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Long Weekend In Havana! GCM-HAV On KX (Pic Links)  
User currently offlineLeftCoaster From Cayman Islands, joined Nov 2007, 77 posts, RR: 0
Posted (6 years 3 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 7490 times:

This is my first trip report on A.Net, so please be gentle.

July 7th was a public holiday in the Cayman Islands, so my wife & I decided to take advantage of that and book a long-weekend getaway to a place that neither of us had been - Havana, Cuba!

As we're both Canadians living in Cayman, we figured that while we're living in the Caribbean, we need to take advantage of that fact by making these quick jaunts to neighbouring Caribbean islands ~ as it's much easier to do so from Cayman than it would be from Vancouver!

I booked flights with KX on their website www.caymanairways.com ~ and got a round-trip for about $300 US / person. I then used a local travel agent to book a hotel in Old Havana (The Hotel Sevilla - which turned out to be very nice and had a GREAT location!)

Outbound Flight:
KX#2832
Aircraft: Boeing 737-300
Reg: VP-CKY (New Colours)
Departure: 12:10 (scheduled) 12:40 (actual)
Flight Time - 48 Mins.
Seats: 1A / 1C (Business Class)

We arrived @ the airport about 90 minutes prior to the flight, as we had checked in the day before. We dropped the bags off @ the counter and made our way through security which was quite dead considering it was a long-weekend. After getting through security, it was the usual 'hurry up & wait' in GCM's departure area. For those that have never been to GCM, the Departure area is full of duty free shops offering cheap rum, cheap rum cakes and last minute souveniers & trinkets. Plus the usual snack bar, washrooms etc. On the tarmac before our bird arrived was a Delta MD-80, AA 738, Atlantic Airlines De Honduras 732, US A319, a Cayman Airways Express Twin-Otter, and a fellow KX 733's.

After a bit of a wait, our plane arrived from MIA and got cleaned up & stocked up fo our long-haul to Havana.   I had been secretly hoping to get on KX's last remaining 737-200, but no such luck. No big deal really, as I live near the airport and see the -200's all the time.


Photo: About to board our KX 733 @ GCM

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2716386350103739936ylCIiO

DL Mad-Dog parked next to us in Grand Cayman

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2787909960103739936hIYMyY

Business Class = Ample Leg Room!

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2154723410103739936rKcEZa

Island off the coast of Cuba:

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2626132460103739936WHRRQc

Leaving the Caribbean sea behind, and saying 'Hola' to Cuba:

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2958537540103739936uXcMWR

Small Cuban Town as we get closer to touch-down in HAV:

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2242740990103739936lxOGZN

Russian built Cubana bird and more in HAV:

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2893151550103739936zBcYgr

Cubana Cargo:

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2597828030103739936AgxVTp

Cubana and Air Force camo-plane?!

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2870062120103739936ieLCQn

American Eagle ATR heading off to MIA:

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2687087930103739936WLSYra


Our flight touched down in HAV with some scattered showers in the area. The main terminal at Jose Marti Intl. looked big, bright and quite nice. Unfirtunately, we didn't use THAT terminal. We got to use the old, smokey terminal 3, with no jet bridges, seemingly no air conditioning, and no...well...anything really. Except secutiry. There was PLENTY of that.

After dealing with a rather intimidating immigration officer, I continued on to the baggage claim area, and after about 15 minutes...claimed by luggage. I then exchanged some money @ the CADECO (Money exchange 'window') and hailed a cab for the 20 minute ride to old Havava.

About the city itself...it's beautiful. A city of contrasts. On one hand, lots of gorgeous old buildings, beautiful plazas, stunning views and tons of character ~ on the other: There were buildings that were near ruins with crumbling facades etc.

I found the people in Havana to be REALLY welcoming and pleasant.   There were some 'shady' types calling me into a crumbling building to buy cigars, but I just politely declined and they didn't persist.

As a bit of a car nut myself, I was like a kid in a candy store looking at all the old vintage 1950's U.S. vehicles! Usually when you hail a cab, you get some crown victoria, minivan or other boring vehicles stopping to pick you up. In Havana, it's 52' Buicks, 53' Pontiacs, 54' Chryslers... and a collection of old Lada's & Fiats. Definitely more interesting than typical North American Cabs!

