Posts Tagged ‘taxi’

Itinerary

July 5, 2019

I got on it today!

I mean.

I really did a lot of travel prep for my upcoming trip to Havana, Cuba.

I got my passport out.

I slowly, painstakingly, double, triple, quadruple checked how to fill out my Visa, then I filled it our correctly.

I got traveler’s health insurance.

You have to have proof of insurance for entry into Cuba, and though I am fairly certain my health insurance was ok, I didn’t want to risk being turned away for not having the proper insurance or paperwork.  So.  I just used the health insurance that Cuba Travel Services, who I used to procure my Visa, recommended

Frankly, $55 was worth not having to worry about anything.

Then.

I started booking things through Air BnB.

The Visa I am traveling under is in the category of “Support of Cuban People” which is not a traditional tourist Visa, nor was it one of the two categories the current administration squashed.

“People to People” got pulled and so did the Visa that folks use if they’re on a cruise ship.

But.

In “Support of Cuban People” is still legitimate.

Plus I did my research and what I found was that Visa’s granted before the current restrictions were put in place will be honored.

I got my Visa in the mail the day before the sanctions came down.

I am so grateful that I listened to the little voice inside which told me to take care of my Visa before I traveled.

So, so, so glad.

I will have some restrictions on what I can and can’t do with this Visa, and frankly, I’m not bothered by them at all.

I can’t shop at military run or government supported stores or businesses.

Or stay in hotels operated by the government.

No big deal.

I am staying at a private residence that is called a “casa particular” which is pretty much a family owned bed and breakfast.

I had looked up some on Air BnB, but found nothing that was quite the right fit, then I googled for places and stumbled upon a Forbes article that called the place I’m staying one of the best secrets in Old Havana and I checked it out and made a request.

And.

Yes!

They have a room for me.

For 40 Cuban Peso a night including a full breakfast.

I’m pretty sure I posted up about the place before, but I really excited that I landed in such a sweet spot.

Plus, it’s in Old Havana, which is pretty much where I want to spend most of my time anyway.

I’ll be staying in one of the Art Deco rooms in Hostal Chez Nous next to La Habana Vieja, the old square.

I will pay when I arrive.

They don’t accept American credit cards for reservations.  I literally printed off the confirmation e-mail and I present that and the money in Cuban peso for my 8 night stay.

320 Cuban Peso.

For 8 nights including a full Cuban breakfast.

Seriously good deal.

And since I will have to bring plenty of cash, first converting to Euro because the exchange rate is better for Euro than the American dollar, I decided I would preemptively book some activities.

I had never really delved into the Air BnB activities before, really only just used it to book rooms for myself when I have traveled.

New York.

D.C.

New Orleans.

Paris.

I tend to do pretty well finding what I want to see and do without having to deal with a tour guide or the like.

But a friend of mine had gone Havana within this last year and sent me a private message about places to go and things to do that he highly recommended and two of them were Air BnB experiences.

So.

I checked it out and I was pleasantly surprised.

One.

As I can pre-pay for them and thus not have to carry as much cash on my person.

And two, that all the activities I booked fall under my Visa category, “Support of Cuban People” which made me very happy.

Most of the sites I researched suggested that it would be very unlikely that I would be asked for an itinerary, but just in case, I can show one in which every day I am doing something to support the Cuban people.

My first day in I didn’t book anything.

I was going to, but I figured I’ll be jet lagged and tired and may just want to check into the casa and chill out.

Maybe wander around a little bit and take myself out to dinner in the neighborhood, but nothing serious.

The second day I am going to go to La Marca  Havana’s only legal tattoo shop, also it’s first tattoo shop.  It is also an art gallery and what appears to be a pretty hipster little scene.  I tried to book online with them but it bounced back.  So I’m just going to show up and ask for a walk in appointment.

It’s in Old Havana and maybe a ten minute walk from where I’m staying.

I also plan on going shopping at Clandestina, Havana’s first independent clothing company that happens to be run completely by women.

I’m so in.

Next, yes, yes, I did.

I booked a classic car ride to tour the seawall and cruise along the Malecon.

Ironically, I’ll need to take a taxi to get there, but I couldn’t help but want to do at least one cruise around Havana in a classic car, I mean, really, I had to.

Wednesday I left pretty open.

I figure museums and cafes and I booked a couple of hours with an art student from the university to take me on a photo tour.

