This is it, the start of my journey home back to Vancouver.

It starts with a few hours this morning still here in Havana, a flight to Mexico City, a 16 hour layover there, and finally a flight home tomorrow.

So, let’s get this day started…

The last few hours in Cuba

My flight didn’t leave until 2:45pm and to get to the airport 2 hours early, I’d have to board the shuttle bus at 11:40.

I woke up at 8:30 the morning giving me a full three hours before I’d have to get into travel mode.

I won’t lie, it’s kind of nice to have an afternoon flight where you don’t have to get up at some ungodly hour and rush to get to the airport.

There was only one last thing I had planned for Cuba this morning and that was, of course, a visit back to the breakfast buffet at the Hotel National.

For 1500 pesos ($6), it’s honestly the best kept secret in Havana.

Along with the breakfast, I also leisurely spent some time in the lobby catching up on internet stuff before I headed back to meet my casa hosts at 11:00 to checkout.

I told them to swing by at 11am even though the bus which was just a 5 minute walk away didn’t leave for another 50 minutes.

Granted I did want to show up at the bus stop early because this whole shuttle bus was still a big unknown to me and if it came early, I didn’t want to miss it.

Even still, it was awhile before I had to go.

I had remembered how thorough and drawn out the checkin process was so I told them to come early just so I didn’t have to rush to the bus stop.

Joke was on me, a quick check of the room and a handshake later, I was done in less than 5 minutes.

Oh, well, at least I guess I won’t have to rush for the bus stop.

Shuttle bus to the airport

So, the real question that was in the air yesterday was if this shuttle bus was really a thing and would I be able to catch it.

And the answer is…


I arrived at the bus stop a full 20 minutes earlier than the 11:40 departure time and found a nice shady spot on a ledge to sit.

After sitting there for awhile, I got to thinking.

What if this bus wasn’t obviously labeled?   What if it was just some non descript van?

And, what if, that van saw no one was at the stop and just drove on by?

I mean, I wouldn’t even realize I had missed my bus!

So, I left my nice comfy spot in the shade and stood beside the bus sign in the beaming sun.

Turns out it was a good idea.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the bus I was catching was actually a blue Transtur bus that had been literally sitting across the street the entire time.

When you’re in Cuba, you see these buses all the time as Transtur is a big company here offering all kinds of tours around the city, and in fact, the country.   Naturally, I would never have imagined that this was my bus.

About 10 minutes before the bus was to leave, the driver exited the building I was waiting in front of, saw me standing at the sign and pointed at the sign and then at his bus.

Now, if I wasn’t standing there, I’d have had absolutely no idea that was my driver and that was my bus.

Apparently this was the first stop of the route and he was just coming out of a rest period between loops.

The bus itself did actually have a little sign in the front window but, honestly, again, I wouldn’t have notice it.   I was expecting to see a specially branded bus in some green or red color to stand out.

I was the only one to board the bus and, in fact, I was the only one on it the entire trip even though we also stopped at 4 other hotels before going to the airport.

The price is just $5 which is a fraction of the $30 I paid the taxi when I came into the city when I first arrived in Cuba.

And you can only pay with credit card.

The stop I caught the bus at was the first stop in the loop.   I caught it around the corner from the Hotel Habana Libre.   From here, it runs every hour on the :40.

The other stops are:

-Hotel National on the :50
-Hotel Vedada on the :55
-Hotel Presidente on the :15
-Hotel Melia Cohiba on the :25

Even though it was pretty obvious no one else would be boarding the bus, the driver still waited at each stop until a full five minutes after it was scheduled to leave so there was no worry about him taking off early.

Having said that, I’d probably still arrive early just to be sure.   Maybe I just had a nice driver today.

From there, it’s about a 30 minute drive to the airport.   In total, the route took me just over an hour and arrives in the Arrival area of the restaurant since that’s where it picks up people who have landed and want to get to the city.

It arrives at exit D, gates 8 and 9 and to get to the departures area you just go up the stairs and you’re there.

When I arrived, I took a quick look at the sign posted and it appears there are three different shuttle buses taking you to different areas of town.

The bus I had taken was the Vedado route and leaves on the :10.

There is also a Playa route going to Hotel Comodoro, Hotel Memories, Hotel Panorama, and Hotel Copacabana that leaves at :50 on the hour.

As well, there a shuttle bus that goes to Habana Vieja (Old Havana) to Hotel Parque Central, Museo de la Revolucion, Hostal Palacio de O’Farrill, Castillo de la Real Fuerza, and Hotel Armadores de Santander leaving on the :30 every hour.

Now, obviously, you don’t need to actually be staying at any of these hotels.   Just find the one that’s closest to where you want to go and get off there.

If you want to see photos of the actual bus signs with the route and timetables, check out my photo gallery at the end of this blog.

Oh yeah, and one last note – during my wandering around looking for bus stop signs, I came across one that looks very similar to these around the stop I boarded at.

This one was for what looked like a hop on, hop off bus to different places around the city and left every 25 minutes.   The bus driver said it was $3.   Now, I don’t know if it’s actually hop on, hop off, or if it’s just one fare to one stop.

