The island nature of the country and its location below the Tropic of Cancer favours the pleasant nature of its semi tropical moderate climate, where temperatures tend to be high. The average temperature is 25.5 °C (77° F) while coastal water temperature is 25°C. Average annual rainfall is 1.320 mm and over 60 per cent of rain falls during the wet season, from May to November.
Going on camel ride in Havana takes on a whole new meaning.
Faced with the problem of providing public tranportation for as little expense as possible, the Cubans hit on the idea of using an articulated lorry and a trailer that carried vast numbers of people. The term 'Camel' is the nickname given to them because of the two distinct 'humps' to their design.
I have only seen these vast 'people movers' in one other city on earth - Calcutta. Unlike Calcutta they are usually painted some gawdy colour in Havana - I suspect because as each one was made ready they found whatever spare paint they had lying around.
In both places they are absolutely crammed with locals, so unless you are a masochist they are totally useless for usage by tourists.
Some people also argue, that if you are going to be pickpocketed (and crime is generally very low in Cuba) then this is the place it will happen.
Fondest memory: The following article well described the experience :
This mural, by artist Andres Carrillo, is a beautiful legacy to Cuban culture. This MURAL ARTISTICO HISTORICO named "Mural Merchants" took nearly 6 years to complete and the artist used special dyes for his masterpiece. 67 Prominent members of Havana are depicted here. The artwork was finally completed on December 27, 2000.
Located on Calle Mercaderes
Central Park or PARQUE CENTRAL is a popular and safe place for the locals and tourists to walk and sit. Beautiful Royal Palms and exotic trees make the surroundings so enjoyable.
In the middle of the Park is a statue of Jose' Marti, made in 1905 of carrara Marble.
Hans and I and a few of our tour group friends took in the ambiance that this wonderful park had to offer. It reminded me of the beautiful parks in Spain where people gathered together to enjoy the surroundings and talk to their friends, while listening to the music that could be heard in the neighbourhood.
Favorite thing: While having lunch at El Patio, we heard wonderful sounds coming from the square outside. We went to the balcony of the restaurant and could see and hear colourfully dressed locals walking on stilts and accompanied by a drummer and trumpet player. Creating a CARNIVAL ATMOSPHERE they paraded through the streets of Habana Vieja while children gleefully followed them. What a fun thing to see and experience.
About gifts to Cuba
Many people ask in the forums about what gifts could be good to bring to Cuba. Is easy...all the things that we take for granted like soap, cream, toothpaste, tylenol, deoderants, used clothing and anything else will be really preciated in Cuba. Rather than spending on stuff to take, fill your bags with clothing you don't use anymore. In Cuba usual people have limited styles and it is extremely expensive for them to purchase good quality clothes or shoes. It'll clean out your closet without spending a dime and they will be really greatfull. If you have childrens clothes it is also needed. U could also bring lot of pens, pencils, and erasers to give to a school, they will be very appreciated too.
One advice, try not to give stuff to people who work in tourism as they have access to hard currency and do not have the same problems getting stuff as others who rarely come into contact with tourists.
Favorite thing: This looked like a large department store. But it is not by coincidence you don't see much life in front of it. We went in and there was almost nothing to sell, the huge halls were almost empty. Coming out we saw a long queu in front of a small public food "store" which just had been delivered peas... so frustrating! We felt bad immediately making jokes about the empty department store.....
Visiting one of the cigar making manufacturers is a must. It is so typical for Cuba and the mostly old men are proud to show you their work and life. Of course you will meet many street vendors whose uncle is working in the Cohiba factory and that's why he can sell you the box of Cohibas for a joke of a price. The joke is the story, though. I always wonder if these guys ever meet someone who believes the story and buys. Just can't imagine...
Better you buy your cigars in an official shop. They are still so much cheaper than back home. The same is true for good old rum like Havana Club 7 yrs. or the like. So now you know how to get to your Cuban tourist life style objects. Make use of it, it's not a shame as long as you don't show off with it.
