The heartbeat of Cuba - Havana Vieja

Havana Travel Blog

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La Museo de Revolution

The capital of Cuba didn't dissapoint.  The two days we had were well used and my shoes were well worn after the city tour.  The advantages of taking an organised tour were immediately apparent as we got a flavour of the city, it's people and the heritage from our local guide Abel who told us the official version as well as his, often conflicting, version.

Havana Vieja (Old Havana) is the historical centre of Havana.  Filled with atmospheric streets, 1950's architecture (both crumbling and restored), plazas and places of interest, it's an incredible place to walk around.  We started at the Museum of the Revolution, where the Granma boat that Fidel bought and sailed with Che on from Mexico back to Cuba is displayed in all its glory alongside other actrual vehicles used during the revolution.

True to our history?!
  The building is beautiful and ironically it used to be Batista's Palace before he lost the Revolution in 1959. We were able to get the chance to go into the museum.  It's true that history is only ever written by the winners.  The museum is said to contain "The whole story of the Revolution" ... the signs inside and the way the museum was presented left you in no doubt as to whose version of events was to be believed.

The historical centre is filled with incredible architecture.  Crumbling and decaying in a lot of cases as rich and poor live side by side here.  When Fidel won the revolution every person was allowed the right to buy the home they lived in.  However, they lost the right to sell it under socialist rules.

The "Guy" (Fidel) in the middle flanked by Che and Camilla sin Fuego - Revolution HQ
  So typically houses are passed from generation to generation and you often find many generations living under one roof, often in cramped conditions. You can swap your house for one of a similar nature but it's tough to do.  You can also sell the house on the black market - flexible communism!.  So it is, you wander the streets and see where the rich have used their money to furnish their homes well, paint them and restore them and the poor live in decaying beauties. 

We strolled for hours around Calle de los Officios, Calle Obisdipo, Plaza de San Francisco where the slaves were first bought and sold, Plaza de la Cathedral.  It was tiring work and so we retired to Hotel Ambos Mundo, where Hemmingway used to drink Mojitios.  In the home of the Mojito it was only right and proper that we tried our first here.

Salut!
  I'd love to say it was the best mojito ever, but i was sorely disappointed! Lacking lime, flavour and mint it wasn't at all what i expected.  I think we jazzed up the original rather well and i switched alleigance from Mojitos to Pina Coladas!

We also visited Partagas Cigar factory, where iconic cigar brands Cohiba, Monte Cristo and Romeo and Juliete are made.  Everything is done by hand and nothing is wasted.  There are 4 regions in Cuba where the tobacco plant is grown and each characteristic is bespoke to a particular brand, from the combination of flavours down to the colour of the tobacco.  Each part of the process is completed underneath one roof.  It was as if we'd stepped back into the early 1900's walking through the factory.

Made my day meeting this famous Cuban lady!
  There is even an academy on site where people learn how to roll cigars, it can take upto 2 years to be allowed to work in the facorty.  Everyone is smoking and besides the characters we spoke to, many of the workers looked tired and unhappy.  However, here you have the perk of being allowed to take home 2 cigars a day to subsitute the $15 a month wage.  It's how the black market in cigars functions and one of many examples of how Cubans turn to capitalist means, with the government turning a blind eye, to support themselves.

It was an awful lot to take in during the course of the day.  Characters and places from photos became a reality.  The Cuban cigar smoke mingled with the sights and sounds of the city and created a hazy reflection of it.  There is so much to understand, i think if i can make 40% i'll be lucky!

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La Museo de Revolution
La Museo de Revolution
True to our history?!
True to our history?!
The Guy (Fidel) in the middle fl…
The "Guy" (Fidel) in the middle f…
Salut!
Salut!
Made my day meeting this famous Cu…
Made my day meeting this famous C…
With our guide Tamara and a Monte …
With our guide Tamara and a Monte…
Vehicle used in by Che in the Revo…
Vehicle used in by Che in the Rev…
Pina Coladas at La Torre del Oro w…
Pina Coladas at La Torre del Oro …
The home of Havana Club!
The home of Havana Club!
Jose Marti in the main Plaza
Jose Marti in the main Plaza
San Francisco Plaza
San Francisco Plaza
Plaza del Cathedral
Plaza del Cathedral
Hotel Ambos Mundo - both worlds
Hotel Ambos Mundo - both worlds
The old Cathedral
The old Cathedral
Whips used by the police during Ba…
Whips used by the police during B…
Outside the Partagas Factory
Outside the Partagas Factory
The famous cigars
The famous cigars
Havana
photo by: mario26