06.10.2014 - 22.10.2014 30 °C
So much has happened! This is a bit of a long one but I guarantee you will enjoy the ride!
Today was very cool! We had a late breakfast and then visited the Wax Museum and Ripley's Believe it or Not. I actually enjoyed it more than I expected! After that I headed back to the hotel for some chill out time while Yuri went to the movies with his parents to watch Cantinflas.
I met up with them afterwards for a lovely dinner with some delicious Mexican wine. I've been surprised by how good the Mexican wine is!
Wax Museum and Ripley's Believe it or Not!?!
Full on but great day!
We spent the day on the Turibus checking out the sites of Mexico City! We ended up back in the centre by around 5 and after a bit of a walk we ended the night at Salon Corona for some tortas, tacos, beers and mariachis! Awesome!
Mamiti and Papiti's last day in Mexico and last day with us ?.
We headed to the Arts and crafts market to buy some last minute gifts and then headed to La Zona Rosa for lunch. There was a protest happening (daily occurrence) on Paseo Reforma and we couldn't get back to the hotel so we killed some time with a coffee.
We finally were able to get a taxi back and then Yuri and I packed while we had a couple of drinks and Mamiti and Papiti watched Novellas!
Final dinner at the hotel restaurant before calling it a night!
We had an early breakfast and then finalised Mamiti and Papiti's luggage before heading to the airport.
We checked them in easily and then had a delicious final meal together. Ironically Mamiti and I were served Australian wine at lunch!
Then all too quickly it was time to say goodbye.
We had an amazing 2 months with them and we will miss them a lot!
Safe travels home!
Yuri and I didn't get up to much after that. We went for a walk and got caught in a storm so we waited it out at the closest McDonald's. Spoke to Mum when we got back and then chilled out with Sons of Anarchy, NCIS and Modern Family.
We woke up at lunchtime today - haven't done that in ages! We spent most of today chilling out and sorting ourselves out for Cuba!
Cuba here we come!
Our entry into Cuba was very easy. We were a little apprehensive after some of the stories we have heard but we cruised straight through. We exchanged money at the airport. Cuba has 2 currencies - why, I don't know but I will find out! Miguel was waiting with a sign to take us to Casa Rosita!
The drive from the airport was - wow! Havana (La Habana) looks just like the photos I've seen. Old cars and run down buildings. It has a certain charm but needs a lot of work.
We met Rosita who is super nice and she showed us to our room in her apartment. I don't know what I was expecting but this has exceeded it. We have a lovely room with our own bathroom, mini fridge and air conditioning for $20 a night. Apparently spending $20 a night on accommodation in a Casa particular in Cuba is luxurious and expensive. Crazy right?
It's super hot so we got changed and Rosita gave us a run down of the area before we set off on foot.
Habana Vieja is beautiful! I didn't expect to see begging but there was a bit of it.
Every man and his dog is trying to get you to go on some sort of tour but the place still has a certain charm.
We eventually stopped for a Mojito and a snack as we hadn't eaten since breakfast.
We sat there for ages just soaking it all in and people watching. We got chatting to a lovely older couple from Holland which was nice.
The common theme among tourists at the moment is to visit before it all changes and also before Fidel Castro passes.
We headed back to Rosita's for dinner. She had cooked us lobster! We had a lovely chat with her and her neighbour Erenio whom she cooks dinner for every night (sweet)! I'm having a lot of trouble understanding them - it's like they are singing a song but I don't know the lyrics.
Rosi helped us plan our time here and also gave us a run down on Casa Particulares. You can't just decide you are going to rent out a room, it needs to be government approved and then they hang a sign (anchor) outside your apartment and on your front door. I mentioned before that this is considered luxurious. You can get $5 and $10 accomodation but Rosie doesn't think we'd like that. Yuri and I don't need luxury but we need to be comfortable and stay somewhere clean which we have here.
Rosie asked us why we were here and about the politics... Yuri and I had agreed beforehand not to get involved in a conversation about politics so we avoided that one!
After dinner we headed to Hotel Florida to listen to some music and have a drink. PS, you can still smoke inside here - weird.
Wow the people here can dance!
It was so fun to people watch because it was basically Cubans (male & female) approaching tourists for a dance (and a bit of something else if you get my drift). It was a bit of a meat market but we had an awesome night!
Woke up super late and totally forgot where I was. Cuba, that's right!
Rosita had breakfast waiting for us which was really needed after last nights antics!
We told her all about our night over coffee and had a good old laugh. I'm starting to understand her a little better!
After our chat with her last night, Rosita had organised the rest of our trip for us. On Wed we leave by bus to Trinidad for 2 nights and then head to Viñales for 2 nights before coming back to Havana for 1 night.
