Monday, September 04, 2006

Travel tips

Ask Tom. That’s the name of an advisory column that appears every Sunday in the travel section of The Observer newspaper in the United Kingdom.

The latest column has some important advice from a reader called Kevin Dangerfield (that’s what it says), for Poms travelling to Cuba who may be considering hiring a car and driving around the island.

“In response to the recent question about driving in Cuba, I have done so and my advice would be to forget it,” writes Mr Dangerfield. “I have driven through much of Africa and the Middle East but would not contemplate driving in Cuba again.”

He then proceeds to provide some timely advice should you insist on getting behind the wheel:

Get a good road map – but buy it at home, not in Cuba. Cuban road maps are “pretty useless”, as “outside Havana, the towns and villages do not have any identifying signs and there are no distance markers”.

Avoid driving after dark. Even the main roads are of “variable standard”, adding: “Tarmac is a luxury and can disappear quickly without warning. Traffic includes donkey carts and slow moving tractors with no lights. Pedestrians trying to hitch a lift are common and have a disturbing tendency to wander into the path of any car to get it to slow down.”

As for the standard of vehicle maintenance, Mr Dangerfield describes it as “poor”, even for hire cars that are normally reserved for tourists.

Still, he concludes that Cuba is “a wonderful” place. But not for drivers. Or dissidents, I suspect.


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