Today was a long travel day.

I had a 7am bus from here in Trinidad going all the way back to Havana 7 hours away.

Despite going to bed at a semi reasonable time of 11pm last night, I still set two different alarms for this morning and set them at staggered times with infinite snoozes.

No way was I sleeping through this alarm like I did a few days in Cienfuegos.

In the end, it turns out I didn’t need either of the alarms as I just naturally woke up just before 5am this morning.

I got ready, ate the cold chicken dish for breakfast that I had bought for takeaway yesterday, and was on my way at 5:45am.

I tried so hard to be quiet on my exit but, damn, there were so many doors to unlock.   The keys actually fell off the key loop onto the ground and basically woke the whole family up.

Lo siento, lo siento.

Viazul bus

Anticipating a cold morning, I actually wore my pants and hoodie for the first time this trip.

It was definately brisk weather but after walking a few blocks, it quickly became evident I’d have to change back to shorts and tshirt.

Luckily the streets were deserted at this time of the morning and I was able to just strip down and change into my shorts in a little alcove on one of the streets.

At just before 6am, I had arrived at the Viazul station.

Aside from a couple locals sitting in the main area, I was the only one there.

There was no one at the ticket counter which was a bit of a surprise since you’re supposed to checkin an hour before your departure.

I finally just asked one of the guys waiting there if this was the right place for the Viazul bus.

He then pointed me around the corner to where the Viazul office was.

I was still the only one there but at least there was someone working there behind his desk in the tiny office.

I gave him my ticket and he checked me in.   Soon after, I went to the other little room to drop my bag off and paid the guy 50 pesos for the service.

Being there alone didn’t last long as soon others began to trickle in until there was almost 40 of us all waiting for the bus to arrive.

At 7am we boarded the bus.

This one was older than the previous one I took and it had this nice ambient pee smell in it.

Ah, Viva Cuba!

As I learned, I checked for not only a seat that wasn’t broken, but also for one that had an unbroken seat in front of it.   After all, don’t want someone putting their seat back on me into my lap.

I actually had no seatmate the entire ride today which was kind of nice but it also shows you that there honestly was no reason to be here an hour beforehand to make sure they didn’t give away the seat I had paid for.

Pit Stop

After a few stops at Cienfuegos, Playa Giron and Playa Larga, we made a half hour pit stop halfway through our journey.

The bus stopped at the same stop it had stopped at when I took it in the other direction.

Now, by now, I really had to pee so, in anticipation of the stop, I had 50 pesos (washroom cost) in my hand a sprinted out the door making a b-line for the toilets.

After exiting I noticed people had congregated at the little restaurant/bar area so I went to take a look at what they had.

Oh, hamburger…

Yes, please

Sin bun, por favor.

It was the perfect light lunch I was looking for.   Just enough to tide me over until I got into Havana.

At 11:45 we were back on the bus.

Next stop, Havana.

Back in Havana

At 2pm, the bus finally arrived in Havana.

While last time I was here I was staying in the touristy Old Havana area, this time around I purposely picked a casa in the Vedado neighbourhood a couple km away.

The reasoning was twofold.   One, it was within walking distance from the Viazul bus depot and, secondly, I wanted to have an opportunity to explore another part of Havana I hadn’t seen yet.

After disembarking the bus and picking up my bag, I went to exit the bus station.

I didn’t walk more than a couple steps towards the exit when I was all of a sudden bombarded by a swarm of men at the front gate clamoring for position and yelling “taxi, taxi, taxi” over one another.

I literally had to push my way past them to get out of the bus station all the while repeating “no, gracias” over and over.

Being a pretty seasoned traveler, I’ve seen this kind of thing before but never to this extreme.   Like, when I say a swarm, it’s not hyperbole, there had to be close to 20 of them all trying to get my business.

Sadly for them though, my heart was set on walking to my new casa.

It was a mild 22C and there was a light breeze and wasn’t anywhere close to the hot, humid days I had last week when I was here.

Good day for a walk, if you ask me.

The walk to the casa was about a half hour and I enjoyed every moment of it.

Walking down the Havana streets again, being back in a big city, just brought back so many nice memories.

A half hour later, I arrived at my new place.

My casa hosts were waiting for me outside the building.   The husband doesn’t speak much English so his wife also tagged along and, with her limited English, became the interpreter.

They spent the next half hour explaining everything about the casa.   They were pretty in depth I guess partly because they wouldn’t be on hand while I was staying there as they lived 4 blocks away.

Two water taps

The water situation here is pretty unique.

The bathroom sink has two different water taps and, inside the shower, there’s also two completely different shower heads installed.

I haven’t really mentioned it yet on the blog but water is not as easy a thing as you’d think in Cuba.

In this building, the water is only turned on between 5pm and 1am and then again from 6am – noon.

If you want water outside those times, you have to use water that’s been stored in a big plastic water tank inside the suite.

This is where the two different taps and shower heads come into play.

One is the water line from the building and the other is from their plastic water tank.

So, one tap only works during the hours I talked about above and the other works all the time.

Of course, if you want hot water, well, you can only get it during the hours I mentioned.

Confused yet?

The simple way to say it is if I want to take a hot shower, I gotta take it before noon or after 5pm.

Internet woes

Outside of the first place I stayed at here in Havana, wifi has been pretty much non existent while I’ve been here.

Yes, some casas advertise they have wifi but what it really means is they flip it on for an hour a day and you can use it during that time.

It’s understandable as these things are not cheap for Cubans and are considered more of a luxury than anything.

In fact, outside of casas where they kind of need to offer it to their guests, I’m guessing not very many people have wifi in their homes here in Cuba.

So, as a workaround, I’ve been using my phone as a mobile hotspot and using the data from my sim card to power my internet usage on my laptop.

