Old Forts and Vintage Cars

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Jan 31, 2012

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Where I stayed

Flag of Cuba  ,
Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 1 - Castillo Morro and Fortaleza Cabana
After spending the night on the bus made it into Havana before first light. Given it was an hour earlier than I expected, ended up spending an hour in the terminal waiting for it to get later. Unforunately ended up at the Viazul terminal and not the bus terminal I had left from. Thankfully the map I had showed the terminal and so decided to walk the 1-2km to the hostel rather than argue over the taxi price. Along the way wandered past the cemetary and tried to take a short cut through it but was stopped by a guard so ended up having to walk around it.

Got to the Casa and checked in before heading out for the castles across the water. Ended up walking all the way back into the old town once again Ended up heading down to the street where I had been told you could find the cheap taxis and spent some time watching all the old cars roll by. Decided I would head here at the end of the day to find a taxi back to the casa.

From here headed to the shore where I wandered around the fort on this side of the river and took some photos of the forts that I was going to visit on the other side of the river. Then headed to the bus stop but given its location on the large round about that lead to the tunnel under the water I ended up deciding to head down the road towards the Capitol where I knew there was another bus stop that I could be sure would have me heading in the right direction.

After a short wait ended up getting on a packed bus and heading across the river where I got of at the first stop and wandered up the hill to the first fort with its lighthouse. Got to say I like the design of these forts. They definately look defensible (with their dug out moats) as well as livable places for a reasonably large group of people.

Wandered around the fort near the river mouth for about an hour or so. Spent the time taking in the view of the city from the fort walls as well as watching the waves come crashing in beneath the seaside walls and the birds flying overhead.

Found the walls of the fort had lots of cannons scattered around the place as well as battlements for soldiers to shoot down from (also good places for me to go wandering over the top of). Unfortunatley though, one of the more interesting building was closed. The lighthouse that was located inside the fort was closed so wasnt able to climb up to the  top.

Next wandered over to the second fort which seemed to be prepared for some sort of function. This fort was bigger than the first one I visited but found my walk around it to be less interesting. Also lots more people around the place. Once again some nice views across the river. Guess this would make a good spot if you wanted to bombard the town since it was located at a high point that was in range of the town.

Remember reading somewhere that during the cultural revolution these forts were used to defend the revolutionaries from the governement. Seemed that the forts had never been successfully seiged before and that by taking the forts as their base it gave them a tactical advantage.

Headed back to the bus stop and caught it back towards the capitol. Since it was such a nice day compared to my first visit to Havana decided to wander the streets a bit and take a few more photos. At one point had planned to visit the capitol building but unfortunately (unlike the last time I was in town) the building was closed for renovations. In the end just wandered around the building and nearby parks and streets.

Also wandered around the old town and ended up in a nice chinese restuarant where bought a late lunch before heading to plaza viejo where I sat down outside the bar, which I had previously visited, and had a couple of beers while I listened to the music and watched the people around the plaza. Once again could see a number of foriegners buying drinks and spending money on their cuban friends.

As it started to get dark decided to try getting a cab back to the casa rather than walk and so headed back to the street with the cabs running down it and ended up paying 3 CUC for a taxi back to the casa where I went for a bit of a wander around the nearby streets before calling it a night.

Day 2 - Wandering the town
Started by walking down to the supermarket I had seen on my previous visit since I needed to break a $50. Once again was put in a bad mood by the fact that I had gotten ripped off. When breaking the $50 I had to show my passport and write down the number. Unfortunately this was enough to distract me and I didnt check my money before leaving. Ended up finding out I had been ripped off $10 by the woman at the counter. Guess thats why she was so friendly and happy. Had been warned about this but guess Im not anal enough to always be checking my money and so pay the price.

Decided to head back into the old part of town to get some more photos of cars and people on the street. Had no desire to catch a crowded bus but after talking to the guy I was sharing the room with I decided to try catching one of the taxis that act as a bus. These taxis basically follow a predefined route and pick/drop people along the way. Only spanish I needed was to say was the destination "Capitol"and at 50 cents definately a cheap option. Thankfully the ride into town helped to improve my mood.

Didnt do much other than wander around centro and the old part of town buying a few cheap music DVDs and some more of the cheap soft serve icecream. Spent a bit of time in the backstreets between the capitol and the seaside as well as the area near the capitol building since this was where a lot of cars were gathered.

Had lunch in a small streetside restaurant which was OK and decided to wandered around the capitol area one more time for a few more photos then headed out to the street with all the taxis. Unfortunately spent to much time wandering and new I was going to be runniing late for my taxi to the airport.

When I got to the street with the taxis, pulled one over and asked the about stopping at the intersection near the casa I was told no by the first driver. Thankfully the second taxi I hailed and asked said OK and so I got. Guess different cabs have their own routes to run.

In though I ended up being a bit late back to the casa (maybe 10 minutes) and the taxi I had ordered had had to wait for me, which thankfully it had. In the end ended up getting to the airport without to much trouble for my flight back to Costa Rica.

Final Note
Enjoyed Cuba but was in a funny frame of mind since people harassing me for money seemed to get on my nerves more than usual. Not sure if it was the place, the time I've been on the road or the fact that I was coming out of central america but whereas I am not usually bothered by people asking me for something, this time I was. Maybe it was the fact that people were trying to rip me off a lot and this extended to some of the casas (places I was having to sleep in).

Happy I ended up in Baracoa since I got to interact with some cubians that weren't just talking to me for money or trying to rip me off. Maybethings would have been a bit different if I spoke more spanish or if I wasnt being such a tight arse with my money. 

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