Either way, don’t wait at the wrong stop!

I will say, this service is very hidden.   Like I said, I was the only one to board and, from talking to the driver, that seems to be the norm.

Also, two people who worked the front desk at the Hotel National didn’t know about the service and one of the stops is literally right across the street.

I’m also pretty sure if you ask any taxi driver at the airport about it when you arrive they’ll lie and tell you there’s no such thing.

So, here’s me doing my part to get the word out.   I’m hoping future travelers to Havana will come across this info and use it to their benefit!

At the airport

I arrived at Havana airport at around 1pm for my 2:45 flight.   I know they tell you to arrive 3 hours before your international flights but, from experience, I’ve learned that this is quite drastic and I find 2 hours is plenty.

I walked up to the departures hall and just kind of stood there clueless.

There’s a serious lack of signage and information for travelers here and also very few people milling about.

I eventually found someone working there and asked me where I checked in and he pointed me to the right counter.

Like I said, there were very few people there so I was done my checkin in just a couple minutes.

My seat for my flight – 27C.

Sweet!   Aisle seat!

My seat for my next flight tomorrow – 9B.

Oh, crap!

It finally happened.   I lost the airplane seat lottery.   For longer flights to Europe or Asia, I’ll actually fork out the extra cash to pick my seat.

For shorter flights though, I just kind of gamble and hope that the randomly generated seat they give me is an aisle.

Today, the random number generator did not work in my favor for my second flight.

Well, at least I have the aisle for this flight, so we got that, at least.

Immigration and security was also quick.

It was an interesting security check though.

For one, I had to remove my shoes and, from what I remember, the only other time I’ve had to do this was when I had to go through a TSA check in the States.

Despite this extra security measure, they didn’t do any of the normal stuff you go through when going through the process.

I didn’t have to empty my water bottle, I didn’t have to take all my liquids out and place them in a tray, and I also didn’t have to take my laptop out and place it in a tray.

It was very, very strange.

By 1:20 I was through it all and at the departure gates.

I had just over an hour before my flight left so I looked at some of the souvenirs available there.

Now I’m not a souvenir guy.   The things I like to bring back with me are little things that remind me of experiences or are just unusual.   Like a ticket stub, or a candy wrapper.   That kind of thing.

Here, though, I was shopping for some friends who helped me out with this trip.

I had a couple people watching my cats and a couple people driving me to and from the airport.

So, I was looking for stuff for them.

I had already picked up some stuff in town yesterday but since I now had that extra $30us from not taking the taxi here today, I figured it’d spend it on them.

Anyway, souvenirs bought and soon after we were boarding the flight.

I debated whether to wear pants and a hoodie instead of my t-shirt and shorts but I remember how humid it was at the airport here and I decided against it.

The flight itself did have a couple chilly moments so I’m pretty sure I’ll be bundled up for my flight home tomorrow.

It’s also quite a bit cooler as I make my way home.

Here in Havana it was 28C but in Mexico City it was 17C and, back home, it’s 6C.

So, I guess I’ll slowly acclimate back to normal January temperatures today and tomorrow.

Flying to Mexico

At 2:45, we were on our way out of Cuba.

It seems like it was a lifetime ago since I first landed here but it’s only been just over 2 weeks.

That’s the thing with traveling, you’re just going on so many adventures that your time each day feels so full compared to just sitting on the couch at home.

As we were sitting there waiting to taxi out of the gate, I pulled out the leftover ribs from lunch yesterday for an impromptu lunch today.

Okay, I’ll be the first one to say that there’s just no glamourous way to eat ribs with your hands out of a plastic bag.

I didn’t care though, I was hungry and, damn, those were good ribs.

Besides, it’s nothing a couple wet wipes wouldn’t solve.

Because it was a relatively short flight at just over 3 hours, there was no meal included.

They did, however, pass out a little bag of nut and berry mix.

Yes!   Finally a snack in an airplane I can eat!   Take that gluten!

As for the 3 hours, I pretty much just watched different YouTube videos I had downloaded and, before I knew it, we were on our final approach to Mexico City.

We were actually a good half hour ahead of schedule and we touched down at 4:30.

Despite the weather being fine, it was probably the most unsettling landing I’ve been apart of.   The plane kind of went to side to side as we hit the ground swaying us back and forth.

Deja vu at the airport

It’s funny being back here in the Mexico City airport again.

When I started the trip a couple of weeks ago I had a connection through the airport so everything was very familiar with me.

There was the long and winding immigration line and the same area where they xrayed your bags on the way out.

As I was waiting in the immigration line I noticed my current location marker on my map app was still showing me in Havana and hadn’t updated.   I won’t lie, I got a bit worried cause I kind of lean on that app to guide me around.

So, as a precaution, I quickly bought an esim for $8us while I could use the airport wifi.   It was pretty easy to setup and, man, I can’t tell what a feeling it was to have actual high speed internet again.

After immigration, it was off to another line, albeit shorter, to get my bags xrayed.

