7 February 2017
Habana!! (In Spanish, Havana is Habana, just check the band on your cigar or that bottle of Habanero sauce in the fridge.) For ten days Jim, José and Juan Antonio had guided us through the highways and byways of Cuba, now we come to the main event as it were, Habana. The big city, a world class capital and we are to have lots of free time. How will we manage? That thought briefly crosses my mind as we approach the city before I remember that we have navigated major cities around the world on our own. It will be fine.
And it is. The bus pulls into the car park just off Cathedral Square in Old Havana where we will begin our exploration of the city. But first lunch. Throughout the trip logistics surrounding meals have been a constant, so we get off the bus, troup across the car park to La Moneda Cubana a paladar just off Cathedral Square. This is definitely a tourist destination which means that the food is OK, but not up to the standards of the best Cuba has to offer, but it is touristy-charming and a pleasant introduction to Habana.
|The entry to La Moneda Cubana|
From there we were set free to explore Cathedral Square, which in the 18th century was the last of Old Havana’s four central plazas to have been developed, but it’s most central and most spectacular.
|After lunch our first free ramble through the city|
|The cathedral, La Cathedral de la Virgen María de la Concepcion Inmaculada de la Habana, a fine example of Spanish baroque|
|a restrained stripe of the baroque|
|La Casa de Don Luís Chacón, now the Museum of Colonial Art, the oldest and to my eye the loveliest building on the plaza|
|I was hot to see this gallery of experimental art|
|For you pen folk, as close to Waterman as I got|
|wonderful piece of street sculpture|
|paid to be colorful for the tourists|
Then we got back on the bus to head out to the Colon Cemetery. By this time, having toured a couple of Cuban cemeteries, we knew what to expect, sort of. But this cemetery was even moreso.
|these mausoleums were built to showcase the wealth and taste of Cuba's principal families|
|some showcasing the art deco|
After that, a brief encounter with Cuba’s cars and we headed for our hotel.
|We've already done cars, so just two of my faves.|
Originally we had been scheduled to stay at the Habana Libre, but, as we were warned, things change in Cuba and at the beginning of the trip we were informed that, instead, our hotel would be The Hotel Nacional. A cheer went up. Most of us knew the Nacional, and over trhe next few days that hotel fully lived up to its billing as Cuba’s premier hotel.