Cuba, another world

General information about this trip

My time on Cuba was from 06.12.17 until 02.01.18. It means, 28 days to explore almost the whole island. We flew with the airline “Evelop!” from Madrid, Spain to Havana, Cuba directly. The one-way flight cost 362 € with luggage included, what was a really good deal. On Cuba we stayed in Casa Particulares (CP). Such houses have rooms which tourists can rent and you are with the house owner mostly. This means contact with local people. Things like Couchsurfing is prohibited by the government and therefore having a CP is a good income for the cuban people because the general wage is between 15 CUC and 20 CUC a month! A doctor will earn like 40 CUC (information based on a host in Baracoa). 1 CUC is 0.88 € (exchange rate from 12.2017). To get from a city to another we always went by bus by Viazul. These busses can use tourists only, the cuban people have separate ones. We purchased the tickets in advance which was a good idea we realized during the trip. Buying tickets at the counter can take a lot of time and it could happen, that the bus is fully book.

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Time to take off

And then, it was time to go on the journey. The last two days before the flight we stayed in La Navata, Spain and took the train to the airport directly. The flight was pleasant and we got different meals, had pillows and blankets.

…flying…

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At the airport in Havana there was no problem to enter. To travel to Cuba as tourist you will need a tourist card in advance which you can obtain at the embassy in Berlin, Germany for 22 €. From the airport to our CP we took a taxi because there is no other way except of walking. The train system was not supported for a long time that you should avoid going by train. The distance was 15 km and you pay a fixed price to get to the city. 25 CUC per taxi in one direction.

Our first CP was one of the best we had during the trip, “Casa Carlos y Janett“. A nice room with everything you need (bathroom, hot/cold shower, safe, A/C, 220 V sockets) and the host was very friendly and helpful. Usually you can get breakfast and dinner at the CP. The breakfast cost 4 to 5 CUC and the dinner 7 or 8 CUC. Only in Baracoa it is less. If you stay a few nights and you take e.g. dinner every day, you have an argument to negotiate the price. Cuban people always want to negotiate…
If you take a taxi or buy things on a weekly market for instance, always try to screw the price.
If you do not have an own car, one way to go on a sally is taking a taxi. Then pay attention, if the distance is like 25 km and the taxi driver tells you 50 CUC for a roundtrip, you will say 20 CUC, that you will meet at 30 CUC. And always talk to different taxi drivers and also ask the host of the CP for prices to different places to have an idea what it should cost.

Something else I need to mention, internet. This is really special but I liked it somehow. The only way to have access to the www is going to a wifi-park, hotels or wherever you find the network WIFI_ETECSA. They are easy to find. Watch for a crowd of people only starring at their smartphones. I will let you know how it works for tourists. Go to a shop from ETECSA and purchase up to 3 cards of internet access for 1 CUC each. Then you have 3 hours of internet access. With one of these cards you go to a wifi-park, log in to “WIFI_ETECSA” network, open your browser and put in the information provided on the card. Then, your time is running! 1 hour is not much in comparison if you could purchase like 50 MB for 1 CUC. The connection is sometimes not the best but hey, when it was New Years Eve in Germany, I could have a video call over WhatsApp with my family 😀

Let´s begin with the impressions

After you got an overview about things in general, with the next slides I want to show cuba how my camera shot it 😉

Havana, The Capital

We had four nights and got a first brighter impression of where we are. In Havana you have these old cars you might know from movies. To get from our CP to Havana Viejo (Old Havana) we needed to walk to a street where you can catch taxis (oldtimer) that work like busses. But in this case you need to stop them and ask how far the go. These taxis are cheap and for 1-2 km we payed 10 CUP / 0.40 CUC per person. Here, it is an advantage to have CUP, otherwise the ride cost 0.50 CUC. Sometimes, you will get CUP as change.

Cienfuegos, Five Fires

The first city after Havana and here we became another feeling of how Cuba is like. It was different and we stepped deeper into the middle age. There were not many supermarkets and we were happy to find at least some honey, yoghurt and ketchup ^^.

