Cuida de Mexico CDMX / Mexico City

25.08.2017 – 11.01.2018

I have so many good memories of Mexico City. To keep this writing simple and user friendly I will list all my recommendations and some personal notes for Mexico City.

Also thank you all my friends I have met and spent with them:

Lorena, Abbishek, Alfredo, Amarel, Ben, Carlos, Ed Mundo, Eduardo, Hannibal, Jenni, Kevin, Lex, Marc, Maria, Monique, Pam, Pepe, Ronald, Rubi, Sean and all the others I forget during partying!!!

Restaurants, food and drinks:

  • Take a wok
  • All taco stands around the city
  • Taco Greco (try pan arabe with the special meet, or the volcano or the arrachera)
  • Pasta Place Flora
    • Delicious pasta and really good wine!!!
    • Sean and Marc can you remember our first earthquake at around 24:00, it was bonding, holy shit
    • https://goo.gl/maps/sDALiNDFGPM2
  • Molcajete at Cantina La Valenciana
  • Taqueria Osama
  • La Coyoacana
  • Sushi Roll, some days 2 for 1
    • Crazy sisters of Zaida, was fun to get you known
    • Ask google maps, it is a sushi chain
    • cdmx_036
  • Mercado Roma, food and drink (Barra 57, try the ponche de lobos)
  • Pulque, Pulqueria Insurgentes, fermented agave
    • If you are in Mexico at least you have to try once the famous drink, Pulque is originally without any flavour but for weak people, like the tourists and me, they add some flavour to the drink. Give it a try. Ask for some tester you can try any flavour you want.
    • We did it Marc, we drank 1 liter!!!
    • https://goo.gl/maps/EuGj1ezYcYS2
    • cdmx_046
  • Helado obscuro
    • Ice cream with alcohol, awesome combination
  • Try chile de nogada (seasonal, really heavy)
    • cdmx_047
  • Eat grasshopper with limon
    • Pepe, that was an awesome Oaxaca night. And I still cannot believe that the marimba player can handle four sticks….
    • cdmx_060

What to do

  • Xochimilco
    • Recommended with groups, if you go alone it could be really boring. You should go with some friends at least four. As I remember we paid 900 pesos for 3 hours (my Mexican friends were a big help). If you have a Mexican in your group she/he should do the haggling. I recommend also, rent your own boat, if you take the tourist tour could be boring and there is no real party going on.
    • If you are really good with haggling you can get 4 hours fewer than 1000 pesos, challenge accepted!!!
    • Pachona and all the others, it was big fun. Let’s do it again!!! Thanks for the invitation!
  • Zocalo, main plaza
    • Enjoy the awesome buildings around the place
  • El Castillo de Chapultepec
  • Pyramids Teotihuacán
    • I booked a tour over trip adviser 48 usd: https://goo.gl/XRp8gj
    • I think you can have it way cheaper, some I have met went there by metro and then took another public bus to the north and in the end they paid a fraction of the 48 USD, but for sure with the tour you have all the service and even there is tequila tasting included, do you math and watch your budget 😀
  • Round pyramid Cuicuilco
  • Museo nacional de antropologia
  • Spanish school (lengua y cultura)
    • Kevin, Marc, Sean, Marlene, the other Serbian? Girl (el Modelo?) and of course all the others, it was fun learning and studying Spanish with you!!!
    • https://lenguaycultura.com/
    • cdmx_038
  • Ripley’s Believe it or not
    • Was okay but not a must, on rainy day you can spend there some hours
    • cdmx_004
  • Free Salsa Lesson at Pata Negro every Wednesday
    • Pata Negro is also really good to go out at weekends, sometimes there is live music to dance to
  • Bellas Artes
  • Visit Plaza de las Tres Culturas
  • Enjoy the view from Monumento de la Revolución
  • Have a walk in Coyoacan
  • Mercado de Jamaica
  • Try to play marimba (Thanks pepe for that awesome night and for all you recommendations)
  • No recommendation: experience one or two earthquakes in CDMX
    • That was a crazy time. The first earthquake is felt in CDMX was around midnight and Sean, Marc and I were out eating pasta. We just left the restaurant when the earthquake started. My every first earthquake was kind of interesting and amazing because I have never experienced one. But soon the fascination and amazement changed.
    • The second one literally scared the shit out of me, and I could feel that my body was still under shock three or four days later, fortunately on the fifth day I left CDMX and my body could regenerate and relax better. The whole city was big chaos. A lot of buildings were damaged or even felt down. We tried to help where we could. We transported big rocks from the fallen building to a place where big trucks and jeeps could reach. Big human queues were made to make the transportation of the stones more efficient. https://goo.gl/81ebsr
    • Also that day I saw a big ass fireball, could feel the heat. I stayed around 30 to 40 meters away from the explosion centre, goose bump time!!! https://goo.gl/CzbNHz
    • Another thing which I also will never forget is that some government officials posted or told wrong information, like building X is damaged in street Y, they need help but in the end there was nothing. The reason behind was, as a Mexican told me, that the officials could send a truck full of medicine to that place but of course the truck never reached that destination and was leaded to somewhere else… no comment
  • Cinema platino
  • Bull Dog Café (club)
    • Mostly rock is played in that club, cover can be expensive, 500 MXN
    • Jime thanks for that amazing night! Great act and awesome vibe. If I have another chance I will attend again
    • LLA thanks for the invitation
    • https://goo.gl/maps/R6pr6vvktpM2
  • Janise Night club (expensive)
    • Another night club
  • Enjoy a Mexican private party (muak muak LLA)
  • Enjoy the independence day at Zocalo
    • Thanks to all the people I met that day/night
    • Especially Hugo for the awesome hospitality
  • Visit a Mexican fruit and vegetable market
  • Six Flags CDMX
    • I was soooo disappointed, for me it was a waste of time

