Day 12: The Bus station madness continued and only the patience of a Cuban could truly endure not knowing when a bus will arrive and whether I can get a seat on it. We were told the bus was late and us not arrived in Trinidad yet which is at least an hour and a half away. So I talked to a Dutch girl and a British lady and we went and bargained with a taxi. In the end we paid less for 3 of us (CUC50) in a car to Havana than the bus would have cost us in total (CUC20 each), plus we arrived in 2 1/2 hours instead of 4. Cuba is like that sometimes things just work out. There were some rude French people waiting and probably still waiting as they thought they were first in queue to buy tickets!
The car even dropped us off at our casas. I’m staying in Vedado which is a nice suburb where many of the expensive hotels are. It’s close to a few things like the cemetery.
The Necropolis Cristobal Colon is huge, it’s got streets like a suburb and has a chapel in the middle. I did not recognise too many names and the map is useful to follow. Che Guevara being Argentinian and killed in Bolivia is not here and I’m not sure when Fidel Castro’s time is up whether he’ll be buried here or have a completely new monument built elsewhere in the city.
My casa in Vedado is a big old house. The room and bathroom are palace sized however the bed is soft and droopy in the middle. Every other house has had hard mattresses.
I thought I’d visit my old place with the beer towers one last time. Unfortunately they have no hamburgers tonight so a few refreshing dark ales to cleanse the palette one last time at La Factoria. I might be back tomorrow ?
I found a place lacking in tourist vibe and expense and got the “oferta” with included cocktail, mains, dessert and coffee for CUC10. The dessert was muy pequeno (very small) but I got a good sized mains of chicken rice and veggies.
Tomorrow is my last full satin Cuba. I leave 8am Sunday. I’ve heard of a tour of the national hotel where the mafia met and the Cuban missile crisis played out in the tunnels below so I think that will be on the agenda if my plans work out!
Day 13: It has become apparent calling for a taxi is harder and less reliable than it should be. I waited 30 minutes and no taxi and ended up travelling Cuban style by hailing down an in use cab and got to the Hotel Nacional that way. Not sure what the Cuban Lady in the Taxi thought, she was probably paying a fraction of what I pay.
The tour of the hotel was very big at the beginning and we caught elevators to the second floor to see where the mafia (and Frank Sinatra in the room next door) hung out and made deals. There is nothing flash about the suite although to stay in the suite it will cost over $800. You get much better deals in the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and probably the Burj al Arab in Dubai for that price.
There were too many peopl on this tour and at this stage thought of leaving but it started to thin out. There were a few Americans on the tour and one thought he knew everything about US-Cuban relations, mostly from an American point of view. Luckily the guide was more tolerant than he was.
The tour then progressed into the gardens where all the serious stuff during the Cuban Missile crisis in the 60’s. Our guide was in her twenties and remembers how close it came to war between the Americans and Russians. The lawns of the hotel are dotted with green boxes that were doors to bunkers and there are also cannons, and bunkers and tunnels we wandered through.
I then wandered down the road to the Coppelia Ice Creamery but it is undergoing renovations. It’s still open but it’s the most confusing place to buy ice cream so I skipped it and ended up in the Cafe across the road.
The afternoon was just some leisurely strolling around and I bought some rum as a souvenir……
Tomorrow I have an early flight and I managed to find someone who would drive me to the airport. Its a lucrative business to be honest and I’m surprised I’ve had so much difficulty giving someone CUC30 to drive me there (remember we got a 3 hr drive from Cienfuegos for CUC50!).