stumble literally because the paths and roads are so bad back to the casa in the dark. We get lost and have to ask directions because all the streets and houses start to look the same in the dark.
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  • Day4


    December 29, 2017 in Cuba ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Ok first day in Cuba was overall abit of a waste . We got up and had breakfast on the rooftop terrace which was nice. Our casa is in the old part of the city so great people watching. Then back to bed (in our room which is barely bigger than the 2 beds in it so abit of creativity with where to put luggage and then get around it) until 2pm! We are both still so exhausted!

    Then I staggered up and set off to try all of our cards in the ATMs with no luck. Basically went from ATM to ATM. Our cards were not on the list of cards that don't work but thats Cuba! The agency said they have no idea why some cards work and then don't work.

    So then no choice but to queue to exchange our valuable US dollars to get alot less in value. Will have to watch the spending and kept to a budget!

    Then after the tour meeting dinner with the group and took some back for Marge so she could continue resting.

    We ate at the restaurant in the attached photos. The start of lots of overcooked chicken!
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  • Day14

    Un ultimo mojito

    March 16, 2018 in Cuba ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    In de laatste uren in Cuba hebben Floor en ik nog een paar mooie auto's en gebouwen gespot die vastgelegd moesten worden. Ook hebben we nog wat rum als aandenken meegenomen. Het was al met al een prachtig avontuur met veel muziek, dans, oude auto's en gebouwen en rum:)Read more

    Stefan Jongerius III


    San Ima

    Volgens mij heb je een hele leuke trip gehad Dianne! De foto’s zien er in ieder geval super uit! 😍


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