Where to stay

  • Hostal Gael Condesa, quite expensive for what you get
  • Hostel Condesa Chapultepec, really cheap but everything is old
  • Suites DF Hostel, one of the better hostels would stay again
  • Mostly I used AirBnb due to the fact that an AirBnb cost the same than a hostel

Cook some mulled wine for mexicans:

 

Some additional impression from CDMX:

 

There is of course more to do, I list here more things you can do but which I didn’t do yet but will do when I go back to CDMX.

 

Awesome page for more deals and good events is www.dondeir.com

Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido

27.12.2017 – 09.01.2018

I arrived at the airport of Oaxaca and took a taxi (1 km away from the airport) to my hostel. It was 120 pesos (no Uber in Oaxaca). Of course I could have taken a colectivo for 80 pesos but there were like 50 people waiting for a ticket and I was really tired. I stayed at the hostal central was good for the time there and the owner is really gentle.

Some days later I took the over night bus (ADO 450 pesos) to Puerto Escondido (23:00 – 09:00)

I enjoyed many days in Puerto Escondido, even during the New Year was staying in Puerto Escondido. I slept in the Hostal Shalom, really awesome, there was a swimming pool, enough place to relax, and even hammocks. Hey Martin, let me know how the bbq looks like and if the pizza oven works!!! The people at Hostal Shalom were relaxed and cool. Thanks Lalo, the chilangos, Michele y Leonardo for the great time!

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And of course tahnk you Martin for the bbq discussion and your awesome big ass fucking meat on my last day!!!

In Puerto Escondido I had my favourite places in PE:

  • Pizzaria Mediterraneo
  • Playa Carrizalillo
  • Hostal Shalom
  • El Sultan for the shawarma and kebab
  • Cafecito (scrambled egg with bacon or vegetarian omelette)

From Cafecito I have mixed feelings. When I first wanted to eat there, there were like 40 people waiting to get seated. So I thought this must be good. So the next day I went really early for my breakfast. Unfortunately the French toast and the chocolate bread were let’s say 5 out of 10. Next day I gave it another go and ordered a vegetarian omelette, which was 8/10, with a banana milk, hhhhmmmm delicious.

After many nights in Puerto Escondido I wanted to go to Mazunte but there were no hostels available, therefore I stayed longer in Puerto Escondido and around the 7th January I took a bus back to Oaxaca (Sur 250 pesos, no toilet).

Back in Oaxaca I missed the opportunity to visit the ruins, I had to finish some private things and I found out the last collective leaves around 13:00 to the ruins and you need around 2-3h at the ruins. I finished my things around 14:30, hahaha.

I also could have visited the waterfalls but I have seen so many waterfalls on my journey I decided to relax and learn something new with Youtube.

