Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Streets of Havana

It has been a while since my last post, not sure why, though it is hard to choose from among more than a hundred images I shot that day.

8 February 2017

Our second day in Havana began with another lecture on the complex subject of religion in Cuba, this time by Dr. Maritza Corrales a member of Cuba’s small Jewish community and a leading expert on the subject. She spoke not only on Jews in Cuba but Cuban religion and culture in general.

After that we were off to old town Havana and a tour of the city’s plazas led by our own guide, José.  We were already familiar with Cathedral Square, so we began with the oldest plaza, Plaza de Armas, followed by the Plaza Vieja and finally the Plaza de San Francisco. Join us as we ramble the streets and squares of Habana.

We started where we left off, near Cathedral Square

The Castillo Real

Having not taken notes, I am not able to identify all these buildings. This is, I think, part of the archeological museum. What's interesting is the renovation work

Plaza de Armas

Another of Havana's storied hotels, Ambos Mundos

Outdoor art in a little park dedicated to Simon Bolivar

La Plaza Vieja, despite the name it is not the oldest of Havana's plazas, but it was at one time one of its most exclusive

Contrast of old and new.

The Zanja Real was the original aqueduct for the city  from 1566 until 1835.

the fourth of our plazas, Plaza de San Francisco. From here we had a couple of free hours to roam the city

We ended up in several galleries

We visited here and I found myself drawn to the work of this artist, Annia Alonzo. After lunch  we returned and I bought my print.

A view of the city from the paladar Los Mercaderes. Lunch was pricey but good.
 After a standout lunch at Los Mercaderes, recommended by Road Scholar guide extraordinaire, Jim, we struck out on our own.F or me that meant returning to one of the galleries we had visited before and purchasing a print from the artist Annia Alonzo. Sadly I cannot show the print here now, as it is still being framed.
And some other galleries
From above this ceramic show hands in greeting

From below it is a protest piece. Interestingly there was protest art fairly commonly, including on the walls of the national gallery. Whatever may have been the case in the past, the impression that I had of Cuba today is one of fairly free and open speech and expression.

After lunch we got back on the bus for a tour of the clinic of San Lazaro where nuns of the Catholic church care for those afflicted with leprosy.

In the late afternoon we returned to the Nacional. Sharon was tired, but I hankered for a cigar and virgin mojado on the verandah of the hotel overlooking the bay, the Malecon, and the Morro castle. A nice end to the day.

The verandah of the Nacional with El Morro in the background

The hotel from a distance. Around it newer, larger hotels are being built to accommodate a burgeoning American tourist trade, two million in 2015, four million in 2017.

This is not a new hotel, but the Edificio FOCSA, completed in 1956. It remains the tallest building in Cuba. The restaurant on the 39th floor, La Torre, would be the site of our farewell dinner two days later

A tower of the Nacional at dusk

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