They had a dog going from passenger to passenger sniffing our bags for contraband.   He actually took notice of my bag and I quickly realized he was interested in the side pocket of my backpack where I had stored the bag with the bbq ribs inside.

Thankfully the guard smiled and waved me on cause that would not have been fun if they pulled me aside and went through everything.

In all, it took about 45 minutes to get through it all and out of the airport.

Metrobus to the city

The easiest way to leave any airport is obviously by taxi but I always try to see if I can do it by public transport instead.

Part is to save money but another part is just for the adventure.

After a bit of research, I had a pretty good idea how to do it but, of course, there’s always variables you’re not sure of.

I will say that after traveling in quite a few cities now and experiencing different metro systems, I’ve gotten pretty good at adapting and learning how new metros work.

Having said that, this one was a bit of a challenge for me and, frankly, I understand why people opt for the taxi instead.

From what I had read, there is a Metrobus 4 that takes you to a station near the area I’m staying and from there I would transfer to Metrobus 7 to go a few stops within walking distance of my hostel.

Easy, right?

Well, first I had a couple things to figure out.

First, where the hell do I catch the Metrobus and, second, where do I buy the tickets and how much are they.

There’s no real clear signage in the airport for where the Metrobus stops and I was finally able to figure it out after asking a couple people.

I got to the stop and saw a nearby ticket machine.

Alright, I can do this!

The machine is like others I’ve seen in other countries.   You first have to buy a card through the machine and then load it.

Of course the first thing the machine asks you is how many pesos I wanted to load onto my card.

Damn, I had no idea how much the bus was!

There are different fares for different things.   A normal bus fare is 6 pesos but if you’re transiting through the airport, it’s 30 pesos.

While I was figuring it all out, a bus came and went.

Another one wouldn’t be for another half hour.

Finally, at 6pm, a full 90 minutes after I had landed, I was leaving the airport.

I had the bus stops marked out on my map but then the bus didn’t follow the route I thought he would.

Turns out, I would soon discover, that this bus only took you from the airport to a transit hub in town.

From there, you have to catch another Metrobus 5 which would then do the route I had mapped out until I finally would transfer to my third Metrobus 7.

Confused yet?

Yeah, that’s what I meant by people opting to take the taxi.

As a seasoned traveler I was able to kind of quickly figure out what was going on and adapt but for normal travelers, this probably would have made their head explode.

In the end, I did finally arrive at my hostel at 7:30.

A tiny room

I selected this hostel because it offered cheap private rooms.

Normally I’m all about getting a highly rated hostel with dorm rooms and a good vibe where you can meet other travelers.

For this hostel, though, I didn’t care.   I just needed a place to sleep as I would be leaving again early in the morning.

Having said that, I was not expecting the room I got.

It was just wide and long enough to fit a double bed with a couple of feet in front of it for a little table and area to put your bag down.

Honestly, kind of reminded me of those capsule hotels in Japan.

Ah, whatever, I didn’t care.

Like I said, I just needed a place to sleep.

After getting settled in, I was back out into the Mexico streets pretty quick.

I had a mission and it involved dinner…

Dinner redemption

Ah yes, the title of the blog.

If you read yesterday’s blog, then you know what a disappointing experience I had for my last meal in Cuba.

What was supposed to be a blowout dinner like I normally do at the end of a trip was anything but.

The food was mediocre and, worse yet, I was counting my pennies and wasn’t able to have the meal I truly wanted.

Well, that changed tonight.

In fact, you could even say I may have overcorrected…

Last week, after fruitlessly searching for where to have a nice meal in Mexico City, I put it out onto Facebook if anyone had any suggestions.

It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t find a nice place online, it’s that there were so many of them, I just didn’t have time to pinpoint where to go that would be close to where I was staying.

Anyway, my cousin Troy came in clutch.   Super clutch.

He used to live in Mexico City for awhile so he had a list of 10 places near me that were good.

Oh my God!   What a huge help!

I spent a little time a couple days ago looking up the menus of the different places and decided that I’d be eating at Terraza Cha Cha Cha.

It was reasonably priced and had a wide assortment of mexican dishes.

Tonight, I was going to order whatever the hell I wanted and not worry about the price.

I was going to create my own tasting menu…

The food

I sat at my table of one.   The restaurant was packed, the sun had gone down and it was 8:00.

I think this is one of those spots where a picture it worth a thousand words so, with that, I’ll just pop in a bunch of photos here.


Go Go Tacubaya (Bacardi Mango, peach, mango, orange, strawberry)

Cava Quintanillla Extra Brut (Mexico)

Ceviche Alvarado

Beet Salad

Taco De Jaiba “El Bichi”

Mushroom and Huitlacoche Taco

Guacamole with Northern Chicharron


I seriously wanted to keep going but I was so full by the end.   I had been there for two hours, had 6 courses, and it was time for the bill.


With tip, $140.   Oh, and that’s in US dollars, so, really, $210.

Yup, I overcorrected!

And, dammit, it felt so good!

Cuba Trip 2024, Trip Journal, Mexico City, Mexico, Havana, Cuba
Cuba 2024
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