This I’m looking forward to, I love street art, and off the beaten track and that’s what this seems to be.  This was also the activity my friend raved about, so two hours in the afternoon wandering around taking pictures with a local student.

Totally down.

Thursday I picked a big adventure, basically committed myself to twelve hours of tour.

I booked a historical tour to the Vinales Valley, tobacco farms, coffee farms, a tour through some of the famous caves and horseback riding in and out of the valley.

What really nailed it for me was that they host come and pick you up where you are staying and drop you back off.

There’s no Uber there.

No Lyft.

I don’t speak Spanish.

Not much really, a few tiny phrases, and something about haggling with a taxi cab driver or getting lost really doesn’t sound like fun for me, so having the pressure taken off by getting picked up and dropped back off really sold me.

Plus.

Ahem.

The ride there and back is in a classic 50s convertible.

Um.

Hehe.

Yes please.

Friday I’ll be doing a ferry trip over the bay to a little known spot in Havana called Regla.  There was something about the trip that appealed.  I don’t know the neighborhood, but I like that it’s a tour guided by a women who is an art history graduate who lives with her grandmother and shows off the markets in the neighborhood.

Plus.

Ferry boat ride.

I’m a sucker for a ferry boat.

Then Friday night I am going clubbing.

But not by myself.

I’m a pretty self-assured woman, but I didn’t want to hit the clubs solo, but there was one place I really wanted to go, FAC The Cuban Art Factory, a gallery space with art and music and djs and it looks like the place to go.

I connected with a couple of women on Air BnB who I will meet up at a cafe and head over to the club and hang out with and get the lowdown and have a safety net.  Really quite pleased with this.

Saturday I’m doing a farm to table lunch with a local chef and then.

And then.

And then.

Holy shit.

It happened.

I was able to book a night with the Buena Vista Social Club!

I am over the fucking moon.

The experience was sold out the last time I looked and it appears that more shows go added.

Basically this lovely older woman books a dinner table for you at the club, you meet her, she’s bought your ticket, you hang out with her and two or three other folks, eat dinner at the club and get to see the floor show and hear the band play.

Never in a million years did I imagine when I bought that compact disc so many moons ago in Madison that I would actually be going to Havana and getting to see a performance of the Buena Vista Social Club.

Fuck.

I feel so grateful.

Sunday morning I’m doing a cultural market and food tour with a lunch to follow with a lovely women who after I booked asked if I wanted to be included in a trip to the beach, Santa Maria beach.

Why yes.

Yes.

Yes I do.

So after the market and lunch I will go with her in a, yes, heh, classic convertible to the beach for a few hours of swimming and laying in the oh so white sand.

Pinch me.

Seriously.

Who’s life is this?

My last day in Havana I want to relax and chill out so I sent a query off to the Manzana Hotel to book a spa pass for their rooftop pool and spa facilities.

60 Cuban peso is not the cheapest, but the pool is so pretty.

I figure book a massage, lay out by the pool and just relax before I head back to the foggy fog.

I am so pleased.

And very excited.

So excited.

It feels really good to have this planned out.

And really.

I don’t think I could have done anything much better with my fourth of July holiday than work on the details for this trip.

Seriously.

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A Long Strange Day

May 12, 2017

But.

I’m here.

Whew.

It took a minute.

I have been in transit for a long time and it’s nice to finally be situated, although I won’t be here but the night.

I am at Mama Shelter, 109 Rue de Bagnolet, and happy to have finally figured out the internet, and gotten myself fed and sorted out.

I had an unexpected delay at Charles de Gaulle that threw me for about two hours.

My flight got in right on time, which is awesome, since my first flight had to stay aloft for 40 minutes to be cleared for landing and that meant a sprint, well, a fast hobble, to my connecting flight, which I made, but yes, heh, I broke a sweat to get to.

Yeesh.

I also got a bright orange card to wave at everyone I ran through to get to the gate, I don’t know how I did it, I just did, up and down a couple of escalators, on a train, through the crowds at Heathrow and I made it just as they closed the gate, I was allowed on and even got to bring on my carry one, which technically for the size of the plane was too big.

I got through customs quickly and I got a quirky smile from the French security when he saw my tattoo and got waved quickly in.

Then.

It happened.

On my way to purchase the Museum Pass–pro-tip to any one traveling to Paris, buy the Museum Pass at the airport.  You can buy it at the museum you go to, but you have to stand in line, which is a pain, and the whole point of getting the pass is to not stand in line.