Rosita has also organised for Miguel (taxi driver from yesterday) to show us the sights this afternoon and for us to go to a Cabaret show tonight - wow, she is amazing!
So we have decided to leave the sights for tomorrow (Monday) and headed to watch a traditional African/Cuban show called La Rumba. The dances were rituals for calling on saints. It has a lot to do with Black Magic. It was very cool but steaming hot. Rosita came with us and we enjoyed a few beers afterwards.
We headed to Plaza Vieja later on while Rosita went to visit her Comadre. Habana Vieja is simply stunning. You can't walk around for long here in the scorching heat so we stopped at La Factoria de Cerveza for a beer and to listen to some live music.
We had a pizza while there and I don't think it really agreed with me so we headed home after that.
We rested for an hour before getting ready to go and see a cabaret show. I was still feeling pretty horrible and almost cancelled the show but Rosita gave me a tablet that fixed me right up! I wasn't 100% but good enough to go to the show...
Miguel picked us up and took us to the Hotel Nacional were the Paris Cabaret was playing. Boy it was spectacular. Really fun night!
Miguel picked us up bright and early for a day of sightseeing. We visited La Plaza de la Revolucion, La Casa del Che, Morro Cabaña (fortress) Hemmingway's house/museum and Statue in the cute town of Cojimar. It was probably only about 30 degrees but it felt like 100!
The view from Hemingway's house....
Morro Cabaña (fortress)
La Plaza de la Revolucion
After the tour we stopped at La Floridita to have a daquiri with Hemmingway!
We had a siesta in the afternoon - we have been having the deepest sleeps here! I guess the heat is getting to us more than we thought!
After dinner we went for a drink then a walk along the water.
What a day!
After a delicious breakfast and a chat with Rosita we set off on our own walking tour of Habana Vieja. It was steaming hot and the sweat started dripping as soon as we left the apartment!
We started off at the Museum of Revolution which was really interesting. We spent a couple of hours there. After the museum we spent the next 3 or 4 hours walking without stopping. No lunch just water. We then stopped at La Museo del Ron (Havana Club) for a rum and a tour. We then walked a little more and finally stopped for a snack, beer and a daquiri! What an awesome day!
Museum of Revolution
We are now getting ready to see the Buena Vista Social Club at Hotel Nacional!
Man what a night! It was FANTASTIC!!!
The concert was in the 1930 Ballroom at Hotel Nacional and it was done up so elegantly, like we were attending a wedding - lucky Yuri was wearing pants!
We enjoyed a delicious dinner before the band came on. They played for 2 hrs! Obviously this was not the full original band but some of the original members were still there shaking it! Bloody brilliant!
Buena Vista Social Club
It's now 5:49 am and we are up at the crack of dawn to catch a bus to Trinidad. There is no water and we are hoping it comes on in the next 15 mins so we can shower before we leave! Yesterday was not as bad as we had a trickle of water to wash the important parts!!!
Water came down from the gods and we were able to shower and have a quick breakfast before heading to the bus station. The bus is quite comfortable for the 6 hr journey to Trinidad and it's not full so we can split up!
Bus to Trinidad
We had a couple of stops along the way and passed through some interesting looking towns like Playa Larga and Cien Fuegos. We eventually got to Trinidad about 2 pm and Yasser was here waiting to take us to the accommodation by.... Bicitaxi! They strapped on our luggage and then we got in and then this guy rode up to our lodging! Felt so bad for him! Anyway the place we are staying at is stunning. I feel like we're on the set of a movie. Yasser and his wife Marie are lovely and have made us feel at home. They have a daughter with cerebral palsey and she is just adorable.
We were supposed to head to Viñales on Friday but we've decided to stay in Trinidad till Sunday as there's a lot to do here and there is way too much travel to spend only a day in each place....
I feel pretty crappy and a cold coming on so we took a quick walk into town to try and find something to eat. We walked into a restaurant called La Ceiba on the recommendation from Marie although we started to walk out after we'd seen the menu as it was too expensive. They then offered everything on the menu for $6 so we said 'sure we'll stay"! Then the lady asked us if we had a card, did someone refer us? I started to say yes not really understanding but Yuri said no.... Anyway after we sat down all of the staff gathered and were discussing commissions and prices of food right there in front of us. It was horrible! Yuri asked if there was a problem and they said the owner said that they could not offer $6 prices.... We got up and left. Apparently the people on the streets get a commission if you pick their restaurant... Also apparently there are 3 menus. 1 with local prices, 1 for tourists with the prices jacked up to include commission and a normal menu without commission. What a bloody ordeal.
