Continuing my saga of my latest adventure in Cuba, I did not get to my hotel until after 2 am – yet I did not want to miss a minute, so I was up before 9 and headed to the breakfast buffet. The best I can say is that the fruit juices and coffee were great, but the eggs were cold and bacon (and how can you ruin bacon) was more grease than bacon. Maybe I was just too excited to get out and see what awaited me.
Of course, I missed the free shuttle bus to the old city section of Havana but there is a hop-on, hop-off bus that costs $5.00 CUC and stops in front of the hotel – in fact, it stops in front of most of the big hotels in Havana, and many smaller ones. It is a good way to get you’re bearings for the city and see things from a different perspective.
I wasn’t quite sure where the stop was but I saw some people who looked like me, aka obviously lost tourists standing at a corner, so I joined them. Eventually a bus appeared and we were one our way. In addition to the hotel stops, we saw Revolution Square with the iconic Che and Fidel art on the sides of government buildings and, of course, the tallest monument in Havana dedicated to Jose Marti.
We drove down the Malecon and finally into Old Havana.
By this time, I needed to get out and walk, so I got off near the cruise terminal. In port was the Fred. Olsen Braemar. Why would that be important? My trip in October will be on this ship! So, it was fun to see it before my future cruise.
Across from the cruise terminal, and in front of the San Francisco church, is a presentation call Unity Bears.
Each bear represents a different country from around the world. Of course, everyone was looking for their own country and Canada should not be hard to find, right? Just look for red and white, maple leaves, moose, beaver, hockey sticks … we have a lot of iconic symbols that typically represent Canada. So, please, anyone, explain this to me – the Canadian Unity Bear! (NOTE: several of us Canadians stared at the bear together and tried to make sense of it. None of us could come up with an explanation).
Bears aside, I started doing what I do best – wandering around the streets of a beautiful city and getting lost!
At one point, in my wanderings, I decided to actually check a map (I know, surprise!) and discovered that I was only a couple blocks away from Obispo Street which is a pedestrian street know for art galleries and some famous Hemingway bars.
I stopped in one art gallery and really enjoyed the different materials used to create different works. One that intrigued me the most were the painted toe shoes. The former dancer in me got excited – here is what I could do with old toe shoes, if I could paint! There were a number of brightly coloured paintings of the Orishas, the ancestor spirits worshipped in the local Santeria religion. One of them caught my eye, a bright-eyed woman in yellows with cigars. I thought it would be a great gift for a friend of mine. Then, I saw some prints of photographs. The one I like best was call Los Tres Revolutionaries. The background was a old wall with graffiti drawings of John Lennon and Bob Marley. Between the drawings was an old car with the iconic drawing of Che on the door. That one is going in my living room!
I wandered down the street a bit more and came to Café Europa – looked at the menu and thought this would be a good place to stop for lunch. What a treat was in store for me! I got a table right next to an open window and the band that was setting up. For the next couple of hours, I drank mojitos, ate Cuban food, listened to great music and saw some amazing dancing. At one point, there was even a Samba band that danced their way down the street outside! Here is a small “taste” of my afternoon.