Havana Cuba Cruise Review – Chapter 5

DAY 2


I must of woken up around 7am or so. I had set the alarm for 8am, but given that I had gone to sleep so early, then I woke up early. I decided to start studying a little while mom woke up. It did not take long before she was asking the time. I turned on the tv and put on the fwd camera channel where we could see that we had already docked in Havana.


Let’s talk about the tv system, that thing is dated! There is no channel with the ship stats, and actually very few interesting channels with movies and tv shows. There are a lot of news channels, the one thing that I wanted to get away from during my cruise. Anyway, I was not expecting a great tv system, but at least the ship stats channel, I enjoy looking at the speed and such. Thankfully the fwd camera channel was working.


Anyway, mom got up and updated herself on the phone and then got ready. After she was done, I got ready as well. By the way the hair dryer was horrible.


Oh, something funny happened mom showered with cold water that day, cause she was turning the handle the wrong way, lol. But that said, the water temperature varies a lot, you have to be careful while showering.


After a little we went to the buffet to get some food. They had just opened the gangway, and they were calling groups slowly. Oh wait, at one point mom went down for our ticket, and we were in group 6. So we decided to go and get our food while we waited.


Here is the buffet.


























There is also a buffet outside, and the items vary slightly.










The food was good, just wish the poached egg was not overcooked.





We ate breakfast outside, and I took some pictures
















So here I will talk about pollution in Havana. Here is my theory. They have a large amount of cars from the 40’s and such, these cars are unregulated when it comes to environmental measures. You can definitely smell the pollution in highly concentrated areas. Nothing horrible, but just something to note. Once you move away from heavy tourists areas, it decreases. Just something that I had not noticed before on a Caribbean island.


That morning was quite smoggy.










We waited for our turn, which was actually quite quick and we headed out.








Exciting The terminal is very quick. They just take your Visa, and give you back the passport stamped. It is really a quick system with a lot of booths to move people quickly.


The port is quite nice, although hot as hell!!!







I will start talking about Havana now. I would dare to say that this is the nicest Caribbean port that I have been to, and it is the closest that you will get to Europe being on this side of the hemisphere. The people are genuinely very nice, now, I won’t get into the politics and how everything works. I am sure the people in the main tourist areas privileged and whatnot. But I am simply stating from my point of view.


I was never, not one time asked for money. I was amazed by that, I had actually brought money just for that, to give to people who asked for it. Yet it never happened. Sure, there are some people offering tours and such. But if I was to compare walking outside the port in Nassau vs Havana, it is about 2% of the people offering tours and attacking you. In all honestly, there were maybe 4 people there. While the taxis waited on the other side of the street.


My mom had been in Havana before, about 15 years or so ago. And she kept telling me to get ready to see every building falling down, and whatnot. To her surprise she could not stop talking how well kept the city was. From inquiring with locals, we found that in the past 5 years they have been restoring buildings at a very fast rate, and let me tell you it shows. Havana is absolutely gorgeous! Nothing in the Caribbean compares to it, actually they are not even close to it.


So anyway, back to the review. Mom had read that the best thing to do was to buy euros and exchange them for Cuban pesos there. When we got there we noticed that actually the best thing to do is to bring Canadian dollars and just exchange those. But anyway, here are the conversion rates. Notice that the American dollar is the only one that gets charged the 10% fee.





We exchanged 100 Euros into Cuban pesos. By the way there are two types of Cuban pesos, the ones that the tourists can use, and the ones that the local get paid with.





A lot of people complained about how expensive Cuba was, but we found that most of those people had not done their research. Most of them came with American dollars and bought more expensive tours.


This was our first view,





So talking about research. I knew that there was a double decker bus that did a tour around the city for $10 per person. I know NCL charges $90 per person, and local tours charge $40 per person. The one thing to keep in mind is that NCL has closed AC busses. While the double decker bus does not have AC, but added deck is the option out there.


Anyway, what we did not know is that it the tour would be about 2:20 and that we would get thirsty as ****! So BRING WATER AND GO TO THE BATHROOM BEFORE GOING! Other than that, I highly suggest this option. You can also get off at any stop and catch the next bus, but we just rode the entire time, and never got off the bus.


We were lucky that as soon we got out of the ship, one of the buses arrived. So we boarded it.


The bus stop is to the left when you exit the port. It is right there, like 5 steps from the door.




Once on the bus we waited for more passengers. Thank God we were under shade, lol. While up there I took pictures of cars and whatnot.





































I read somewhere that Cuban citizens are not allowed to buy cars newer from 1956. So all the new cars are linked to companies or the gov.











After about 15 minutes or so we got going. They do some narration, but the speakers are horrible and the open air situation does not help. So don’t think that you will get a real tour with narration here, we got very little from what she said on the speakers.











I never found out what that statue was, even though I took like 30 pictures of it.








This is a perfect example of how they are restoring the city, mom said that back then everything looked like the building in the middle. Just look at the architecture, just gorgeous!























There are several paintings of Che Guevara around the city.














There was a museum here, but the bus was going fast and I only got these two pictures. I wish I gotten clear ones. But the way I am aware that most of the pictures had dust in the lens, it’s a shame that noticed when I got home, and I simply have no time to correct them all.







Up ahead is the Capitol, which was modeled to the one in the US back in the day. Now, since it is not used for politics, it is used for something else, not really sure what. But either way it has been under renovation for a few years, we could never get what “a few years” actually stood for. They did tell us that after you enter there is a 3 carat diamond in the middle…








There was a cute museum. By the way, there are a lot of museums in Havana.










The next stop is the Parque Central. The bus stops there for about 1 minutes, and it gets hot cause there is no shade or wind. I guess they are picking up people from the 5 hotels that surround the Plaza. Later on I have pictures of the hotels, they are incredible!





This is one of the hotels, mom said that this is the one owned by the military, i don’t know, that’s what she said.





Capitol





Behind mom is the Main Theater





We go to go on those later on =)





Those are two more hotels, the blue one, and the white one. Not sure what the one in the middle is.





From the looks of it it is a private residence





Then we got moving again.


























The roads in Havana are VERY IMPRESSIVE!!! 3-4 lane roads at some points, and most of them perfectly paved. Again, this is not something that I am accustomed in the Caribbean. I am sure they are injecting tons of money to portray the best in tourist areas, but all I am saying is what I see. I come from Colombia and I have total poverty, the one that must exist in Cuba. And I was never exposed to that, I am sure that all the tours are designed like that. But my thing is that even when all tours are designed to see the best of other islands, you still see really bad areas. Just look at Falmouth… Well, I lie Grand Cayman was also very well kept, but it did not have this amazing architecture.










Just look at that! It is called El Malecon, and from what mom told me, here is where local come and enjoy a few drinks and such.

























That’s another double decker bus on the way back.



















This the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, it is a luxury hotel located on the malecon. This hotel was actually developed by a US firm in 1930. The hotel has a cool history, which can be seen in wikipedia. The hotel was nationalized in 1960 by Fidel Castro. Anyway, it is gorgeous from the outside.










This is apparently the tallest building in Cuba, and you can go up and view the city from there. I think there is a restaurant there. Although I did see other buildings that seemed taller.





This is the US embassy.















I can only imagine the amount of issues that those cars have. 










I just thought this building was really cool. I have an obsession for architecture. During my time in Asia I spent most of my time, just going around looking at buildings and such. I really wonder how this type of building would fare on an earthquake. Coming from a highly seismic zone, I am quite aware this.














Here is another hotel










That was the only Mercedes that I saw.





Then we headed up a hill and then down, it was a beautiful road.

























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