Saturday, April 18, 2015

Cuba Diary - Cayo Coco, Island Life at its finest

Hello there adventurers, it's Saturday and since I want you to enjoy the weekend I'll attack you with some dreamy pics today. This is for sure one of my favorite Cuba posts!
As I told you in my last post we eventually found PARADISE. After traveling for one and a half weeks, seeing four different cities and only one beach, we were looking for a relaxing place. Right at the beginning of our vacation a Spanish tourist recommended us Cayo Coco, a beautiful, deserted island exclusively available for tourists.

Since we were not traveling as typical tourists we had a hard time finding a place to stay on the island and buying food. Cayo Coco is an incredible spot, but unless you're staying in one of the numerous five star resorts, you have to plan ahead since there are no Cuban houses or shops, not even cafés or any food stands.
Luckily the taxi driver we stayed with the night before and who took us to the island, could book us a room in Villa Azul, which is a low cost hotel where mostly backpackers and Cuban workers sleep. The room was ok, we had two huge beds and our own bathroom, plus TV. Unfortunately the service was not the best. The first day we had to wait for breakfast for about half an hour even though there were no other guests eating. The breakfast itself was fine, a ham and cheese sandwich, some more bread and a coffee with milk, which was actually made of milk powder and therefore not so yummy. At least we had a little something to eat because during the day we couldn't buy any fruit or snacks, there were just no shops on the entire island except for some souvenir stores! So Villa Azul is a good option for backpackers and adventurers like us, it's only 32€ per night, breakfast included and pretty clean. Don't expect too much luxury or comfort, but for two or three nights the place is totally fine.

Since we arrived and checked in at 7am, we had an entire day that we could spend at the beach. One thing we didn't expect was that the hotel we stayed in was a little "off the beaten path", pretty far from the other resorts and beautiful beaches. So we asked for the way to the next hotel to take a bus from there that would bring us to the beach. Then we started walking, and walked, and walked, and walked... We walked more than 5 kilometers that morning, only to take the tourist bus for another two hours to finally get to the beach.  Haha, what a nightmare! After walking for more than an hour in the heat, not seeing anything but the road and bushes, I was done! Where's the service on Cuba? Now that I'm writing this article from home I laugh about that morning we walked through the desert to the bus, an unforgettable adventure with my bofriend. After reaching one of the big hotels we finally took the open top bus that picked up all the tourists at the other resorts.
On our way to the beaches I was totally amazed by the beautiful landscape that you can see here in the first photos. Huge ponds of crystal clear, turquoise water, all kinds of plants, flamingos and we even spotted a hummingbird (my personal highlight)! You can tell that Cayo Coco is an untouched island!

Once we reached our destination we were wowed by the tropical palm trees, an endless white beach and incredibly clear water. Our long trip was totally worth spending a few hours at this beach called Playa Pilar! The Caribbean just how I imagined it!
Since we booked two hotel nights, we promised ourselves to discover more beautiful beaches on the island. Thus you'll get to see two more posts of the marvelous Cayo Coco - a beach lover's dream!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Cuba Diary - Ciego de Ávila, because why not?

Hello there, everyone! Since the semester just started I'm free to do whatever I want so I'm posting almost every second day by now, haha.
Today you get to see some pics of Ciego de Ávila, a Cuban city that really surprised us! My boyfriend and I didn't plan to visit this place, we actually wanted to travel to the end of the island and see the Guantanamo area but the lack of time forced us to stay closer to Havana. Thus we decided to see the island Cayo Coco because lots of other tourists and also Cubans told us to go. It's supposed to be one of Cuba's most beautiful places, and you will see, it definitely is (don't miss the next post)!
So we somehow tried to get from Trinidad to Cayo Coco and since Ciego de Ávila is on the way to the Cayos, we decided to stop there for a night and explore the city a little.
We were not disappointed! Ciego de Ávila is much bigger than we thought, more modern than most of the other cities we saw and very diverse! It doesn't only have lots of shops, restaurants (all very Cuban and not very touristy), and a city center that makes you feel like you're walking through a film studio, but also a very green, big and surprisingly peaceful park that gave us the chance to relax before heading to the Cayos (the tropical islands) the next day. The park was surely what I loved most about Ciego de Ávila, it was so nice to see so much green after Havana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad. We also found a super romantic bridge that looked just like stolen from a jungle. That's where we also found La Turbina, the first and only lake we saw on Cuba, right in the middle of the
Parque de La Ciudad. 
You can't imagine how relaxing it was for us to chill in the park without backpacks, and later slowly walk home watching all the people on the street, buying some fruit (like always :-D) and some super yummy Cuban chocolate ice cream. 