 

 

Recommendations:

  • El Sultan for kebab or shawarma
  • Pizzaria Mediterraneo
  • Playa Carrizalillo
  • Hostal Shalom
  • Cafecito for egg or omelettes or the banana milk
  • Playa Zicatela was not that nice but the bar in the night were awesome

 

 

 

Quintana Roo 2

13.12.2017 – 20.12.2017

Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Akumal, Tulum, Xcaret, Bacalar, Chetumal and Cancun

Our first stop was in Puerto Morelos, amazing lovely city/village!!! You could make some snorkel trips there for around 350 pesos / 20 dollars (see image). Awesome view and the beach is just breath-taking…

After some sun we went to our accommodation in Playa del Carmen, where we enjoyed the night life. Try out an Ice Cream at Amorino (Calle Quinta). We met the Swiss gang again and we went to different bars right next to the beach. For the finishing we went to a club called Abolengo bartina (no cover) where we enjoyed the night with Vodka!

After a hard night, it was the day of Cozumel. The ferry was 135 pesos each way, check the internet for the schedule so you can optimize the time on the island. On the island we rented a scooter for about 20 dollar a day. For us it was a quick visit on the island. But I heard snorkeling or diving is beautiful there. Next time on the island I will have a look on that!!!

Days were running by and before we arrived in Tulum, we stopped quickly in Akumal. In Akumal we attend a snorkeling tour where we saw big turtles, rays and other fishes.

After a small siesta we headed to Tulum, where I ate one of the best fish in my life (EL Camello)!!! At night we accidentally crashed a wedding… hahaha congratulations to the lucky ones and enjoyed a Caguama (big bottle of beer) in a funny bar.

Xcaret Park, it was time!!! Xcaret Park is a privately owned and operated theme park, resort and self-described ecotourism development located in the Riviera Maya, a portion of the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s state of Quintana Roo. Despite the heavy rain in the morning the day was awesome. With the rise of the sun and the different activities (river and secret cave attraction!!!) the day was awesome!!!!!

A must is the show in the evening from 19:00 to 21:00. They show the diverse culture from Mexico and even play ancient football and fire hockey. It was really entertaining to watch!!! I have to go again to Xcaret, next time without heavy rain.

 

 

Before we left Tulum we had a look at the ruins and we also went to the playa! After a short swim we headed to Bacalar.

 

What can I write about Bacalar? Hm, lovely quite village, good for relaxing, no night life at all, perfect to recharge your battery. My recommendations in Bacalar are following:

  • Pizzeria Bertilla add some artisanal beer (like the calavera)
  • Sailing trip on the lagoon (reservation Casa Lahar)
  • Canal de los Pirates
  • Isla de los Pajaros
  • Cenote Negro
  • Eat Marquesitas with nutella
  • Eat in El manati for breakfast

We still had some time, so we went quickly to Chetumal. Cannot write anything about the city, nothing really special, but yeah we were there.

It was already time to go back to Cancun. For entertainment during night time we went to the hotel zone in Cancun. For drinks and a good view go to Chuchito Pérez, that night when we were there, was special deal: 2 for 1 per person, amazing. Yes you can imagine two big fancy cocktails per person. After that, we wanted to enter some clubs, one was really special and also had no cover but we left after 10 seconds due to the crazy girls inside. The other clubs were empty or expensive and empty. Therefore around 1 or 2 am we called it a day and went back to our accommodation.

The rest of the time we spent at the beach (Playa Delfines). There is free parking and the beach is amazing!!! For breakfast we went to la Organica, look at the food, delicious!!!

It was time to give my Ferrari back, pack our stuff and take the plane back to CDMX.

Recommendations:

  • Puerto Morelos next time I will spend a night there
  • Ice Cream at Amorino (Playa del Carmen)
  • Enjoy a cocktail at Abolengo bartina (Playa del Carmen)
  • Cozumel, rent a scooter, dive or snorkel
  • Xcaret (safe the braclet for the tower in Cancun)
  • Tulum ruins and the beach
  • El Camello (Tulum) try the fried fish or ceviche (really big)
  • Bacalar
    • Marquesitas
    • Pizzeria Bertilla
    • El manati
    • Sailing trip in the lagoon (reservation Casa Lahar)
  • Chuchito Pérez (Cancun)
  • Playa Delfines
  • Eat at la Organica

 

 

 

Quintana Roo Part 1

06.12.2017 – 13.12.2017

Valladolid, Chichen Itza, Ik Kil, Ek Balam, Coba, Choo-Ha, Dos Ojos and Holbox

Arrived by plane in Cancun I went to americancarrentals to obtain my Ferrari (Chevrolet Matiz) and later I was already on the way to Valladolid. On the way I had to fill up my tank during the procedure the personnel wanted to scam me with the money I gave him. I gave him 2 x 200 pesos and 1 x 100 pesos bills. Just after one second I looked away the guy changed a 200 bill to a 50 bill and told me it is not enough…… Anyway be careful with the money in Quintana Roo, touristic zone!!! Highway toll was 285 pesos from Cancun to Valladolid.

