Havana, Cuba, day 1

We made it to Havana, Cuba!! The cruise line took care of our Visa (cost $75, which was billed to our room).  The “catch” in visiting Cuba was it had to be a cultural or educational visit, and there had to be a person to person interaction.  My sister found a tour guide on TripAdvisor called FerTourstoHavana, which satisfied the check list for our Visa.

After we disembarked the cruise ship, we had to exchange money. As of this visit, American dollars take a 13% hit when exchanging currency.  My parents brought Canadian dollars, while I brought leftover Euros and British pounds, which were exchanged without any additional penalty.

After exchanging our money, we met up with our guide Jimmy, who hired us 2 classic American cars for the day.  The car I rode in was a 1948 Chevrolet, but had a rebuilt Hyundai engine.  My sister asked for a covered car, and, at first I was bummed that it wasn’t a convertible.  Later I found out she did that because we would have been burned from the sun and heat if we had an open car… and she was right. Even in the winter, the weather was hot and humid. Our covered cars had some air conditioning, which helped with the heat.

Our first stop on the tour was the Plaza de Revolucion, which is a popular area for demonstrations and had the building of Che Guevara, the leader of the revolutionists.

We drove around the city, and time has stood still in Cuba.

Our next stop was the famous Hotel Nacional de Cuba, where celebrities stayed, and home to the bunker used during the Cuban missile crisis.

We also stopped inside the hotel’s “famous hall” bar, where they displayed the celebrities who stayed or entertain there. We also took a break for a mojito.