2 April 2016

Cuba



Hola and welcome to Cuba. Well apart from missing President Obama and the Rolling Stones I've had a great holiday. 

We were en-route from Vinales to Trinidad on the day Mr Obama arrived and our holiday ended the day before the Stones concert! 
Seriously bad timing.

There's so much to say about Havana, it's an exciting city, lots of museums, cafe's, shops, colour, peeling glamour, diesel fumes mingling with tantalising aftershaves, and of course lots of rumba and salsa.


Our trip started in Havana, staying at the Inglaterra Hotel, located in the heart of the city overlooking Parque Central with Old Havana and many popular sights within easy walking distance. Founded in 1875 it is the oldest hotel in Cuba, and was declared a national monument in 1981. In its heyday it was an elegant, graceful building featuring a beautiful neoclassical facade with a colonial period atmosphere. The interior decor features stained-glass windows, colourful mosaics and intricately decorated ceilings. Considering how old it is and the restraints imposed on refurbishing materials it still maintains a grand feeling. 



This is how I pictured my room would be


This is what I got. It was fine. It had a balcony overlooking the square, air conditioning and the bed was comfortable. 


The bathroom however left a lot to be desired, whoever placed the toilet there must have had a warped sense of humour! But the water was hot and the hairdryer worked.
The room I had at the end of the holiday had a much better bathroom. They are slowly renovating all the rooms.


In house salsa and rumba bands perform on the veranda at the front of the hotel


Fancy an attractive sandwich :-)



Getting around: on foot; these cute little Coco taxis


horse and carriage; three wheeled cycles; licensed yellow taxis; buses


and my favourites, the gleaming chrome American cars


We chose this lovely pink one for a tour of the city. I was trying to do a sophisticated Audrey Hepburn look!! ha ha

The circular tour took us all round the city visiting China Town, the university, hospital, various government buildings, Revolution Square, John Lennon Park finishing with a drive along the Malecon (beach side promenade)


The University



Revolution Square is dominated by the Jose Marti Memorial. At 109m tall, it's one of tallest buildings in Cuba. 

Top right is an image of revolutionary guerrilla fighter Camilo Cienfuegos in the front of the building of the Ministry of Informatics and Communications. The legend says: "Vas bien, Fidel" ((You're doing fine, Fidel). 
Bottom right is the Che Guevara building.



I think Che was quite a handsome guy.




John Lennon Park. The sculpture is by Cuban artist Jose Villa Soberon. On a marble tile at the foot of the bench there is an inscription reading "Dirás que soy un soñador pero no soy el único" which is a Spanish translation of "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one," from the song "Imagine"
Lennon's signature round-lens glasses have been stolen or vandalized several times, so now during the day a security guard can be found sitting next to the bench, and he will place glasses on the statue on request. How good is that.



Oh he was a handsome young man, and the accent............... ahem....um...er.. where was I...  oh yes


Our tour finished back at the square in front of the very impressive El Capitolio, or National Capitol Building. It's based on the White House building in Washington DC but marginally taller and much richer in detail. 




In La Habana Vieja (The Old Town) many buildings have been beautifully restored as a result of the UNESCO World Heritage Site designation fund.  



Restoration is an ongoing process. Many of the large grand buildings around Havana are being converted into hotels. 


But for every street that is renovated there are many more that will have to wait, hopefully not too long if countries and governments now start to invest in Cuba.


President Obama's visit was a good opportunity for a face lift. Roadworks, painting and maintenance projects were taking place all around the city. The tarmacing was done along the full length of the road outside our hotel. It was left tacky overnight, you could walk a short way up to the theatre to cross but most people just walked over it, it made a heck of a mess in the lobby of our hotel. It looked good when it was finished.



The theatre next door to our hotel is a beautiful building 



inside


and at night time


Lunch near the Cathedral




The Cathedral is very pretty inside



In the tower at the top of the building on the left is the Camara Oscura, a clever optical device providing live, 360-degree views of the city. It was very good with explanations in Spanish and English.



This darling little girl was delightful, she was dancing and excited by the pigeons. 
The exquisite “statue” had pigeon food in his hand and his hat on the ground. 


The beautiful Russian Orthodox Church



Ladies in traditional Cuban dress


Street Life
Top left: this band were very good, the girl had a lovely singing voice and played the flute beautifully. 
Top right: I wonder if Ernest Hemingway ever sat here to have his shoes polished?




I hope you have enjoyed your tour of Havana

Up next: Vinales, Trinidad and Hemingway

8 comments:

  1. You certainly took us on a great tour, what a wonderful place to visit.

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    1. Thank you mama, it was all I hoped it would be x

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  2. I deeply regret never visiting Moscow before Starbucks et al moved in. I should not make the same mistake with Havana. What an experience. And the climate ain't 'alf bad..

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    1. Hello Jessica, I feel the same about Moscow, which is why I wanted to visit Cuba now. I hope it doesn't change too much for the worse x

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  3. I understand that Mick and Barack are upset about not seeing you. You've taken some excellent photos, I'm now going back for another look at them.

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    1. ha ha, yes I didn't want to brag :-). Thank you for the compliment John.

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  4. Loved it very much to see all the pictures of a place I have never been.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, I'm so pleased you enjoyed it x

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