Bits & Bites / Uncategorized

Travel Journal: Cuba – Part 4

We treated the last full day of our trip as a “luxury” day.  It’s not like we hit up the spa or anything, but we strolled the city at a more leisurely pace and spent some time hanging by the pool.

FYI: Catch up on the beginning of our trip with Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Day 4 (Saturday, 4/15/17)

We wanted our final full day to be a relaxing one.  We started by walking around the cathedral area after noticing how nice it was the night before.  It was even lovelier in the daytime.  It’s only about 3 blocks from the part of Old Havana where we had been spending our time, but it felt totally different.  This area has been kept in the best condition and definitely caters to the wealthier tourists.

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Our goal was to go straight to breakfast, but we spent more time than originally anticipated walking around this part of Old Havana.  We roamed a flea market and ambled slowly to breakfast at French bakery (or at least Cuba’s take on French) called Pasteleria Francesa.  Again, super cheap – 11 CUCs for coffees, a large chorizo stuffed sweet bread (choripan), ham and cheese sandwich, eggs, ham on toast points, a juice, and a water.

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This cafe was situated directly in front of the best place to pick out a vintage car to tour the city.  We had been riding in vintage cars for several days (at just a bit more than a regular taxi it was hard not to take advantage of the cool setting) but this time we wanted to pay for one of the actual tours.  50 CUCs will get you an hour (there are longer tours as well) and take you to all the big attractions.  I loved getting to pick whichever “fancy car” (as my nephew would call it) we wanted.  It was a great way to see parts of Havana we wouldn’t have seen on our own and get insight from a local.

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When we got out of the car we strolled the Paseo del Prado, a promenade with artists and nice view of the area.

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We didn’t see any art we loved there, but we headed back to our old Airbnb neighborhood to purchase something we had seen the day before.  One thing I was surprised to see was the great art community.  In addition to the museum (Bellas Artes) and the FAC, artists have set up shop everywhere.  They have turned even the darkest, crumbling wall into gallery space.  My favorite type of souvenir is artwork.  I have picked up a piece from every major city I have visited and every time I look at my walls I remember the vacation.  This time, Albert and I got to choose the piece together from at artist named Abel Massot, a first – yay married life!

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We were about to head back to the hotel when I noticed a bar on our way to the cab.  The name Bodeguita del Medio was familiar from my list of recommendations so I checked and remembered it’s yet another famous Hemingway spot.  Apparently good ol’ Ernest said “My mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in El Floridita.”  We had one, now it was time to try the other.  Clearly every tourist comes to order the mojito because they were making about 50 at once.  I don’t even think they would know what to do if someone ordered something different.  Also, like the Floridita and O’Reilly 304 (aka: places that cater to tourists) this was on the pricier side.  At 5 CUCs, it’s an expensive drink in Cuba.  That said, it was honestly the best mojito I’ve ever had.

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Then it was back to the hotel for a few hours of pool time.

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After soaking up the sun and making some major headway in my book, we got showered and changed for supper.  We decided to head to nearby Hotel Nacional because we heard the terrace was spectacular (it was rather nice) and we wanted a fancier, dress up kind of evening seeing as how it was our last night and also our one week wedding anniversary.  We also ate dinner at their more upscale restaurant, of which I have mixed feelings.  The food was simply ok (some of my meat was very undercooked, the vegetables weren’t all that fresh, and after rushing us to take our order, the service then got very very slow).  That said, it was a pretty amazing atmosphere, one where you can imagine Churchill sitting in a long ago era (which, he has).  The four opera singers who performed throughout our meal amplified that experience.  I probably would not go back, nor would i recommend it now that there are better food options opening, but it was fine for us given our newly wedded bliss.

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