Late in the night, I arrived in Valladolid where I stayed a Hostal Yoko. Due to the tight plan, I got myself a private room, so there is no influence from other travellers.

For dinner I went to the restaurant Selva, which is located a little in the north (still walkable). Awesome food!!! Try out the Panuchos and the Chalupas, for drinking order a Chuya juice, a big one!!! You will love it!!!

The next day I took the highway from Valladolid to Chichén Itzá and the toll was 70 pesos. Due to time constraints I took the first available package with included the pyramids and the Cenote Ik Kil. The price was 482 pesos roughly 29 dollars. For 10 ollars more you could get a buffet nearby the pyramids. A guide in Spanish costs 800 pesos and in any other foreign language 900 pesos. As far as I remember the cenote alone cost 80 pesos and you can buy the ticket there right before the entrance of the cenote.

Let the picture speak for them. If you love souvenirs take enough money with you, there are a plenty of souvenir stands.

 

Next stop Ek Balam in the north of Valladolid. I totally recommend it due to the fact that you can still climb the pyramid (2017). Try out the pineapple ice-cream, which they sell if front of the entrance (30 pesos). The pyramid cost 197 pesos and the Cenote nearby 50 pesos. The view from the pyramid was incredible.

Time flew by before I left Valladolid behind I visited the local market for some breakfast and good memories.

 

Next point in my schedule was the pyramids of Coba (between Valladolid and Tulum. Entry fee was 70 pesos (8:00 to 16:30), 225 pesos (16:30 to 19:00). Parking was around 50 pesos cannot recall the exact number. Also there I rented a bike to get around in the archaeological zone was around 60 pesos. That was sooooooo fun!!!

Next stop the cenote Choo Ha nearby. I got there around 10:00 in the morning. I was the first to arrive there, peaceful and no tourists and the water was flat like a mirror!!! I think it was around 70 pesos. There are two other cenotes nearby but I had enough from cenotes. 😀

 

Back in the car I drove to Cenote Dos Ojos near Tulum, where I bought myself the premium package for 600 pesos. The package included the two cenotes and the bat cave, also included was the snorkeling gear, parking and the guide. Fully recommend it but next time I will dive there for sure!!!!

A short and lovely night in Playa del Carmen, decided to sleep there due to the location, it is in the middle between Tulum and Holbox, which was my next destination.

Arrived in Chiquila I looked for a parking, there were plenty of it. Roughly 40 pesos per day. With my jacket on, it was really windy and cold, I went to the pier, where I bought my ferry ticket to the island. There are two companies both have the same price but different schedules. 145 pesos was one single ticket, pay buy cash, heard about some double booking of credit cards.

Arrived on the island I walked to my hostal Tribu, which was awesome. Wifi sucked but the people and the accommodation as awesome. Even the kitchen was big enough for 10 people cooking at the same time!!! Holbox can be really nice but not during my stay (December) it was so cold, windy and sometimes rainy!!! Day activities were skitesurfing, bicycle ride or some boat trips. During my stay there the weather was so rubbish, just 1 day sunny enough for a swim in the sea… Before you book Holbox check the season and the weather. Anyway what I recommend is the bar Hot Corner where you can enjoy live music. I met some lovely guys in the hostel!!! Swiss guys from Bern the capital city!!! Hello there :D.

It was time to pick up my good friend at the airport in Cancun!!!

Recommendations:

  • Chichen Itza
  • Souvenir shopping
  • Ik Kil cenote (80 pesos)
  • Hostal Yoko
  • Restaurant Selva in Valladolid
  • Local market in Valladolid
  • Ek Balam (197 pesos) with pineapple ice cream (30 pesos)
  • Coba pyramids with a bike (70 + 60 pesos)
  • Choo-Ha Cenote (70 pesos)
  • Dos Ojos (premium 600 pesos, snorkelling the two cenote plus bat cave)
  • Holbox during nice season
  • Hot corner on Holbox
  • Rent a bike on the island
  • Walk to the Punta Cocos and the turtle beach

Habana II 20.8 – 24.8

Habana, last days!!!

