Museums, Historic houses, Art galleries and fascinating people!
Havana Cuba - That name has a real ring to it! As fascinating travel destinations go, Cuba has been a mystery destination for many people for so long.
CUBAN MAN WITH HIS CIGAR
Now, it is becoming a popular vacation for travellers keen to see this country that has been relatively closed to foreigners, and of course remains so, to most Americans.With Castro now bowing out as his health has deteriorated, we will all watch with interest to see how this changes Cuba.
For those of us fortunate to have visited, it is clear it was once a wealthy and very beautiful country. Havana, Cuba's biggest city, is quite different to the rest of Cuba.Even now the many ornate buildings show a time when life was very different.
Havana Cuba holds some treasures for travellers to explore. Museums, historic houses, monuments, and just Cuban life on display........with all its quirkiness!
While many streets are narrow, cobbled or just plain deteriorating, the main roads are divided by wide paved boulevards.
Rich green tropical trees create a shady canopy, and the edges are planted with lush gardens. Seats are spaced down the boulevard, leaving plenty of space for the school children doing their compulsory massed physical exercises, under the supervision of their teachers.
Each morning a large group of older men and woman stretched and bent in time to music as they did their tai chi style exercises. The Cuban government, encourage the people to stay fit. No doubt it is also a welcome relief from the small apartments, most live in.
Down on the waterfront the Malecon,built in 1901, is a popular spot, and offers interesting views of Cuban life. There you will see people fishing, sitting on the sea wall and talking, even a young man doing his trombone practice!
Across the harbour you can see the Moro Castle Lighthouse guiding the harbour entrance. You can take a taxi through the tunnel to have a look at the area around the lighthouse. At this point there is usually a line up of the famed 1950's cars, synonamous with Cuba.
Walk along the Malecon, past buildings that are struggling to stay together, yet still displaying a faded glory. Washing strung out on the roof tops and balconies, seems at odds with the glamour of the buildings - somehow you see past the crumbling, broken down faces they have today.
The Hotel Nacionale
Further down - about 2 kilometers, you will come to the
which you can't miss, high on the hill above.
It is worth going inside to have a look. This hotel, built in the 1930's was the playground for the rich and famous............Sir Winston Churchill, and Mary Pickford, stayed here. It still is an expensive place judging by the price of the simple plate of fruit we opted for !
Having looked around, marveling at such luxury in Havana, Cuba's capital city, we went through the marbled foyer and out onto the wide green expanse of lawn, overlooking the harbour.
Finding a seat, we watched, intrigued, as a young girl who could have stepped straight out of an 1800's novel, with strawberry pink satin gown, and matching elegant hat, was being photographed.
The photographer had her posing by the fountain, the hotel creating a sumptuous backdrop. Someone explained that when Cuban girls are about sixteen or seventeen it is tradition to have these photos taken as a permanent memory of them at their most beautiful. .........What a lovely idea!
Habana Vieja and Habana Centro
Habana Vieja is the old colonial part of Havana with
- art galleries
- historic houses turned into museums
and a host of other historically interesting sights.
You will go through
Plaza de la Catedral
. It is nice to sit and have a drink in the plaza, while you watch the children ride ponies.
Be sure to have a look in the
Catedral de San Cristobal
while you are there.
Plaza de Armas was
lovely with stands of second hand books on display, the beautiful greenery in the park behind creating an impressive backdrop. The statue is of
Carlos Manuel de Cespedes
, who was the first to head Cuba toward independence.
The Capitol Nacionale is impressive.............inside and out! Marble floors, and amazing architecture. The cupola dome is worth seeing, if nothing else.
You can do tours of different parts of the building. They also have excellent coffee, and you can sit and watch the interesting sights as you sip.
You cannot possibly visit all the museums in Havana.Cuba's interesting history is recorded in the Museo Nacional de La Revolucion which was very very enlightening, although some of the "facts" were questionable.
We dropped into numerous art galleries and museums as we wandered the streets. Including one that was an old train .....the original carriage set up for Castro. With an elegant dining room, fitted out with antique furniture, a full ensuite and intricate plumbing, it was worth the coin, admission.
Recommended Eating in Havana Cuba
Restaurants with outdoor seating invite you to enjoy a meal as you listen to the live bands playing lively foot tapping music, and watch the interesting faces of Havana's Cuba walk by. Believe me - you are in for a rare treat!
Trattoria Maraka near the Hotel Ingleterra was excellent value, with very good wood-fired pizzas and a full menu. I remember watching in awe as a small woman devoured the biggest steak I have ever seen!
Havana has a good mix of ethnic restaurants. Their ice cream is recommended. It is delicious!
We enjoyed a very nice well priced meal in China Town. This area was worth visiting for the atmosphere.
More Cuba Information
Cuba Casa Particulares
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