I wake up with fully of energy of the previous evening, glad to start a new day in La Habana as the Cubans tell her (pronounced Abana). After a very good breakfast, I take the Calea Neptuno (on which I was housed) down to Habana Vieja, ignoring my host’s advice to take a taxi. I’m not even going to find the House of Music – I’ve been doing the taxi for over 10 minutes!
Havana, a town with over 2 million inhabitants founded by Spaniards in the 16th century, consists of 15 districts, of which the most famous are: La Habana Vieja (practically a city in itself, charming with some restored buildings, others but very picturesque, full of palaces, bars, restaurants, clubs and shops), Havana Centro (a residential district, mostly old buildings, largely stretches to Malecon, the 8 km high road that surrounds the coast of Havana) Miramar (a beautiful neighborhood, as well as colonial buildings and attractions such as Parque Emiliano Zapata), Vedado (An elegant neighborhood with imposing villas, where before the revolution were the wealthiest, now there are museums, business centers, as well as some houses particularly luxurious!) and Habana del Este (a vast suburb where you can make a beach with the locals).
Havana delights you
I have explored the neighborhoods in two halves because I stayed in Havana for 3 days at the beginning of the journey and 3 days at the end: it links me to this city and the beginning, the joy of discovering Cuba and the sadness of the detachment, and between the two moments I have changed to the surprised tourist (I had arrived in Cuba with “Nights in Habana” as a landmark and the reality shattered me a bit!) to a total feeling of freedom, I walked everywhere on foot, even at night on Malecom … .. losing me in the crowd with hair in all parts, shorts, shorts, mauve, and the specific end of the holiday …
But I take it before …. returning to my walk, I still can not believe I’m in Cuba. I’m going to some stores that look like Ceausescu’s time, I think, from movies with the hungry and country circuses, and there are also the ones where the ration is *, a sort of warehouse, but with the counter, only bags, shelves and strange recipes. I also came across an adidas shop, old and unpaired collections, but current European prices. I stop taking some souvenirs from a volley market, take some pictures.
Ration: Each family has a card on which to buy a certain number of supplies at a monthly price at subsidized price: flour, sugar, chicken, fish, eggs, rice, coffee, oil, bread, etc. Family supplies are around 10 days, and the rest will buy them at full price (rising due to inflation, with an average income of $ 20 a month). That is why everyone is trying to do something else: private houses – for which they have to give a monthly fixed amount on each certified room, whether they have or not been tied up, various lessons, selling cigar cigarettes, etc. Life is not easy and yet people know and enjoy life. Plus, many have relatives abroad who send them money, I will talk about these issues. And whoever complains harder is not the one who needs more …
Paseo de Marti, Obispo
I arrive on Paseo de Marti, a large boulevard that separates the Habana Centro from Habana Vieja. On this street is also the famous Hotel Inglaterra, Gran Teatro from Habana, the Capitol, Parque de la Fraternidad, etc. more importantly, it continues to the famous Paseo del Prado, the beautiful pedestrian boulevard paved with marble and trees. The left-right remarks of the colonies of restored colonial houses, most of them being UNESCO heritage; you’ll also notice a bunch of laundry stretched out on land.
I get visual acquaintance and I am very excited about coco taxi and bicycle taxi, everywhere in tourist areas, and the leaders are very insistent and loud in offering services, salt and pepper in the streets of Havana.
I’m going to the Capitol, pictures, pictures, pray and some policemen to help me, very nice, explaining to me that it is hot and thirsty, give them 2 JCC, they are happy, I am glad, this is Cuba, especially in tourist areas : non stop you will be asked for something, ANY: money, cigarettes, candy, clothes, etc.
Identific Calle Obisbo, a very touristic street, very alive, full of eerie eyes * who actually maddened me. It is a favorite shopping destination for many Cuban people, a lively street with many places, bars, etc. Connect Parque Central de Plaza de Armas.
Cafe du Paris
A little overwhelmed by all the madness, I speak in a beautiful place, Cafe du Paris: clear for tourists, dear to the locals, good music, tourists of all nationalities. I drew my soul, I did not give up, I sat and wrote a little, I felt safe, contemplating the life of the street: a carnival parade, with a lot of noise, after a bunch of children in the primary school – You distinguish them according to the color of the uniform: cherry in primary school children, bigger mustard, kindergarten. Very beautiful, very well-devoured. At one point, one of the members of the band playing in the cafe requires everyone to Contribute to music, contributing, of course, if it is music, CDs do not take.
Continue the walk, world, and joyously, reach the sea, passing through the Plaza de Armas, the first recognized Habana square, dating back to the 16th century !!! Now there is a church, a little bit, many animators who ask for money to take pictures of them and many books stands, a great outdoor outfit. You can also purchase other things: tape recorders, old coins, etc.
I walk, walk around, enjoy one, look at the world, many tourists everywhere, at one point I am agitated pretty hard by the fact that I can not stop for example on a bench to admire the view , to look at the world without someone coming in two seconds to ask me something..
