We had the opportunity to see a country that we've dreamed of seeing for a very long time, Cuba, in 2011. It's a trip that's come at a time when we're not planning on it, which's all by chance. It was just a dream that fidel wanted to see Cuba when Fidel was alive, before socialism collapsed. When this trip came across as an event of our diving group, we took part in the tour with the questions of whether we could go, whether it could be in our heads 6 months ago, and obviously I didn't allow us to go until we got on the plane, but that's what happened, we travelled and we came 🙂
There were 24 of us on this trip with the diving team. I knew only five or six people on tour for myself in advance, but we were such a harmonious team that we both bonded very quickly and had a super fun 8 days. First of all, I must say that as a result of a very long journey from Turkey, you have arrived in Cuba, it took exactly 24 hours a day. Since not every airline flies to Cuba, it is necessary to find a suitable airline first. Ours was an event of the Caretta tour and Iberia flew airily to Madrid. We had to wait 6 hours in Madrid, and the visa holders took this break on the streets of Madrid, eating Paella and drinking wine 🙂 The 10-hour flight from Madrid to Havana was not easy. I certainly do not recommend the Iberia airline especially on transoceanic flights, the service is very bad, there is no screen behind the seats, no travel kit, stewardesses are irritable etc. He says he's got turkish airlines' eyes on him, and I'm going to continue my writing from Havana.
When we arrived in Havana after a 10-hour journey, it was midnight. We ate our first and last stake while we were taking water at the airport 🙂 You have to be careful about money. There are two kinds of money in Cuba. The peso used by local shoppers and CUC pesos used by tourists. Tourist money is very valuable compared to the other, so it is necessary to be careful when cashing money. It's better to be awake when buying anything beyond that, and it's true here to rip off tourists on their feet. But other than that, it's actually a very cheap country. After everyone picked up their bags at the airport, we took the tour bus waiting for us and met Frank, our tour guide who was always with us and helped us with everything during the journey. The bus took our way to our hotel in Havana (Hotel Presidente), and Frank briefed us along the way. We checked in to the hotel in half an hour and settled in our rooms and managed to sleep without jetlag on the first night with road fatigue. I'd say our hotel was pretty good in havana conditions. But if you're going to take a trip to Cuba, expect luxury, super food, etc. if you keep the issues low, you'll be back much more satisfied.
The next day we woke up to a sunny and warm day with the sound of chirpy children at the hotel. It was good to wake up to 28 degrees in Havana when the weather was 4-5 degrees in Turkey:) The children's voices belonged to children who started the day playing sports in the garden of the elementary school opposite the hotel. We started the day very energetic. After breakfast, our tour of Havana began. We toured en masse on the first day. The bus took us to the attractions. The first stop was Real Fortress Castle, then Capitolio. After a little bit of a stroll around, we went to Plaza Vieja and San Francisco square. We walked between the streets, toured the Havana Club rum factory, drank from delicious cocktails that they sweetened with sugar cane water. Mojito, especially Pina Colada and Cuba Libre were among the other people. We had dinner at La Mina, a lovely restaurant at noon. The food wasn't very super in any area we were in Cuba. I think instead we fed ourselves with booze, music and dancing. And i really don't understand how we danced so much and had so much fun at that restaurant at noon:)
After we stopped by the room in the afternoon, rested and had dinner, we went back to the prep, listen to music and have a drink. It was really nice to hear buena vista social club live. Although the atmosphere was a bit too touristy, the couple, who made music, drinks and salsa, were very good. Another alternative venue was hemingway's bar, which he always hung out with in the old years.
