We spent a day in Cienfuegos, 2 days in Trinidad and 2 days in Varadero (see map below) before circling back to Havana. Perhaps it was fatigue, or the fact that the accommodation at our first B&B was not what we expected, and the owner was dodgy, but somehow, this leg was exhausting.
We chose to travel by private taxis between cities although you can easily travel in a comfortable, air-conditioned Viazul tourist bus. The longest journey was from Trinidad to Varadero, (from South to North) which took around 5 hours. But there is so much to see and do on the way that makes the trip worth it.
On the way to Cienfuegos from Havana, our taxi driver stopped at the Bay of Pigs Museum and ‘Australia’, a sugar mill whose owners have some connection to our country. We also marveled at the stunning, turquoise blue Caribbean Sea on our right for quite some time during the drive.
The B&B owner here (Mr Dodgy B&B) gave us a different room to the one that we had seen on Trip Advisor, basically a converted garage with a shed door and swarms of mosquitoes. After a whole afternoon with him, we soon realised he was an ‘over-promise, under-deliver’ sort of guy. The fact that we were both feeling sick and run down from travelling didn’t help, we really needed a good night’s sleep. So we told Mr Dodgy B&B our concerns about the room, and he was good enough to arrange hotel accommodation at the pretty but run-down Hostal Palacio Azul and even drive us there (in his mosquito filled classic car..).
We didn’t have that long in Cienfuegos to really see the town between being sick and changing our accommodation. But we did eat a delicious dinner at restaurant called Finca del Mar.
Mr Dodgy B&B also saw us off the next morning from the hotel, and kindly arranged our private taxi which turned out to be a swish, bright green convertible classic car. The ‘taxi’ driver was a hip youngish guy who didn’t speak much, but enjoyed playing his Spanish party tunes very loudly. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the ride and some of Enrique Iglesias’s Spanish renditions weren’t too bad. We also travelled through some lovely windy, mountainous roads with beautiful views of lush green mountains.
We ate at an eclectic restaurant called Sol Ananda which is inside an old house with eclectic but interesting decor. The food is a mix of European, Caribbean and Indian cuisines with dishes like tomato and coriander soup, rope vieja (Cuban beef stew) and samosas all on the menu. The restaurant was dimly lit so I couldn’t take any photos to share, so you’ll have to believe me when I tell you that the food was delicious!
Our accommodation here, unfortunately, isn’t worth mentioning. After Mr Dodgy B&B in Cienfuegos, we decided to not stay at the B&B in Trinidad that we had previously booked. Instead, we found very nice accommodation right in the heart of the town. The location was great, the room was actually gorgeous and the bathroom was clean and nice. The owner was a little bossy, but that was ok, at least she wasn’t dodgy. The only thing was that running water in the bathroom switched off by 11pm each night. So it’s a work-in-progress, but not some where I would recommend just yet!
After our less than ideal experiences, we splurged on a few days at the Iberostar Hotel. It’s an all-inclusive resort which feels like anywhere else but Cuba. It was a great place to recover and recharge before circling back to Havana. We did enjoy a few mojitos on the beach though, and the ocean over that side of the world really looks different. It was light blue and shallow for ages before becoming deep and dark – I’ve never seen anything like it before!
Even though I was tired and sometimes sick, I enjoyed every part of this trip! The less than ideal situations make great stories to tell and are all part of the experience too. If you can learn anything from us though, perhaps stay in hotels in rural Cuba.