Havana Travel Blog› entry 4 of 11 › view all entries
Not an ill wind, this hurricane... more time to explore Havana. Half way along the Malecon stands the US Interests Office. Opposite is the Plaza Anti-imperialista - the "protestodrome" - where Fidel has organised large demos. Huge slogans proclaim "Patria o muerte" and "Venceremos". The US office displays huge tickertape messages giving "real news". Up the Rampa stands the Havana Libre hotel, originally a Hilton, which was Fidel's first HQ when he took the country. There's a wonderful array of photos from 1959 of tousle headed young men in combats lounging in the lounge. Inland, the University grounds and buildings are very attractive, as are most of the students. Much more smartly dressed than Brit counterparts. Further along, the Plaza de la Revolucion is a huge square, dominated on one side by the highest building in Cuba, a memorial to the 19th century freedom fighter, Jose Marti.
Then after a visit to the rum museum - it had a wonderful working trainset and a beautiful guide - we took the ferry across the harbour the huge 17th century fort. Less than 1p for the fare, our bags were searched as thoroughly as at Gatwick - the ferries have been hijacked by those trying to get to Florida in the past. The fort had great views back over Havana.
By Sunday morning, the news was that the hurricane had subsided. As we had breakfast, we watched Candida pick through her beans for dinner - no ready packed sanitised ones here! She'd told us a little of Cuban life and showed us her ration book "Yes, many problems, but here there is food for everyone.
The roads aren't busy and driving is generally good. Traffic always stops at zebra crossings. The huge 1950s Buicks, Chevvies and Plymouths still ply as taxis, as do Ladas, including stretch ones! The buses are packed, but people queue foir them as they queue at the shops and at the huge Coppelia ice cream parlour.
The big hotels have really efficient bar staff and are busy with tourists of all sorts. There are quite a few middle aged white men accompanied by stunningly beautiful Cuban girls. The Inglaterra in the centre is a big pick up place. Occasionally a white woman - or man - has a handsome Cuban man in tow.
Back to the casa by cocotaxi, seen to be believed. Soon off to the country - how different will it be?