Having a host who promises to make arrangements for a perfect dinner that night sounds good, doesn’t it. Depending on her promises we leaned back and looked forward to our night out at Paladar Doña Eutimia. Until then we decided to walk into town and cross the Bahia by boat for a visit to Casablanca.
Strolling through Vieja Habana opened up new views of cruise people and their land tours. I figured out that a cruise is not the right thing to do for me: The cruise ship is waiting at the pier while all passengers are herded up in tiny groups for a tour through town. It seemed crowded, load and nothing that you can enjoy.
While passing by and looking for something to visit we saw hotels that offered colonial style housing and nice front sides. Heading for the landing pier of the ferry to Casablanca we visited the Almacenes San José Artisans’ Market.
Here you can stroll through aisles full of art, cigars, and thingy you really don’t need. But, to be very honest: It’s worth seeing. Be aware of the traders: The are constantly trying to grab your attention and your willingness to buy things.
From the Terminal de Ferries the boat took us – to CasaBlanca. approximately every 20 minutes tells the schedule.
Be ready to have your bags inspected when entering both terminals (Casablanca or Regla). It’s likely to be a quick, cursory inspection so just make sure your bags/purses are open and it’s not to cause a bottleneck for people behind you. BTW, fare for the ferry is 20 centavos in moneda nacional, about a penny. I recommend to have a CUP coin. If the toll taker tries to tell you that your fare is 1 CUC because you are a tourist, simply say no, pay in moneda nacional and get on. All CUC collected goes in the toll takers pocket. You will also notice some Cubans simply saying “no tengo dinero” or “I have no money” and boarding without paying anything. Casablanca is a great way to take a break from the hassle of tourist dominated Habana Vieja.
Leaving the ferry you will find on the left side the Hershey Electric Railway. A very interesting old train system which is still “operating”. But you have to be aware that frequent breakdowns are very common. You should not plan or depend on any schedule.
Climbing up to the top of the hill you will find your way to Parque del Cristo de La Habana from where you have a perfect view towards Vieja Habana.
In walking distance to the El Cristo statue you’ll find a military academy and a fortress: La Cabaña – Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña. All military documents (rockets, tanks, etc.) you find there represent the Socialism Friendship of the former USSR, DDR and Cuba.
Heading back home from Casa Blanca we decided to take a taxi or bus. We asked two men for directions and they invited us to join in because they were heading to the bus station where you can cross the Bahia through a tunnel, as well.
We walk for almost 20 minutes downhill and reached a four lane highway where we had to cross without a dedicated pedestrian crosswalk. That was quite easy because all drivers paid attention to the bloody crossing pedestrians. They are used to it!
Getting on the crowded bus we had to pay one CUC/person to get back to Viejo Habana. It was a ten minute ride until we got off the bus and breathing fresh air again. This was an experience you should make while you are visiting Havana. It’s an inexpensive but very narrow way to meet Cubans.
Walking back to our B&B we figured out that this day was the most enjoyable day of our vacation so far. Having dinner at Castas & Tal made it even better.