Places to Stay
Things to do: SeasideOR.com –
Things to do: SeasideOR.com –
43 Sandstone Drive, Boskloof Estate, Somerset West, 7130, South Africa – Show directions
$3500 for porter, $300 for regional flights; can add rafting or horseback riding in Chilean Lakes District; wine country
Tent vs. backcountry refugees
They have a sauna – super hip and modern!!
11am – meet at Eberhard #230 office for group orientation.
Starting from Puerto Natales at 12 PM or from Cerro Castillo at 1PM, we drive all the way to Torres del Paine National Park. We will drive through open pampas and huge ranches (estancias), and chances are we will be able to observe one of the most typical animals in this area, the nandu, (rare South American ostrich). We will follow an unpaved road heading to Refugio Las Torres to spend our first night. Upon entering the park we will have excellent photographic and bird-watching opportunities as we drive alongside lagoons frequented by Chilean flamencos and black-necked swans. Today’s hike is on a gentle trail following the border of the park and offers opportunities to see guanacos (Llama family) andthe Andean Condor.
2 hours private transfer to Torres del Paine
Hike duration: 3 hours
Accommodation: Refugio Las Torres
We will start our first day trekking to the base of the Towers, following the Ascencio River to enter the Ascencio Valley. Our walk will be uphill for one hour before stopping to observe the first glimpses of the valley surrounded by unbelievable beech forests (Nothofagus family), glaciers and waterfalls. We’ll continue through the valley for another hour and a half before ascending a huge terminal moraine to a lookout (900m), excellent for picture taking. At this point, we will be surrounded by three giant granite towers (2850m) and a lagoon with slurry waters due to erosion produced by glaciers. This amazing view will be accompanied by lunch to add to the enjoyment. After being awed by the towers we’ll start our descent, following the same path back to the hut.
Hike duration: 7-8 hours 18 km
Accommodation: Refugio las Torres
We will start early morning to enjoy, weather permitting, a magnificent dawn filled with orange-pink colors. As we leave the campground we will arrive at Inge lagoon. Chances are, on this path, we may see the flight of an Andean condor or eagles hunting hares or small rodents. We follow a well-marked trail ascending (around 200m) from the base of Almirante Nieto Mountain (2750m), crossing the Bader River to arrive at Refugio Los Cuernos where we will stay overnight.
Hike duration: 5 hours 11km (500m difference of level)
Accommodation: Refugio los Cuernos
Meals: Breakfast, boxed lunch, dinner
We will start our day with a 2-hour walk going to an undulating path until reaching the French River for our first glimpses of the hanging glacier. Then we will ascend (300m,) for one hour through a surreal Japanese garden landscape, crossing beech forests, to reach the French Valley viewpoint gifting us with a magnificent view of both mountains and lakes. We will lunch here with good possibilities of seeing avalanches from the hanging glacier or simply observe the west side of the Cuernos (2600m), Espada (2400m) and Fortaleza (2800m). Our way back will be the same until we reach the entrance of the valley where we will continue on a different path around the South-West side of Paine Grande, the highest peak in the Park, through native forests of Chilean fire bush and evergreen beech (Nothofagus Bethuloides), up to the shore of the Pehoe Lake.
Hike duration: 7 hours 18 km
Accommodation: Refugio Paine Grande
We will begin early in the morning with our hike to the Grey Glacier. Initially ascending 200mts up a winding narrow path leading us to Laguna Negra, a place where we will observe the first glimpses of the South Patagonia Ice Field with its many unclimbed mountains. We will advance through forests and rivers, with possible sightings of spectacle and flying steamer ducks, up to the glacier viewpoint. We will have lunch at this place to and hopefully catch sight of ice calving from the huge glacier wall. Right after lunch we start an exciting adventure by boat. We will navigate for a while in front of the glacier in the hope of seeing icebergs calve. Our return journey offers views of Paine Grande with its impressive ice mushrooms and we sail through icebergs of different tones of blue. Then we will take a transfer back to Puerto Natales.
