A Travellerspoint blog

April 2011

Easter egg hunt

Karina and Steve dropped me off at the couchsurfing Easter egg hunt in Fairmount park. No one was there yet, so I wandered around taking photos.

Then everyone showed up, and we played frisbee until 4 p.m., when the hunt actually started.

Annie had concocted a drinking version of the hunt, but I could not participate this afternoon. Every time someone found an egg, they found instructions of various things to do inside. Usually it told you to drink a shot of alcohol.

I only found two eggs and only one of them told me to drink a shot. I still did not drink a shot. Ha.

We didn't leave until the sun went down. I got a ride back with Sam, who works at a used bookstore.

Rock garden

Rock garden


Rock garden

Rock garden


Art museum

Art museum


Azalea garden

Azalea garden


Azalea garden

Azalea garden


Azalea garden

Azalea garden


Azalea garden

Azalea garden


Azalea garden

Azalea garden


Boathouse Row

Boathouse Row


Philadelphia

Philadelphia


Philadelphia

Philadelphia


Sculptures

Sculptures


Sculptures

Sculptures


Sculptures

Sculptures


Waterfall

Waterfall


Waterfall

Waterfall


The couchsurfers

The couchsurfers


The frisbee game

The frisbee game


Oleg in the tree

Oleg in the tree


Rock climbing wall

Rock climbing wall


A bridge

A bridge


Dirt bike mounds

Dirt bike mounds


The comfort train

The comfort train

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Completely random day

I got to Philadelphia about two hours late. That means I missed World Tai Chi day, that I was planning on attending.

That's OK. Karina and Steve picked me up (!!!) at the train station and then Karina had to go to work.

I walked around to the Independence Hall type things and then met Steve later.

We went to the street fair, which was packed and kind of unpleasant, and then we met CSer Nick and his brother and another random person for pizza and then this bar which is very hidden underground.

After that, Nick took us to I think it was his aunt's 50th birthday party in Reading Terminal Market! They own, like, half of it, so they opened it up after hours to throw the party there. I had the best food of my life.

Philadelphia

Philadelphia


Me vs. Thai coffee

Me vs. Thai coffee


Philadelphia

Philadelphia


Independence Hall

Independence Hall


Independence Hall

Independence Hall


Independence Hall

Independence Hall


Independence Hall

Independence Hall


Independence Hall

Independence Hall


Underground bar

Underground bar


Underground bar

Underground bar


Underground bar

Underground bar


Philadelphia

Philadelphia


Philadelphia

Philadelphia


Chinatown Philadelphia

Chinatown Philadelphia


Trocadero

Trocadero


Trocadero

Trocadero


Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market


Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market


Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market


Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market


Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market


Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market


Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market


Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market


Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market


Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market


Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market


Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market


Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market


Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market


Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market


Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Apr 29, 2011

Me

Me


Niklas

Niklas


Luca and me

Luca and me

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Going home

I got a ride to the airport from the owner's son. That's about it.

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

The beach again

I was pondering not actually going to Varadero beach at all today, but my parents wanted some rum, so I went and bought some.

It was worth it, I thought. The sand is intensely white, and there is enough of it for everyone, even though there could be any number of people on the beach at any time.

I stayed for a while under this bush/tree thing, where there were lizards. I was pretty helpless with my feet the way they were, so I didn't attempt to walk too far.

I bought a mass produced painting from an actual painter for $10 because I didn't bring enough money with me. The real paintings that he did, were only $40. Crap.

I looked everywhere for some karaoke and could not find anything!

Later, I hitch hiked back to my casa, and wouldn't you know it, a karaoke birthday party, right around the corner from my place!

I stayed to sing some Beatles and gave the birthday girl a bottle of pineapple rum/alcohol something something.

They tried to get me to go to the "discotheque", but I declined, after watching their display of dry hump-dancing in the living room, I knew I would only be in for a double dose of that, if I had followed them.

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

To Varadero

In the morning, I hopped the Viazul to Varadero. It was very late and it almost missed us, sitting there and we had to run down the street waving and screaming to catch it.

When I got there, my hosts were waiting for me. They didn't speak many English words so I mostly kept to myself and wandered around alone.

Again, I had some great food and went to bed early.

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

Walkin' around

So today, I just spent walking up the beach. I walked all day, until I came to a run down resort. This was the resort I might have stayed at, if I had booked the cheapest all-inclusive I could find.

It was completely out in the middle of nowhere and all the people staying there had the look of some sort of captive animal. All doe-eyed, docile and compliant with their little slice of paradise. Or something.

From there, I hopped the bus back to Guanabo for another fantastic dinner with the family.

Me vs. cherimoya

Me vs. cherimoya


Guanabo beach

Guanabo beach


Guanabo beach

Guanabo beach


Broken hotel now a hangout

Broken hotel now a hangout


Demolished

Demolished


Reflective beach

Reflective beach


Reflective beach

Reflective beach


La pina

La pina


Crab somewhere in there

Crab somewhere in there


Me vs. lobster

Me vs. lobster

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

To the beach!

