Thursday Nov 21/13
Arrived in Varadaro with bike fine and our taxi was waiting as planned to get to the hotel. Nothing unusual or exciting there other than was kinda nice to see a few of the staff who always remember us.
Sat took the 3 hoiur bus ride to Santa Clara and made the 45 km ride to the small town of Remedios where we quickly found a nice casa close to the central Plaza. had a good dinner and was a nice family running it.
Sunday left for Cayo Santa Maria where we had booked 2 nights from Canada as it is quite cheaper and there are only all inclusive resorts there. Was a Really nice place and great beach so spent lots of time there. 50kms of the 65 ride was on a man made causeway connecting abunch of islands for these resorts.
Came back to remedios on Tuesday and stayed at the samew casa so they were happy to see us.
Was a little crazy to ride 140km round trip just to go to the beach !!!!
Today rode 80km from Remedios to Sancti Spiritu in the rain pretty much the whole way. Luckly it is still warm. Stayong at the first casa we ever did in 2007. She says she remembers us. Cool.
Spend the night here and ride to Trinidad tomorrow.
Nov 21/2013 Trip # 6 Varadero->Santa Clara->Remidios->Cayo Santa Maria->Trinidad-Cienfuegos
Took the Viazul bus up to Varadero this morning about a 6 hour ride with stops to pick up people, packages, vegetables, and slabs of meat (yes, you read that right) not sure what the deal is with this part of the bus but seems to be very common.
Had a great few days in Trinidad, mostly because of the beach and "mamas" casa. She treats us so well and makes comments to us like we are her own kids. Left a few things behind for them as gifts and would love to go back some day.
Will get our bikes packed up tomorrow and have already made arrangementf for my taxi friend to pick us up on Thursday.
Back in Canada 9pm then......COLD I am sure.....
Not much to talk about now that we are in Trinidad. Day pretty much consists of breakfast at 9am, ride to the beach about 15km get back around 5pm, supper at 7pm, Casa de Music from 9-11pm the sit at a bar/lounge/restaurant.
Will reserve a spot on the bus to Varadero tomorrow to leave on Tuesday at 9am then get everything packed up and ready to come home...
Had a great dinner last night in Cienfuegos the casa lady there is super nice and seemed to really appreciate us coming back again.
Knew we had to ride today so just wandered around the Malecon for a while and were asleep around 10:30.
Crazy thing was, in the middle of a huge city there are pigs, dogs, roosters, and goats all in the same area of the casa. NOISY, did you know roosters crow all night long, then get the dogs barking as well!!!
Left early and had a great ride to Trinidad, probably the fastest ever, not much wind a little sun and the hills didn't seem too bad.
Got to casa mamas around 2 and was super excited to see us. She says my spanish is quite a bit better this year so we were able to actually talk a bit.
Will head to the beach for a bit of R&R. Mikes knee is feeling better but is now complaiining about his foot!! Baby. He thinks it is from cycling I told him it is just because he is OLD!
Although I am older, I am an Ironman though....
Caught the bus early for Cienfuegos and there were lots of people and baggage but we and our bikes were loaded fine. The next stop Pinar del Rio a couple of people it appeared were not able to get on as the bus was full, that would surely mess up your day. We seem to be a day ahead of schedule so we decided to get off in Cienfuegos and ride to Trinidad tomorrow as it is always a nice ride. Rode around looking for a casa here and could seem to shake a guy trying to show us a place, he seemed to think we were rude but we had said nicely a few times we didn't need his help. Mike and I decided to stay at Casa China where we had stayed before and was was VERY funny when we rolled in front of her place (with the guy still following) and she recognized me right away and said I was family when I asked if she remembered me. Kind of shocked the guy I think.
Got unpacked and had a drink and peso pizza downtown, supper tonight and ride to casa mama's in Trinidad tomorrow.
Lady at casa here pulled out pictures that we sent last year after staying here with olur family of us and her family including Luke's birthday party and cake, thanks Kelly.
Forgot to mention about our ride to Vinales that when we had lunch it cost about 1 CUC or $1 Cdn for three of us to have a sandwich and drink each, peso stands are great.
today we had a lazy start to the day and then went horseback riding for about three hours through the countryside. Saw a tobacco planation, limestone cave and rode some trails was a cool way to spend the morning. Wasn'r so keen on the horses so asked for a slow old tired one and it went pretty well. Mike on the other hand is a cowboy from way back apparently???? Speaking of horses, on our ride yesterday, we were taking with about four other cyclists on the side of the rode and a crazy horse pulling a cart just about took everyone out, scrambling every which way. Pretty funny after the fact.
Just hung out in town for the afternoon, nothing much really going on other than hikes and bikes which we wern't interested in either. Had lobster for supper and early to bed as we leave on the bus at 7:30am.