Hike duration: 4 hours 12 km
Boat trip duration: 2 hours
Transfer duration: 2 hours
Meals: Breakfast, boxed lunch
Terminal Rodoviario Puerto Natales
Terminal Bus-Sur Punta Arenas
Higueras Street #133, Cerro Alegre
Phone: (56-32)2365350 / +56969091501
Tues, Jan 3, 2016
|Renaissance Santiago Hotel
Avenida Presidente Kennedy 4700, Vitacura . Santiago 7630454 Chile
Reservation Confirmation: 84481467
|Please review the following information for accuracy.|
I needed a nature getaway. With work and wedding planning, I felt nature was a great way to connect to the very thing that “resets” me. So here’s an itinerary I took with a childhood buddy of mine in an RV for two weeks.
Italicized verbiage was my journal while there.
THE REAL ITINERARY
Mon, Aug 29
Fly out to Anchorage and pickup RV from Great Alaskan Holidays.
Flew in and picked up RV. Grabbed groceries from the local Walmart and Costco in Anchorage. Dinner at 9p at 49th State Brewery: beer flight — the Smoked Marzen was smokey and delicious. Beer battered halibut and fries. Drove until midnight; looking for side rest areas. Hard to see at night.
Tues, Aug 30
9am – 14:30p — White water rafting @ 6 mile creek
We had some changes to our itinerary where instead of the 9am start, we started around 12:30 and it was perfect. So before the rafting, we opted for a really close hike with a view of Turnagain Arm.
TO GET THERE FROM ANCHORAGE GO SOUTH ON THE SEWARD HWY. TO THE HOPE JUNCTION, TURN RIGHT (NORTH) AND PROCEED 7.5 MILES DOWN THE HOPE HIGHWAY.
THE HOPE JUNCTION IS 70 MILES FROM DOWNTOWN ANCHORAGE.
SHUTTLE VAN TRANSPORTATION IS AVAILABLE FOR GROUPS OF 2 OR MORE FROM GIRDWOOD, COOPER LANDING, WHITTIER AND SEWARD.
PLEASE CONTACT US FOR PRICING.
CALL TOLL-FREE AT 1-866-277-RAFT (7238).
ANCHORAGE AREA RESIDENTS CAN DIAL LOCALLY AT 277-RAFT”
Google Map: 1h 18m
Ice Climbing Exit Glacier: ?8hrs — we opted for an easy 2 mile hike up to see Exit Glacier since we would be having our own ice hiking/climbing adventure at another glacier.
Post up in Seward for the evening:
Tuesday, Aug 30
Drove into Chugach National Forest — so beautiful! Tall mountains, tall trees and pines, gorgeous lakes and creeks. This morning, we were supposed to have a 9am white water rafting trip down 6 mile creek (class 5 Rapids)…. But there was a miscommunication. But, it got worked out — we ended up going to do Hope Point hike and saw some amazing views of the Turnagain Arm. After we did our hike, we went down to grab a coffee and snack at Kayak and Coffeehouse. The owner, Levi, was super helpful in explaining to us the bore tide as well as answering questions on what to do in town and what Alaskans think about the pipeline. After a bite and convo, we headed to our whitewater raft company to get suited up and do the 6 mile creek class 5 Rapids at 2p. It was an incredible experience. You do a practice swim…in a dry suit with a life vest…and then get in your raft with your guide. Canyon 1 and 2 are fun. The class 5 occurs in the 3rd canyon — Staircase is a 5 foot waterfall drop. And then there’s the other two right after (Sucker hole? And ZigZag). So rad. Just do it! Dinner in Seward at Chinook — yummy halibut. Fresh caught.
Wed, Aug 31
TripAdvisor: Things to do in seward
Fox island kayak and cruise:
7am: Check in at Adventure Center (1302 4th Ave, Seward)
8am:Depart Seward on a Kenai Fjords Tours boat
9am:Arrive Fox Island
Drive to Soldotna (possibly stop thru Cooper Landing on way?)