So.

I see my trusted Banque de Postale, which is where I traditionally pulled money from when I lived here and inserted my card.

And it got denied.

I lost my breath.

I got faint of heart.

Hmm.

Maybe I asked for more than my limit.

I tried again.

Transaction denied.

Fuck me.

I started to panic.

I was hot and cold all at the same time.

I had set my travel alert, it should have been able to allow me access to my funds.

Fortunately I got myself together enough to sit down and pull out my laptop and log into the WiFi at Charles de Gaulle and I saw, yup, “suspicious activity” reported on my account and I had to call the bank.

Fuck my mother.

I had the hardest time dialing out.

I finally got some assistance from a very sweet woman at the information desk and together we figured out how to place the long distance, COLLECT, call to my bank.

I am scared to see what my phone bill is going to be, I was on and off hold for ever.

I was finally able to get through to a live person who rectified everything, assured me I would be able to use my card and sent me back to the Banque de Postale to use my card.

And.

Motherfucker.

It was denied again.

I was going to melt into the floor and dissolve into tears.

I did not.

I rallied.

I also noted I was getting marked by a pick pocket, so I gathered myself, looked him in the eye and made sure he was aware that I was aware that he was casing me.

He skulked off and not a minute later a cop strolled by.

I got back on the phone with my bank, more holding, more transfers, three different service people and finally, FINALLY, they over rode the system so that I could use my card.

I kept the woman on the phone with me until I had successfully made a withdrawal, thanked her profusely and then promptly went and bought myself an iced coffee.

Then I went to the Toursime desk and purchased a four-day museum pass.

It’s the first time I bought the four-day one.

I am going to get my museum on people.

I said, screw the train, I’m over it, I had planned on being settled at my hotel and out strolling the neighborhood for a few hours, not stuck at the airport, so I hopped a cab.

And.

Hahahaha.

Got stuck in rush hour traffic.

ARGH.

It’s funny now, but at the time I was just like really, REALLY?

Enough already.

Then.

I just breathed.

I am ok, I have money, I am in a taxi, I’ll get to the hotel, I will brush my teeth and wash and put on some perfume and go have a nice meal.

And that’s exactly what I did.

I ask the super sweet, super friendly front desk guy what his favorite place was in the neighborhood and he directed me to this sweet little bistro Blaise et Brasil.

I had a salmon tartar.

Veloute avec chou (silky smooth cauliflower soup with truffle oil and crisped kale).

Fromage, (cheese plate with greens) two kinds, a Gruyère and another I don’t know what it was, but I made a very happy face eating it.

A bottle of Perrier.

And a cafe creme.

Heaven.

Welcome back baby.

I probably won’t be able to sleep for having had a coffee at 10 p.m.

But fuck it.

I’m in Paris and it felt really good to sit and eat and watch the people walking by and the patrons in the cafe.

I spoke French in totality and in fact, was able to make a funny joke with the table next to me as the waitress brought them my bill and not theirs that I really appreciated the kindness of strangers.

It was sweet.

And I feel settled now.

Writing this certainly helped, it always does.

It is just a damn good way to process all the stuff that happened and help me see, with perspective and humor that I am fine and things happen and I get to roll with it and still be grateful.

Hell my cabbie dropped my fare by 7 Euro when he dropped me off.

Of course, he also gave me his phone number, so maybe he had an ulterior motive, but it was sweet, we were stuck in traffic for close to an hour, I was grateful.

And now.

Well.

I am going to try to get a little rest.

I know.

There’s not much for the wicked.

But.

I shall try.

Bon soiree mes amies!

Bisoux.

 

 

Second Wind

December 13, 2015

And I have no idea where it came from.

Maybe the adrenalin of riding my scooter through the Mission and over the hills towards the Outer Sunset on a Saturday night.

Oh.

Yeah.

With the left over drunken idiots of what used to actually be a cool San Francisco treat.

Santa Con.

Look drunk hipster santa with drunk elf in fishnets, get the fuck out of the way, I just came from Psychoanalytic class and I am not interested in either your psycho-sexual dramas or your apparent desire to play out the Death Drive in jumping out into the street looking for your Uber, Lyft, taxi or other vehicle of conveyance.

Get ye the fuck back to the North Pole or wherever the fuck in the Marina you came from.

Please.

And.

Thank you.