On our second day, we took the bus to Maria La Gorda, the area where we would dive after breakfast in the morning. We took the road from 325 km in about 6 hours, and if you say why, it's a very broken road after a place where there's no highway (equivalent to our double roads) to a certain extent. It was good to go this way during the day, we had the opportunity to see many things in the Cuban countryside, sugar cane and tobacco fields, village houses, villagers, towns, nature. At every point we took a break on the road, we had the opportunity to drink mojitoand have fun with live music that starts all of a sudden. One of our break points was cigar producer, and we also saw the tobacco leaves hanged to be dried in private tobacco drying houses there. At another break point, we watched how the cigar was wrapped, and those who wanted to buy plenty of cigars. We've learned a lot about cigars. Those sold on the street or without bandrols could have been made of fake or even dried banana peel. I wasn't really interested in cigars because cigarettes and similar products weren't of my interest. All I've seen and learned is that women don't wrap the cigar in their legs:)
We arrived at the diving center on the evening and started to settle in our rooms immediately with road fatigue and prepare for the first dive. The hotel had bungalow rooms in the forest for those who wanted an oceanside room (http://www.hotelmarialagorda-cuba.com/). A very beautiful and untouched place with white sandy beaches, palmtrees and sympathetic bungalows Maria La Gorda (spanish fat Maria means there are many different rumours about) this area is at the southwestern tip of Cuba and no settlement because it is a natural reserve There's no near. The rooms and the service were neither very good nor very bad, but everything was clean. The variety of food wasn't too much either, but somehow we were sore 🙂 I would say it was a kind of survivor medium, when we managed to break the coconuts that fell from the trees to the beach by hitting the stones, we were in that area for 3 days, we were very close to a lot of coconuts per day 🙂
There's a lot to write about diving points and underwater, and there's little. One of the most interesting things was that the Cuban people were forbidden to be on board. Some unpleasant events (for example, Cubans who hijacked boats and killed tourists and divers and wanted to flee to the United States) issued a law and only Cubans with special permission were able to board the boat. There was a soldier who came to check on our boat before every dive. All our diving guides and the captain had this special permission. Apart from us, we experienced weight and tube shortages in the first dives, we were more delayed than planned to start diving, as there were tourists there for diving. The next 2 days, 7 a.m. sun sunrise woke up, prepared and breakfast after the first dive, after the beach pleasure and lunch, making the second dive, then resting again and taking a break, then completed the third dive and dives. After three days of diving, we set our way back to Havana early in the morning, but before that we decided to take a two-hour walk in the national reserve near Maria La Gorda. In fact, we were hoping to see a lot of creatures in this natural area, but we saw little but the vultures flying above us and a few woodpeckers. But at the end of the march, the natural cave lake that our guide took us to was worth seeing. After the walk, we set off again and arrived in Havana in the afternoon. We wandered the streets of Havana for a few hours, got mixed up in public and returned to the hotel after taking plenty of pictures. We decided to eat the food in a Spanish restaurant (Salon Federico Garcia Lorca) that we saw while walking around, rather than eating, it was a live flemenko music and dance show that attracted us to us in the venue. The food came too late and it wasn't very cool, but the music, dance and booze attracted us again. After dinner, we took a taxi to Casa de la Musica, one of Havana's most famous nightclubs, to listen to live Cuban music and dance. The place was empty when we first left, but within an hour it was slowly filled. There were other tourist groups and Cubans, and we've seen as many Cuban girls there as we've seen all over the holidays. The music started around 11 p.m., and we danced for about 2-3 hours and we went back to the hotel after spilling all our wolves.
The next morning we set off for Varadero, two hours from Havana. Varadero was more luxurious and service-quality than we saw on our Cuban holiday but never expected to see it. (Our hotel was Sol Palmeras) In fact, it's a region with many large and all-inclusive hotels, like our Antalya coast, of course, instead of the Mediterranean, you enter the light blue Caribbean sea with a temperature of 28 degrees and reach for the sun loungers in the palm shade. Rooms, food, environment, weather everything was perfect. On the first day, he spent the day relaxing on the beach and exploring the surrounding area with small walks around. The next day, friends and I rented two old American cars and two engines and toured Varadero and the surrounding area all day. I think renting an open-top American car and traveling is a must in Cuba. Varadero is a place to appeal to those who want to take a sea holiday in general, but there are places to travel and see in and around the town. It is possible to find plenty of souvenirs and oil paintings. At the end of a tiring but enjoyable day of travel, we went back to Havana in the evening. We've been back from Cuba to Cuba, and we've missed our son. If we go again one day, we have a few places in mind that we can't see but say it would be nice if we could see it; Trinidad and Peninsula Zapata 🙂 Who knows, maybe one day we'll go again…
Articles and photos: Laurel