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Monday 14 Apr 2008
Trinidad, Cuba

Heineken... not strictly available in Cuba since 2008


Markus ventured off on his way today, we agreed to meet later on in the week in Vinales since he was going to be renting a car which would kick ass.

My bus back to Habana wasn't leaving till 3pm so I had the morning to chill out and purchase a few souvenirs, including some pieces of art that I had my heart set on. These works were small enough to fit into my backpack, yet were made from unusual materials such as recycled paper and soil mixed in with paint. Looks very cool (check the pics), anf I managed to haggle a good price for them (about 10 euro for 4 paintings).

The larger paintings require a government stamp as well, which costs extra.


After my shopping spree I had a date with Israel's bro, Yausbel Lake Martinez (cool name), for a salsa lesson. I was kinda nervous but was determined to see if I had any dancing potential in my bones at all since I was sick of my notorious "crap-dancing" and pseudo-rocker stylee on the dance floor.
"Learn Salsa", I thought, "and I can dance anything!"

Sure enough it started out a little tricky, but it's like this:

- Stand two feet together
- Left foot forward, tap right foot once, left foot backward (1 - 2 - 3)
- Right foot backward, tap left foot once, right foot forward (1 - 2 - 3)

Those are the basic steps!

By the end of the hour, I'd gotten it down to a tee, and soon I was swirling Yausbel around without any care for his well being (Yausbel is only about 5 ft tall, but a great master dance instructor none-the-less).

What made my day was when Yausbel said that he was impressed by my progress and was sure that my past as a guitarist must have helped.
Incidentally, he said that Germans and Dutch were the hardest to teach since they're always stiff.. both girls and boys Wink


Feeling good I bid my farewells to Lazarro (who, incidentally I'd promised to make a website for... hmm hope I get time) got on the bus for Habana whereupon I met up with an Ozzie (whose name escapes me) and a British chick (Claire I think).

Incidentally I've met hardly any Irish on this trip, just one girl in the bank that morning from Kerry. I think the Irish don't tend to go to Spanish-speaking countries too much.

When the bus stopped half way back on the 6 hour trip and I saw they were selling Heineken I HAD to have one... just to relive that "Heineken in Cuba" ad that was on TV last year. Cheesy

On arriving in Habana, I decided to check out the cheap hotel that the Ozzie guy recommended "Hotel Lido" which apparently has rooms including breakfast for only 21 CUC. It turned out it was 26 CUC, or 21 CUC if you book on the internet... but it did the trick and is a good spot to consider for the budget conscious in Habana.

I met up with the pair later on around 11pm to head out for a meal but unfortunately we found that Habana Vieja is practically dead around this time, particularly resturants. Apparently this is a recent thing in Havana, and Vedado or hotels are where the majority of late-night spots for food/drink are situated.
Sensing our plight (or more likely, sensing a chance to make a quick bob), a guy on the street asked us if we wanted to check out a nearby palader (basically a private house, where the owner will cook a meal for you). Sort of without consulting the others I said "Yes!" (cuz I was eager to experience a palader), but then remembered I was with a group and turned around for confirmation. But at that point the local guy had gone on up a flight of stairs and was hollering for us to follow.
"Oh well no turning back now!" I thought.

Once up in the apartment, we were sat down at a table in the centre of the house and a menu was propped into our laps. Yes a MENU! The prices weren't cheap, but I guess the guy who led us there gets a cut of whatever the girl asks for. I decided to try the lobster, while the Ozzie guy (who was vegetarian) had trouble trying to get anything.

Add a few Bucanero beers (the tastiest beer in Cuba), and you had a pretty decent meal. The lobster wasn't anything up to the standard I'd become accustomed to in the casa particular scene, but it hit the spot nicely.

Interesting experience!

We ended up that night sipping mojitos at the El Patio restaurant sitting out in wonderful San Ignacio square (my favourite part of old Habana) until 2am I think. Somehow we got a few of the security guards drunk too, whereupon one of the more enterprising ones decided to follow us home back to our hotel and then asked for 1 CUC to pay for his "protection services" along the way! Grrrrr Mad

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Perdido en Cuba de Fidel

Travel blog by peterforan

Swish antique

Swish antique

2 weeks in which I crap-dance salsa-stylee in my own inimitable way; terrorise the Cuban people after one-too-many mojitos and visit bars where they actually ENCOURAGE people to smoke cigars as big as your leg. If I get time I'll take in some culture..

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