Category: Cuba


Cuba finale

All beautiful things come soon to an end and so did our Cuba trip. For my last post, I’ve decided to show you some interesting and/or mostly funny things we’ve experienced over there… You have to bare in mind that Cuba was and still is largely isolated from the Western world and most of the people are poor… but still – you have to see it to beileve it.

Most modern MTB frame in Cuba… πŸ™‚ but I’ve seen some full-suspension ones as well… but primitive compared to the bikes we ride in Europe or basicly elsewhere…

From time to time, you can spot a strange vehicle on the road – unfortunately too late to have a better shot but this bus reminded me of the old Serbian movie “Ko to tamo peva?” and all I was missing was “Krstic i sin” logo painted on the side of it… The bus was missing the engine covers as well… The yellow things you see at the front are Coco-taxis – motorbike taxis for two people…

Che is watching you everywhere in Cuba – literally

Cuban electricity standard – I guess their electricians must be acrobats and puzzle solvers as well to work on such gems.

There is no hot running water in Cuba, apart from the hotels. So people mount electrical water heaters in the showers – it was kind of scarring looking at those exposed 110V/220V wires running centimeters from running water while having a shower… after a few days we got used to being so close to death – anyway at least we’d die clean πŸ˜€

Rowing to Florida? Probably not, but these two local fisherman probably can’t afford a new boat so they made their “floating” device from pieces lying around…

Weird angle of photo? Nope… Weird angle of truck – it is driving straight towards me, just got twisted a bit… But until it still runs, it’s good for the road.

Poor mans bus – trucks like these are driving all around Cuba taking locals for a few pesos along…

Shock in the departure hall of the Havana airport – there are rows and rows of world flags hang below the ceiling, but in the first one, by an unknown coincidence, Slovenian flag is making company to the Cuban one – I guess we are popular there πŸ™‚

Bended wing of the A330 on our flight back to Madrid – Boeing is just making lemons into lemonade since 1916 πŸ™‚

Last view of our Airbus after landingΒ …

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Cuba; Cars

Before our Cuban trip, I’ve heard and read that there’s a bunch of old 1950s American cars still being driven all around Cuba. I took it for granted and expected to see a few of those old cars, probably parked by some exotic buildings and their owners bragging about them. And boy, how wrong I was. Actually about a third of the cars driven in Cuba are those old Oldsmobile, Chevys,… The other third would be Soviet Ladas and just around ten percent are newer modern cars.

First introduction to the old cars was the area in front of Capitol… Lots of cab drivers to choose from.

Looked like a mafia car… well it still does…

Well, this was the one and only old carbriolet that I’ve seen there… must have been lucky I guess

Another taxi… check the dude on the right πŸ˜€

Not all of the cars are in a good state though… In fact most of them are powered by Lada engines…

Speaking of Ladas – can you count how many of them are on this photo? πŸ˜‰

A beauty from Cienfuegos

And another one from Vinales.

Cuba – Day 14; Havana Aquarium

Last day in Cuba, we spent in Havana and since we had an evening flight back to Europe, we had to kill most of the day in the city. We’ve seen most of the central attractions and we’ve been sick and tired of jineteros so we headed towards the calmer part of Havana, full of embassies and a location of national aquarium.

Dolphins are the biggest attraction of the aquarium.

Sea lions don’t fall much behind by the popularity

But this pelican didn’t get bothered by the shows and was stretching its wings.

Some exotic carribiean fish

This little bugger has a perfect camo

Fearsome looking green mooray

During our stay in Vinales we also decided to visit two of the nearest beaches/islands on the northern side of the country facing the Gulf of Mexico.

Cayo Jutias is a small island connected with the mainland with a road and is open to general public. This showed up well and lots of locals were present, along with shouting and large ammounts of garbage…

Cayo Jutias

Cayo Levisa on the other hand was totally different story. Small island, closed for locals accessible only by a boat. There are some small houses to rent and everything is tidy and clean. There’s a coral reef just off the island offering great opportunities for snorkeling and scuba-diving.

Western side of the island

A view of the Cayo Levisa from boat – amazing sea colors, aren’t they?

So long, Levisa!

Cuba – Day 10-13; Vinales

Finished with our stay at Playa Giron, we got ourselves a ride from Hotel to Cienfuegos in an old 1983 Moskvitch car, hitting a stray dog on the way and finally arriving to the city in the evening. We remembered several Casas from our previous visit and soon found one that had an empty room for us. The next morning we headed towards Viazul station and soon boarded the bus towards Havana and continued towards Pinar del Rio and Vinales. We’ve heard so many beautiful things about this small town that curiousity was eating us. While getting off the bus, the story was the same as everywhere in Cuba – people offering their Casas almost tore us apart. Finally picking one up, the peace settled in and a true holiday begun.

Vinales is a small town of a little more than 10.000 people, but I guess the number is total for the whole valley as it is really small. Almost all the houses are Casa Particulares as well. AndΒ  cheap ones – prices in Vinales were half of that anywhere else and the food was the best!

The main (and only) square and at the same time center of Vinales

One of the best ways to explore the surroundings of the Vinales is horseriding.

Autoportrait

Sandy beach of a big salty lake locate just west above Vinales

Palms offering some shade for resting horses

Fertile red soil and enough humidity offer excellent growing conditions for all kind of plants

Most of the field work is still being done with the help of animals

A red path towards “mogotes”

The area is full of banana and pineapple plants

And of course some of the best Cuban tobacco – drying in April.

There’s a bunch of this kind of little fellas everywhere catching flies with supersonic speeds and reflexes

Terrain around Vinales is limestone and Karstic phenomena can be found all around. There are some caves open for tourists but if you’ve seen Postojna or Ε kocjan caves, don’t bother visiting, because you’ll be disappointed. “A bravery of slaves” display for the tourists including machettes and lots of fire.

