Getting around in Havana

One of Havana’s great pluses is a double-decker hop-on hop-off bus that tours the city. Tickets are $5 for the day. It’s a great deal even though it isn’t perfect. You have to tell the driver if you want to get off; there are only a few places where it always stops. One of those is the Plaza de la Revolucion, a highly touted city tourist draw that is — to my mind — just a huge parking lot ringed by government buildings that feature giant images of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos (another Cuban revolutionary but less well known outside Cuba.)

I visited the Plaza four or five times because the bus stopped there coming and going, and when I rented a classic car for an hour’s tour of the city, my driver insisted on stopping there as well and giving me a chance to take more pictures.

Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana. You can see Che's face everywhere but I was surprised how rare it is to see a picture of Fidel Castro.

Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana. You can see Che’s face everywhere but I was surprised how rare it is to see a picture of Fidel Castro.

I have a story about the bus. At the end of one day, I took the last bus from Parque Central about 5:00 in the afternoon. Locals take it as well as tourists, if it’s convenient for them. I doubt they pay tourist prices for it.

Four local women got on when I did and went to the upper level. They got off somewhere along the Malecon and the bus continued. Almost immediately, another vehicle passed us and the driver yelled something to the bus driver. Piecing together what happened, I think he told the driver that one of the women who had got off had left something behind.

The bus driver pulled over and went upstairs and came down with a bag of shopping. Much discussion between him and the woman conductor taking the tickets, and we continued.

As soon as we came to a place where he could reverse direction, he turned and drove back about a mile. At some point he saw one of the women, pulled over and she got on to take her bag. She was very thankful. I doubt they knew each other because there was no hand-shaking or kissing which is very common amongst acquaintances.

The bus driver retraced his route by a mile at least to return this woman's shopping bag. She was very grateful for it.

The bus driver retraced his route by a mile at least to return this woman’s shopping bag. She was very grateful for it.

The driver drove until he found a spot where he could turn the bus again and we could continue on our way.

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