Since moving here (May records our 5th anniversary) Rose and I have ventured ‘out of country’ maybe 10/12 times (me more than her). Chetumal perhaps around 7/8, Merida twice, USA three times and the U.K. and Panama both once each.
During our last trip (to Panama) we determined that we would ‘treat’ ourselves to little trips a lot more frequently so with Christmas safely put away for another year I set about planning our next excursion. A trip to Cuba!
I looked at the numerous ways of gettng there. Favourite (favorite for you non UK readers) for a while was using Copa Airlines via Panama. Amazingly flying in the opposite direction to Cuba worked out less expensive than taking the more obvious route via Cancun. Strange but true.
But in the end we plumped to travel via Cancun. Why? Well because of the fairly recent introduction of two new services. More expensive than the option via Panama but we’d get to try out some new flights. So I made the arrangements. Not though before I’d made certain that we had accommodation in Havana booked.
Now normally when making travel arrangements I don’t worry too much about finding somewhere to stay before I organise the journey but I just had a feeling that this might not be the most sensible approach for this particular excursion. And I’m so pleased that (on this occasion) I ‘went’ with my instinct.
The more I Googled , the more frustrated I became. It seemed that every hotel I chose was fully booked for all or some of the dates we wanted. I could have switched tack and booked via Airbnb where I found plenty of options but we had decided that it would be a hotel for us. So, being the determined (some might say stubborn …) type that I am I persisted. And persistence paid off. I made a booking with Hotel National de Cuba. But more about this iconic hotel later.
With our travel and accommodation arrangements made there was only one thing left to do. Book Ziggy’s ‘holiday’ arrangements. And where better than ‘Residencia canina de Pampered Paws‘. It’s Ziggy’s favourite holiday retreat!
On the Monday morning all three of us set off. Rose and I with our suitcases and Ziggy with his provisions and favourite toy. We (well Rose actually) said a tearful farewell to Ziggy when we dropped him off
and then I dropped Rose and our suitcases off at Tropic Air and then parked the cart.
Now for the travel information (for those of you who might be interested):
12.00 hours flight from San Pedro to Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (15 minute flight time).
15.30 hours flight from Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport to Cancun FBO terminal (1 hour 45 minute flight time).
During this flight I grew convinced that one of the pilots was taking a nap
so I thought I’d join him (c’mon, I got up early and had been for breakfast). Where, you ask. Obviously it was Estel’s Dine By the Sea.
By the way, the Tropic Air pilot wasn’t really asleep.
After clearing Customs and Immigration at the FBO we went outside the terminal and got on a Lomas Travel mini-bus (as arranged by our hotel (Comfort Inn) to take us to Terminal 2 where, after around a 10 minute wait we were collected by our hotel’s shuttle bus.
After signing in at the hotel we very quickly freshened up and headed out for a meal (Burger King – what else!), had a couple of Coronas at the hotel bar and retired to bed. An earlyish start the next day.
Strange as it may seem although our hotel can collect guests from Cancun airport it’s prevented from taking them to the airport so we had to take a taxi (cab for non UK readers) which cost us 180 Mexican Pesos (around US$ 9).
Once in the terminal we headed to the relevant Interjet check-in desk where we were immediately approached by a member of staff who asked if we had our Tourist Card for Cuba. We didn’t but within 5 minutes and US$ 40 (US$ 20 each) later we did.
With our ‘visas’ secured we joined the queue for our 10.00 hours flight to Havana.
Once we’d checked in we went through Immgration and headed straight to the currency exchange to change some US dollars for Mexican pesos (you can change US dollars for Cuban currency but it comes at the cost of an additional fee of 10% over and above the 3% currency exchange fee).
With the ‘necessaries’ taken care of we grabbed ourselves a breakfast
The plane took off on schedule (Interjet has a better on time performance record than Cubana which is the other airline I looked at. And it has a better baggage allowance. And it’s CHEAPER.).
I was also pleasantly surprised at the amount of leg room.
The duration of the flight was 1 hour and 10 minutes and on landing it took around 30 minutes to clear Immigration and collect our bags and then it was straight outside to get ourselves some Cuban Convertible Peso or CUC , the Cuban currency for tourists.
And then grab a taxi to our hotel.
It was when asking the price that we had our first experience of someone trying to CUC us ( and attempt to charge above the normal rate)!
The driver quoted 30 CUC. We countered with 25 ( the price I’d been advised of by our hotel).He shook his head negatively. We made to move on but had done no more than place our hands on the suitcase handles before we heard “OK, 25 CUC”. We let go of the handles and he placed the suitcases in the boot (trunk for non UK readers). We were on our way to the hotel!
Stay tuned for the next instalment of our trip to Havana.
The headline for today’s edition is based on the single by the Gibson Brothers initially released in 1978 which reached number 12 on the UK Singles Chart and number 81 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Chart.