We stayed in a Cuban house again that night, which you can see at the end of this post. It was one of the biggest houses we had, we didn't only have the usual bedroom and bathroom  but also a huge living room with a bar, haha. The house owner happened to be a taxi driver and had a client waiting for him on the island we wanted to see the next day. Luckily he could take us, because there are no buses going to the island. So the next morning we got up at 5am and went to Cayo Coco with him, which is about one and a half hours from Ciego de Ávila. And guess what expected us there? PARADISE!
Stay tuned, xoxo

Having a blast - our first time in a bicitaxi, which is actually a pretty common transportation on Cuba!

That's how you go fishing in the park :-D

And this is where we bought our bread for three weeks, on the street :-D

Could have stayed another night in our big house

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cuba Diary - Papaya at Playa Ancón

Hey guys, today's post will be a pretty short one because there's just not much to add to these Caribbean vaca shots. You'll get to see some tropical beach pics of Playa Ancón, an amazing beach we went to when visiting Trinidad. It's about 25 minutes away from the city centre so we took a cab there, an antique Pontiac, which was a really fun experience! Once there we went snorkeling (not professionally but with our own snorkels) and explored the beautiful underwater world. Besides that we pretty much relaxed all day, finally, after traveling from one city to another for almost a week! My boyfriend cut a yummy papaya like a pro for his blogger girlfriend so I could take some nice pics for you, haha.
Hope you enjoy the photos and remember, if you ever get the chance to visit Trinidad, don't miss the marvelous Playa Ancón ;-) xoxo

Friday, April 10, 2015

Cuba Diary - Colors of Trinidad

Hello there, everyone! It's Friday and I'm pretty sure you're all excited about the weekend! So why not start the day with a colorful post, number four of my Cuba diary series :-)

Too many people recommended Trinidad so how could we miss it? We were not disappointed, it's totally worth a visit and very tourist-friendly!
We arrived at Trinidad on the sixth day of our vacation. A bus ride from Cienfuegos for about 6€ and one and a half hours later we were "welcomed" by a bunch of Cubans trying to get our attention by shouting at us "Casa, taxi". I felt a little awkward, almost like a celebrity, surrounded by all these people trying to take my hand or sell me stuff. So we were quite overwhelmed leaving the bus but quickly left the station to look for a house. After taking a look at a couple of rooms we decided to spend our first night in a very colorful house for only 15€ per night.
After relaxing a little in our "Barbie room", we decided to take advantage of the fresh afternoon air and stroll through the historical center of Trinidad. Havana is colorful, Trinidad is even more! It is such a cozy, warm and welcoming town, pretty small but very charming thanks to its pretty houses and cobblestone streets. Since we didn't wanna eat in one of the numerous tourist restaurants we bought some cucumbers, tomatoes and bread, and created our dinner - our first (and very dry) sandwich on Cuba, haha.
The first sound in the morning was the cry of a cock at 4am (don't expect to be able to sleep in!), followed by the clip-clop of horses' hooves on the streets and the cries of old men selling crackers or bread from bicycles. That next morning we had to find a new house because the room we stayed in had been booked in advance. Fortunately the house owners have connections so we spent our second night in Trinidad just a block away at a neighbor's house. After leaving our suitcase there we walked to the centre to find a cab that would take us to the beach. My first time in a 50's Pontiac! Once in a while you have to convince yourself you’re in the 21st century when visiting Cuba!
And where did we go? More pics on the blog soon ;-)

On the road to Trinidad

Cuba's vast nature is simply impressive!

We mostly traveled by bus, the Viazul is one of the cheapest and most comfortable ones

The first day in Trinidad

Our home in Barbie colors for the first night

Our second and very spacious home in Trinidad

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