It could be that I just had a second wind because I had to take the time to run to the grocery store, I slightly miscalculated my food for the week, no biggie, but without something to toss in my oatmeal in the morning, apple, etc, I was going to be a very sad lady.

So.

I dashed in and out of the SafeWay in the Castro, which was happily devoid of trashed Santa’s and drunk elves, although definitely equipped with a plethora of cranky trolls working the registers.

I got what I needed and jumped back on the scooter and actually made it inside my house by 9p.m.

I have no idea how the hell that happened.

I left class at 8p.m.

Happy to make such a quick trip and feeling adrenalin from the mad grocery dash and the defensive driving back home, I used it and threw in a load of laundry, packed my lunch for tomorrow, balanced my check book, opened and hung up a few Christmas cards and threw myself in the shower.

I am still jacked up.

I didn’t have any coffee past 10:30 a.m.

Although I could have used one and I thought about it.

Nope.

This is pure herbal tea and adrenalin.

I suppose I am just getting the end of the semester, almost there, keep pushing through, last day of classes is tomorrow, shot of energy.

I do hope that it wears off before I crawl into bed.

The last two nights I did not sleep well.

And I thought after Friday’s full day of classes and little sleep I would totally have gotten some.

But I was up.

I had a bit on my mind.

Blocking someone’s number out of my phone and the ramifications of how and when to set some boundaries really came up for me.

I didn’t really write about it last night as I was caught up in the spell of Christmas magic, but yeah, I have had some uncomfortable interactions with a person and through my own fault, I fully concede I let them step all over my boundaries, a situation that I could have rectified by choosing to not engage with the person, well.

It blew up.

Not, I suppose as bad as it could.

But for a minute there with the text messages coming in rapid fire and the tone and quantity of them.

I got a little spooked.

I have a history of having dealt with some trauma around a romantic relationship that turned sour and the man who I had dated and lived with for five years, after a rough break up, started to stalk me.

That continued for two years.

I will not say this person was stalking me.

I just felt that old fear come up.

And I realized that I was the person who invited it into my home.

I was mad at myself.

But then.

After the awareness.

Fast acceptance.

I don’t believe I have moved so fast from awareness of a defect of character to acceptance.

It rolled right through me.

I forgave myself and realized that I had failed to listen to my gut in regards to the person a long time ago and that listening to my gut is important.

I have been listening.

I hear rumblings, but don’t know what they are associated with and then I start to have feelings and those feelings I ignore.

So.

No more ignoring.

And then some action.

I did some inventory.

I erased the messages.

Actually I was busy erasing them as they came in.

I probably erased ten or twelve of them in rapid succession, then I realized I needed to call in the troops and I got on the phone and talked with someone, checked in, got my suggestions.

Got off the phone.

Deleted more messages that had come in during the conversation.

Then gave myself a big pause.

Took a big breath.

Prayed.

And organized my self.

Picked up my phone.

Scripted a very simple text.

Word for word what had been suggested to me.

Sent it out.

Blocked the contact in my phone.

I had already taken the person off my facecrack friends list earlier in the day.

Perhaps an early warning sign that something was on the horizon.

I will likely see this person next week.

We swim in the same waters, so to speak.

And I am ok with that.

I don’t believe there will be face to face confrontation, in fact, had the person called, I would have taken it, but the mass texting was too freaky and after one very pointed, passive aggressive, manipulative text, I had no inclination to speak with the person on the phone.

That option went right out the window.

I learned some powerful things and I acknowledged deep in myself that I knew this was coming.

Which may have been why I let it go as long as it did.

Not healthy.

Not for me, not for the other person.

However, I am not, will not, beat myself up for the experience.

In my own limited way, I was trying to be of service.

And the other person, well, I believe, too, was trying to do the best that could be done.

That’s what I believe.

That at the bottom of it all.

We are good people.

Communication sometimes goes astray.

And sometimes I need to have space from a person.

That is ok.

I get to be grateful for the time and the growth experience.

And I hope to rest well soon.

One more day of classes, and I found out my day will end a little early, 3:30p.m. instead of 4p.m., a nice gift for the last day of classes.

Almost there.

One final presentation project and two papers to go.

And.

Like that.

My first semester of graduate school.

I am utterly amazed.

And still unfortunately.

Wide awake.

Oh well.

So it goes.

At least I have a Christmas tree to keep me warm and bright.

And dreams of Paris soon to come.

Did you think I forgot?

Ha.


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