One night I stopped one of the "old taxis" said I wanted to go to Cardenas, 10 kms away.
The Lady driver looked at me and said "OK". I got in and she turned around and started to drive me back towards my hotel, turned around again and stopped in a garage parking lot to do the "paper work" time ,destination, etc.. She then started the meter as we were off.
We only had one dash light showing the speedometer and she kept fiddling with the dash knobs and switches. When the meter showed a little over $10 cuc the car started to stutter and shudder. The driver said "we are out of gas, the gauge does not work." We pulled over and she apologized and said antoher car from their company will be by in 5 minutes!.
Sure enough a '56 Ford taxi pulled up and my driver said "My husband , he will take you to Cardenas".
"You will want a ride back, at what time do you want to be picked up?" "At 11:00 please" then
I asked how much as there was $10+ on her meter?, "$25 cuc" she replied " You pay my husband".
I got into the ford while the husband talked to his wife and after about 5 minutes I heard the original taxi turn over and start. i then notice other Cubans sitting in the back seat.
We carried on to Cardenas and he did not start the meter! I thought we have a fixed price.
We dropped off the other Cubans and on to the Casa de la Trovia I had been told about and found that there was a enormous lineup and the driver said "There is no room, it is Saturday night and there is no other place for music."
I said " Back to Varadero please'.
The driver stopped to pick up another Cuban and we headed back to Varadero.
Upon arriving at my hotel I dug out $25 cuc and he walked around the car and stood close in front of me and said "No, it is $50 cuc".
He is 6'+ and young, I am 62. I muttered "Muy caro!" and paid. He stucked the money in his pocket.
The next morning I asked one of the drivers of a newer taxi how much it would cost to go to Cardenas.
He repied "$15 to $18 cuc one way".
Lessons have been learned
Unique Suggestions: Ask the fare to your destination
Take a newer taxi
Make sure the meter is on and working
Pay the first taxi
Find out the fare for the remainder of the trip
Make sure the meter is on and working
Don't travel alone in Varadero at night
Varadero airport has sone unscruplious porters, they ask you for paper money as they say they cannot change sterling coin. Do not be fooled. Vardero airport is very small and you will only have to walk about 100m from plane to exit.
Do not be fooled by all those tours, Catamoran , snorkling, Havanna, Caves etc...
I find them very expensive for what it was worth, for example Havanna trip with tropicana show was $129us per person, was not worth the money highly overrated.
Trip into Havanna I felt like sheep being moved here and there 10mins here 15 mins there hardly saw nothing, everything was on a shedule and we were rushed everywhere.
We heard from people in the hotel that the Catamoran was not good had to share snorkle gear with other people food sucked very cowrded with people all swimming in the same place as you $75us, MAKE SURE YOU ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS BEFORE BOOKING.
Unique Suggestions: Most of the tours you can do them by yourself, like Havanna you can take a bus from downtown Varadero cost about $15 each way bus leaves at 8:00 a.m. and comes back at 4:00p.m. you will have more fun and at your own pace.Most stuff in varadero is in or around there so you can go with a group of people together grab a cab and see caves underground that cost $5us instead of $55us per person. you can snorkle for free in different places in varadero remember the ocean is free, you do not need to spend ridiculas amount of money. MOST THE THE TOURS THERE ARE ALL MARKETING TRICKS, KEEP THAT IN MIND , SAVE YOUR MONEY AND GO VENTURING YOU WILL HAVE MORE FUN FOR THE BUCK!!! I PROMISE YOU THAT.
Fun Alternatives: You are better off doing things with a group of people from the hotel all together than taking all these tours that all they are going to do for you is put a dent in your pocket, Rent a scooter , bike, walk or cab it where ever you want. Keep in mind that most of these tours are expensive and that you are on a time frame, HOW MUCH CAN YOU ENJOY WHEN YOU ARE RUNNING AROUND HERE AND THERE???
BEST ADVICE I CAN GIVE YOU GUYS, ASK PEOPLE WHO DID THE TOUR , BEFORE YOU DECIDE TO DO IT AT YOU'RE OWN EXPENCE!!! THESE ARE MY TIPS OF WISEDOM TO YOU, SO USE THEM.
This town was created (in the 60s/70s) for tourists and today is really the only Cuban town with a resort. The tourist sees nothing of real life in Cuba here.
Unique Suggestions: Enjoy the gorgeous beaches and take advantage of the salsa lessons in your hotel.
Fun Alternatives: Try travelling to somewhere like Trinidad instead.
"In all the beaches of Cuba the sand was made of grated silver, though in Varadero it was also mixed with diamond dust" -Character in 'Raining Backwards'.
Unique Suggestions: Beware! You may want to spend your entire trip on the beach! The main beach is 11.5 km long and unbroken. Towards the eastern end of the peninsula, it is divided by rocks into private beaches where the more upscale resorts are, this picture is on one of the private beaches, they can't stop me!