Rode from San Diego to Vinales today with the Cuban guy who directed us to the casa in San Diego. He spoke perfect english and was very informative of many things past and present in Cuba. He also showed us a few different spots to eat and drink along the wat. Gurapo is sugar cane squeezed through a maching and put in a glass of ice. Excellent. Also had a guava and cheeze sandwich much like a thick fruit rollup and cheese sandwich. Actually pretty good! Made it to Vinales early and are staying at one of his families casas for likely a couple of nights so may do something fun around here tomorrow.
Rode from Las Terrazas to San Diego del Banos today and though we would take the scenic high rode but after about 20kms of killing ourselves up and down STEEP mountains we decided to drop down to the lowlands and take an alternate route along a lower provincial highway. We have seen the sdame or better scenery for way less work so it was a good choice. Mike was having some knee problems towards the end of the ride of 84 km total. Got to the hotel to find the same big group of people had this hotel fully booked as well. Fortunately we had talked to a local guy who directed us to the only casa particulair in town. Was a great stay and good food. Was a couple from canada there too who was also cycling and was good to share stories of our experiences.
Rode out of Havana quite easily was probably good it was a Sunday so there wasn´t much traffic. Started out on the main Autopistat highway and then crossed over to a provincial type road which is quite a bir more scenic and pass through a few towns. Seemed like we had to check directions and navigate quite a bit more along here than in previoous trips, don´t quite know why. Swung into the hills a bit towars the end of the day riding one final steep hill to stay in a hotel in Las Terrazas only to find it was full. Were sent down another 4 or 5 kms to look at a campismo type place along the river. Ended up staying there where the rooms were SMALL thatched shacks up on stilts where you climbed a ladder through the floor to find two small mattresses and a bit of room for your stuff. Outside bathrooms, swim-bath in the river and a restaurant. was clean and worked out fine. Two highlights Guy karate chopping a turkey in the back of the neck to kill it for food and a guy in the middle of nowhere who gave us homemade icecream in a cup from a box ob the back of his bike....awesome!
Caught the bus from Varadero to Havana got dropped off near the Malacon that we knew would take us around to the street and hotel we needed. Everything went well finding our way there and checked into a swanky 5 star hotel looking like a couple of hillbillys. The entire hotel was full and somehow we ended up with a suite, living room bedroom and two bathrooms. Hung out at the pool and then wandered out to find somewhere for supper. Ended up at the exact same paladar as last time we were here in 2007 it is about three blocks off the main street so was funny that we found it. Located a great bakery for dessert and where we could have breakfast tomorrow. Didn´t want to go to far so had a drink at the hotel and went to sleep.
We arrived yesterday with all of our bags and bikes with no problem yesterday. Orlando was at the airport to pick us up with his car and roof rack. Works great when we have the bikes as most taxis don't have any way to carry the bikes.
Staying at the same hotel as last years and the staff and rooms are fine, food not so great but fine for the couple of days we are here. This is what I like about the casa particulairs, great food and great hosts.
Went for a ride into Varadero today to make sure the bikes all worked and to confirm bus times to Havana for tomorrow also stopped in to say hi to Betty & Jorge the casa owners we met last year, were surprised to see me.
Will head into Havana tomorrow and look around a bit and plan a few more details for our ride into Vinales.
Location: Cuba, Caribbean
Getting ready for another trip to hit the Vinales area for a week and then bus down to Trinidad and Casa Mercedes which is quickly becoming one of our favorite spots.
Rode to Varadero today (Monday( in about 47kms and will be at the Tuxpan for the next 3 nights to pack up and get ready toi head back home. Was an amazing trip again and several people had mentioned the Vinales,Pinar del Rioo area was beautiful so may have one more trip yet.
Rode about 80kms today (Sunday( to just before Colisao . HAd located a farmhouse that doesn't really take foreigners but agreed to accomodate us and the Swiss couple. In short, the most AMAZING place you would ever see. SUPER friendly "artist" type famile who do a lot of pottery work and painting. He id almost6 totally self sufficient, Grows over 100 different types of fruit, all sorts of plants, root vegetables, rice, raises beef, poirk, chicken, fish (yes, fish!( has his own windmill for water, bio fuel for cooking, totally amazing. Into alternative medicine and has one fruit and one plant that in particular is supposed to deal with cancer far more effectivly than conventional treatments. Reallu cool. Were told we weren't clients but family and would yeat with them, and what they would eat. We were the first people to actually phone and request to stay there. Had fresh organic pork, rice, yuca, salad, avocados, excellent. Thanks to Corinne from Switzerland who spoke fluent spanish for translating and us learning a pile!
The crocodile was VERY good at PLaya Larga, much like a very dense fish. The whole4 meal was exquisite and very well prepared. Casa was very nice with the room on the second floor and a nice terrace to look over the ocean. Went to a fiesta in town for a while in the afternoon and a bit that nighht had an ice cream cone for .20 cents and a cup ofr deep fried something also for .20 cents. People so friendly and love when you show interest in something. Met up with a couple from Switzerland also cycling around and will likely stay at a farmhouse halfway betweem here and Varadero tomorrow night as it seems to be the only accomodations.
