Hola Cuba! Day 8: Havana last look

June 17, 2014
On our eight and last day in Cuba Luxy, Ciara, and I took one last look at Havana. We had spent two days in the capital exploring Old Havana by foot, and toured Miramar, The Revolution Plaza, and The Malecón seafront in a 1950s classic car. Our first proper day in Havana was a Sunday and it so happened that our last chapter in Cuba would too close on a Sunday. But what a beautiful day to bid farewell to Cuba too! There is nothing so colourful, chaotic, and cacophonous as Havana on a Sunday. 



Álbum de la Revolución Cubana comes in two parts, a 1960s comic book about the Cuban Revolution and a music CD. I fell in love with the comic book at the Plaza de Armas vintage market but had to walk away because I'd spent all my souvenir money. There's always eBay though and who knows I might even find it with the accompanying CD. 

I won't waste breath on subtle hints so what I'm really saying, friends, is that gifting me this is the way to my heart.  


Previously the girls and I stayed at in a casa in Old Havana. We wanted a change of scenery so we checked in to the other side of town, in upmarket residential neighbourhood Miramar, at the Meliá Habana. Which I fondly dub 'Barbican by The Sea' because of the lush greenery softening it's harsh  revolution style Brutalist architecture, with hanging gardens, draped foliage, surrounding gardens, pools, and ponds. 




Fidel Castro inaugurated Meliá Habana in 1998. 

We revisited our favourite places in Havana, driving down along the Malecón seafront to the pedestrianised Plaza de Armas, walking through the vintage markets I had loved so much, down the high streets (and passing many familiar faces) back to the wonderful Paladar Los Mercaderes where, on our second day, we had the best meal in Cuba.



Taking the train was not an option (I don't even know if that option exists) because it was swelteringly hot.


Melting and breaking out in heat rashes under the Cuban sun.


One can get around Havana in a yellow taxi...


...or a 'cocotaxi', a coconut shell shaped wonder for two (although we did see cocotaxis for three) which I sorely regret not doing!


Spotted an unusual three door taxi. I like it! I'll take one, please.


I'm not entirely sure what this is called.




Or get around the old-fashioned way.



We walked through the park in the Plaza de Armas square to get to Palacio de Los Capitanes Generales.


The former official residence of the governors of Havana, its palatial splendour has long since been vacated (quite right, if you're going to be a Communist country and talk about how all men are equal, then lead by example) and now houses the Museum of the City of Havana (Museo de la Ciudad). Now, the only things that live in the Palacio now are art, weapons, historical artefacts. 

And peacocks.



Am I extremely childish for seeing this statue as a man holding a very large ice-cream out of reach from his over excited whippet?


The building is in Cuban Baroque style and has changed little from when it was first constructed. All four sides of the palace look through stain glass windows, past marble galleries and limestone arches embedded with marine fossils, into an open courtyard garden in the centre of the building.





Photo by Luxy.

Most of the rooms, many of which were residences of royalty and generals alike are preserved with their original Colonial decoration. Carpets so fragile that walking past them made them cough, furniture that has seen the underside of many important buttocks, and walls that have seen many receptions, balls, scandals, secrets, and whispers of revolt...all of these things whispered to us from every artefact and detail so lovingly preserved and protected for posterity. 




These extremely ornate and incredibly precious mother of pearl drawers are for stashing scrolls in. Scrolls! The modern equivalent in this digital day and age would be, I don't know, an external hard drive made from diamonds farmed from a little-known and newly discovered planet.


This does make the hand carved wooden trunks I especially have to store my receipts and documents look very poorly by comparison, very poorly indeed. 


Delicate sea shell bouquets in bell jars which are not all 'too feminine' for the tastes of the Spanish. 


Slightly creepy sculpture 1: Why is this cherub holding a sinister finger puppet?!


Slightly creepy sculpture 2: I don't know if this figure is a siren, a mermaid, a snake-woman, but I dig it. I'll have a hundred.

Strange carvings, alternative bouquets and ostentatious filing cabinets aside the real draw of Palacio de Los Capitanes was the war porn.


THIS.

The Hall of Heroic Cuba. 

"Important relics from the wars of independence and many flags of national significance including the flag of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the "Father of the Homeland"" never mind that. Weapons. Uniforms. Medals. Portraits. WEAPONS.


Photo by Luxy.

Want.


Those medals oh my God I can't.


Want.


WANT.

I showed these photos to Henry, my war profiteering boyfriend who deals in vintage military clothing and antiques. He had an aneurysm and died of jealousy. Then I tried to steal his weapons off him but he came back to life and hit me round the head with his crossbow. Oh well.


Ciara and I played 'F***, Marry, Kill: Cuban Revolution Heroes Edition'. Because for all our reverence for history and culture, nothing is more fun than being silly tourists.


Hello!


We are all up in your heritage and history, taking selfies and throwing shapes!



Having displayed enough of our cheek we ambled back out onto Plaza de Armas.



I love a good vintage market and the one in Plaza de Armas is no exception.


Old books, cigar labels, medals, vintage cameras, and 1960s comic books about the revolution. Heaven.







This man has the most incredible blue eyes! 




A postbox in Old Havana.


We cooled off with a Cristal (not the champagne, the beer) before returning to Paladar Los Mercaderes for lunch.


The lobster in secret pineapple sauce was everything I dreamed of. Throughout the trip we were presented with countless opportunities to have lobster for only 20 CUC (£15! In London £20 gets you a mere lobster roll at Burger & Lobster) but I saved it for our last day at Paladar Los Mercaderes.


As I did with my virgin encounter with Cohiba cigars.


I tried to squeeze in every stereotypical 'tourist in Cuba' element as I could in this picture.


Mojito? Check. Havana Club rum? Bien sur. Cohiba? But of course.

After all, I was in Cuba and Havana a good time.

It's been a dream, Cuba. I can't wait to go back and explore East Cuba. But until then, there's always fond reminiscing. More Cuba blog posts, here.

Hasta luego! 

x

2 comments:

  1. Gorgeous photos, and yes, it's definitely a guy holding his ice cream out of whippet reach!!

    Rosie xx

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    1. I'm glad we are of the same mind Rosie ;) x

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