Following a quick flight from Miami, we enjoyed the sights and sounds of Havana. First stop at Plaza de la Revolucion which features a massive memorial to Jose Marti, poet and Cuban national hero. This is flanked by two five-story steel-outline murals on government buildings across the plaza featuring Cuban revolutionaries Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. A parade of colorful antique cars circled the plaza transporting happy people waving from the back seats of convertibles. It was like taking a step back in time to see this rolling car museum of brightly-colored fifty-year old Chevys, Fords and Buicks. Our photo leader suggested we try panning the cars to capture the motion behind them – quite a challenge!
We stayed at the famous Hotel Nacional de Cuba, overlooking the Malecon seawall. This hotel hosted famous performers and artists such as Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando, and wast the site of the Havana Conference, an infamous mob summit run by Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky.
A visit to Cathedral Square and Plaza Vieja, two of Havana’s four historic squares, gave us an up close opportunity to experience the quaintness of the streets and the character of the friendly people. We enjoyed mojitos at the Ambros Mundos hotel, the first home in Cuba of writer Ernest Hemingway.
Other Havana highlights included the fortress of El Morro, built in 1589 to defend Havana harbor, a ride in a very leaky classic Buick 58 in a torrential rainstorm, and the amazing mosaic neighborhood called Fusterlandia.Next stop to see the amazing dancers at Danza Combinatoria.