Wed, Aug 31
Woke up early for the kayak and fjord tour and found out that it was really windy and choppy on the water, so the kayak portion of our trip was cancelled. But we still got on the boat and checked out the fjords with glaciers! There were tons of wildlife out: sea otters, seals, puffins, bald eagle, northwest humpback whale, and Dall’s porpoise. So many incredible views and sceneries. After that, we did a little hike out at Exit Glacier. Then we rolled into Fred Mayer grocery store — which is like a combo of Super Walmart/Costco. We picked up our fishing license and then RV’d in the driveway of our fishing place for tomorrow in Soldotna. Seward was decimated by an earthquake back in the early 1900s and had to rebuild. But before that, it was on it’s way to becoming a big town!
Thurs, Sep 1
-drive to Soldotna
Check out Cooper Landing:
Trip Advisor: Things to do in Soldotna
High Adventure Air: salmon
High Adventure Air Charter
38675 Longmere Lk Ct, Soldotna, AK 99669
(907) 262-5237 https://goo.gl/maps/AA39paQDgcw
buy fishing license there
Fishing in Alaska
Thurs, Sept 1
Took a fishing trip with High Adventure Air. Our guides were so wonderful!! Gorgeous seaplane flight from Soldotna to Crescent Lake. We flew over big lush trees and crater-like mountains. It was a beautiful takeoff and landing from the seaplane! We started casting out immediately and my first fish was a dead one. ;P. The next fish I caught was a silver salmon. Vinoop caught several Dollys and a lake trout. Overall, it was a terrific day with gorgeous sunshine and a beautiful backdrop of landscape. We also saw several bears including a mama bear and her two cubs. In fact, the fish we caught were kept in the lake water bc it was so frigid, but we had to gut and fillet them so the guts were thrown back in the lake which seemed kinda like a nice flowing river. The mama bear started swimming toward us and made it halfway across the lake to snatch up the guts of the fish we cleaned. It was pretty scary. Otherwise, the Bears did a good job of just keeping on their own. We checked out Kenai River brewing and then made the 4.5h drive to Glacier View for tomorrow’s ice climb!
Fri, Sep 2
Milepost 102.5, Glenn Highway
Glacier View, Alaska
Glacier View to Valdez
We arrived to the Matanuska glacier and Mica Guides for some ice trekking/ice climbing. They gave us our gear and strapped us into some gators, ice climbing boots, crampons, waterproof gloves that looked like dishwashing gloves, and a helmet. Once we hiked out to the glacier, they gave us lil activities to check our skills. First was learning how to walk in crampons. You want to dig your feet into the ice — stomping, kicking, anything to get a good grip. Duck walk to go up the ice…and the cowboy to go down the ice. Next check off was how to use a ice climbing pick. Reach behind like you’re doing triceps (keep your elbows in) and extend the pick up overhead and use the wrist to snap it down for more power. The key is the wrist snap. We practiced our safety grips as well. Always have the leash on — just like a beginner surfer! After getting familiar with the ice climbing pick, we practiced traversing a glacier free style (just a couple feet off the ground). It’s important to be able to kick into the glacier to get the 4 teeth on the front of the crampon to grip the ice. Test the bite and make sure it’s stable and then kick your other foot in. Our first test, we went down a glacial crevasse. It was spectacularly beautiful. We used our foundation that our guides Emily and Brett taught us. It’s difficult not to marvel at nature’s beauty. I felt like my rock climbing skills really helped. After that pass, we went to a more difficult pass known as a moulin ( like Moulin Rouge). It was a glassier, more iced over face that was shaded and had a different texture and feel. It was more difficult to get the ice pick and crampons into the ice. BUt, you just gotta make your tools stick. I felt like a real ice climber. It was such a wonderful experience!! After the ice climb, we got back into the RV and made our way to Valdez — stopping by Tok Thai — an awesome Thai place we found on Yelp. We settled in overnight at Copper Center along the road at a picturesque spot where you could see Mt. Sanford and mt. Wrangell.