It’s worked fine except I’ve now had to top up the GB twice on my sim card while I’ve been here.

I thought the original 6GB would be sufficient for 2 weeks and, boy, was I wrong.   I added 10GB more last week and I was running on fumes yesterday.

Who woulda thought that writing a blog, uploading photos and videos, and surfing the net would use up so much data.   Crazy, I know!

I had actually resorted to turning off my data while I was out and really watching my internet usage the last couple of days just to conserve enough to get me to the end of my trip.

Then, last night, I finally gave in and bought another 10GB addon.   It’s the smallest option they have at $24us ($36cdn) but I really didn’t have a choice.

I knew there’d be no wifi waiting for me here in Havana and the worst thing to happen would for me to run out of data and not even be able to top up because I need an internet connection to do it.

Anyway, after my casa hosts left me at 3pm, I quickly setup my mobile hotspot to hop on the internet and, to my horror, it connected but didn’t detect and internet.

Oh, no!

I quickly realized that, like the other place I stayed at last week here in Havana, the data signal just doesn’t reach inside the building.

If I needed to use the internet over the next two days, I’d have to take my laptop with me outside and find somewhere to look up stuff and to blog.

I know, I know, first world problems…

Hotel National

My hosts had mentioned that the luxury Hotel National nearby offered a breakfast buffet in the mornings so I decided I would swing by to get some more info about it.

I also wanted to also ask them about the shuttle bus to the airport I had read about online.

If what I had read was accurate, and with Cuba, that’s a big if, I could take a cheaper shuttle bus to the airport in a couple days instead of a taxi and be able to pay with my credit card thus saving my poor pesos.

I walked into the lobby and asked the lady at the front desk about both.

The buffet is 7am-10am and is 1500 pesos ($6) which, considering this is in a luxury hotel, seemed very reasonable to me.

The shuttle bus, however, doesn’t sound like a thing.

I asked her and then also a concierge at another counter and they both seemed genuinely confused by what I was talking about.

I mean, if anybody in Havana would know about this shuttle bus, it would be a concierge at a fancy hotel, right?

Oh well.   I do have a Transtur office highlighted on my map so I may visit them tomorrow to see if they offer the shuttle but I’m pretty much resigned to taking the taxi.

A late lunch

While I was here, I decided to go check out the restaurant.   I walked out into the vast courtyard overlooking the Havana bay and ended up at a different restaurant that they have on the property here.

Out of curiosity, I looked at their menu and the prices seemed reasonable so I sat down for a late lunch.

The hotel is also one of the very few places in Cuba that also takes credit card payment so I was splurging.

It had been a long travel day and I deserved it!

I ordered a pina colada and bbq ribs.

They had neither.

Well, geez.   Viva Cuba, right?

Okay, how about a mojito and bbq pork loin?


The meal came out fairly quickly and it the pork was nice and juicy which isn’t always the case with pork.

Since I had the flan last night in Trinidad, I was kinda craving it again.   It’s hard to find gluten free desserts on menus so the flam kinda got me hooked.

I went for a triple dessert (I told you I was spoiling myself), I had the caramel custard flan, a cup of guava ice cream, and a café con leche.

The bill?   Only 2770 pesos which is about $11.

$11 for dinner, multi desserts, and a mojito.

In a fancy hotel.


Along with the bill total in pesos was also a smaller total in the bottom of bill in US dollars.   That total was $23 and if I wanted to pay by credit card, that’s the amount I would be charged.

The thing is, because this is a government hotel and restaurant, they use the “official” exchange rate of 120 pesos per US dollar instead of the exchange rate you find everywhere else of 250 pesos.

So, yeah, if I wanted to use my credit card, my $11 meal would turn into a $23 meal.

Well, as much as I was excited to be able to use my credit card, I wasn’t willing to pay double for my meal to do it.

I laid out 3200 pesos, told her to keep the change, and was on my way.

Blogging in the lobby

I was done dinner at 5:30 and, since the I had my laptop on me, I decided to find a nice comfy couch in the hotel lobby to start writing this blog.

As a gringo, I can pretty much just blend in here in the hotel and nobody who works here gives me a second look.

It looks like this fancy hotel is gonna be my second home while I’m here in Havana the next couple of days.

Soon after, the sun had gone down and I just took a walk down to the famous Havana seawall, the Malecon.

It was a bit chilly by now but it was just great to be sitting there walking the locals walk up and down.

This was Havana.

This was Cuba.

Cuba Trip 2024, Trip Journal, Havana, Trinidad, Cuba
Cuba 2024
Photo Gallery
Leave a Comment


  • joann pfeifer says:

    Hi, i just read your recent installments. I was hoping you would get to the other side , in Vedado, to experience an area that is not so touristy as Old town, more laid back and relaxed. This is where i stay when in Havana. after the hustle and bustle in Old Havana, it is nice. Again, what a pleasure to read. I am going back soon, and your blog made me all the more excited.. joanna

    • joann pfeifer says:

      oh, btw,…. If you are looking for a nice place for dinner tonight ( i think you are still there )…my all time favorite place in Havana is El Bikys. It is just about four blocks up from the Hotel Nacional, on the border of Vedado and Centro. You cannot miss it, it takes up a whole block.. ! It has two seperate entrances with a restaurant and bar on each side… i always go to the first entrance you come to, more roomier, …and yes, the ice is very safe ..:)

    • Todd Slater says:

      Man, I wish I actually had more time here in Havana. There’s so many places I didn’t get to go to!

      I’ll have to save El Bikys for another trip because I have something else planned for tonight.

      I don’t want to spoil too much with the upcoming blog but I have a reservation for my last dinner at what apparently is the best restaurant in Cuba.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *