Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Cuba 2016: Day Three

Day three was out lightest day.  We started with a walking tour in old Havana near the Plaza de la Catedral.  We'd been hoping to see inside the cathedral and to climb to the top of one of it's two towers for a few days now but, once again, we were thwarted, this time by a baptism.  We never did get into the cathedral so we have at least one reason to return some day.
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The cathedral that we never got into.
The walking tour took us to four different plazas, each with a unique history.  After the plaza de la catedral we moved on the Plaza de Armas.  The sidewalks around the park are lined with book stalls selling all styles of books, records, and small collectables like pins, rosaries, and antique jewelry.  The Wife bought two copies of her favorite book, "The Old Man and the Sea" in spanish.  One stall had a box of records.  The first record was "My Favorite Hits - Mickey Mantle".  We laughed at it but didn't bother to see how much it was.  I made the mistake of looking it up as I was writing this post.  $300.00  *sigh*  Probably could have made a nice profit.

After the plaza de armas we moved on to Plaza de San Francisco.  This plaza is across the street from the harbor customs building and was once a place for commerce.  The plaza is located next to the Convent of Saint Francis de Assisi.  Complaints about the noise from the vendors resulted in smaller vendors being moved to another nearby Plaza.

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View along the edge of Plaza Vieja, through a restaurant,
down a narrow street, to the capitol building.

This plaza, the Plaza Vieja, was our next stop.  On the way we went into a restaurant that had an opening to the old aqueduct that once brought water to Havana.

In the plaza we were given some time to wander on our own.  Here is a scrolling panorama of the plaza.  It is full of glitches but it gives you an idea (Move the cursor left and right to scroll).  There was artwork displayed around the cafe and restaurant lined square.  The art included a large statue of a naked bald woman holding a giant fork riding a rooster ... yeah ... weird.

A wandering conga band showed up with stilt walking dancers.  The music livened up the plaza.

From the plaza we walked to a nearby restaurant for lunch.  I have to say my lunches were more satisfying than my dinners most of the time and this lunch was no different.

After lunch a short bus ride through Havana took us to listen to the Cuban National Choir.  This world renowned choir sung several favorite Cuban songs as well as some more familiar ones.  Very beautiful.  The space which we were in - it appeared to be the home of a soccer club - was not the most comfortable.  It was the first place where I really got hot.

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Stilted conga dancers in Plaza Vieja.
(Click here to watch a video of the dancers.)

The last stop of the day was a place to buy cigars, rum, and coffee.  The Wife had a list of cigars that her Brother had given her.  He must have done his research as the owner of the shop seemed very impressed with his selection.  We bought a set for him as well as a set for the Wife's school - they will be sold at the school auction in November along with a bottle of Rum that we bought there.

Our bus returned us to the hotel.  After some discussion the wife and I hired another coco taxi and headed back to the craft market.  There we bought a couple humidors for the cigars along with some stuff to add to our international guest room.  My souvenirs this trip was a wooden '57 chevy I bought at the craft market and a Che t-shirt I bought at the hotel.  We also bought magnets naturally.

We'd hoped to try one more time to go back to the Cathedral but we really didn't have enough time.  We returned to the hotel in another coco taxi and rested a little before we went out for our goodbye dinner.

Our goodbye dinner was at La Casa, one of the oldest privately run paladares in Cuba.  We had another good dinner with live music ("Stand By Me" was played ... naturally)  Unlike some of the dinners I ate this trip, this was one of the better ones.  Flan was served for dessert which was a bit disappointing but it was followed up with small ice cream cakes - the chocolate one was awesome.

We all headed to bed relatively early this night.  This was time change weekend and, frankly, no one was sure if the time would change in Cuba.  Our guides said no.  The flyers at the hotel said yes.  To be safe we asked for a wakeup call and drifted off to sleep.

Pictures can be found in my Cuba 2016 Flickr Album.

To Be Continued ...

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