Cuba March 2012
Flight from Munich to Varadero, then a road trip to Havana, onwards to Viñales, Cienfuegos, Trinidad de Cuba and back to Varadero, followed by a return flight to Munich.
At the beginning of 2012 me and Maja started planning a trip. That would be our first trip somewhere far away. We have been to Greece and Spain a few time and once to Tunisia, but this time we decided to go somewhere exotic. Our first decision was to go to the Carribean. At first, we talked about going to Honduras, but later, we chose Cuba. And we did not regret it :)
In January we booked our airplane tickets and reserved one night in a hotel in Varadero. Our plan was to stay one night in Varadero and then somehow get to Havana. In Cuba, it is best to book so called casas particulares, which Cubans rent to tourists. It is basically a room with a bathroom and sometimes even with a refrigerator. Your room is situated in the owners house. The prices are about 30 to 35 CUC per room (this is how much we paid). CUC (Cuban convertible) is the money that tourists use and is of same value as American dollar. You need to be careful not to get their national money, which is worth far less. Anyway, when we landed in Varadero, we had to find our way to the hotel. We studied Spanish for about two weeks prior to our departure to Cuba, which was just about enough for me to ask the bus driver if he drives to our hotel. After about 35 hours of being awake, we were so tired we went right to bed when we arrived to the hotel. Due to jet lag we got up at around 4 am the next morning, went to the beach and watched the sunrise. After breakfast we took a taxi to the Viazul bus station where we tried to find our best way to Havana. Some Cuban approached us offering a ride. We refused at first as we entered the bus station to ask for the bus prices to Havana. Then we returned back to the parking place and asked the taxi drivers for how much they can drive us to Havana. Finally we made a deal with a young taxi driver, who had an unmarked taxi, to drive us to Havana for 20 CUC. Havana is approximately 150 km from Varadero. Beside us, there was a young boy and an older woman who sat in front with the driver, me and Maja sat in the back seats. I have to say that I was a bit skeptical about the taxi, but I let it go after a few views through the taxi window as we were driving to Havana, all until we were pulled over by the police. The first thing that crossed my mind was, that the taxi is unmarked, so I prepared my and Maja's passport and hoped for the best. When the policeman came to the taxi, he only talked to the driver, who gave him some money and we were back on our way. The policeman didn't even look at me and Maja :)
The taxi driver dropped us off in Havana on the right address, which was kind of hard to explain to him in our poor and practically nonexistent Spanish. In the casa particular a very hospitable owner Loli showed us her house and described Havana to us, also she recommended some good and not overpriced restaurants. For the next three days we enjoyed Havana, met a few people (even one Slovenian who stayed in the same casa as we:) ) drank a few mojitos and piña coladas and then continued our trip to Viñales.