You really must have plenty of $1 (US) bills with you every where, whether drinking a mojito in town or eating at a palladero. It pays for your drink, you can use it as a tip or pay off the men playing you a song if you feel that way inclined.
Fondest memory: Havana really is as dreamy as I had thought. Once you get past its crippling poverty, there is warmth and wonderfulness everywhere.
The atmosphere in this City - old and new part.-Go visiting people in their local environment - listen to the music - day and night.
Fondest memory: Walking around on the Malecon - a few hours before my plane would leave this beautiful country - direction Europe.
"The cultural shock started in Europe."
Favorite thing: Cuban people living on their houses. Many have a special permission to rent their houses or just a room. Other do it without permission. Better rent the ones with permission, less problems. The advantage on this places is first of all, the prices. For less than half the price in hotels, U'll get something very close to them. And second and very important also, U'll be in touch with real cuban life. U'll get to know better our customs, traditions and joys.... So, 100% sure, I recomend to rent a casa particular
In cuba, due to the economic system, the ancient phrase "The client always has the reason" in Cuba it doesn´t work. As no matter how much U work, U´ll receive the same wage, people don´t try to do the best efford. Only few places has good and quick services. Is usual to get to one place and find that the recepcionist / waitress / waiter / clerk is talking to somebody trough the phone or just chatting with some friend and U´ll be standing there half an hour waiting for her/him to finish...and don´t dare to protest! They could even get angry and U´ll have to expect a really bad service. So better when going to cuba, relax, take a deep breath and be ready to spend half a day in something that maybe un your home country is only half an hour.
In many hotels usually servants are definitly unfriendly. They can be really a shame sometime. But hey!... all hotels in Cuba are from the state ! So better go to casa particular!!
Favorite thing: Havana is a city in transition. Construction has begun on new hotels and many more are in the planning stages. Flashy new signs catering to tourists are appearing around town. Prices are going up. Changes are happening faster and faster. If you have ever dreamed of going to Cuba, do it now. Do it before Havana loses its rustic charm. Do it before tourists overrun the historic district. Do it while the old classic cars still outnumber the new ones. The changes taking place in Cuba are inevitable and necessary. Make time to experience Cuba now during this unique moment in its history. You will thank yourself later.
The addresses in Cuba is a bit peculiar, but handy if you learn to read them.
Example: Calle Refugio 1, e/ Avenida de las Misiones y Zulueta.
The house you are looking for is situated on the street Refugio, number 1, between Misiones and Zulueta.
e/ means 'between'
y means 'and'
Sometimes it says 'esq.' which means the corner of the two streets mentioned.
(A problem that sometimes occurs is that a street can have one official name and one unofficial name that is not on your map. If possible, check with the cubans!)
I don't think the heading fits the comment but anyway.
Havana felt to me like just a festival of deceit and dishonesty. The prolificy of people trying to scam some money in 1 way or another across Cuba amd not just Havana is remarkable. Over charging restaurant and bar staff, cab drivers doing the same, people trying to short change you, its everywhere. Anyone who approaches you at 'random' I would view with distrust. There's also constant hassle and intrusion from people in the street always trying to hussle a buck one way or another. The level of determination and persistence from the pack awaiting tourists at Santiago bus station is pretty intense to say the least. Some of the other scams are more inventive (someone approached me in the street just after I walked out of the Hotel Parque Central saying to me he worked in there and we had been speaking with each other. An interesting comment since I wasn't staying there and had only popped in there for a few minutes and certainly didn't speak with this guy). (typo correction just made to the last sentence from the previous submission).
The only place I can think of where I have seen this level of persistent deceit and dishonesty is Colombo in Sri Lanka. Of course its easy for me to say that with the economic disparity compared with where I am from, hence why I will say to anyone that principles are a privelege for people who can afford them. That though doesn't mean I need to enjoy people trying to rip me off at every opportunity. I'm still in Cuba and fed up with the relentless hassle that comes with everytime I set foot out of where I am staying.
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