A Travellerspoint blog

17 April 2017

Havana to Soroa

rain

this morning was the first day of the second leg of our trip, travelling the western side of Cuba. After a 9:00am departure, we headed to the Callahun de Hamel, in the suburbs of Havana. This is a laneway and homes that have been decorated with murals and bric a brac by a local artist using the Afro-Cuban style.

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From there we continued to another Havana suburb, Jaimanitas, to see Funsterlandia. This started off 20 years ago as local artist Jose Fuster decorating his home with tiles, and has now spread to neighbouring houses and streets.

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After a lunch stop at a local roadside café, we reached Soroa at approx. 2:00pm. Unfortunately, rain developed this afternoon, and shows no sign of clearing. After checking into our guesthouses, we then did a tour of a local orchid garden.

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Soroa is not a major town, in fact, other than a small resort, there is nothing there. Our guesthouse was isolated, and we had dinner cooked by the family who ran the guesthouse. After dinner, the rest of the group joined us and we had drinks whilst a couple of old locals played and sang. Despite there ages, they showed no signs of stopping until we were ready for bed.

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it was an enjoyable evening a great way to meet our new travelling companions.

Posted by HimalayanPeter 16:04 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

16 April 2017

Havana

sunny

Today was the end of the first part of the tour. Kate & Lisa had left in Baracoa, and most of the others finished the trip last night. Only Barbara, Graham and myself are continuing on the second leg of the tour.

Today was a free day, with the tour (second leg) meeting taking place this evening at the guesthouse. I started out walking along the harbour near the guesthouse.

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There was a cruise ship in the harbour. As I have said before Cuba is full of tourists. Ended up down at the mouth of the harbour overlooking the forts on the other side of the harbour, before heading into the old city. where I saw a couple of local women in colourful traditional dress.

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There is an old moated fort which is now a Spanish naval museum, so I spent some time touring the museum.

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From the fort, which was at the northern edge of the old city, I made my way to the southern edge, to the railway station and freight yards. There were old steam engines on display near the craft markets near the guesthouse, and there were more near the railway station.

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From there I made my way back to the harbour, before returning to the guesthouse to freshen up for this evenings meeting.

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Finally returned to the guesthouse, where I took some photos from the rooftop terrace before the meeting.

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During the first part of this trip, there were 16 of us on the tour, and most of us were Aussies. On this next section, there are 12 of us, and the mix is more international.. After the meeting, we went to a local restaurant for a group dinner.

Posted by HimalayanPeter 06:09 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

15 April 2017

Baracoa to Havana

sunny

Today is my sisters birthday, so happy birthday Lynne.

This morning was free in Baracoa before our early afternoon flight to Havana. After a late breakfast (8:15am) I went for a walk around the dock area and the bay, before making my way to the esplanade, and then up to the entrance to the bay.

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In the above photo, the airstrip can just be seen as the flat strip on the opposite headland of the bay.

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Our coach that we had from Havana to Baracoa had left us after our arrival in Baracoa, so Karrel had arranged unique transport to get us to the airport, an old Russian truck converted to carry passengers and bags in the rear. I got to ride up front with the driver, and could see the road through the holes in the floor.

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Baracoa airport is a small domestic airport, with only a couple of flights to Havana each week.

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Our flight departed at 1:45pm, and the flight was approximately 2 hours long. I was sitting next to a young mother nursing her child, who claimed to be an officer in the army. We spent the entire flight looking at her family photos on her smart phone.

On arrival in Havana, we had a brief stop at Plaza de la Revolution. The plaza is a large concrete concourse used for political rallies, with a memorial to Jose Marti on one side, and ministry buildings on the other side with large sculpture murals of Che and another revolution leader on the side of the buildings.

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Our guesthouse was a multi storey building in the Old Town. It was large enough that we could all stay in the one guesthouse, but had many narrow stairwells as shown below, up which we had to carry our bags, The view from the rooftop is also shown below.

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The above sign was from our bathrooms. The septic system in Cuba is poor, so toilet paper can't be flushed, but goes into a bin in the bathroom.

After dinner tonight, we went to the Buenavista Social club for the evening show. The building is old and decrepit, but is apparently the same venue that has been used since the early 20th century. The CUC30 entry fee included 3 free drinks (Mojito's of course), and the performances were fantastic. Most of left at 11pm to get the coach back to the guesthouse, but Peter & Jill stayed on and made there own way home.

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Posted by HimalayanPeter 04:50 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

14 April 2017

Baracoa

sunny

Today is my mothers birthday, so happy birthday mum!

Despite today being a free day, Karrel had organised a morning tour in a couple of unique vehicles, as shown below.

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Baracoa is well known for its local chocolate and coconut factories. Our first stop was a small family farm where they make chocolate for sale. We watched a display of the processing, and then tasted some chocolate (both eaten and drinking).

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After some time there, we moved on to a picturesque fishing village on a bay near Baracoa. We were supposed to visit a local school, but today was Good Friday, so the school was closed.

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from here we moved onto a small village which was particularly devastated by the hurricane last year. This village was at the mouth of a river, where we boarded a couple of small boats for a short boat ride up river, where we had an hour for a swim.

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From there we moved on to a local beach for another swim, and lunch at a beach side café. Bucanero is another Cuban made beer.

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We got back to Baracoa about 4:00pm, and I went for a short walk along the promenade, before walking up to the Hotel el Castillo, an old castle that offers good views over Baracoa. Below is a view of the Hotel el Castillo from the rooftop bar.

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After returning to the guesthouse to freshen up, it was back to the rooftop bar for a drink whilst we decided what to do for dinner. During the day, it was mostly sunny although some light overcast occurred during our time on he river. this evening some heavy cloud came in, back it amounted to nothing.

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Posted by HimalayanPeter 01:35 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

13 April 2017

Baracoa

sunny

Today was a free day, so a few of us organised an optional full day tour to Parque Nacional Alejandro Humboldt. We left at 9:00am for a 1.25 hour bus ride to the park. Then we had a 7 km walk through the park, with a stop for a swim near a waterfall. It was extremely hot and humid, & I struggled at times, but the swim was worth it.

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One of the park guides picked up this scorpion, which he held in his hand with its tail between his fingers. It was large.

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The walk was a loop, so we had to cross a few creeks to get back to the bus. For the last few creeks, we were put in carts pulled by oxen, although the oxen looked a bit malnourished.

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We left the park at 2:30pm and headed to a local beach where we relaxed and swam until 5:00pm, before returning to Baracoa. As can be seen the beach had its attractions.

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Back in Baracoa we freshened up before meeting at the rooftop bar to decide what to do for dinner.

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Posted by HimalayanPeter 05:46 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

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