Cuba 2007

Havana

Day 1. Our journey to Cuba started in Havana (after a flight of 12 hours with an in-between stop in Holguin to Varadero and than still 2 hours in the bus to Havana) where our enthousiastic guides started to tell about the history of Cuba and how the schedule looks for the journey, while the group of course was exhausted of the long flight and because of the time difference had a feeling it was about 3 in the middle of the night.
Classic Pontiac
Inside the classis Pontiac
Day 2. The next morning we went with classic American cars (dating from the 50's) for an exploration tour through Havana, from the center along the Malecon (boulevard) to Miramar (a more rich neighbourhood with embassies) and via 'Plaza de la Revolucion' (famous for the ministry with the huge image of Che Guevara) to a neighbourhood with African influence and voodoo where houses are very colourfully painted. Back again via the Malecon we went to a hill on the other side of the harbour, from where we had a terrific view over Havana. After that we explored ourselves walking the old town of Havana ('Habana Vieja'), which is really beautiful. Many building date back to the days of Spanish colonisation (16th - 19th Century), especially the cathedral is very beautiful. In the evening we ate in a big state restaurant in the old center, with nice life music (and a big group of Japanese tourists) and after that we got dancing lessons on a roof terrace in a private house, where we learned everything about Son, Salsa, Cha Cha Cha and Rumba. Plaza de la Revolucion
African neighbourhood
View on Havana's old town Plaza de la Catedral Cathedral Handpainted old car
Revolution Museum
Old cars and tank in front of Revolution Musuem
Day 3. On our second full day in Havana we first went to the Musuem of the Revolution, a former presidential palace (where the former dictator Batista ruled and unfortunately escaped from on the last day of the revolution with about 40 milion dollars), where you can see hundreds of black-and-white pictures of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos and other heroes of the revolution. Apart from pictures there are all kinds of artifacts (clothes, weapons, binoculars, bottles, etc.) which they used in the days of the revolution. Outside of the building you can see some tanks, airplanes, a rocket and the boat Fidel and Che used in 1957 to go to Cuba from Mexico to start a guerilla war, which ended on 31 December 1958 as a succesful revolution. Inside Revolution Musuem
Homemade tank used in the Revolution
Tobacco factory
Capitolio
After the musuem we first bought some souvenirs on the market and than went to the oldest cigar factory of Cuba, just behind the Capitolio (a replica of the Capitol in Washington, which used to be a government building and is now a musuem). In the cigar factory all cigars all still hand made (we were not allowed to take pictures) and the store next to the factory sells them for very high prices (the cheapest were about 75 CUC for a box of 25, one CUC is more less one dollar). We bought them from a guy that lives quite nearby the factory whose whole family works in the factory and smuggle the cigars out, so in the end we bought real Cohiba cigars (Fidel's favourite) for 50 CUC (worth about 160). A guy from our group is a cigar expert and he could verify that they were good (and not made of banana leaves ;-)). After that adventure we visited the Capitolio, with an impressive 18 meter high bronze statue (2nd biggest in the world), but apart from that not that much to see inside. In the evening we ate a pizza nearby the hotel and after that we went to 'Floridita', a quite exclusive restaurant and cocktailbar where the Daiquiri has been invented. Big bronze statue
Floridita

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