The Mojitos in Cuba are also (as expected) the best around. The Cayman Islands may be a tropical paradise, but their Mojitos are nothing compared to Cuba's!

There were lots of these Che Guevara billboards around the exit/entrance to HAV (And scattered around the city too):

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2491296730103739936MMwYhO

As mentioned, there were tons of sweet old vintage american cars like this in Havana. I found myself drooling at times:

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2264563840103739936sAAgsT

And a few ...errr... less spectacular Eastern-European models:

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2476481880103739936ZKAGZO

By far, the coolest cab I've ever had the pleasure to ride in... 1952 Hot Pink Buick Convertible:

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2687087930103739936WLSYra

Those Cuban chamber-maids like to get creative with the fresh hotel towels:

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2825889840103739936WypmsF

Our return flight from HAV to GCM started off as a wet one. The skies opened up shortly before boarding. Our bird for the ride back to GCM was VP-CAY (733 in old KX colours):

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2846077230103739936PglhJB

Our neighbours in GCM after our return flight:

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2284362590103739936ccFgRw

NK on the tarmac @ GCM:

http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2479600460103739936YSCnae


Overall, Cayman Airways met with my approval. I found nothing they did to be extraordinary... but they got me and my wife to /from HAV, my bags were in one piece, the staff were very friendly, the rum punch served on-board was tasty & the plaintain chips were crisp. All for a fair price. In this day & age of flying, that's called a success!

Again, as this is my first trip reort, please excuse the lack of presentation. I'l work the bugs out next time!

Any comments are welcome!

~LeftCoaster

[Edited 2008-07-10 18:23:26]

15 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineAlbird87 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (6 years 3 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 7294 times:

Very nice LeftCoaster! Always good to get a report from the Island and on KX!
Im curious.... what was the service like in biz class then from KX? any food and im sure the rum punches kept on coming! (my favourite thing about KX!). One thing maybe i would recommend is use a different Photo website that allows u to link to the photos (i use photobucket). It makes the trip report flow a tad more as you dont have to jump and start everytime you want to see a photo. Also maybe more infligt photos!

Quoting LeftCoaster (Thread starter):
After a bit of a wait, our plane arrived from MIA and got cleaned up & stocked up fo our long-haul to Havana. I had been secretly hoping to get on KX's last remaining 737-200, but no such luck. No big deal really, as I live near the airport and see the -200's all the time.

Hey i have to say that the ride on the 732s are awesome! the origionals are always the best! will miss the ole holers after they are finally out of the fleet sometime this year!

Once again good TR!


User currently offlineLeftCoaster From Cayman Islands, joined Nov 2007, 77 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (6 years 2 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 6991 times:



Quoting Albird87 (Reply 1):
Im curious.... what was the service like in biz class then from KX?

I actually found the Biz class service to be no different than I received in Y class.
Being that the flight was less than an hour, we only got the plaintain chip/rum punch service once before we were on Cuban soil. I'd assume that on a longer flight, business class would have seen a bit more substantial in-flight service. I did find the dark blue leather seats to be really comfortable, and the leg-room was more than ample (I'm only 5'10, so I don't need much) but again - the true comfort test would have been on a LONG flight, not a quick 50 minute hop like mine.

Quoting Albird87 (Reply 1):
One thing maybe i would recommend is use a different Photo website that allows u to link to the photos (i use photobucket). It makes the trip report flow a tad more as you dont have to jump and start everytime you want to see a photo. Also maybe more infligt photos!

Ya the site I used had the ability to link the photos, and I tried that opriginally, but when I previewed the post... all of the photos were corrupt. So either I picked a garbage photo hosting site to use, or I just don't know what I'm doing. (Or a bit o' both).

Oh, and there will be more inflight photos next time - guaranteed.  Smile


User currently offlineAlbird87 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (6 years 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 6702 times:



Quoting LeftCoaster (Reply 2):
I actually found the Biz class service to be no different than I received in Y class

Interesting! In their adverts im sure it always says something about a hot meal and complamentary stuff! Will have to look into that more again but it seems that the only difference for tha flight was the Seat! They do look nice seats and offer a lot more legroom that AA does i know!

