Cuba! Cuba! This thought kept coming back in our minds and we decided to do something about it, now that the authentic charm of Cuba still exists. So we started looking for cheap and good possibilities to reach, discover and feel Cuba.
The first option was to organize flights and accommodation ourselves but we found a great offer from a travel agency, so we could not pass it away (Flights from Madrid to Havana and return, three days in Havana at 3 * hotel with breakfast included, 4 days in Varadero at 3 * hotel with all-inclusive, transfers, medical insurance-everything for Euro 740). Although we wanted to stay in local houses called Casas Particular, the offer was too good to be refused.
We have booked ourselves the flight to Madrid and the accommodation for one night, and we paid Euro 100 extra.
We arrived in Madrid relatively easy and smooth in about 3.5 hours and it took around 45 minutes to reach the city center by metro.
The next morning we left very early for the airport. Madrid has a huge airport, so we walked for about 30 minutes to reach our terminal.
At check-in, we had our first contact with the Cuban mentality and habits. A huge queue with a lot of luggage per passenger, like I have never seen before: TVs, speakers, bags, handbags, trolleys… Because we were carrying only a backpack, we were out of the ordinary.
The interesting fact was, that although they had left most of the luggage at check-in, the passengers were still having way too many bags or other handheld items at the gate.
Of course, in the plane, we hardly found room for our small pack and more than that, the plane left with a delay of 45 minutes due to excess checked-in luggage.
Finally, they managed to clear away the load problem and we take off. Later we learned that some of the passengers were left without the bags and received them after a week. They lightened the aircraft as they knew better…Most of the times it is easier to travel without too much luggage, so you save a lot of hassle and possible problems.
The 10 hours flight hardly passes, but the on board service was good and the captain has recovered the delay.
From the moment we stepped on Cuban soil, to the time that we left the airport, 4 hours have passed. Queues are huge and everything is slow. After 40 minutes we hardly succeeded to pass Passport Control but we were blocked again for 1 hour by the queue for security check.
The security ladies were dressed like high school cheerleaders and wore very tight skirts, white socks up to the knees, white shirts and ties… well, what can I say?!?
It took us around 2 hours to exit, and we were a happy case. Those with checked luggage waited for another 1 hour to recover the luggage because all five planes that have landed used the same baggage conveyor belt.
After 10 hours of flying and another 4 in the airport, all we dreamed off was a warm bed which we hardly reached.
The transfer coach left us at another hotel, although I told the guide that we have just passed ours…Luckily they were close to each other, just a 5 minutes walk.
Now we just had to check-in at the hotel and …finally, to sleep! Well, things are not that simple and fast in Cuba. We had to wait in a queue for the check-in formalities. While sitting there, a young lady, dressed in a very short skirt and high heels passed us…and then another one passes … and another…and another and we looked at one another and did not know what was happening.
“Where the hell are we? What kind of hotel is this?”
I haven t resisted the temptation and went to ask security about these ladies. And they said very proudly that the top floor hosts a club and that hotel guests have free entrance at the party. Phew!!! So the ladies in Cuba dress like this…
We finally arrived in the room!!!! It didn’t even matter that the hotel was one of the worse I have personally stayed in.
In order to start electricity, instead of fitting the access card in the slot next to the door, we had to fit a thick folded piece of paper in order to finally work, but at least we had hot water, and a million dollar view: The National Hotel, formerly pearl of Havana. We realized that we were in the heart of the city.