May 2013 ... Cuba ... 1404

 Click to see a larger image

The Capitolio dominates Havana's skyline.  It is taller than the one in Washington, D.C. but, like most of Havana, it is not getting any maintenance.  As pretty as it is, it is crumbling and, as many other places in Cuba, closed down. We used the bicycle rickshaws several times.  Click for an even larger image.
 Click to see a larger image

The rickshaw took us to La Floridita, one of Hemingway's many favourite drinking holes.  In this one, he supposedly helped invent the daiquiri, so it is the "Home of Daiquiri" ...  Click for an even larger image.
 Click to see a larger image

... and, to finish the rickshaw tour on our first evening in Havana, we went to the Old Square in front of the Cathedral and had dinner under the full moon.  What a change: a month ago, full moon for us was in Tikal, this time in Havana.  Click for an even larger image.
 Click to see a larger image

On our way from the airport, we got lost.  We found this restaurant which served fried rice with chunks of pig skin (some hair still on it).  Celebrating 54th anniversary of the revolution!  Click for a larger image
Click to see a larger image

We found our hotel, on the Malecon and they gave us the best room in the house, on the top floor (with only one lift working!), with a view of the old fort on one side, the sea in front and the waterfront on the other side. 
Click for a larger image.
 Click to see a larger image

Next day, we walked to Plaza de Armas, a beautiful old square.  Restored squares and buildings are surrounded by streets and streets full of buildings that are falling apart due to total neglect.  Click for a larger image
Click to see a larger image

In the Plaza, in front of the old palace, there was a splendid show ... every two years, they do the "Huella de España" festival and this was the finale.  Click for a larger image.
 Click to see a larger image

Click to see a larger image

Many groups performed dances from various parts of Spain, starting with little kids, then teenagers and adults.  Very colourful.  Spain certainly has left a deep mark on Cuba.  Click for a larger image
 Click to see a larger image

Click for a larger image
Click to see a larger image

Then we drove out of Havana. Like in a 1950's movie. Click for a larger image
Click to see a larger image

Lorraine's father used to drive a green car like this a long time ago in New Orleans.  We found one in Havana!
 Click to see a larger image

We drove to Finca Vigia, Hemingway's house in the hills, overlooking Havana.  This young model greeted us on the doorstep.  Click for a larger image
Click to see a larger image

In the garden is his fishing boat, the Pilar. And the cemetery of some of his dogs.  He lived here, on and off, for over 20 years and wrote books.
 Click to see a larger image

Hemingway had a very comfortable house, with doors and windows on all sides, a breeze flowing through. He left it behind after the revolution. Click for a larger image.

 Click to see a larger image

A "coco taxi" in Havana. Click for a larger image.
Click to see a larger image

The next day, we visited the old Presidential Palace, home to 21 presidents between the 1920'a and 1959, of those, 15 years Batista's home.  Now Museum of the Revolution. Click for a larger image.
 Click to see a larger image

In the museum, Che is still roaming the jungle.  Click for a larger image.
Click to see a larger image

Outside the museum, the Granma boat, tanks, the wreckage of U.S. planes shot down and other exciting exhibits. Click for a larger image.
 Click to see a larger image

The Cristo, commissioned by Batista's wife as a thank you for her husband surviving a students' attach on his palace, still looks over Havana, here looking at a big storm coming  Click for a larger image.
Click to see a larger image

In the main Cathedral, we lit a candle to say "Thank You" to Mr. God. Click for a larger image.
 Click to see a larger image

Among many ruined buildings on the main Prado avenue is the spectacularly restored Casa de Matrimonio, a former casino.  We tried to get married, but the guide on evening duty was not licensed to do the job.  Click to see a larger image.
Click to see a larger image

The Tropicana, running since 1939, must surely be the most spectacular show on the planet.  Click for a larger image.
Click to see a larger image

Absolutely amazing.  The show starts at 10 p.m. and finishes after midnight, with guests from around the world.  Click for a larger image.
 Click to see a larger image

In the hills of Soroa, west of Havana, is the Castillo en las Nubes, with a restaurant and a bar and a view "in the clouds".  The restaurant is falling down and is now also closed, but we went down the mountain in search of sandwiches and made a pic nic.  The bar is still open and the friendly barman even added tomatoes and warmed up our sandwiches.  The sad thing about the view ... for miles and miles of fertile land, but no cultivated fields!  Click for an even larger image.
Click to see a larger image

A beautiful "Orquideario" in Soroa.  Click for a larger image.
Click to see a larger image

Cubans come on bus tours to see the garden and a nearby waterfall.
 Click to see a larger image

In Viñales, we had a goat stew lunch, with a view of the interesting valley with spectcular rock formations (the caves are inside) and then stopped in a hotel full of British and French tourists, but we still did not find anything interesting to buy to take home.  Just a few bottles of rum.  Click for an even larger image.
 Click to see a larger image

The Capitolio, now closed.  Behind us is the main theater, also closed for repairs.  One day, this will all be fixed up.  We had a great trip.  I feel sorry for the Cubans ... we shared several hot nights with thousands of them on the Malecon, the waterfront, where they go to relax.  Everywhere signs telling us we are living the 55th year of the revolution and others exhorting people to "Defend the Achievements of the Revolution".   One day, this will be the tropical paradise it deserves to be.  I brought home a painting of Havana buildings, boarded up and falling down.  You should go and explore.

To  www.Cernikovsky.com main page           

This page was last updated on 06/08/13.