The last days in Habana I spent for enjoying the night out and for relaxing!!! The night out I spent with Baldo, Freddy and Carla. We went to different locations. One was the king bar which was pretty awesome but a beer for 2.5 was quite expensive. Hahaha. Also I went to a couchsurfing event the last Saturday where we had nice conversations and good laughs. One of the last evening I went to the Castillo on the other “side of the sea”. The entry was 8 CUC and the taxi 4 cuc for each ride. The ceremony was awesome around 19:00 (or 20:00) the people there shot the canon and also a small company of military people do their show!!! I went another time to la fabrica de la Cuban arte!!!

 

I also had a very good pizza. As far as I can remember the restaurant was located at Avenida de Belgica near street Brasil or Calle Lamparilla.

That is the very last part of Havana!!! 😉

***back to overview***

 

Pirate Bay Baracoa

12.08 – 15.08

After an exciting ride in the colectivo with a small incident (flat tire) (20 CUC) I arrived in Baracoa and at the same moment I fell in love with it, no idea why but I did.

Some time of walking, I found a beautiful casa particulares for 15 CUC a night. Also the dinner that night, Camarones con leche de coco, was astonishing. You should definitely try it out.

But before I was enjoying my dinner I walked around the city. Enjoyed the view from the nearby Castillo (Hotel) and even I climbed on the roof of it, psssssst! With a glas of Santiago de Cuba 12 Years I enjoyed the beautiful view over Baracoa and the nearby Mountain El Yunque. Also I wanted to visit the museum the cuevas but it was closed, a lot of different people recommended it, maybe next time. Moreover I could arrange for the next day a tour to the Yumuri river (20 CUC), which included a small boat trip and a visit to a cacao farm.

On that tour I Have met Luca de Roma, we had plenty of fun. We visited the Yumuri river, which was unfortunately brown to heavy weather last days…. The boat trip was fun and also we could try to open fresh almonds, it is not that easy.
Do not forget to look for the colourful snail next to the mirador. Beautiful colours.
A highlight for me was the visit to a cacao farm, where I could touch and taste for the first time in my life a cacao fruit. I even ate one of the seeds. The farmer explained the different steps for producing Cuban style chocolate, let’s say Cuban farmer style chocolate. I as a Swiss am spoiled with the fine chocolate in Switzerland. The Cuban chocolate due to the lack of machinery was still rough but delicious! That day I got a sunburn, “white” skin after four weeks of sunbathing is still white skin. 😀
One hint: do not store chocolate in your bag pack -> big mess.

That night we went out and had great fun while learning how to dance salsa. With Francisco, a Cuban friend, we could organize a tour to El Yunque and the waterfall next morning at 8:00 am. Thank you very much. The place was called terrazza and it was 2 CUC entry! Also ask a Cuban to buy you a bottle of rum, he will get it for a cheaper price. Tourist price 9.5, Cuban price 7. Amigas gracias for the dance lessons!

We finished the night near the stadium next to a shelter, which was providing some music.

After 2 hours of sleep, we gathered again for our next tour to El Yunque. Luca, Francisco and I were in a zombie state. Marta and Gabriele were fit like sneakers due to their relaxing long night. After buying some beer and bananas we were off to our adventure on El Yunque. In total it was 10 km walking and 750 m altitude to the top. My water consumptions was way over 2 litres! My recommendation is to take 3 litres with you. For sure there is a possibility to buy water (40 min before the top) but 0.5 L is 1 CUC. The lady also offers a really awesome buffet of fruits do not miss it!!! For my hard working body and liver it was a nice refreshing break.
At the top we celebrated the climb and all had a sip of my delicious Havana Club 7 years. Luca we did it!!!!!! I still cannot believe it.

After the descending we enjoyed a long break in the refreshing river until we walked to the water fall, where we spent the rest of the day.

Total cost: 25 CUC taxi divided by 4, 13 CUC El Yunque and 8 CUC Waterfall. The 21 CUC you have to pay to the national park employees.

Thank you guy: Marta, Gabriele and Luca for the awesome time.

 

In Baracoa I had the best cuba libre and mojito in my life! Visit Yuri in la casa de Yamicel (Marti 145 A, Pelayo Cuervo y C. Frias). Flabbergasting drinks and the sizes are really fair!!!

For dinner we went to la colina (corner of ciro frias and calixto garcias) where we ate delicious comidas.

The same day Baracoa had its birthday with fireworks and big stage at the punto. Unfortunately, all were dead and exhausted and the day ended early.

We could arrange a taxi for next morning, we left around 12:30 to Santiago de Cuba for 15 CUC per person.