Sat, Sep 3
Walked around the pier here — home to the great Valdez derby. This derby is a contest to see who can catch the biggest halibut as well as the biggest salmon. We caught it on its last day — and so far the biggest salmon was 17.8 lb and the biggest halibut was 253 lb! Small quiet fishing town where the Alaskan pipeline ends. Seems to be a bit smaller than Seward.
Sun, Sep 4
Evening close to Denali
Drove from Valdez to Copper Center thru Wasilla (home of Sarah Palin) to Bodenburg Butte. We did a lil hike there and then ended up heading to Denali Brewing Company in Talkeetna. Excellent Belgian strong there.
Mon, Sep 5
call for wonder lake shuttle tickets 8am (alaska time) shuttle
Drive to Denali
Mon, Sept 5
From Talkeetna, we drove into Denali national park. We stopped for lunch at Prospector’s (it was rainy and cold). Excellent craft beer on top — like 40+ beers! Excellent pizzas as well! After lunch, we walked around the park and then decided to make the sled dog demo. These dogs are so excited to pull!! They’re Alaskan huskies who love to pull a sled. We saw the 6 week old pups! This is the only working sled dog kennel in any of the national parks. These dogs work hard in the winter freeing up debris from roads, hauling supplies to hard to reach places, helping keep the roads maintained — but they love what they do! Gotta say, they’re the hardest working federal employees! We stayed the night in Riley Creek campground (yes you still get a cell signal on AT&T).
Tues, Sep 6
Tues, Sept 6
Early early morning shuttle bus ride to Wonder Lake — we saw beautiful views of bears, caribou, and moose. It was super rainy and drab…cloudy. We got to Eielson center and decided to take the 12p ranger led hike up Alpine trail. Although we got soaked from the rain, it was worth the 1000+ ft elevation gain to see the different terrain. We learned from Ranger Nick (which this was the last ranger led hike of the season) that there are a ton of earthquakes or at least seismic activity happening in the Eielson area. But we didn’t feel anything that day. Do take a moment to stop and check out Eielson center. It’s full of info and a great stopping point to watch a movie on climbers to summit Denali — 3 weeks, no Sherpas, and you carry your own waste in the freakin’ cold! I don’t think Denali is in the cards for me. We took the return bus (we didn’t make it to wonder lake)…cold and wet. Once we got to the RV, a change of clothes and a beer did the trick to turn our frowns upside down! We hit up Prospector’s again for dinner and it was fabulous!! Night again in Riley Creek Campground.
Wed, Sep 7
Wed, Sept 7
We decided to fill up our RV with fresh water and then check out of Riley Campground and park in the Visitors center lot (just for the day). We opted for the Mt. Healy Overlook trail — which is a strenuous 2 hour trail, one way, 2.7 miles, 1700ft elevation, 25% grade, 2 feet width, with native soils with roots and rocks. It was totally rad!! Great way to see the various terrain at the different altitudes. Pack a lunch and have it at the top of the trail as the views are beautiful — even on a partly cloudy day. The descent is much faster than the ascent. There are edible blueberries along the way for a great snack! Dinner tonight at Karsten’s — a new restaurant that has a yummy caribou burger as well as awesome sweet jalapeño cornbread! After dinner, we drove to Savage River campgrounds to RV for the night. No AT&T cell phone reception here.
