Another one of our interesting adventures was a trip to Havana. There were about 16 of us from our group so we hired a guide and 2 taxis. The plan was for the guide to split her time evenly between the 2 taxis while we were driving. However, that plan didn’t work as the guide spent 3/4 of the driving time in the other taxi. This meant that our taxi did not get as much information as the people in the other taxi. I was a bit disappointed with that.
First stop was a lookout by a huge bridge – the tourist stop Mirador De Bacunayagua. Rum was not in short supply. One of our group checkout out the bar and bought a pineapple filled with rum that was ample enough to share with a friend! It was a popular tourist stop as they were plenty of old, colourful cars in the parking area and a crowd in the tourist stop and bar.
Our first stop in Havana was the cigar store. As I, like some others, wasn’t interested in buying cigars, I mostly hung around outside, watched the interesting people and traffic go by, and checked out the neighbouring buildings.
Revolution Square was huge. There were plenty of tourists and old cars.
Next we went to a restaurant for Cuban food. The food was delicious but an expensive lunch! They had wonderful pumpkin soup that I hinted I wanted the recipe for but all I got was the bill! The restaurant (& probably the rest of Cuba) were having trouble with our credit cards that day so we had to pay with cash.
One of our group needed cash and our guide brought us to an ATM. I don’t know what part of town it was in, but it certainly wasn’t in a tourist area. If in Canada, I would have stayed away from this ATM as it did not look very secure. Well, security was not the problem of the day anyway – language was. Apparently, the machine took our fellow traveler’s bank card! I found out later that our fellow traveler did not know any Spanish and could not communicate with the Spanish speaking machine. After losing his card, he had to go to a bank to get cash and report to his bank what happened to his card. A very good reason to learn the language spoken (particularly in Cuba with this unilingual machine). Unfortunately, the words la cerveza, por favor and mañana are just not used by those machines!
One of the interesting things we passed by was a huge cemetery. Unfortunately, our guide shirked on her duties of her explanation about this site. Later I found out, Colon Cemetery is one of the great historical cemeteries of the world. It is noted for its beauty, its many elaborately sculpted memorials, and its many chapels and family vaults. I guess this cemetery is on the list to visit on another trip.
Our next stop was a huge market. Monica and I did not want to spend our time in the market but wanted to see some of the city. So we took off by ourselves for about an hour and walked through some of the city. It was wonderful. We saw an old church and went in. Inside was an old lady who gave us a lot of information and pointed things out – all in Spanish. Of course, we couldn’t understand anything but it was very beautiful and interesting. We left her a good tip anyway.
We went into the indoor courtyard of the rum museum. Beautiful!
We did lots of walking in the short time we had. As it turns out, we went though some of Havana’s UNESCO area, including Plaza Vieja. It was very beautiful, old and colourful.
In one area the buildings were all well kept or restored and the next street they looked like ruins.
We made it back to our group just in time for us to leave Havana and head back to Varadero with our group. The trip was approximately 2 hours each way. I would love to go back to Havana and spend a few days there exploring everything. It looked so wonderful and interesting.
That evening, our group joined a “tour” that involved a luxury bus ride from the resorts and back to see Cuba’s famous Buena Vista Social Club band. The band was in a reduced amount to about 9 but it was great anyway. It was in a hall at the local Mall of the Americas. The concert was only for an hour but was very good. A great experience of Cuba!