I would also like to say that i think you are the first person who has done a report about the wonderful KX! I actually may look out my old photos from a KX flight to MIA and post it as KX may not be the worlds best airline but their flights are always a treat IMO.


User currently offlineSuperfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 39707 posts, RR: 75
Reply 4, posted (6 years 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 6606 times:

LeftCoaster:
Great trip report!
Cuba is an amazing place.
I love the old American cars still running strong, great music, wonderful people and Soviet era aircraft.
Any reason why you didn't fly on Cubana to Cuba?



Bring back the Concorde
User currently offlineAlbird87 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (6 years 2 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 6498 times:



Quoting Superfly (Reply 4):
Any reason why you didn't fly on Cubana to Cuba?

because the dont fly from GCM to HAV!
pretty simple!


User currently offlineTsaord From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (6 years 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 6447 times:

I loved this report! THANKYOU! I like it because...I may never have the chance to go to Cuba ever in my life time. As an American I can never go there because of some stupid sanctions.

User currently offlineSuperfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 39707 posts, RR: 75
Reply 7, posted (6 years 2 weeks 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 6430 times:



Quoting Albird87 (Reply 5):
because the dont fly from GCM to HAV!
pretty simple!

No need to fly off the handle Albird87.
Since Cuba is the only airline that operates Soviet aircraft in the west, many aviation enthusiast take that opportunity, even if it means flying to another airport in between their home airport and Havana.
Anyhow, LeftCoaster can answer for himself and doesn't need you to answer for him.  wave 

Quoting Tsaord (Reply 6):
I may never have the chance to go to Cuba ever in my life time. As an American I can never go there because of some stupid sanctions.

Yep, we Americans can never go to Cuba.  duck 



Bring back the Concorde
User currently offlineLeftCoaster From Cayman Islands, joined Nov 2007, 77 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (6 years 2 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 6096 times:

Quoting Superfly (Reply 7):
No need to fly off the handle Albird87.
Since Cuba is the only airline that operates Soviet aircraft in the west, many aviation enthusiast take that opportunity, even if it means flying to another airport in between their home airport and Havana.
Anyhow, LeftCoaster can answer for himself and doesn't need you to answer for him.

I don't think ALBird87 flew off the handle...I think he was just poining out that it was a simple black & white answer.

Trust me though... Given the choice, I would have gladly flown Cubana to Havana (that's no knock on Cayman Airways... but 733's aren't as exciting as a russian bird!) - but as AIBird87 mentioned, Cubana doesn't fly GCM-HAV... and connecting through another country would have been a ton of hassle, and way more expensive.

Quoting Tsaord (Reply 6):
I loved this report! THANKYOU! I like it because...I may never have the chance to go to Cuba ever in my life time. As an American I can never go there because of some stupid sanctions.

Well...technically you - as an American - CAN travel to Cuba, but it's gotta be hush-hush.
I actually ran into a few American tourists there ( I won't name names...but there was one couple from Charlotte and another solo backpacker from Oregon) - and they said that it was no big deal to get there, other than having to transfer through a different nation and booking the flights seperately. I'm not sure how the Charlotte couple got to HAV, but the Oregon back-packer went through Mexico City. Cuban immigration won't stamp your passport either, so really...an American could travel there if they chose to, but there is a risk involved.

And before anyone gives me the "You're condoning illegal activity" speech, I never said Americans SHOULD travel to Cuba...I just said that one COULD do it.

Again, sorry the trip report was a bit muddled - I'll iron out the wrinkles in the future!

[Edited 2008-07-14 11:21:21]

User currently offlineSuperfly From Thailand, joined May 2000, 39707 posts, RR: 75
Reply 9, posted (6 years 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 6044 times:



Quoting LeftCoaster (Reply 8):
and connecting through another country would have been a ton of hassle, and way more expensive.

