Day Two was our history/political day.
But, first, you gotta love hotel breakfast buffets. At the Hotel Riviera it looks like this:
In the tropics you get all the wonderful fruit – mango, papaya, pineapple, and guava:
In the backgrounds of both pictures, you’ll see a live band. At breakfast! We had music every morning.
And evening. In the lobby bar of the Riviera the music started at 4:00.
Live music is everywhere in Havana – and all over Cuba, as far as I can tell.
I always knew Cuban music to be exuberant with toe-tapping, hip-swinging rhythms. I found it also to be melodious. One very beautiful song I heard that I loved is “Eternamente Yolanda”
Live music may be plentiful, but wi-fi is not. In fact it’s a slight pain. You have to buy an Etecsa card: 2 CUC for 1 hour. At the Hotel Riviera it only worked in the lobby.
Then it was off to tourism.
We went to the Parque Central and chose the taxi to tool us around town.
Immediate point of interest: the Saratoga Hotel. Why? Because both Beyonce and Madonna have stayed there.
Next up: the Barrio Chino “Chinatown” and a cruise down Calle Reina “Queen Street” with the Sagrado Corazon “Sacred Heart” Church, famous for the pope’s recent visit:
One major stop was the José Martí Memorial in Revolution Square:
Opposite the memorial is the Che Guevara building:
And next to it is the Camilo Cienfuegos building:
In the middle is a vast parking lot. So the aesthetics were a bit off, at least, for me. But I did get another great photo of our taxi and driver:
Not to be missed is Fidel’s Granma yacht – primarily because it’s in the middle of Old Havana, so you’re bound to see it. We came across it our first night.
For some reason I was more taken by the Fast Delivery truck, which was riddled with bullet holes.
Back to the taxi tour. When it was over, we returned to the Parque Central then wandered in Old Havana.
We also encountered Santeras, women who practice Santería, a religion that mixes Christianity with African beliefs and practices such as animal sacrifices:
Not all Santeras are dressed in all white, but most are. In fact, all white clothing is common here:
We had a late lunch – or, rather, a lunch at the proper time in Latin American countries. This was when I learned about the rice and beans dish Moros y Cristianos “Moors and Christians,” which I ordered:
After lunch Phillip and I outlined an article we’re going to write together, and David had stuff to do. After a bit of downtime we took a taxi back into town …
… in order to go to the restaurant Floridita, which claims to be the birthplace of the rum-based daiquiri.
Jam-packed and with musicians:
Linguistic note: Daiquirí is the name of a rum-producing area of Cuba and is of Taíno (Arawak Native American) origin.
Final comment: you don’t go to the Floridita for the food.
This post was written by Julie Andresen