Thurs, Sep 8
Thurs, Sept 8
From the Savage river campground, we walked to the trailhead to Savage Alpine trail. This trail can be started either at the campground or at the end by savage river. If you have trouble with steep descents, I recommend starting at Savage river (from the campground, you can catch a shuttle to take you there) — it’s a steeper ascent by more relaxed descent closer to the campgrounds. The Savage alpine trail is strenuous, 3 hours one way, 4miles, 1500ft in elevation, 25% grade, 2 feet width, and has native soils with roots and rocks and gravel. So, from the campground going up you start a gradual ascent with tall grasses initially that breaks open to subalpine/alpine tundra that’s short. We didn’t’ see any large wildlife along this trail — but there are plenty of warning signs for bears. Once we got to the top (no more elevation gain on the maintained trail), we saw a rocky peak that we wanted to get to for a better look at Denali. So, we forged our own trail. It was rocky and barren and was an extra 400ft or so almost straight up (>25% grade). The wind was fierce and strong — but we made it. At the top, we had an Alaskan Summer Ale beer to celebrate the climb and enjoy the peace of the area around us. Our descent was tricky — super rocky terrain with steep areas. We went carefully and slowly down the mountain back to the maintained trail. I spotted an alpine squirrel who didn’t seem to be scared or even interested in me — he was going after some grub in the ground! The descent was super steep even once we got onto the main trail. After we got down from the savage alpine trail, we opted for an extra 2 miles along the savage river loop trail. Nice and relaxing 45min trail around the river with minimal elevation change. I’m still amazed at the sheer beauty of Denali and could easily come back here. We drove into town to see if we could arrange a flight for tomorrow to circle Denali. Looks like we’re a go with Talkeetna Air!
Fri, Sep 9
Denali to Talkeetna
Today we drove from Denali to Talkeetna to catch a plane that will go over some glacial ice fields and then circle Denali from Talkeetna Air. Impressively spectacular views from the plane! I highly recommend it! Dropped off the RV back at Great Alaskan Holiday and arranged for a taxi to Moose’s Tooth — a must stop for awesome pizza and craft brew in Anchorage! After that, we took a taxi back to our RV and then picked up our luggage and then headed to the airport for a midnight flight.
Talkeetna to Anchorage: about 2 hours
Sat, Sep 10
Sat, Sept 10
Flight home from Anchorage waaaaaaaay early!
A very doable itinerary for a two week fall vacation in Japan
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 33 trips to carry that many people.
Ross drove Stacy and I down to the Otay Mesa border crossing and we walked over into Tijuana, Mexico and caught a cab over to the airport for $12. Then we had to fill out some kind of Mexican immigration paperwork that was 332 pesos. Then get our boarding passes to go thru to get on our plane. We grabbed a beer at the bar and then caught our plane at midnight and headed to Mexico City. It was such a long and uncomfortable flight (couldn’t sleep!).
We arrived into Mexico City pretty early in the AM and we’re pretty exhausted. We decided to post up at the airport hotel NH about $150/night. We rested up from 6a-12p then got lunch and headed to get our immigration passes and boarding passes to Cuba. We then entered security and grabbed a bite to eat. You must get a visa before traveling to Cuba (at least if you’re an American). It was 300 pesos (I think). Then we grabbed some local Mexican craft beer before boarding the plane. Coming into Cuba, it’s extremely lush and green. Farming fields, ocean. After landing we got off the plane and were taken by bus to the immigration terminal. It is humid in August! Once there, you present your immigration paper (given to you on the plane), visa, and passport. My lady was kind and conversational… Even with my broken Spanish. We went thru immigration and then picked up our bags and headed up to exchange money. Roughly 1:1 CUC to USD (add on a 10% royal screwing tax for USD). I picked up about 87 CUC for $100usd. And then gave 7 CUC exchanged into CUP (no one really takes these from tourists; the Cubans all know to only ask for CUC from tourists). We got a taxi. It’s 25CUC into Havana, but our beach villa was about an hour away so that cost us 50CUC.
On the way from the airport to the beach house, I learned a phrase from our Cuban cab driver Francisco when a truck pulled out in front of us on a busy road. He wanted to know how to say correctly “son of a bitch” in English. We died laughing and told him… So he traded and taught me some Spanish.