Fresh fruit is being sold in such huts along the main road.

The beat of Vinales

The view of the Valle de Vinales with a mighty mogotes in the background

Cuba – Day 5-9; Playa Giron

After a short stop at Cienfuegos we stumbled upon something unexpected (but normal in Cuba). We were told that there is a daily bus connection running on the Trinidad-Cienfuegos-Havana route that stops at Playa Giron. This was confirmed by a co-worker of mine and was also cross checked with the Viazul timetables published on the Internet. But nothing’s what it seems in Cuba. Despite the opening hours, noone was in the Vizaul office at Cienfuegos bus station up until 5 mins to arrival of the bus. Then the guy showed up and told us that there is no stop at Playa Giron. WTF??? So we went outside and checked with the bus driver, who confirmed that. We were puzzled how that’s possible with the confirmations we had. OK time for plan B, we told ourselves. And went to the other part of the station where more local Astro bus line operates. We saw Giron time tables but they were not willing to sell us tickets. Grrr…Time for plan C – ask for a cab. So we did and finally negotiated a price of 40CUC to drive us to Playa Giron. Which at the time sounded a lot, but given the fact it was a more than 120km long ride and horrible state of roads, wasn’t a lot really. We even left 5CUC tip just for the sake of it. Of course he tried to take us to some CasaParticular at Giron, despite that we wanted to stay at the beach hotel. Upon arriving to Giron, he took us to that Casa and negotiated a price of 50CUC for a room with breakfast and dinner for two. We said that we’ll consider it if the hotel is closed or full. Fortunately, the hotel wasn’t full or closed and was offering 52CUC rate for All-Inclusive service! ALL RIGHT!

Giron lies by the infamous Bay of Pigs, where in 1961 CIA tried an invasion to overthrow Castro. By coincidence we arrived just on the 49th anniversary of the event. There is a small museum located just by the hotel with some artefacts, maps of each day of battles, photos and some other military hardware stuff.

One of the defeated US tanks standing behind the museum

In front of the museum proudly stands Cuban T-34 tank…

… and the fearsome Sea Fury attack aircraft

But Giron is not just he battle and the museum but also a nice beach on the Cuba’s Carribean coast. And on the first day we had some bad luck with the weather, which during the day got much better and remained sunny for the remainder of our rest there at Playa Giron.

Sea was furiously foaming on the rocks west of the resort

But weather calmed down in the afternoon


A view of the resort from the sea side

Cuba – Day 4; Cienfuegos

After leaving Santa Clara we decided to visit the infamous Bay of Pigs and its main settlement Playa Giron. But in order to get there we had to play with Viazul bus connections and stayed in Cienfuegos for several hours.

First impression was very positive; people seemed nicer, there was almost no jineteros bugging us on streets, buildings seemed much more maintained compared to Santa Clara or Havana and its collonial buildings really made that tranquil feeling. The following photos were made in and around the main park Jose Marti (again)

One of the more impressing buildings in Cienfuegos Teatro Tomas Terry

I wonder if todays Cuba is what Marti had in mind more than 100 years ago

Lady Liberty accompanying Jose Marti in a hundred year struggle for independence.

Triumphal Arc – a reminder of Cuba’s declaration of Independence in 1902.

Cienfuegos Cathedral occupies most of the Eastern part of the Parque Jose Marti

Cuba – Day 3; Santa Clara

After 2 days in Havana, it was time to move one and the next destination was Santa Clara

Santa Clara is a smaller town located in the centre of Cuba, and because of all the action during revolution, also known as Che Guevara’s town.

Queues – a totally normal sight in Cuba – you have to wait for almost everything… for example, I experienced such queue in front of icecream parlor and waited for 45 minutes

A hotel in central Parque Vidal – still bearing the damage from the revolutionary battle

A view to the Che Guevara’s statue – below it lies the museum and mausoleum with his remains.

Close up of the great fighter

Monument on the place where Che and a handful of his man attacked an armored train.

Leaving the Santa Clara for Cienfuegos we spotted this mural on the bus station.

Cuba – Day 1&2; Havana

I took a long deserved (and needed) holiday in April and the destination this time was the exotic Cuba.

Havana is a large city with population exceeding 2.5 million (out of Cuba’s total of 11 million). The parts of the city mostly visited and most interesting to the toursits are Vedado, Vieja and Central Habana.

A view of the city from the 14th-floor of my hotel

A closer look show a sorry state of buildings collapsing, dirt and filth covering the city,…

Havana’s kilometeres long prommenade – Malencon – in the morning blue light just before the sunrise. Again a closer look from the street shows bad state of most of the buildings along the sea front.

Though mostly deserted during the day, Malencon becomes quite active in the late afternoon and in the evening

Fortress at the entrance to the Havana’s bay once dettered the pirates from attacking the city.

People are trying to survive in a number of possible ways (average monthly salary is around 20$). This particular old man was making hats and ornaments from palm leaves.

‘Fieles a nuestra historia’ (True to our history) – there’s countless of such propaganda wall paintings all around the country – this one was taken outside the Museum of Revolution

A diorama of Camilo Cienfuegos and Che Guevara, Cuban’s big martyrs, displayed in Musem of Revolution

Little Cuban girl, daughter of two ‘jineteros’ which lured us into a bar for good salsa (playing out of stereo) and excellent mojito (the most expencive and worst in Cuba)

Front entrance to Capitolio, probably the most markant building in Havana and possibly Cuba.

Capitolio was build in 1929 and resembles the Washington’s Capitol, though the later is smaller