Saturday, 17 March 2012

Cuba - Varadero

After Havana, we spent 4 days in Varadero staying at the Sirenis la Salina resort.  It was just right as there isn't much to see in Varadero.  The resort is very nice but while it is very convenient to get into town on the shuttle bus, the town is very small and it is almost there just to cater to tourists.  There are two small arts and crafts markets and a few restaurants, an old church and that's about it.  But the proximity of Havana certainly made the Varadero resorts popular destinations.  Many people made side trips into Havana and also to see the Tropicana show.  

The lobby of the Sirenis

The old church in Varadero

Inside the church

Our man in Varadero

This gives an idea of the price of meals for tourists

Another Don Quixote tableau - in the middle of nowhere, beside the road from Varadero beach to the town - the Cubans must love Cervantes

Varadero beach - the catamarans were fun

Cafe in the huge lobby of the Sirenis - great espresso!

We went to the Tropicana show when we were in Havana, but many people took a side trip from the resort to see this - certainly worth seeing but not worth a two hour bus trip.  
This is my last post on Cuba for now.  It's an amazing country - warm and friendly people, culturally vibrant and a great winter escape.  I look forward to returning...

Now that the weather has warmed up, I'm ready to go back to Berlin!
Next post - Potsdam

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Cuba - "New" Havana

It seems that I am reluctant to let go of Havana, at least until the weather warms up in Toronto!  So here is "new" Havana - for us, mainly a trip out to Revolution Square and environs, which included the not so new University of Havana, Vedado and then back in Old Havana, the contemporary art in the Palace of Fine Arts.

The iconic image of Che and his "Hasta la victoria siempre"  in Revolution Square

Biblioteca Nacional Jose Marti - National Library of Cuba on the south side of the square

Mosaic in the ceiling - lobby of the National Library

Jose Marti Memorial with its tower from where you get a panoramic view of Havana

To the west, the offices of Castro and Miramar beyond

To the north, the University of Havana, Vedado and the Caribbean

From Revolution Square, which is in the middle of nowhere, we did what tourists do when they are on vacation - throw caution to the wind - hopped on a "Bubble Cab" (what?! no seat belts?!)  to get us back into town.  The University of Havana had some gorgeous buildings, here is just one of the many beautiful portals on campus.

A little unexpected - Don Quixote in Vedado

The beautiful Museum of Decorative Arts in Vedado, the place with the lovely staircase you may have seen in my earlier post Havana Stairs

A no less lovely skylight in the former mansion

The art deco Hotel Nacional at the waterfront
The lobby of the impressive Palace of Fine Arts (no broken windows in this place for sure)

You see Che everywhere in Cuba, this painting in the Palace of Fine Arts is quite special

I love this painting!  Wish I hadn't lost the name of the artist!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Cuba - Old Havana

Old Havana, with its many gracious historical buildings spanning the centuries, was for me, the star of Cuba.  I've only included a few of the highlights below to provide a flavour of this destination, which I will gladly visit again.  

Courtyard, complete with peacock, of the Palacios de los Capitanes Generales - former official residence of the governors of Havana, now a museum 

The Cathedral of Havana

Inside the Cathedral

The booksellers at the Plaza de Armas reminded me of Paris

Paseo del Prado - the wide leafy pedestrian boulevard that cuts through Old Havana

The art deco Bacardi building and its lobby


The famous Calle Obispo - lots of street life with no traffic

 Farmacia Taquechel Museum, an old house turned into a famous pharmacy in the 19th century

Gorgeous restored building in the Plaza Vieja by day 

and by night

Typical street in old Havana
Not to miss Chocolate Musuem, not so much for the artifacts but for the smoothest cocoa ever!

Building under restoration

Iglesia de San Francisco by the waterfront

Looks like this might be a coming out event in the church square

Russian Orthodox Cathedral Our Lady of Kazan

Havana at night

Inside the Rum Museum

The famous Buena Vista Social Club playing in the Rum Museum

Click here to hear them