Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Visiting Havana, Cuba - Day 2.

Our second day in Havana was a very busy one, but probably my favourite. We did the one thing I have been wanting to do since I was fourteen years old - ride in a 1950's car with tail fins. We strolled over to the square opposite the Parque Central hotel where the colourful old cars were all lined up, when suddenly a beautiful blue and white convertible purred around the corner, the sound of it's engine drew me to it; it was a 1959 DeSoto Firesweep. Before we knew it we'd agreed to pay just 25CUC (£16) with the driver and guide for a full hours tour.

They took us all over Havana, laughing at us taking selfies and kindly taking photos of us in the car. The three of us sat in the back while the driver took the wheel and his friend sat next to him and gave the tour, telling us about the history of the buildings we were passing, life in Cuba, and about the revolucion. 

However, they were very careful with what they said, whenever we asked a question about the government they would change the subject or pretend they didn't understand us. Surprisingly, the only people we spoke to who were open about how they felt were the rich kids who's parents were involved in politics and the government (more about this in a few days!).

Anyway, we drove through Old Havana, then through the more expensive Vedado and Miramar districts where we would be staying the night before we headed back to London. We drove past Castro's house (more like a concrete tower block) and saw his huge satellite in the garden, before stopping in Revolucion Square to take photos and pose with the car (I mean come on, when are we ever gonna get this chance again!?). 

My new favourite summer dress from Gap!
As you know from this post, I've been a huge classic car fan since I was a teen, my dream car has always been the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz, so to take a ride in one so similar was a dream come true. It was the main reason I've wanted to visit Cuba for so long, to see the cars, and it made me a very happy girl to sit in the drivers seat of such a beautiful car! In Cuba they repair cars with whatever scraps of other cars they can find, so this DeSoto had a Mercedes wheel!

What happens when you try to take a selfie in an open top car...

After taking photos they then drove us past the Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón, aka, Colon Cemetery, where many famous Cubans are buried. Over 1 million people have been buried here since it's beginnings in 1876, and they are all separated into rank and social status. We then drove to John Lennon Park, where we sat with the John Lennon statue and had more photos taken (these guys were the best!).

We were then driven along the Malecon (I still can't work out what all the fuss is about!?), and round to the famous Coppelia Ice-Cream Parlour where we'd asked to be dropped off. Despite them only charging us 25CUC, we gave them an extra 10CUC tip - they were really awesome, we had such a great time, and it was such a good price for the three of us for one hour. It worked out at only £7 each! 

Coppelia was sadly very disappointing, we much preferred the Helado (ice-cream) on the streets, and there was a huge price difference as the main indoor parlour was closed so we were forced to go to the outside hut which only sells it in CUC. Coppelia cost us an extortionate 3CUC (around £2), while the street Helado was only 3CUP (about 6p!).

After our Helado we then got a taxi back to Old Havana (tourists aren't allowed to take public transport), had lunch at an amazing restaurant (more on this soon!), and wandered back up Obispo to El Floridita for afternoon daiquiris. On our way up the street we came across a lady in the street with puppies in cages - she was selling them. It really upset me, they looked far too young to be away from their mother, she said they were just six weeks old! Poor things :( 

Hot, bothered, and with a heavy heart from the teeny tiny pups, we eventually reached El Floridita. It was very touristy, but it was such an impressive place. I can certainly see why Hemmingway liked it so much, the barmen were lovely and even explained how they would shave the ice used in Daiquiris before blenders were invented, and the Daiquiris were absolutely delicious! So refreshing and exactly what we needed. Ciara went for the traditional, I had the strawberry, and Jasiminne had the mango. 

Photo from Jasiminne
Hemmingway certainly seemed to enjoy it...

Photo from Jasiminne

Photo from Jasiminne
 I antibac'd my mouth after this...

Photo from Jasiminne
We also went to the Havana Club Rum museum on Day Two, however it was a bit shit, they just took us on a very short tour of a model train set, some vats of molasses, and a small museum about slavery, so I won't bother blogging about it. I did get this epic photo from there though... (luckily UK customs didn't stop me at immigration as we had quite a bit of rum on us...)

Opposite the museum was a painting of Che Guevara, he is idolized all over Cuba, everywhere we went his face was all over the place. The Cubans love him! Also Jasiminne and I decided he was actually really good looking, so we love him too. Plus, who doesn't love a Robin Hood figure!? 

 We headed back to our Casa and passed some more old cars - totally in love with the green one below! Every time we went back to the Casa we had to climb over huge gaping holes in the road and mounds of dirt everywhere, as they were fixing some pipes in the area.

We got back and packed our bags, then had a very early night as we had to get up at 4am the next morning to get our flight to Cayo Largo. We were all very thankful that we still had a night and full day in Havana when we returned from Cayo Largo - after all, we hadn't yet gone dancing! 

Oh hey there really old plane with seriously relaxed airplane rules, you were definitely worth the early start! Not even kidding...most comfortable flight I've ever been on, and it took us direct to paradise. Wheeee! More on that tomorrow...


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