Sunday 2 December 2012
Highlights: Dinner in Cuba
A very early start today as I wanted to have my included breakfast and checkin early to ensure I take care of the Cuba Tourist Card formalities. I had a big breakfast thinking it was unlikely to get a meal on the plane. Today I left a double tip to make up for yesterday which is great for today’s server but not yesterday’s.
At the Cubana checkin I found I could purchase the Tourist Card for $350 pesos or about $27 Australian. At checkin I then had to pay another $295 pesos or $22 Australia which I think was for a departure tax so my money was going quickly today. At security they had a tip box which was a first for me! On the flight I had a free seat next to me and I was seated near the front of the plane. We were served lunch on this morning flight of a ham and cheese roll, a muffin and a chocolate snack.
I got past Border Control after about 30 minutes the only problem was I smiled at the camera and was informed not to do that for the photo! Waiting for my bag was an experience it took about 70 minutes. I think they must scan each bag individually, I was concerned at one point my bag wasn’t going to come. It didn’t help that the bags come off different conveyors and I was one of the last people left. The pickup went well and after a ten minute ride I was at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba.
The hotel is very grand and apparently is the place to stay for wealthy guests and has hosted many famous people. However they are strict on checkin being after 4 pm even if the room is empty. Stuck with my bag I went down to the cafe at had a late lunch which I really didn’t want but had nothing to do. I checked out the Internet prices and they are extremely expensive. I briefly used my mobile Internet service to let people know I had safely arrived, later I learned this dot about $35 clearing my account so no more Internet for a while.
Our tour leader Dady, who is a lady, left a note informing us our formal meeting was at 8.30 am tomorrow but if you arrive in time we could met her for and optional dinner at 7.30 pm. While I wasn’t hungry I thought it a good idea to do so and meet everyone. For dinner there was ten of us; Dady, John (a New Zealander not travelling with us), Anna and Bernd (Germany), Ines (Ireland), Margaret (Australia), Julie, Hayley and Gareth (New Zealand), and myself. We are still waiting for two other travellers so there will be ten in the group plus our Tour Leader.
During the dinner we had musicians playing local and USA songs. This is standard practise in Cuba and the musicians pay to play and make their money via tips. Our New Zealand friends went out partying instead of returning to their rooms. It sounds like they are very keen for partying.
Cuba Photos (Facebook)