Day 7: A Free Day

Mon. 20th August 2012

It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!Today was scheduled as a free day on our trip. It was all good news – we weren’t changing hotels, so no need to pack up and check out; cycling (for those who wanted to cycle) started at 9am so there was a chance for a bit of a lie in.

To the extent that there was an organised trip, it was to the beach and even there, there was a choice of a 15km cycle ride or a seat on the bus with Tunas (our driver). The beach was picture postcard Caribbean – blue sky, blue sea, white sand and palm fringed sunshades. Strangely, more people opted to put their bikes (and themselves) on the bus on the way back!The bus station in Trinidad - It does look pretty terminal!

In the afternoon, our plan was to try and make some progress on booking bus and accommodation to our first stop after our cycling trip ends on Thursday afternoon. Freddy (our tour guide) has suggested that we go west from Havana and explore the area around Pinar del Rio and Viñales, for a mix of caves, mountains, nature reserves, beaches and diving. Other than meaning that we will need to book another night in Havana, this looks to be a decent option for a few days.

We did find an (the?) Internet cafe (no chance of WiFi). However, when we went to the bus company’s website (Viazul) they do run busses to both towns from Havana, but their site wasn’t able to take reservations at this point. Hey ho. It then gets a bit trickier as our plan is to stay in casas particulares – the Cuban equivalent of B&Bs – and generally they only have a telephone number for reservations and not a website.

We have booked some time with Freddy this evening in order to pick his brains both on further places to go and on how to book our accommodation. I do hope that there is an easier way than me having to make a phone call on a Cuban phone to someone who doesn’t speak English.

Taxi anyone?

We had been told by people who have done similar trips, that one of the pleasures is in meeting and remeeting people who then become friends. In the Internet cafe and then again walking back up to the hotel we bumped into Graham and Christine who we had originally met in the immigration queue at Havana airport. This was a great excuse to have a beer (with the ever present musical accompaniment); swap stories and email addresses and to start to get to know them. We now have an invite out to Tasmania, which might fit really well with our Melbourne stop come February.

Graham & Chris are well travelled and their view seemed to be that we had picked a difficult country to take on for our first experience of ‘make it up as you go along travelling’. We shall see. Given, the difficulty of getting connected to the Internet, I hope that we will have at least the first piece sorted by the time that we get this posted for people to read. (We were on the internet just long enough to see & approve the comments people have been making on our blog – thank you so much it really does mean a lot to us).DSC00180

Finally, back at the hotel the maid had made a decoration out of our towels and bed cover. We thought that they might make some good companions for Olly!

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