Anyway we found a normal restaurant near home with the menu and prices outside so we had dinner there and it was delicious..... San Jose it was called. The waiters were lovely, prices so cheap and the food was amazing!
Early night to try and fight off this cold....
Woke up feeling like I could sleep for days... We had the most amazing breakfast outside this morning. Marie and Yasser really know what they are doing here!
After breakfast I passed out, literally passed out and didn't get up again till after 3! Feeling a little better but not really. Anyway we got dressed and headed out to check out the town and take some photos. That took a couple of hours and then we wound up at Plaza Mayor for a couple of drinks while listening to some music.
Trinidad seems more set up and organised for tourists than Habana. Habana seemed chaotic which adds to it's charm I guess but Trinidad is so calm and peaceful and more tourist friendly. They have tiendas here where you can buy a soft drink and chocolate which I didn't see in Habana...
We ended up having dinner at the same place as last night - San Jose and it didn't disappoint! I had the most amazing lobster ever for $9.50 which could have fed 2 people and Yuri had the shredded beef which was also delicious! I think we'll be back there tomorrow!
The lobster - YUM!
Best day ever!
Ok, I know I've said that a lot but today was really something special!
We were picked up bright and early by Ada and her driver for a day tour tour into the mountains. We drove up to a look out and the view was breathtaking! We could see the city of Trinidad, the mountains and valleys and the Caribbean Sea. Super dooper! Next we drove to the starting point of our hike. 1 km in and we came across El Rocio waterfall which was just beautiful! After taking plenty of pics we continued hiking to a pond where the water was just so lovely and it was so bloody hot that we just had to jump in. We had the pond to ourselves which was muy romántico! After that we hiked some more (about 2 km) through such tranquil forest along the river until we reached the end. At the end of the trail we had a delicious chicken lunch but Yuri was being killed by Mosquitos so we ate and ran! Last stop was La casa del café were we learnt a little about the coffee making process before enjoying an espresso. Perfect, perfect day!
We chilled out after that watching Breaking Bad - we're about to finish season 2 and it's so good!
We are now waiting out the rain before heading to our favourite restaurant. Yuri's getting the lobster as he was so envious of my meal last night - ha!
Our Hike and swim...
Day at the beach in Cuba - enough said!
Leaving Trinidad today and heading back to La Habana. Just waiting on the bus to pick us up...
So the "bus" was a minivan and 7 of us were crammed in for a 4 hr journey back to La Habana. It wasn't so bad as we slept most of the way and had the smiling faces of Rosita and Erenio waiting for us! They had missed us and wanted to know everything we had been up to. Rosita noticed my cough straight away and loaded me up with medicine and honey and lemon tea. We took a walk after that to grab some lunch and then walked to the market after that to buy some souvenirs. Siesta time after that and then we got ready to go out for dinner. First we had a chat with Rosita and took some photos.
Dinner was delicious. The place was called El Rum Rum and we had Paella and grilled octopus. It was so yum! After that we took a last walk around for last pictures before heading back to Rosita's for a chat with her, Ronald and Erenio who we have come to love so much. Rosita is like an older sister and she has made us laugh so, so much!
El Malecon at night - beautiful!
We are so sad to be leaving Cuba - especially Rosita, Ronal and Erenio....
We spent the morning packing and enjoying last chats with Rosita and Erenio. Rosita made us a delicious brunch to send us off.
She also arranged for us to be taken to the airport in an old Chevy! Bloody hell - so amazing of her!
Saying goodbye was so hard and Erenio shed some tears. We are going to miss these people so very much!
Cuba has been so intriguing (I still have so many questions). The people here are crying out for access to information (internet) but a lot are scared of the impact to their way of life and happiness (Cubans are seriously happy people) if and when things change.
It's a country full of contradictions but at the end of the day it's so, so beautiful and incredibly safe.
Tourists bring in a lot of money to the country but having 2 currencies makes life very hard for the average Cuban. The CUC or tourist dollar is of equal value to the American dollar. 24 Cuban pesos = 1 CUC - you do the math.
I hope to return one day and I will be staying in touch with Rosita and Erenio. Rosita has an email address - again I have so many questions....
Heading to the airport in style!
Mexico City (again)
Back in Mexico City!
We spent last night catching up on the news of the world and of course social media!
We spent today planning our Mexico adventure and have a pretty exciting plan!
We caught a bus into the centre of town today and did a lot of walking. The weather here is perfect at the moment. We finally got Yuri's phone fixed (I dropped it way back in Argentina), and had some lunch at Salon Corona before catching the bus back.
We are now back at the hotel booking accommodation - we leave for Puebla tomorrow for 3 nights and then head to Oaxaca and we'll be there for the Day of the Dead (very big deal here) festivities. Super exciting!