Trinidad, Western Feeling

Trinidad was a city we liked immediately. Sometimes the streets consist of stones and it feels like in a western town. We had two full days and we used them. The first morning and we ordered breakfast. It was a lot, we were gaped how much we got. After this, our first destination was the waterfall El Caburni in the area of Topes de Collantes. Our host organised a taxi driver who was our private cheffeur for this day. The price was 50 CUC. He picked us up and drove us 25 km to Topes de Collantes. The road was much fun, his car had to work a lot.

Then he dropped us off and we walked in direction to the waterfall. Before we wanted to enter the jungle, a point of payment stopped us. To see the waterfall we had to pay 10 CUC. I was a little bit shocked because I did not expect this in the middle of nowhere. We had to pay the price for tourists and could not pay the 15 CUP for cuban people.

On the second day we wanted to go to Playa Ancón, because the day to the waterfall was exhausting. Before, we checked out Trinidad during daylight.

And then we got a taxi to the beach. We negotiated with the driver to pick us up around 6 PM. This time for a reason we got to know after sunset. Because there is a huge lagoon between the beach and Trinidad, a lot of mosquitos are around. The taxi did not make it until 6 PM and we started walking, otherwise the mosquitos would have eaten us completely. In the middle of the road, our taxi released us.

Sancti Spiritus, Pure Village Feeling

Our next destination was further into land more with a feeling of a village. Not many tourists were around and you could feel that because everybody was looking at us.

Camagüey, Cuban Speak German

We went to Camagüey on the way to Baracoa and on the way back to Havana. While walking in the streets, somebody starting talking to me in german right next to me. A cuban guy, Juan, spoke very good german with us. He lived in Jena for many years.

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Santiago de Cuba, Old Capital

Like Bonn in Germany. It used to be the captial for a long time. Now it is the biggest city in the east and only a few tourists make it until there.

Baracoa – I Just Arrived

Until there, only the hardcore tourists will make it to Baracoa. We felt it. Less tourists were in the streets and this was pleasant. The city could be reached only by aircraft until the sixties. 60 years ago a long street was built from Guantanamo to Baracoa. It is reachable from the north but it is a long way around. We enjoyed the time in Baracoa and went to different places.

Our stay was at the Casa Aleman and we had breakfast as well as dinner. Each for 5 CUC and the portion were more than enough. Actual for 3-4 person, but we ate everything every evening because it was fantastic! We can recommend this place (:

Yumuri, Fisherman Village

It is a small fisherman village and more into east. From there you can go by boat to an island inside a canyon. There are lots of interesting things to see. Have a look (:

On the way to Yumuri you should make a stop at the private chocolate manufacturing. The only area to get cacao on Cuba is Baraco, so do not miss the chance to get some fresh cacao powder. Ask locals where it is.

Yunque, Mountain

Another big thing is the mountain Yunque. You can see it from Baracoa and we rented some bikes to get closer to it. We only wanted to see a waterfall which is near by the Yunque. 8 CUC per person and a personal guide was with us. He was really well educated about the flora and fauna in this region. I can not remember all, but a lot of plants are very usefull for medical treatment.

 

Guantanamo, Going To Jail

On the wa back we stayed one night in the jail … well, at least in the city which the famous jail is named after.

Santa Clara, Ché Is Still Alive

This city is worth to see because of all its historical events about and with Ché. I have a map for you with the interesting places we have visited.

Vinales, Great Ending

The last stop on the line. A great finish in a charming city. Vinales is pretty small and the environment has a few things to visit. I have a map here for you, with the places we walked to.

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Every evening we were really hungry 😀 A nice place to eat cheap and getting a full plate is “Pepo´s”. It is on the main street in west direction on the left side. Almost the last restaurant. Here is a proof of what we ate and how much it cost (: We have been there fourth times in a row.

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Result

For me, Cuba was the first place I have visited in my life that is different. It took me a certain time to accept the way Cuba is. But then, I knew how to handle the often heard “taxi, taxi” or the people that just want to sell you some stuff. Or the less products in the supermarkets or that you have to wait a little bit, never mind where you are ^^. The nature is “lindo” and the most beaches as well. We have seen only one beautiful beach, Playa Santa Maria near Havana. What I did not like so much is all the smog in most cities, especially in Havana. A catalyst you will not find in every car. Personally, I will not go back to Cuba very soon but it is worth a visit to understand our world a little better (:


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