Havana – part 1
Cuba, April 20-30
Ten days in Cuba, to see the main highlights Sabine remembered from her trip 17 or so years ago.
Havana, with its old American cars and some of the grandest palaces sugar money could buy that are now slowly turning into rubble, Viñales with its craggy mogotes (limestone monoliths), rusted red tobacco fields with real cowboys, and Trinidad, the cute, sleepy little colonial town with cobblestone alleys and colorful houses.
Cuba is a lot more touristy now, with higher prices, more restaurants and sleeping options, sometimes more organized and in some places, working hard to restore its buildings and plazas to their former glory. Other areas, especially in Havana are still rundown and crowded, the shops still have empty shelves (though very well stocked on alcoholic drinks) and service in governmental owned places is as sleepy as it used to be.
As our credit cards were unfortunately categorized as ‘American’, we had to survive with our emergency USD fund and a really mean exchange fee of 10% (only for changing USD, EUR or anything else would have been fine). Luckily our casas particulares (private homestays) were booked and paid with Airbnb, so we still got to visit all we came for. In Havana, Dorin took pictures of every single road, old building and classic car. He even booked a photo tour, taking him to the more residential areas. We were most impressed by the former estate now turned into the home of 80 families, by assigning each of them a single room as their place.