Make some friends on the flight because you would want to share the extortionate 25 (CUC) cab ride into the city. If you form a group in front of the taxis, they will refuse. If your legs are good, we were told that the public bus stop is 3km away from the airport which will cost you a handful of CUP (Tourist currency vs local currency, 1CUC=25CUP).
We took a cab to Hotel Nacional and walked through Vedado passing by Avenida de los presidentes and Plaza de la revolucion to the Viazul bus station about 6km away, due the timing of the Viazul departing to Santa Clara. It was quite a long walk especially with heavy back packs, but if us city people can do it most people can.
Ropa Vieja the traditional shredded beef dish was really good at Paladar Los Amigos along the way, but the roast chicken disappointingly tasteless and dry. The security at the famous Coppelia ice cream directed us to the tourist section (payment by CUC), but we would have liked to know if the throngs of Cubans waiting in line paid the CUP equivalent of 2 CUC as well (more expensive than magnum in other places). We stopped by a beer shack when 1km away from the bus station, which was a nice welcome to Cuban amiability.
The biggest mistake we made was listening to the concierge in Hotel Habana Libre about not needing printouts of Viazul tickets. That got us into a 1 hour mess at the station due to their strict policy, and the printing shop nearby had closed by that time. After much begging and pleading did one of the staff help us print it on fax paper though a USB transfer, and we heaved a sigh of relief. Then we were on our way to Santa Clara.
After coming back from Trinidad, we found out that our casa particulares owner had no clue we were supposed to arrive, despite the confirmation email that we had received (probably through a centralised IT system). She nevertheless welcomed us after cleaning the room. Obama and The Rolling Stones were there during that week and being told some hotels did not have running water, we thus did not feel so bad about the rat in our room.
We did not think much of Chinatown without the Chinese, but enjoyed our personal salsa lessons at La Casa del Son. We walked through most of the old city in one day, choosing the museum of revolution to visit. It is thought provoking and quite unmissable, with most exhibits in both languages, and plenty of information about their warring with the USA until after Castro came to power. The restaurant Esto No Es Un Cafe had great tasting, well thought out food, and we uncovered some great rice and meat meals, espresso and yoghurt in the small local shacks. Eating Jamon Y Queso spaghetti/Pizza from the windows was rather depressing, but necessary during the late supper hours when out for dancing sessions.