I know what you mean.
I did have to go through a lot of hassle to get my flight on Cubana. As an American, we have to transfer in a different country anyway. So I picked an airport in which Cubana operates and I made sure that it was service with an IL-62.



Bring back the Concorde
User currently offlineFaustino927 From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 263 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (6 years 2 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 5988 times:



Quoting Superfly (Reply 7):
Yep, we Americans can never go to Cuba.

Who the heck wants to go to Cuba anyways. Everything is falling apart and it's just plain UGLY!!



Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated.
User currently offlineLeftCoaster From Cayman Islands, joined Nov 2007, 77 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (6 years 2 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 5878 times:

Quoting Faustino927 (Reply 10):
Who the heck wants to go to Cuba anyways. Everything is falling apart and it's just plain UGLY!!

Millions of people want to go to Cuba every year apparantly - as millions DO go to Cuba every year.

I can only speak to the areas of Havana that I saw, but your claim about "everthing falling apart" is 100% not true.

I've seen cities in much worse shape that Havana.

To each their own I guess... for every person that likes a destination, there's another one that will hate it.

And as far as Havana being ugly - I thought it was gorgeous. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

[Edited 2008-07-14 16:57:58]

User currently offlineFaustino927 From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 263 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (6 years 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 5543 times:



Quoting LeftCoaster (Reply 11):
And as far as Havana being ugly - I thought it was gorgeous. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

Of course, you went to the tourist spots were everything is perfect. If you go were my family lives then you will have a totally different opinion about Cuba. Remember that everything looks great and wonderful to the tourists eye. Look at a picture of Havana in the 50's and one of the present and compare. You will see the difference.



Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated.
User currently offlineLeftCoaster From Cayman Islands, joined Nov 2007, 77 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (6 years 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 5398 times:



Quoting Faustino927 (Reply 12):
Of course, you went to the tourist spots were everything is perfect. Remember that everything looks great and wonderful to the tourists eye. Look at a picture of Havana in the 50's and one of the present and compare. You will see the difference.

Well your initital inquiry was something to the effect of "Why would anyone want to go to Cuba - it's ugly??"

I think you may have answered your own question. The vast majority of tourists stick to the tourist areas, where 'everything is perfect'. Which is exactly why people want to travel to Cuba. As for it being ugly - thats in the eye of the beholder.

I know Cuba in the 50's and Cuba today are 2 very different places, but Havana is still a stunning city (again...in it's own unique way) ~ and people should not over-look travelling there simply because it's not the same as it was half a century ago.

Quoting Faustino927 (Reply 12):
If you go were my family lives then you will have a totally different opinion about Cuba.

I don't doubt that at all. One day I'd love to explore other areas of Cuba and see what the nation is like OUTSIDE of Havana.

Cheers!


User currently offlineSKYYBLUE From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (6 years 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 5328 times:

LeftCoaster that was a GREAT trip report. I would love to visit Cuba via the Cayman Islands. In 98 I spent the whole summer in Grand Cayman and had a blast! I have family that lives in the Eastend. I flew on the classic 737-200 from Miami and enjoyed the rum punch and goldfish. Great pics by the way!

Quoting LeftCoaster (Thread starter):
Atlantic Airlines De Honduras 732

Atlantic flies 737-200's from HONDURAS to GCM??? Wow. I didn't even know they had 732's. I remember Islena used to fly Shorts 360's from La Ceiba to GCM.


User currently offlineLeftCoaster From Cayman Islands, joined Nov 2007, 77 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (6 years 2 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 5277 times:



Quoting SKYYBLUE (Reply 14):
Atlantic flies 737-200's from HONDURAS to GCM??? Wow. I didn't even know they had 732's. I remember Islena used to fly Shorts 360's from La Ceiba to GCM.

Shorts 360's? Wow... that would have been an interesting flight!

For all I know the 737-200 could have been operating with an Islena flight number using borrowed metal, but it was definitely an Air Atlantic 732 ~ and it was definitely going to Honduras. That's about all I know as I was boarding when it arrived so I didn't get a chance to check into it any further. They do Honduras charters like these outof GCM on most long weekends. Apparantly they're notorious for being late and/or cancelled all together!


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