There was a friendly Cuban in Baracoa that sold hand-made dominos. They were really nicely made, I would have both one if I would not have travelled any longer. His name was Nicolas Suarez, address Reforma Urbana, Edificio 32, Apartment B in Baracoa. See the pictures!

Recommendations:

  • El Yunque and Waterfall (13 CUC and 8 CUC plus taxi)
  • Yumuri river, ask about the status of the river
  • Visit a cacao farm
  • Enjoy the view from the Castillo
  • Playa Maguana y Blanca
  • Try the coco de leche with camarones
  • Enjoy a night out in La Terrazza near to the plaza / cathedral
  • Visit the museum (La Cueva del Paraiso)
  • Spend some nights in casa perticulares de Carina (Cespedes 32 cornor Ruber Lopez)
  • Drink a mojito and a cuba libre with Yuri (casa Yamicel address: Marti 145 A, Pelayo Cuervo y C. Frias)

 

*** Natural Viñales***

Unexpected Matanzas & Varadero

04.08 – 06.08

Friday I left Santa Clara unexpected by a colectivo. Our plan was to ride with the Cuban bus. In the end we ended up in a taxi not due to little time or less comfort in the bus. It was due to the prohibition of tourists in Cuban buses. Tourists are just allowed in Viazul buses and/or colectivos etc. but not in national omnibuses. After hard bargaining we get on a taxi and our wallet was in total 25 CUC lesser. In any way I would have paid alone 25 CUC due to my status of a tourist. In the end Gustavo handled the situation very well and showed his talking and bargaining skills.

After a ride of 3 hours we arrived at our destination in Matanzas. A lovely beautiful house but more important a more lovable family lived there and welcomed us warmly. Expect Rogelio 🙂 he was still in standbye modus due to his hard working liver. Let's call them family of Matanzas. When time is well spent or enjoyed, time flews by and exactly this was the case. Conversation, refreshing beer, playing domino and last but not least delicous dinner filled our time. It was bad that I could not enjoy the delicous food to the fullest due to my ongoing challenge with my stomach, I did my best. Two other friends of Rogelio and Gustavo arrived late at night, let's get the party started! Johnny and Maykel completed the party.

The night we spent in the Athens of Cuba a great club (2 CUC) to hang out on a friday night. In combination with a bottle of whiskey even better. Also I found out that whiskey and red bull is not my type of drink, I prefer the whiskey pure on the rocks.

Yeni and Gustavo challenged others in a dance battled. I enjoyed the show of them nevertheless the audience selected another dance couple as the winner and they got an amount of beer cans. At this time I have to add a huge BUT, in my opinion my friends should have gotten all the beer, not just because of the fact that I love beer, more important was that they danced more natural and better. Their smooth transition between dance style was on point and I enjoyed it!!! Big applaus for them, I would have needed 6 months of dance lesson and preperation :). Yes I know….. I am European this means equal roboter.


After a couple of hours sleep we prepared for a beach day in Varadero. Towel check, swimsuit check, sun screen check (later I found out it was the after sun, f*** :D), and boom boxes check. Let’s get it started.

With my still young and unexperienced age I imagined a normal day a the beach but it came different. More and more friends gathered. Beer flowed and the atmosphere was relaxed and comfortable. We enjoyed some 3 liters beer dispensers and some buenos croquetes nearby the beach. The day ended at the beach when the sun set. The final was the delicous empicado dinner. You could feel the happiness and also the exhaustion. All fell asleep while watching the new king arthur!

Dear amigos and gente thank you very much for the awesome time. My memories got even richer. I wished that I could have changed my skills in speaking English to speaking Spanish. For the sake of sharing more conversations. The next time my Spanish will be more advanced.

This sunday is marked as a “bad” one. It reminded me again about an important rule while travelling. Prices rise and a lot of people want to go from A to B. On the 6th August we travelled back to Santa Clara. A normal taxi due to sunday was priced at 100 CUC loco. But god bless that I had Gustavo at my side. He could arrange a transportation for 20 in total. Thanks Gustavo for your bargain skills. Some hours of writing I was back in Santa Clara.

Additional intel: the transportation from peñas altas (Matanzas) to Varadero cost 10 CUP, retourn 20 CUP in the camión.