Hijo de puta – “son of a bitch”
One hour to hotel on a main road and then we got lost circling the property for our casa. It’s a cute lil place on the water… Like steps to the beach on the white sand . Quaint. Gracious hostess. We’re getting the breakfast tmw and it starts at 10am with lobster and crab for 15CUC. She said it’s gonna be big! After that we’re going snorkeling for 15CUC. Such a great deal. Stacy and I finished up the evening grabbing a beer and taking a walk along the beach. You could see a brilliant colorful lightning storm in the background. I can’t believe we’re here. Getting into bed at 11:30p Cuban time (like eastern time). My phone can pick up Cubacel tower… But it won’t give me a signal. So bummed.
Woke up around 9:15 and breakfast was at 10:00. Our hostess served us jamon y queso, bread, fruit (guyabana, guava, bananas), Cuban coffee, rich mango syrup/jam, and eggs and bacon. It was so delicious! The fruit was incredibly sweet and fresh. The coffee was like no other — potent, flavorful, caffeinated. I will def pick some up for everyone!
After that we had a nice conversation with Jaily (our hostess) re: Cuba, it’s future, her job as a lawyer, her planning for the house, the Cuban takeover of her beach property, etc. she’s a bright girl and has a lot of insight into the future of Cuba. She’s traveled extensively throughout the world. I’m amazed that the Cuban people get only $16/month. Health care is free.
Our catamaran showed up a bit late but we hopped on board and went for a sail and snorkel to a nearby reef. The water was warm, clear, and full of beautiful ocean life. It rivals the Similan islands or Zanzibar… Way better and more alive than the Great Barrier Reef. There were several fish eating away at a tortuga carcass. Sad, but it’s the cycle of life. After the sail, we came back and I played a bit in the water. Then relaxed in the nearby makeshift pool while Stacy took a nap in the hammock. Popito (one of Jaily’s friends and on vacation – he works as a bartender) brought us out cooked turtle and it was delicious. Meaty like chicken but flavored like… Thick swordfish? Poultry? Hard to describe. Goes great w a cold light beer which is what Cubans love.
We then wandered to the local bus stop to see how far it would be to Havana; roughly a mile to the bus stop (enough to give me blisters on my feet from flip flops). After that, we took a walk on the beach. The Cubans are so happy and jovial relaxing and vacationing along the water. Once we got back to the house, Stacy and I had a lil girl talk with some wine. Then our hosts brought us real coconut spiked with rum. It was so delicious! The sunsets here are stunning. I don’t know if it’s the beauty of Cuba or its people… But the sunsets are certainly spectacular.
Dinner was a lovely jamon y queso stuffed into a plantain for an appetizer and then a lobster, crab, and rice and cucumber salad entree. It was delightful. The crab was my favorite. The seasoning was exquisite! I was getting eaten alive by the Mosquitos so I went inside and showered. Dessert was a lovely eclair. It was a perfect beach day.
Oh no, the watery diarrhea started again last night. Woke up three times last night to get up. We had breakfast at 10am… Still heavy. Kaopectate will hopefully work it’s magic. We waited for a taxi and then decided to go out on our own and catch an old taxi for 3 CUC to Havana.
Once in Havana, we wandered around the downtown square and took pictures of the old classic cars. After that we wandered into La Floridita, a bar made famous by Ernest Hemingway. We both got the classic daiquiri. After that, we went down the many random streets and found the museo de revolucion. Very interesting tidbits of Cuba’s history. Heavily focused on Che and Fidel. The humidity and heat drew us to the Malecon wall where we took pics of El Morro and then downtown Havana. It was beautiful. We headed toward Hotel Nacional for wifi (7 CUC) and a mojito.
We got home late this morning around 1:00am. The taxi ride was 20CUC back. This time we had a better idea of how to get back home. I went for a dip in the ocean around 9:30am. Enjoying this beach life. Now just lazing in the hammock, working on my tan. 😊
Played some dominoes with Jaily’s boyfriend and Stacy and a neighborhood boy. They were really good and it was Stacy’s first time to play. After that, Stacy and I headed back into the water. About 14 of Jaily’s friends came over for a party/gathering. It was nice to see the Cuban people party and just kickback. It was such a great atmosphere! All the guests bring stuff!