Salsa in Havana
Absolutely if you come to Cuba. You can go to a school, alone or with your partner, or take private lessons with a teacher. That’s what I did, the teacher being recommended by my hosts. I paid 20 CUC per lesson (I do not know how much he stayed with the teacher and how much of the hosts) and I totally took 3 lessons. Most schools request 100 euros for 5 sessions of 1.30 minutes …… but you do not have a teacher only for you :).
I have learned quite a lot of movements and figures (and forgotten in the meantime) from my teacher Jose, who is dancing in a band that represents Cuba abroad, or so it was presented to me. She was also working at a dance school, I took lessons right at home, very close to my private home. I liked, had a way, and I saw another reality behind the beautiful facades of colonial houses. One favel-like view was a conglomerate of labyrinths of stairways, stairways, terraces, other enclosures that served homes for many families. I’d have taken pictures, but I did not dare, feeling that I often have in such situations. Everywhere in the outer areas many clothes stretched out to dry; that impressed me everywhere in the Cuban: they are very clean, in their homes it is very clean, though more than modest. Instead, Jose had a flat-panel TV with a huge diagonal, and he repeatedly insisted that he owned more things, but that he had moved them elsewhere, where he would move, of course, together with his wife and daughter (which I also knew, nice). Likewise, he pretended not to care about money, to throw them over there, to understand, and I would have liked it not to. Jose is a proud Cuban, in light years of joy, who do not know how to stir your pity even in the back. And as he is very many Cubans, I repeat.
After the salsa I came to my hosts, there was a lot of knowledge in the living room, I socialized, ate and I met Teo, a French man who worked as a guide in Latin America, very bohemian and who had been fond of the two ladies. I tell them I’m going to Tropikana and I’m getting ready for, I did not know exactly what, but I was impatient. Teo was already jealous, he would have come, but he could not because he had nothing but bermudas, slippers and jerseys!
Prepare to be totally enchanted at Tropikana, the best cabaret in Cuba
Tropikana is a fever. For two hours during the show, you are simply enchanted: two scenes, many singers / singers, dozens, hundreds of perfect dancers, many costumes, each song, explosion of color, energy and life. balancing numbers, ballet, small scenes, I’ve never seen something so beautiful, MAGIC !. If you arrive in Cuba, you should not be missed.
Costs: entrance: 70/80/90 CUC (where you also get rom, cola, etc, but you get only when the show begins, until then you have to order separately if you want something), 5 CUC for the camera, taxi think 10 CUC I gave, if not more.
Daddy, abuela (grandmother) and Tibo waited for me and stayed in talks until late, I showed them the pictures and movies from Tropikana, Teo and more jealous :)))
He told me his experience: being a single European man (he is blond with blue eyes, so he can see he is not there) was extremely agitated by various ladies, fathers, brothers, cousins who offered to meet a girl, etc …. so it may be worse than I did in the case of single men. We set up to unite our forces and walk the next day together, said and done.
Habana Vieja (Old Havana)
We arrive in Habana Vieja, we stop once in a while to take a beer (In Cuba you find Cristal and Bucanero all over, the second with more than the first). We stop for lunch at Bodeguita del Medio, one of the most famous restaurants in Havana, a friendly atmosphere, good music, of course the walls full of dedication, I do one and again on my way!
We visit Virgen Maria Cathedral at Conception Inmaculada, which is embedded in the beautiful UNESCO heritage, after we reach Malecom: the 8 km road along the coast. We talk to locals, Teo knows Spanish, argentinian, and so we get rid of many insiders – with bicitaxi and coco taxi, anyway, far fewer harriers than the day before !!!!
Traversăm mai multe cartiere și ajungem la autogară, să găsesc transport pentru a doua zi, când trebuia să ajung în Vinales. Teo se întâlnește cu un cunoscut, care mă convinge să îmi aranjeze el transport. Aveam posibilitatea de a lua un autobuz modern cu aer condiționat, de la compania Viazul și în schimb m-am înțeles pentru o călătorie cu o mașină din aceea veche, la același preț, gândindu-mă că ajut niște oameni, dacă iau de la ei. Stabilim ora la care să vină să mă ia de la pensiune și continuăm plimbarea.
Ajungem la un local interesant într-o zonă rezidențială: The three musqueteers, un restaurant foarte ascuns, se intră cu sonerie, suntem numai noi pe o terasă frumoasă, cu multă verdeață și un papagal mare și gălăgios. Servim cafea (bună) și mojitos.
Seara am încheiat-o la o piza într-un local de pe strada noastră, simplu, erau numai cubanezi.
După șueta câteva ore pe terasă cu Tati, Abuela și Teo, cu bere și cuba libre, nu mă mai dădeam dusă.
Dar asta este în vacanță, trebuie să pleci mai departe, în cazul meu spre Vinales……..