***unforgetful lovely Santa Clara***
***famous Santiago de Cuba***

Recommendations:
– Enjoy the beach (do not forget sun screen)
– share a beer dispenser for 7.5 CUC 3 liters
– spend a night in the athens of cuba club (2 CUC)
– Play some rounds of dominos

 

 

Unknown Remedios and flabbergasting Cayo Santa Maria

25.07 – 27.07

It was time for an awesome beach. We took a colectivo to Remedios (nearest and cheapest place to Cayo Santa Maria). 20 CUC was the price. During the ride we were creating our plan. Topics were how we get to Santa Maria the next day and calculated the expenses of accommodation and taxi fare. Created plans are there for changing them. So did we. We spent 5 CUC per person more and travelled directly to Cayo Santa Maria. We had many challenges to complete. Some were: getting money, where do we sleep, water, drinks and how we get back to Remedios or Santa Clara (Alex had a ticket for the day after tomorrow leaving Santa Clara to Habana at 15:00).

We completed the different challenges slowly one by one, in the end too slowly. It was already 18:00 and we still had no solution for our situation found. We were stranded…

While checking this part of the blog for grammar mistakes, something else sprang in to my mind. Once when we were discussing our plan and enjoying some drinks our bag packs were unattended stored near the reception. Later on we had to speak with the security guys for getting them back because they took them and stored them safe. I know really naive from us but it is Cuba really safe and “all” people are honest here. 😀

There were three possible variants:

Order cheapest to most expensive

  1. Sleep at the beach, dinner and breakfast none
  2. Taxi to Remedios (60 CUC) plus 20 CUC casa perticulares
  3. One night at Cayo Sol Santa Maria (150 CUC)

First we tried to bargaining at the front desks. The people were always shocked or surprised when we asked for a room due to the lack of reservation. One thing which I still do not understand until today was that some hotels were fully booked but there were nearly no people… I do not get it….

Prices were high ~180 CUC or the hotel was fully booked. Also the calls to nearby hotels were a rip off…. In the end one lovely reception woman told us that we should book over the internet. Bingo all hotels had available rooms even the fully booked ones….. Emergency credit card (150 CUC) was ready and some minutes later we enjoyed the faces of the reception personnel when we showed up with a valid reservation due to the dismissive behaviour before. Strange things in Cuba.

We enjoyed all inclusive services and later the awesome beach in combination with a cigar and music created the final. Due to our fascination with the beach and the sea, we missed the breakfast next morning. We had to improvise and found a place where they prepared some sandwiches. We checked out and had another swim in the sea. Clear sky with clear water. No comment.

 

One thing was special: when we asked for a room, one receptionist told us that the hotel was fully booked and he added there were free rooms available but not for guests. The reason was that some things were not working correctly. Like AC was broken or malfunctioned locks etc.

Maybe booking over the internet made it possible to unlock this limitation. In the end we got a room with a broken balcony door lock. Anybody could have entered our room in the night/day. In the end, I was happy about it I used the unofficial entrance once because my door card was not working properly.

The clock showed 16:00. We started to get worried about our transportation. So we discussed our further approach. A taxi was too expensive. The normal tourist buses were not bookable due to closed office. There were no colectivos…. Bargaining with bus chauffeurs was hard and “senseless” due to the risk of losing their jobs. But there is still one question in my head: Did we bargain to hard (ratio to their risk) or were the people just too honest. Nobody knows.

We were stranded again. The impossible got real.

We found a shelter next to the beach. The night was far away from comfortable. Noises from trucks, cars and shuttles kept us awake. Also the bag pack was kinda unattended.

Exhausted and tired we tried to book a seat in the bus. Yes you have read carefully, baaaaam surprise surprise. Tickets are bookable just one day prior to departure and it is not possible at the same day….

For Alex the time was running out. It was 9:30 and the bus was leaving from Santa Clara in about 5 h and 30 minutes. Money or time…

It was so painfully when we gave the taxi driver 80 CUC for the ride… still hurting…

I was happy about exiting the tourist zone. I did not feel really comfortable and in addition the food and the drinks challenged my stomach way too much. It lasted many days.

 

Recommendations:
– Enjoy the beach 🙂
– Enjoy the beach and the start during night with a boom box some glasses of rum and a cigar!

 

***lovely Santa Clara***

Touristic colourful Trinidad

25.07 – 27. 07

Arrived in Trinidad we had a walk around in the vintage colourful village. In addition with the fruits (5 MN) the Cubans sell on the street it was a nice day. Also we had a visit at the different tourist markets, where I bought my Cuban hat and shirt.

