Meet Christiane and Tobias

The cute austrian couple called Christiane and Tobias. They were part of the people we went on a diving trip with and after the exhausting dive it was time for lunch and some drinks. Therefore we decided to squeeze in their small rented car something like a Fiat Punto with 6 people to get to an All-inclusive restaurant 8 km away with an beautiful natural pool. Some diving competitions, chatting and chilling together made it an awsome day.

Sometimes the world is really small and while checking the internet in a hotel in Havanna 3 days later we ran into Christiane and Tobias again. They had 3 hours left before leaving for the airport so we spent a few more hours together in Havanna (mainly in an austrian brewery 😉

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Diving in Playa Giron

Our Casa Particular in Playa Giron was very nice, even though we were missing a toilette seat. Instead we had turtles, a parrot, a dog (or was it a hamster?) and a crocodile – for real! There is not much to see in this village besides very good dive sites and a restaurant where you can get 4 main courses plus four beers and a soda for round about 8 CUC ( = 8 USD)! Playa Giron has only one huge resort which could easily be a movie set for a zombie blockbuster. The small bungalows fall apart, grass is growing inside and most windows are broken. Around the bungalows are palm trees with coco nuts laying around everywhere. At the beach side of this hotel is a masterpiece of architectural art: a massive wave breaker. Its appearance is brutal. Most probably Cemex (one of the biggest concrete producers in the world) was not only sponsoring the local grocery store… However, this beach also features a bar with great mojito for only 1 CUC ( = USD). We had a first great afternoon with Jimmie and Kari 😉

The next day we went diving. While doing so we met Tobi and Christiane (“Meet Tobi and Christian” post will follow soon).The rest of the day we went to an all-inclusive beach. Thanks to Tobi and Christiane the transport was free and the way back one of the highlights (as far as I remember). The evening ended in a bar with round about 2-15 Mojito per person.

The haunted bungalow hotelIMG_20140530_155650

Nice and welcoming parking lot @playa gironIMG_20140528_142634 Award winning wave breakerIMG_20140528_161712 IMG_20140528_164215 IMG_20140530_155110

Beach without wave breaker (close by)IMG_20140530_155211 IMG_0843

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Trinidad and the Countryside

Trinidad is located in the south central of Cuba. Its surounded by mountains and sugar cane plantages on three sides, however, the next beach is just 14 km away. Its one of the first cities established by the spanish, here the clocks stoped ticking in 1850. Old-fashioned 19th-century horse carriages drive along the cobblestone-streets some houses have been nicely restored and you see people sitting on the streets and playing domino everywhere. But besides that there is not a lot to see. The best thing about Trinidad was the casa which was perfectly clean, good located in the city center, with a private terrace and hammock only for us to use. Also it offered the best dinners and breakfast we had in Cuba so far. And all of that for a good price. Its called “Casa Elio Ramos”. Every morning we got loads of fresh fruit, juice, omlets, pan cakes, coffee, hot chocolate and bread. But see your self on the pics 😉

During the first two days we took it slowly, walked through the narrow streets, relaxed on our terrace and in the evenings sat on Plaza Mayor where people dance salsa and drink Mojito or Cuba libre.

One day we went to Playa Ancón which is mentioned in the lonely planet as one of the best beaches of cuba. But in the last 6 weeks we have seen various beaches and therefore you can call us beach ruined. Sadly it was a disappointment compared to what we have seen.

The other day we went on a horseback tour (someone whos name shouldn’t be mentioned took a carriage) to a forest called Parque El Cubano and hiked to a waterfall. The bath in the freshwater was fantastic and underneath the waterfall is the entrance to a huge cave which is only reachable by swimming. Caves have someting creapy and magical at the same time (this one somehow reminding one of Indiana Jones). In the afternoon we visited a tiny Fábrica de Tabacos and bought our first cigars (10 local cigars for 5 $). After having a great dinner at the casa we went out with Kari and Jimmy (see we meet category) for some drinks and ended up in a really fancy club called Disco Ayala. Its a hillside cave in Trinidad that has been converted into a club where people dance to a wild mixture of salsa and house music (we got told this place is mentioned in the Neon as one of the 66 places to party around the world).

Kari and Jimmy also want to go diving in Playa Giron therefore we decided to go together. The next day we are on our way. Looking out of the window felt sometimes like watching a western movie because you see more cowboys riding along the countyside than cars passing by. In Cuba they still use horse carriages for transportation and for field work.

Our room in TrinidadIMG_0620 Dinner at the hostelIMG_0627 Riding in the countrysideIMG_0645 IMG_0646 IMG_0655 IMG_0660 IMG_0661 Mangos! Shit loads of mangos!IMG_0666 A cigar factoryIMG_0833 IMG_20140524_155112 IMG_20140524_165859Working on my disputationIMG_20140524_214047Breakfast on our private terraceIMG_20140525_095710 IMG_20140525_134034Playa AnconIMG_20140526_145009 IMG_20140526_164649 IMG_20140526_191814Plaza major – where the magic happens during nightIMG_20140526_191834Niels was forced to ride a horse….IMG_20140527_112201 IMG_20140527_112618No more space in the LadaIMG_20140528_095500

Meet Jimmie and Kari

What should we say besides: they are amazing. Jimmie is as American as one can be (only in a good way) and Kari is fun all the way and an experienced traveler. They are very old friends and decided to travel together to Cuba. We met in Trinidad, where Kari invited us to a Cuba Libre straight away. In the evening the four of us went to the world famous Cave disco north of Trinidad. From that day on we travelled together through Cuba until our ways parted in Havana. Thanks to them we had two very pleasant stays in Playa Giron and Havanna. They master the art of bargaining very well and introduced us to it. Therefore, we stayed in a better area in Havanna but still paying less even though our breakfast was included.

Lucky Jimmie he had some freedom in the back 😉image00001

On the way to our first diving spotimage00002 image00003

Way to Cayo Santa Maria and our stay

Once again the alarm clock was set to 5 am on the 21th of may. Packed with our backpacks we found our way to the place our bus was supposed to leave at 6 am. After two hours of waiting and several times asking the receptionist, we got told that the bus forgot to pick us up. By now we are well-experienced travelers, therefore we brought sandwiches and fruits. With a delay of 4,5 hours our pick-up arrived. Instead of a bus full of people we got a private car with a driver. The drive from Havanna to Cayo Santa Maria took 5 ½ hours. Cayo Santa Maria lies at the western end of the Archipiélago de Sabana-Camagüey in the north of Cuba. Its only reachable via a massive 48 km causeway called EL Pedraplén. No Casa Particulares are located on Cayo Santa Maria therefore we were forced to exchange our backpacker life into an 5 Star All-Inclusive Resort life. We expected a high class 5 Star Resort, but recognized soon that there are diffrent 5 star hotels in the world 😉 The resort was nice, but did not meet our expectations.

The luggage was brought to the room and we decided to take a drink at the pool bar. Followed by a drink at the beach bar, another one at the bar at the lobby bar and and and… We tried various different cocktails / colors and met three polish guys from Breslau (Edyta, Marvin Nr. 1 and Marvin Nr. 2) with whom we hung out. The following two days we enjoyed the beach, the pool and the drinks (not the food!).

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Edyta, Marcin No. 1 and No. 2. Thank you for the nice time!!!IMG_20140524_131324