In the morning, I decided to go down to the stand where I bought those cheap sandals, that gave me blisters on the back of my heels. They are beautiful, but there is a piece of plastic that digs in and cuts everything there.

So, I went down there, but no one was there. I decided to go and find the alleyway of art on the other side of the neighbourhood.

My feet in excruciating pain, I kept going and found the alleyway. It was pretty neat, but busy and full of tourists, so I turned the corner and found a few young backpackers sitting on the curb and enjoying some breakfast.

I started talking english to them and told them about my feet. One of the ladies gave me some amazing bandaids that helped a lot.

I hobbled back to the shoe stand and after some pleading in broken english, they offered to cut the plastic out. That helped a lot too.

Then, I was off for the bus station downtown. I hopped the peso bus and then switched downtown for the Guanabo bus.

When I got there, it was not far to the casa I was staying at. I did, however, have to walk around a massive lake that had formed in the middle of a road, made of sewage and garbage to get there.

Most of the family was hanging out in the kitchen and backyard and I found them easily. The woman who did most of the work for the casa showed me my beautiful room and took me to the mall for water.

We agreed to meet back for dinner after I spent a few hours at the beach.

I took my book and read when suddenly I heard this massive thump behind me. A farmer dude was taking coconuts off of the tree! He climbed up there with an apparatus made from a rope and cut them down with a giant blade. I watched him for a while and went back to my book.

Suddenly, I heard,

"Nina, nina!" and he gave me a coconut which he had cut open to drink from. The juice was still warm from the sun and it was extremely touching that this man, who had almost nothing, is so generous to give a coconut to the chubby white girl lounging on the beach. Before I had a chance to thank him, he was gone off down the road in his horse drawn buggy.

Back at the ranch, as soon as I returned, a really strong wind storm began and the family started boarding up the house! The power went out a few times and I was hoping there would be some sort of crazy hurricane or something.

For dinner, the woman and her mom, Mirtha, prepared a giant feast. I was not encouraged to eat with them, they set up all the food on a table in the dining room for me. The woman sat and talked while I ate, and explained to me what it was that I was eating. I had a few bites of what I thought was pork. I asked what it was, and she kept repeating, "Tortuga tortuga!" I wasn't really getting it, but then she finally got out the dictionary and I learned that meant turtle. She went on to tell me very proudly, how she manages to buy black market tortuga from fishermen in the area.

It was delicious, but was I eating something endangered??? I stopped after that.

Leo and Rocky

Leo and Rocky


Old car

Old car


Callejon de Hammel

Callejon de Hammel


Callejon de Hammel

Callejon de Hammel


Mirtha's daughter

Mirtha's daughter


Me vs. "tortuga"

Me vs. "tortuga"


Small banana

Small banana

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

YOUR TITS ARE AWESOME!

I decided not to walk very far today, so I wore my new shoes to the Plaza de la Revolucion. OK, super historic and very monumental. It feels like Washington DC in a way. I went to the top of the tower but you were not allowed to take a camera unless you paid extra. There were a couple of ladies from France who I managed to speak a little bit of French to.

I walked back home, which wasn't far, but I was determined not to walk anymore that day, and I didn't.

I slept some more and another couchsurfer from Italy came along.

Leo and I went out for mojitos, where I was accosted by a young English teacher. He thought it was a compliment to invite me to become one of his five girlfriends that he has all over the world.

I told him to have fun with his STIs and he shot back and told me, I was probably the one with diseases.

You see, in his spare time he is a DJ. That impresses North American girls, you know. When I shot him down and stormed out of the bar, he yelled back at me "YOUR TITS ARE AWESOME".

Thanks for pointing that out, genius. Because I had no idea.

Leo was over on the other side of the bar, oblivious to what was going on. He didn't even notice me leave and walk home by myself.

Plaza de la Revolucion

Plaza de la Revolucion


Plaza de la Revolucion

Plaza de la Revolucion


Me vs. mojito

Me vs. mojito

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

I mutilate my feet in Old Havana

I-Juan teaches me how to take the one peso bus to the old part of town. There are churches and plazas there dating back to the 1500s. Cuba is one of the first places in North America to be explored by the Europeans.

I stop for a break at the only brew pub in the city and try and relax, while tourists circling like sharks try and get me to leave from my table. I went to the washroom and came back to find some eager beer drinkers angling for my place, trying to figure out who left half a pint of beer on the table...

"Um, I was sitting here, thanks..." and they meekly walked away.

Nothing too exciting happened except that I kind of bluffed my way into the rooftop pool at Hotel Saratoga, one of the swankiest places in Havana.

