Tuesday, July 17, 2018

exploring old havana

so, back to havana.  once we ditched the tour group, we took a short walk from the terminal to check out old havana.  the cobblestone streets and super old buildings were really cool, and reminded us a lot of our european vacation a few years ago.



there were lots and lots of stray cats hanging out everywhere.


this was our first stop - the hotel ambos mundos, where ernest hemingway lived for awhile.



we hopped onto the old elevator to take us up to the rooftop bar so we could check out the view and grab a daiquiri.



when we were ready to move on, we passed up the elevator and went down the stairs instead, passing hemingway's apartment on the way.



as we walked along, just checking things out and doing some peoplewatching, i stopped to check out the apothecary.  so cool:



it was super duper hot and we were pretty hungry by then, so we hopped into a taxi that took us to the hotel nacional for some cuban sandwiches and cigars for the hub.



two seconds after i snapped this picture of my husband in cuban cigar heaven, the grumpy attendant popped her head into the humidor to tell me that photos weren't allowed in there.  oops.


so we went back upstairs and found ourselves outside:




from here, it's a 90-mile swim to florida:


i've already forgotten what this was.  a cannon used during the cuban missile crisis?  i think.  in any case, you gotta love my super awkward pose...at the end of it.


back at the hotel, we found a lovely spot to hang out on the couches and enjoy some lunch.  the hub reminisced about his last trip here, when he spent hours on this very patio with his old man friends just hanging out, drinking and enjoying cigars together.




we spent a good amount of time there, just relaxing and enjoying the ocean breeze.  and then we decided to catch another cab to take us to the other hotel that the hub had stayed at last time, so i could walk through the lobby and he could visit their cigar shop (which we were hoping would have much friendlier staff).  when we got there, folks were crowded around the tv in the bar watching the world cup.


one more cab took us back to the old havana area.  we did a lot of walking, just wandering through the streets and being tourists.  this is also where i confirmed that i am, indeed, NOT an instagram model by any stretch of the imagination.  i posed in front of doors and colorful walls and looked really awkward doing it.  heh.






this is one of the really nice hotels in the area, and we stopped in to cool off and have some snacks.




another hemingway haunt - the floridita.  it was jam-packed with tourists who were being serenaded by the live band just inside the door, and we somehow managed to find a table where we ordered yet another round of daiquiris.  i was really getting my alcohol quota in during this trip...i think i drank more in those five days than i have in about ten years.




afterwards, as we continued our wandering the hub remembered a courtyard that he and his friends had discovered where they hung out at a cool old coffee bar.  he was really stoked when he managed to find it again.



i don't even remember what this was, but i do remember that it was delicious.  i think it had espresso and frangelico liqueur and cream and...well, it was my favorite drink of the day.


we cracked up at this random piece of art in the square...a girl sitting on a giant -uh...cock, holding a giant fork.



i like how they repurposed more of those old cannons.



we were pretty wiped out by then, with the heat and humidity and walking and alcohol and everything.  so we made our way back towards the terminal to board the ship, passing a huge church along the way.



 back in our cabin, we found this:


we took turns taking showers, which felt extra wonderful after all the sweating we'd done all day.  and we were hungry again, but after perusing our options on the ship we decided to head back into town and see if we could find something better to have for dinner.  we'd passed lots of restaurants as we'd headed towards the terminal, and so we ended up back in plaza vieja where we found this restaurant on the upper level:



two lobster tails plus sides and a cocktail for $25?  yes please!


and although i would've liked to see the famous club tropicana, or the buena vista social club, and we didn't have to be back onboard until 5am the next morning, we were pretty much done for the night.  it'd been a long day of sightseeing and sensory overload, and so we headed back to the ship after dinner.  along the way we spotted even more of those stray cats hanging out in the street.


that was a good day.  a very good day indeed, and one i'll remember forever.
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