After hanging out for a bit, the boys wanted to sleep for a little bit more. I people watched by the window for almost an hour but sleep would not come. I decided to shower, get dressed and walk the city. We had to change more money and so I decided to check what time the bank opened so that we can get in before there would be a line up.
There’s lines for everything and everywhere! Lines are ‘so Cuban’, they have a process. You walk up and ask who is last in line, the person answers and you know when your turn will be. So basically, no standing around if you don’t want to and you can go about your business and come right back. Nevertheless, I ate some cereal we brought and said my adieus.
Thankfully we had listened to a YouTuber and downloaded the maps.me app. It was a savior and works amazing off-line. I had no issues going where I needed to and so I had more room to look around and take things in. Cuban people are very beautiful, naturally. I noticed that the most make up they wore was a little liner under the eyes or some mascara. The men however had brows done, a cool face, balmed lips and cologne strong enough to haul a whale. It was so sweet to see how parents fawned over their children as they were on their way to school.
Oddly enough though, it was a bit chillier than typical morning time. The breeze from the Malecon is very strong. There is absolutely no way to avoid it, there is a constant chill over the city. I arrived at the bank but couldn’t remember the phrase to say so when the person after me came and found her place, I decided to go after. So when the next person came I answered ‘yo’ when they asked who’s last in line. A constant culture shock for me is the uber short skirts little girls wore to school and women wore to work with their fishnet stockings. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.
The bank lets in two people at a time. A young lady at the door calls in the next person and you sit on one of the 2 seats in front of each teller booth. When they were ready for you the security guard pointed you to the teller that would assist. I walked up and butchered trying to say I needed to make an exchange. I was told no phones in the bank when said guard caught my eyes and pointed at the signs. I was basically left without my language app and eventually just held up the money when the teller and I weren’t making it at all. He was pleasant and wrote the exchange on a piece of paper for me, then said 2 words, passport and address. I handed him both as we had a printed paper with my address on it for whenever we needed it.
It was a quick process and I was on my way. I managed to get 2 internet cards from the hotel by telling the front desk lady I needed to contact my family.
Otherwise, she wouldn’t have sold it to me once I answered no when she asked if I as staying there. I wanted to go to the salon to get my toenails polished as they were looking shabby but half way there I decided to go home as I wanted to start the day. I popped in to a bodega to see what was on sale and then head upstairs to our Casa.
I struggled with the door and could hear that the amount of people waiting on the elevator was increasing. I banged the door and called for my husband but every time I did someone waiting downstairs yelled something back lol. Eventually I went back downstairs and freed up the lift. I went around the back but halfway up the stairs I didn’t feel safe as it was very decrepit. I decided to try the door again and was in this time! Sigh. We got dressed and were off. We went back to the bank to test out our bank cards but none of them worked. My husband changed some money and we strolled down to the Malecon to hang for a bit. After awhile, we caught a taxi to Place de armes for 3 CUC.
The driver gave us somewhat of a guided tour even though he didn’t speak English, we caught what we could. Later that night when we told our casa owner all the things he told us he laughed! Thank goodness we had our wits about us and declined every offer he gave us to go off course for more photography! He especially chuckled at this man giving us a tour of Che’s home when Che didn’t even live in that city!! Sigh. We did the typical walk around and saw Plaza des Armes, Plaza de la Cathedral, Plaza de San Francisco, then Parque Central and El capitolio.
If we had read up on a map of these places, we would have known to start at Plaza de la cathedral, then walk to Plaza des Armes, then Plaza des San Fransico and follow Obispo all the way to the latter attractions.
I unfortunately lost 10 CUC in the during all the walking. All in all it was good to walk around the city. We didn’t want to spend on museums etc so soon. so we didn’t. We probably wouldn’t do too many and could probably guess they were all in Spanish like most of the sites as Cuba does not cater to English speakers.
All popular as the city itself, these locations are where you will find jinteros/jinteras and an exhausting vulture like culture for selling tours, taxis, restaurants, street food etc. We maneuvered ok but didn’t want to ask too many questions as we didn’t know who would help and let that be it.
We tried peso pizza which was absolutely delicious and some ice cream cakes that was just right. We hopped in a collectivo and got off at the end of our street in search of a decent meal. We couldn’t quite remember the names of the restaurants we were told about the day before. A man standing beside on the side of the street told us he could take us to an affordable paladar that wasn’t too far, that sold lobster. Usually, it’s obviously a horrible idea to follow strangers especially when you don’t know the language but this seemed to be common. We walked for what felt like eternity.
The price of the meals were extremely expensive. The average meal was 10 CUC compared to 5 CUC we would pay at Razones. I felt a little annoyed, especially since he made a face when I told him we would just go to Razones. We had already walked way too far and was too tired to leave. So we ordered a beer, agua con gas (sparkling water) and a Cubano sandwich. A $10 bill for not much, even though the sandwich was delicioso.
We walked home and was knocked out a few moments after coming through the door.
After our nap, we chit chat with owner casa owner for a bit before getting dressed and going to eat at Razones again. We absolutely love this paladar!
It is very reasonably priced with huge servings and the food tasted good.
We had our meal and went to the Hotel Presidente to use our internet cards. We had no issues signing on and was able to converse with a few people. Using apps such as Instagram was torture but overall our purpose was met. We strolled home and went straight to bed.