Cuba

Hola Habana!

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What a scene of crumbling glory and indomitable human spirit!
Walked all Old Havana: narrow streets, tiny shops, and no sign of corporations anywhere…amazing!

The next day we took a bus 45 minutes east to the beach, Playa del Este Santa Maria. The beach is so pristine: the cleanest sand I’ve ever seen, beautiful blue and turquoise water, which was deliciously warm to walk in, but too strong a surf to swim safety alone.

The old cars were fun to see! These were new when I was a kid. While some are beaters, many are their owner’s pride and joy, and quite cherry!
Time really has stopped in Cuba. It is still the 1950s and earlier! The absence of modern “conveniences” and commercialism makes for a more human experience, which was very refreshing!

The Hotel Nacional is the one building looking well maintained. It is where the government entertains visiting dignitaries and world leaders. It was built in 1930 and looks north over the Straight of Florida.

After two nights in Old Havana, we spent 2 in Cienfuegos and 3 in Trinidad [see following posts]

Returning from Trinidad to Havana was a scenic 4 hour “collectivo” cab ride. This time we shared the cab with a French couple. He was originally from Morocco. I loved meeting other adventuresome tourists! Again that form of transportation is a great deal: $US30 [30CUC] per person door-to-door!

We had a prosaic final evening/night back in Havana. Our guest house was, like most, a private home shared with tourists, which is the best way to see/experience Cuba! This “casa particular” was the life-long home of Eddie Gutierrez [see Lonely Planet]:

  • Calle 21 Numero 408, between F&G.
  • eddiegutierrez@nauta.cu
  • +53-7832-5207 casa / +53-5281-0041 movil

Eddie’s casa is in the more “modern” [crumbling 1880s to 1950s] Vedado district on the west side of Havana…definitely the nicer part of town!

We paid $35CUC for a very comfortable room with 2-beds and private bath.

I’d stay there again for its location, price and quality. Eddie is very friendly and helpful!

We had a great, reasonable dinner nearby at Cafe Presidente on Presidente & 25th, went on a fruitless search for wifi, and got to bed early in preparation for a 4 AM taxi to the airport.

Our week of sun and balmy breezes was replaced in Toronto by minus 10 Celcius…brrr!

Ah, but what a rich experience we had! Cuba has a unique charm. It is oddly unspoiled by modernity. Catch it before it’s too late!

Cuban Resources:

  • Homestay.com is a great site for finding guest houses all over Cuba. They are reasonably priced, provide a decent breakfast, and offer tourist advice about each locale.
  • We also consulted PurpleRoofs.com for gay-friendly accommodations, but did not find any that worked for our schedule. I would use it again for sure.
  • Same for GayHomeStays.com – there were some listings, but no vacancies on our schedule. Still a great resource!
  • cuba-junky.com