At the door, I told the guards I was going up to the pool. They let me through and then I quickly got changed and jumped in the pool for a few laps. Afterwards, I sat down and read a book. When the bartender came by with a list of way overpriced drinks I said no. That's when they figured out I wasn't an actual guest at the hotel. I told the security guard I was in room 309, but that bluff was again found to be manufactured, and they kicked me out. I ran to the bus station and got lost in the crowds... never to be found by security guards again.

The bus eventually came and I went back home to La Rampa. I bought some new sandals on the way home, thinking they would help my feet. They didn't.

I took a nap and Leo woke me up with the smell of slowly cooked and perfectly seasoned chicken pieces.

Fresh guava for breakfast

Fresh guava for breakfast


El Capitolio

El Capitolio


Walkway

Walkway


Used books at Plaza De Armas

Used books at Plaza De Armas


Iglesia de la Catedral

Iglesia de la Catedral


Iglesia de la Catedral

Iglesia de la Catedral


Plaza Vieja

Plaza Vieja


Plaza de la Catedral

Plaza de la Catedral


Typical revolution mural

Typical revolution mural


Me vs. cerveza negre

Me vs. cerveza negre


On top of Hotel Saraoga

On top of Hotel Saraoga


Me vs. Hotel Saratoga

Me vs. Hotel Saratoga


Hotel Saratoga

Hotel Saratoga


Leo and I-Juan

Leo and I-Juan


Me vs. chicken

Me vs. chicken


MY FEET SUCK

MY FEET SUCK

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

Impulsive trip to Havana

Finding myself this side of America and with a week to kill before I started my new job as an Apple email support advisor, I decided to go somewhere that has nothing to do with America.

Obviously, it's Cuba. There are TONS of chartered flights leaving Toronto for Varadero all the time, so I hopped on the cheapest one of those (Air Canada Vacations) and made a beeline for Havana.

After only a three hour direct (!!!) flight, also in the SAME time zone, I found myself in Varadero. Upon arriving at the airport, everyone and their mom is trying to get you to take their bus to Havana for the low price of $25. I happen to know that the Viazul bus takes the exact same route for only $10, so I waited for about an hour for it to show up.

In the meantime, I chatted with a lady from Havana, while being observed and blatantly videoed and photographed by a construction worker at the airport.

Strange.

Finally, the Viazul came and I had a little snooze on the way to Havana. When I got there, everyone jumps on you to try and get you a place to stay or a taxi to your casa particular. I said no to everyone and just walked all the way to La Rampa, where I was staying.

I had my big bag of toys for kids in tow on a set of very small wheels. It got stuck on the crumbling sidewalks often. I had written the address to my casa down wrongly, but I found myself on the right block. I asked a nice guy selling CDs if he could call on his cell phone for me, but before he even pushed send, I heard a voice calling from the other side of the street.

"Ms. Brown?"

"Yes?"

"I was worried about you! Let's go," and he grabbed my big bag and crossed the street. I was only on the wrong side of the road.

Leo and I-Juan's house is an amazing old mansion built probably in the 1940s, when Americans were still allowed to visit Cuba. It's Leo's aunt's house, and he is not allowed to sell the house or leave it behind, if he ever decides to leave. He told me that the government would appropriate it if he ever did.

Anywho... once I got a minute to sit down, I immediately took off my sandals and it felt so amazing. I did not realize how much pain I was in. I took a shower and realized that my feet had the most awful blisters I'd ever seen.... in. my. life.

Oh crap. The Chacos that I had loved so dearly and had served me so well last summer walking all over Baltimore/Boston/Washington/Quebec had let me down. *tear*

I decided to still go around and see the sights, no matter how I was feeling. This only made things worse. I went to the top of the highest tower in the city, and had a couple of drinks. People in Cuba consider $2.50 drinks expensive. Two of them would probably be a week's salary...

On the way back, I spotted some kids in a park playing baseball. I tried to communicate that I would come back and bring them toys and they understood enough to wait for me.

I came back and brought them, and there was this giant feeding frenzy of kids jumping all over the bag and some of them managed to say "I'm happy," to me before I left the park.

I went back and ate dinner with Leo and I-Juan, yum.

The bus to Havana

The bus to Havana


Me vs. Viazul

Me vs. Viazul


Roadside stop

Roadside stop


Highway

Highway


Maximo Gomez plaza

Maximo Gomez plaza


Le Malecon

Le Malecon


Le Malecon

Le Malecon


Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Hotel Nacional de Cuba


My room in Havana

My room in Havana


Bathroom

Bathroom


Hallway

Hallway


View from La Torre

View from La Torre


Me vs. La Torre

Me vs. La Torre


View from La Torre

View from La Torre


View from La Torre

View from La Torre


A mansion

A mansion


More mansions

More mansions


Church beside my house

Church beside my house


Avenida de los Presidentes

Avenida de los Presidentes


Avenida de los Presidentes

Avenida de los Presidentes


They are really playing dominoes

They are really playing dominoes

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)