After no real breakfast, Stacy and I were getting pretty hungry so we walked into Guanabo town and ate at Chicken Little. What a cute place! Huge menu selection. I got the grilled chicken and salad. Stacy got the lobster carpaccio, and shrimp in garlic sauce. We shared a flan (it was delicious!). The cafe americano was perfect and Stacy’s cortado (espresso with small bit of condensed milk) was delicious as well. After a really late lunch (4p) we walked further into the town and discovered the electronic stores, markets, butcher, cafes, and park. People are very social here. Men stare a lot as well as make kissing noises to the ladies. It’s a normal part of their culture and it’s completely harmless. It’s slightyly uncomfortable bc they don’t hide that they’re checking you out. The Cuban women are gorgeous. There’s a lot of beautiful mixes in face and hair. Many people have light eyes. After a decent stroll, we walk back home and the heat and humidity completely zap my energy. I fell asleep in the A/C room.
Woke up around 9p and showered then chatted with Stacy for a bit.
Tomorrow, we’re heading to Havana and to get a hotel there so we’re closer to the action. We had a wonderful time at Brisas del Mar… Interacting with the locals, learning about the culture, enjoying the beach. But it’s time to get into the city and feel the vibe of Havana!
Had a late start to the day. Went into the city around 2p and checked out museo nacional de bellas artes (art museum). The Cuban art museum covered Cuban artists from the colonial times in the 1800s to the current contemporary period. Three floors of artwork. It’s still so hot!
Then we walked down to parque central and picked up a hot pink convertible ford classic car for a tour of Havana. What a kick!! Stacy and I had so much fun waving and seeing the sights and honking the horn! I have to admit that the gas fumes in the city were burning my lungs. My throat is starting to hurt.
After that we stepped into Monserrate for a bite bc we heard a lovely Cuban band. I grabbed a Cuban sandwich and a beer. Stacy saw a guy sitting by himself with an orange Michelin man shirt and invited him to sit with us. He’s from Guayaquil, Ecuador but has been living in Queens, NY and got his American citizenship. The band was great — Stacy was brave and got up and danced with the band! There was def a lot of coaxing before I’d be brave enough to get up there. After a snack we went walking along the Prado just taking in the sights and sounds of Havana at dusk. We then headed to grab a taxi to the famous Tropicana nightclub for a cabaret show.
Dinner at the tropicana was meh at best. Then came the show. We were seated in the middle with a group of people our age from Mexico, Austria, and Germany. The Austrian dude kept chain smoking and his wife urged him to stop. During the actual show, one of the guy dancers brought both Stacy and I up on the stage. I am so shy!! But after I got over my stage fright, it was totally fun! I can’t believe we were on the stage at Tropicana! 😳 after the main show, there was more dancing and fun interaction with the crowd. What a lovely night! After the show, we caught a cab back to Brisas Del Mar. He was totally lost and we helped him find the way to the house. We stopped him at the weird bridge and got out and walked the couple blocks home. $40 was a really good deal from Tropicana. Tmw we will stay in the city.
Breakfast at Inglaterra hotel. Got an omelet and americano and mango juice for 6.50. Was trying to get the Internet wifi card for $2/hr but they were out!
Partagas cigar factory tour $10/hr.
Cohiba – Fidel smoked
Behika – best
Cigar made from 5 leaves. Best leaf inside. Second leaf is flavor. 5th leaf is thinnest and just for outside wrapping.
One worker goes thru 1000 leaves.
Central vein removed. Used for Fertilizer or men’s cologne. Great factory tour. Dulce hooked us up with $15/Behika and $10/cohiba.
Headed to the supermarket and got some items for gifts. It’s still so incredibly hot and humid. Thank goodness my mom taught me how to haggle with a take-no-prisoners mentality. The pedicab to the cigar factory tried to charge us double but we agreed on an original price of $5.
