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!)
Aircraft: Boeing 737-300
-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
738, Atlantic Airlines De Honduras 732, US A319, a Cayman Airways Express Twin-Otter, and a fellow KX
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
Mad-Dog parked next to us in Grand Cayman
Business Class = Ample Leg Room!
Island off the coast of Cuba:
Leaving the Caribbean sea behind, and saying 'Hola' to Cuba:
Small Cuban Town as we get closer to touch-down in HAV
Russian built Cubana bird and more in HAV
Cubana and Air Force camo-plane?!
American Eagle ATR heading off to MIA
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):
As mentioned, there were tons of sweet old vintage american cars like this in Havana. I found myself drooling at times:
And a few ...errr... less spectacular Eastern-European models:
By far, the coolest cab I've ever had the pleasure to ride in... 1952 Hot Pink Buick Convertible:
Those Cuban chamber-maids like to get creative with the fresh hotel towels:
Our return flight from HAV
started off as a wet one. The skies opened up shortly before boarding. Our bird for the ride back to GCM
-CAY (733 in old KX
Our neighbours in GCM
after our return flight:
on the tarmac @ GCM
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!
[Edited 2008-07-10 18:23:26]