Serious sightseeing, sampling shopping.

Havana Travel Blog

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Museo de la Revolucion - eternal flame

Tues, Wed

We moved to Candida's as arranged. It's fine and friendly. Fresh fruit breakfast with strong coffee, plenty of hot water, (the electric switch is in the shower area), comfortable bed. She does the washing too. She has "friends" in Cienfuegos and Trinidad and can fix up rooms for us there. We've done some serious sightseeing. The seafront - the Malecon - is spectacular. The Museum of the Revolution took us 3 hours. Fidel's boat, Granma, that brought him from Mexico to start his campaign is beautifully preserved next to the eternal flame dedicated to the martyrs of the Revoluution. Che and Camillo Cienfuegos waxworks emerge from an artificial jungle. Two teaspoons used by the insurgents are among the more traditional displays of photos, cuttings, and blood stained clothing.

The Capitolio
Outside, a troupe of young cheerleaders put on a display next to the tank that saw action at the Bay of Pigs. Other tourist highlights included the Belles Artes Gallery of Cuban Art , and the incredible Capitolio, a Washington DC Capitol look alike, its lavish interior housed the Cuban Congress until the Revolution.  Finished only in 1929, money was no object.

On the Malecon a young man engaged us in conversation, complaining how difficult life was for ordinary Cubans, especially blacks. Jobs and money are short, the police harrass blacks, the ration book guarantees only limited supplies, tourists do not see the real Cuba. He persuaded us to give him a couple of convertibles.

Our casa is in calle San Rafael. Further along it are shops. Most seem to have little or no stock, yet even so queues develop outside and people only go in when others come out.

At the morning veg market
These are the moneda nacional shops. But Cubans who have convertibles - the hard tourist currency - can use them at shops that are much better stocked, but offer goods at European prices. Trasval had about 30  - 40 security men and dozens of assistants to sell all sorts of consumer items from bikes to barbie dolls to barbecues, memory sticks (locked in a case) to chain saws. Presumably this is part of Raul Castro's consumer revolution, but there are still more lookers than buyers, and at present exchange rates even we'd find many things pricey.

Yet in late afternoon the streets throng, people queue for ice cream and snacks, music blares from cafes and bars, and the sun shines. Real Cuba ??

Thursday. This morning Candida talked about the rising prices and shortages caused by the summer hurricanes.

On the Malecon - a fine day
Our walk throughthe back streets of Centro Havana showed us poorly stocked markets, sad shops and lots of queues. But there are plenty of sandwich and pizza takeaways that are well used.

We then walked along the Malecon to the more upmarket Vedado area, and as typical tourists went into the very grand Hotel Nacional. Shades of Sinatra and the Mafia, and of Winston Churchill - a bar named after him! Actually the cocktails and sandwiches were hardly more expensive than in an ordinary hard currency bar in Centro. Another example of the topsy turvy economy.

Back to the casa. Change of plan - tropical storms in the south. We'll stay in Havana a few more days.

dahling says:
Sounds very interesting
Posted on: Nov 22, 2008
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Museo de la Revolucion - eternal f…
Museo de la Revolucion - eternal …
The Capitolio
The Capitolio
At the morning veg market
At the morning veg market
On the Malecon - a fine day
On the Malecon - a fine day
The Malecon - a windy day
The Malecon - a windy day
View over Havana from the Castello…
View over Havana from the Castell…
Havana
photo by: mario26