Kootje Dijkstra | Cuba: Havana
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03 Jan Cuba: Havana

On the 20th of December, Lisse, Floor and I finally flew to Cuba! We booked the flight the month before, and now the time had come. When I left for Mexico, I was hoping so badly that I would meet some nice people who were also eager to go to Cuba with me. I was very happy when I discovered that Lisse and Floor shared the same feelings, so when we booked the flight, it was only a matter of time.

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Time to go! Beautiful view from the airplane 🙂

When we arrived, we had to wait in line for the currency exchange desk for almost two hours (!!) For anyone going to Cuba soon: please exchange your money in advance! When good to go, we had to walk 2 kilometers to the bus station. On our way we got stopped by someone who was heading to the city center anyway, so he took us with him. One special thing about Cuba, is the amount of oldtimer cars driving around the whole country. This guy had a beautiful old Chevrolet from 1960, our first taxi in Cuba! Cuba is like time hasn’t passed since 50 years, there is also no internet connection and 80% of all the cars are oldtimers.

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We booked a ‘hostel’ online in advance. This one was close to the football station and was called ‘Nilda Backpackers Hostel’. In reality, these kind of hostels are called ‘Casas Particulares’, which means ‘private homes’. In 1997, a change occured in Cuba regarding accomodation. The government allowed the residents of Cuba to rent rooms in their houses to tourists, and offer breakfast as well. I think this is a nice experience and at least much cheaper than the fancy hotels in Old Havana. Also, the service is really great and often better than in the hotels! We stayed in Nilda’s home, and she lived together with her daughter, her son-in-law and their two daughters.

The view from our casa! It was located in a really centered place, only half an hour of walking to Old Havana.

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Local market and food in a ‘Paladar’. There are not many restaurants in Cuba, due to the long term regime of Fidel Castro. Since his younger brother Raúl Castro took place, many more economic reforms have taken place. Hereby the Cubans have gotten a lot more freedom regarding to opening restaurants, casas particulares, or even travel overseas.

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Streets of Havana! The colors and cars are the most striking things you see in the streets, causing every corner of the street to be a nice picture 🙂

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Also, much curiosity about all the interiors of the beautiful buildings! When looking inside the buildings, you see a lot of colorful tiles, walls and stairs.

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Iglesia in Havana, unfortunately I forgot the name of this one, but it was located in Old Havana.

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Che Guevara wall painting! Che Guevara is still seen as a very important person of the Cuban Revolution, thanks to his participation in the reformation of the government.

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Vintage stands with lots of books, old Cuban pesos, pins, magazines, old newspapers and more.

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And also many fruit stands everywhere! The avarage Cuban salary is only 20 USD per month, which is very low. Because everyone working for the state is only earning a few cents per hour, they are not really working that hard and you will often consider them as very grumpy people. This is why you see a lot of small stands with fruits and vegetables, chicken and other food. The stimulation in private businesses has therefore paid off in the workforce and done some good to the Cuban economy.

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Museo de la Revolución! This was the former presidential palace of Havana, which was built between 1912 and 1920 (inaugurated by Mario García Menocal). It really strikes that the design is very like the Versailles Neo-Classical period, and it definitely got the class and stylish design from Tiffany’s of New York (designed by). The Sala de los Espejos/ballroom was a very impressive space in the building. On the right picture you see the dome.

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The museum also contains exhibits anout the events that led up to Fidel castro leading Cuba and the revolutionairy war that he waged in Cuba. A lot of historic photos are showed and also a real life wax statue of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos!

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Oldtimers everywhere!

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Every corner is Instagram-worthy 😀

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Sunset watching at the Malécon!

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And I love this old school bus!! Looks a little bit like the schoolbus-transformed-to-camper- bus of Expedition Happiness! 🙂 🙂

After one day of exploring Havana, it was time to arrange a ride to Trinidad! I will be posting about our experiences in this beautiful place as soon as possible!

 

KO XX

 

 

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