Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Our first day in Cuba

The reason that we came to Cuba now, was that we had seen that Fidel Castro  passed power to his brother Raul Castro, and that Raul had been indicating that he would relax some of the restrictions on the country.  As Obama has also been making conciliatory gestures towards Cuba, we wanted to get here before any changes started to have a noticeable impact.

One of the things I had heard was that a lot of Cuba's architecture and goods are stuck in the 1950s, because since the revolution, any importation of new products has been strictly limited.  The most obvious sign of this is the cars, which are famed for being run down old Cadillacs and the like.

So I was a little disappointed when we arrived at the airport and saw that the taxis were all modern looking cars.  Were we already too late?  Certainly in the time that we have been here we have seen that there is already a lot of new importation going on, but as we drove from the airport into town, I was pleased to see that while there are new cars around, there is no shortage of those old cars either.   We soon started to see them trundling along the roads - or stuck at the side after breaking down!

Because we were staying in the Verdado area, close to the bus station in readiness for our anticipated early start the next day, we decided to leave going into old Havana until our return.  One of our tasks for the day was to find the bus station and buy our outward tickets, so we set off for a slow amble, checking out the lovely but crumbling old houses and the wheezing cars along the way.

When we got to the bus station, we were told that the early bus was full, so we would have to take the one at around 11am instead.  Whilst it meant we wouldn't get to our destination until the late afternoon, I can't say I was devastated at missing the early start.  So we put our names down on the list with the lady at the first desk, then were sent to the counter to buy our tickets, which we then had to take back to the first desk so that they could put the ticket reference on the list.  Our first taste of the rather odd processes at Cuba bus stations.

With little else to do that day, we had a leisurely lunch at one of the government run restaurants, tried out the local Buccanero beer, which isn't bad, and then tried out our first proper Cuban Cuba Libres.

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