That day we did not expect that we will end up on a horse ride to a small awesome waterfall. The cost for two persons (entry included) was 22 CUC. As far as I remember the place was called Gruta Nengoa. It included also different possible jumps in the natural swimming pool. From 4 meters up to 15 meters.

We went out for dinner in a restaurant called Paladra. I do not recommend it due to not so good food. I mention it because in there happened something funny. We got a menu where the prices where following:

Cerdo / pork 6 CUC
Langosta / lobster 12 CUC
Pescado / fish 8 CUC

We had also a look on the menus of the other tourists. In our surprises they had other menus or better said higher prices. Pork 10 CUC, lobster 15 CUC, fish 15 CUC. Strange Trinidad.

Anyway next morning we had organized a taxi for following tour: It is called the valle de inginios. First destination is a mirador over the valley. If you have some money left you can also do a zip line there! Next stop was at an old sugar cane factory. After we paid the entry fee of 1 CUC we joined a guide and he told the story about the place. For me it was really interesting. Last stop was in Maznaca Iznaga a 44 meter high tower, which you can of course climb (1 CUC). After the amazing view we enjoyed a coco for 1 CUC. The whole taxi cost 25 CUC for four people which was a really fair price. Keep in mind that this tour takes just 3 hours.

After the hot day we went to the beach to get a refreshing bath. The beach day was quickly over due to heavy rain and even in the hurry to get a taxi we forgot our delicious rum at the beach that was the saddest part of it. Taxi cost around 6 CUC from the centre. Back the driver charged us 10 CUC due to the weather condition…

Next morning our taxi picked us up. The agent and the driver wanted the money beforehand. Unfortunately some people found out that they had to pay more than others, so you can guess the mess. From Trinidad to Santa Clara 15 CUC, to Remedios 20 CUC and to Santa Maria 25 CUC. After 1h 50 minutes we finally saw the street sign that we left Trinidad.

Maybe you noticed while reading this part about Trinidad that it was not written with ambitions, maybe due to lack of interest in to Trinidad. Trinidad is colourful and nice but really too touristic for my liking. Of course the horse ride was fun and a big adventure in the end I think I had to high expectations from that famous popular town. Maybe next time it is better. Nobody knows.

Recommendations:
– Have a walk in the colourful village
– Enjoy the diversity of tourist souvenirs
– Attend a horse ride to the nearby little waterfall
– Do a tour to the bigger more famous waterfall
– Enjoy the view from the 44 m high tower in Managa Iznaga

 

***Unknown Remedios and flabbergasting Cayo Santa Maria***

Cienfuegos 23.07 – 25.07

A city that was influenced by the French.

Taxi ride was comfortable and was “just” 10 CUC from Playa Larga to Cienfuegos. We arrived at our destination, Casa perticulares which was recommended by our last host (25 CUC a night). At the same day we stroll through Cienfuegos. The pier, the malecon and important the punta (south point) was on our list. Also keep in mind the boulevard and the plaza. We had a great time at the beach. We met a lovely big family, with whom we also had some dance battles and lesson, good laughs and awesome memories. We showed them how you crawl and swim right. At the end we did some rocket launches in the water some were really hurtful, do you remember Alex?
But how we got to the south point? We took a bici taxi and in the end I was the one who rode the bici taxi as an exercise anyway after 20 minute of workout we had to pay 3 CUC, it was worth it. During the day, Alex bought a box of cigars for 25 CUC, the taste and the shape was professional but still up to today we have no idea if they are fakes or originals. In the end we enjoyed them and it was totally worth it. The climax of that day was the lobster for dinner!!!! Unfortunately the last days of AC killed me and I had to go early to bed.

El Nicho a great spot for swimming and with a big waterfall.

We took a taxi for 50 CUC plus 10 CUC for entry it was totally worth it. Let’s see the pictures. Also there is a cool jump you can do!

 

On the 24th in the evening we went to a billard center, unfortunately all tables were busy so we enjoyed the time with air hockey and a walk to the malecon. Near the malecon at Calle 37 there was a big villa as far as I remember Casa de Cienfuegos. We heard that there is great music and good view over the bay of Cienfuegos but it was closed.

On the 25th we booked a taxi from Cienfuegos to Trinidad (8 CUC was the deal, in the end we paid 6 CUC).

 

Recommendations:

  • Malecon
  • Pier
  • Boulevard
  • Punto
  • El Nicho
  • Play a round of billard (1 CUC 1 h)
  • Casa de **** at Calle 37 /e 14 y 16 (25 CUC a night)

 

***Touristic Colourful Trinidad***