Sunday, 26 February 2012

Cuba - Havana Stairs

Staircases have always been a fascinating fixation for me when I travel.   They were often the first thing I saw upon entering a building and immediately gave me a sense of what the rest of the building would be like.  In some instances, I couldn't get into a building and a glimpse of the stairs was a teasing enticement to imagine the possibilities.  Here are some from Havana, some spectacularly stunning, others more understated, but all reflect the building in which they were situated.

In a house under renovation in touristy old Havana - think of the potential!

In the Palacios de los Capitanes Generales - former official residence of the governors of Havana,  a beautiful colonial building from the late 18th century

This is a nice surprise - not what I had expected to find in the 16th century old fortress Castillo de la Real Fuerza near the Plaza de Armas

Building in old Havana

Another under renovation

Imagine the possibilities!

The Rum Museum restaurant (possibly the stairs to the washroom)

Stairs to the University of Havana Library

One of the faculties at the University

Student Centre University of Havana

The exquisite National Museum of Decorative Arts

Stunning!  in a nameless building that's being used as some sort of community centre that I just happened to wander into

Museum of the Revolution

A random tenement house in Havana

Monday, 20 February 2012

Cuba - Havana

So I lied - that wasn't the last post on Cuba.  It's still freezing outside and I have to cling to the thought of Cuba to get through this winter.  What better way to do that than post my photos from my earlier trip to Havana!

This photo for me captured the essence of Havana.  The incongruous mix of past grandeur and present squalor, magnificent mansions turned into utilitarian apartments for the masses - a fascinating mix that seemed to work, both for the camera and for life in Havana.

View of the harbour from our hotel room

Corner cafe where we ate our first lunch in Havana

The main drag in Havana - Paseo del Prado

The beautiful colonnade outside the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

The Opera House

Stunning lobby inside the Opera House - too bad it wasn't open
The Capitoleo - looks familiar?  U. S. Capitol?  Apparently it's modeled on the Pantheon in Paris.  Before the revolution, it was the seat of government but now it is the home of the Cuban Academy of Sciences, and of course major tourist attraction

The Statue of the Republic - apparently the world's third largest indoors statue

Inside the Capitol, hall with inlaid marble floors

The Library

Corridor leading to the Parliament Chambers

Inside the Parliament

Next post:  more on Havana

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Cuba - Houses and more

We saw some pretty dilapidated houses on the way in to Santiago downtown but we also some outrageously fancy ones in some parts of town.   The one below was in an ultra affluent area, rather like embassy row in Havana.

Striking portico on this Holguin house
Not your typical Holguin house

Unusual garage!

Separate entrances for the two floors; it is very common for Cubans to build on top of an existing house, with arrangements between family members, in-laws and others.  These seemed to be very typical Cuban houses - obviously relatively well off with lots of iron fencing to keep out the unwanted.

Lots of fruit stands along the highway

A well-thatched roof in the village we stopped by on our way back to the resort

This one seemed to have a roof only over part of the house

Free range turkeys and kids in the village 

This one looked like a villa - also in the village!  I blew up the photo and noticed the words "Officina C.P.A." on the arch.  Is it possible that it's the office of the local accountant?  or did C.P.A. stand for something else in Cuba?  Too bad I didn't see it when the guide was there.

A half-thatched roof

Ox cart - incongruous but still everywhere

Cultural exchange between the young people on the tour and village youths - they were going to do some salsa dancing together but all it took was a moment's hesitation and the dynamics changed.  The guys thought better of it - to the disappointment of this photographer.  But it was still fun tagging along...

Cuba - Holguin

Our day trip into Holguin was one of the highlights of our Cuban trip.  We went on the tour with a minibusful of twenty somethings - what luck!  The energy among the group was palpable and the conversation invigorating.  What a difference from our day trip into Santiago with people our age!   

Our first stop was at a cigar factory, no pictures allowed but it provided a very interesting glimpse of how cigars were made.  I loved the pervading aroma of tobacco leaves - and I don't even smoke!

Outside the cigar factory

 Did I mention energy?  Awesome youthful energy...!

The 450 steps up to the Loma de la Cruz - these two guys made it to the top before the bus did.

Panoramic view of Holguin city from the top
The Cross at the top to receive pilgrims

The surrounding countryside in full view from the terrace at the top

The bus took us all the way across town for lunch at this restaurant from where we can see the hill with Loma de la Cruz and the surrounding hills from a different angle

The Provincial Library downtown with teens hanging out outside and inside, like all libraries - except this one had no computers, or many books...

Shooting the breeze in the square across from the library

The Casa de la Trova in the Centre of town

Cuban group performing inside the Casa de la Trova

Looking out on the square from inside the Casa de la Trova

Last post on Cuba coming up!