After the cigar factory tour, we caught a taxi to the central market by the water in Havana vieja. I got several souvenirs and then Stacy and I headed to grab a bite in a hotel lobby where we grabbed a beer and bite and I got the chance to practice my Spanish. We walked from lunch back to parque central and got internet at The Hotel Inglaterra.
We retrieved our luggage from that hotel and proceeded up Neptuno to our casa particulares. It was a cute one bedroom, three bed, one bath on the rooftop. It was nestled in local Cuban neighborhood, not in or near a fancy hotel. I loved it! The family was so nice! We napped a bit and then hit the streets to get some dinner. We stumbled upon Mango Habana which was a yummy walk up eatery that we took to go. I got the fried chicken and rice (it was so delicious), salad, fish and a beer. My chicken alone could’ve fed two people! 😝 now I’m stuffed. My legs are sore. And I have a headache. Time for some rest before our last day!
Woke up around 11am. It was so cold last night in our casa particulares. We decided to stay another night here at a glowing rate of $25/night. I had the remainder of my chicken dinner for breakfast. It was still incredibly tasty! Walked down the street of Neptuno and a Cuban lady with a baby approached me asking for milk for her baby. I couldn’t say no. She walked us across a street to a grocery store and started getting all kinds of groceries. I got annoyed and said Milk only. In fact, my feelings were so hurt I just about walked outta the store. It was $6/bag of vitamin fortified dried milk. I paid $12 for two and left. I can’t stand when people take advantage of my generosity. I already woke up with a raging headache for being so dehydrated — the constant sweating and trying to keep up with hydration has really taken a toll on me. I’m so tired of the mosquitoes, the flies, the tobacco smoke, the heat, the sweating, the car exhaust fumes, the people coming up and offering cabs and services, the lack of cell signal, etc. I’m ready to go home. And for me, that’s a sign of a good vacay. 😊
Stacy met some girls from San Francisco who are just starting out their days in Havana. One is a peds onc nurse at UCSF and the other is in micro finance that offers small business loans to companies/startups. Both were really nice. They’re going from here to Haiti.
Keypoints (as of August 2015):
– Exchange USD to Euro for best exchange rate (Cuban banks will impart a 10% tax for every exchange from USD and then will make the exchange to CUC)
– Don’t bother with getting CUP the Cuban local currency vs CUC the Cuban tourist currency. Locals will not take your CUP.
– If you visit in August, it will be hot and humid. Bring or buy a hat, sunnies, umbrella, sunscreen to shade yourself.
– If you’re a budget traveler, consider staying in a casa particulares. They’re like the local Cuban version of the U.S. Airbnb but at a better price ($20-30/night). Make sure you find one with AC!
– You only really need 3-4 full days in Havana to experience it’s charm. Must sees: classic car tour of Havana ($30pp), museo de revolucion ($8pp), Partagas cigar factory tour ($10pp), Tropicana night club cabaret show ($75+pp), see the Hotel Nacional, La Floridita (Ernest Hemingway’s daiquiri place of choice), bar/cafe Monserrate (great Cuban music), central supermercado for souvenirs.
– Stay at a beach for a day or two to enjoy the turquoise warm waters and snorkel or sail: Brisas del Mar near Guanabo or Veradero.
– Practice your Spanish.
– Practice your dance moves. Don’t be shy!
– Try the street food and local beers!
– From the U.S., you will not get a cell signal, even if you purchase an international data plan from any of the major carriers. Some of the major Cuban hotels sell a wifi card for 2CUC/hr. Good signal for texting (get Whatsapp for international texting), Internet surfing, social media. Not good for FaceTime videos or audio.
– To get around the city, get the Maps.me which uses your phone’s GPS signal without cell. Great to mark local landmarks and get back to your hotel, etc.
It is the restaurant’s policy to secure the booking with a credit card. 24 Hour Cancellation Policy applies with a charge of $1,000 pesos for every person that does not arrive as well as for no-shows.
Pujol – Enrique Olvera
Francisco Petrarca 254, Polanco
Ciudad de Mexico DF 11570