Rode to Playa Larga only 30kms today (Dec 3rd) and was nice just to take it easy a bit. Stopped at a cenote along the way which is a large freshwater cave with fish in it. Nice coast road ride so we stopped at a couple of outlook/beach areas for a look. Arrived in Playa Larga around lunch and easily found a casa. Piles of casas here for such a small fishing village but I guess there is lots of scuba diving and snorkeling so people stay for days/week. Haven't really seen any other cyclists on this trip and saw two other sets in Playa Giron arriving just as we did. Will ride somewhere half between here an Varadero tomorrow and then to Varadero the next. Should also mention we are having crocodile for supper tonight so that will be VERY interesting. Will let you know have that turns out. May not have internet in the next location??
Were not looking forward to todays ride as it was going to be our longest Cienfuegos to Playa Giron 95+kms. Guy at the gas station when we were leaving said it was even further and not possible! Fortunately there was a strong wind from the east and we were cruising like crazy! I think we averaged 20+kms/hr. Cycled a total of 96kms in aboyut 4.5 hours. Great! We stayed at an "all-inclusive" instead of a casa as it seemed a good deal but the food was GROSS, drinks were GROSS and the room had ants. Mike was not too happy with any of this. Had a quick look at the Plaqya Giron museum and had a bit of a walk around but pretty unexciting.
Had a tough ride to Ceinfuegos into a head wind all day was about 85kms. Arrived in reasonably good shape but tired. Had the address of the casa we stayed in 5 years ago, found it fine but is no longer a casa. I knew from then too that there were lots of casas in that area so found another quickly and got settled in. Didn't have time for a whole lot, used the internet tried to change some cash but was closed and went back for a lobster supper. ($5 for lobster tail,rice,soup,salad) Went to bed at 8pm the party animals that we are.....no it's not that were getting older!
Long 86km ride today from Trinidad to Cienfuegos, not as hot but into the wind almost all the way. Found a casa quickly and just running some errands now. Almost out of time on my card so will add anythying new to the next post.
Spent the day at the beach today Playa Ancon was a day well wasted. Last day of relaxation before a fair bit of riding. Leaving tomorrow for Cienfuegos (85km) then on to Playa Giron (90km) likely the next day. We do have an "extra" day in there somewhere if we are tired or need a break. Not much exciting else to say. Lady at the casa is awesome, everytime we leave she says " adios ninos" which is goodbye boys.... So we now call her mama. Hilarious.
Everywhere in Cuba we see people carrying cakes around. A piece of carboard with a slab of flat birthday type cake on it. Walking down the street, on a horse and wagon, bicycle or the back of a motorcycle. What is the purpose of these cakes??? Where are they going with these cakes???? WHY do they eat so much cake???? Someone please help us figure this out....
Went out to the Casa de Musica last night to see a few performers that were very good. Lots of tourists here in Trinidad. Very popular place and is a Unesco World Heritage site. With lots of tourists comes lots of people trying to sell you tours, casa particulairs, food, cigars you name it. We know our way around so doesn't seem to bother us any more.
Went out to a disco last night that was Discouteque Cuevos which is a disco that all the guidebooks talk about as it is built deep within a mountain side way down some steps with lasers lights screen and music. Really cool, not something else you would probably see anywhere else in the world.
Rode about 15kms out out to Playa Ancon which is in our opinion one of the nicest beaches in Cuba. Very nice sand, not much wind or waves. The ride back after sitting in the sun wasn't as much fun.
Having dinner at the casa again tonight, while we have had good luck at peso restaurants at VERY cheap prices there aren't easy to find. The casa owners daughter lives next door and does all the cooking.
Staying in Trinidad again tomorrow and will head out to Cienfuegos on Thursday for a 90km ride.
Forgot to mention that once we arrived in Santa Clara they would not let us off the bus until a nurse who came on took our tempurature and if it looked okay she then let us off. Everyone was just cracking up, hilarious.
We had a good day yesterday cycling from Santa Clara to Sancti Spiritus, was our first ride and ended up being 84kms. Stayed at a Islazul hotel as it was right on the highway and had a pool. Nice after a hot day of riding. Decent room, good size for all the gear and bikes. Had spaghetti at the hotel restaurant and a few drinks. I think there was only two other people staying there who were in a rental car.
Left about 8am this morning for Trinidad and the day was crazy hot but we are a bit more experienced so it went well. Mike gave out quite a few toy cars along the way, me some toys and bike parts. Great to see the reaction and smiles from everyone, really makes the trip.
Mike was very please to ride up a brutal hill along the way which he had to walk up when we were through here in 2007. Who says age will hold you back!!
I still had the card from the great casa we stayed at then and stopped in there to see if the room was open. Pablo actually recognized me and Mike and unfortunately had someone just arrive so he set us up across the street. Should be fine where we are. May move on night out to a beach hotel but we'll see.