There were the dinners in Havana's El Barrio Chino. A strange Chinatown with no Chinese people and an equally strange blend of Cuban and Chinese food on the menus. Highly recommended by Luis one of the restaurants was actually quite delicious. Our only gripe was that when I asked if it was family style or we should each order our own plate we were told to order our own. There was enough food leftover to feed a small army! The other Chinese restaurant not only ended up delivering some of the worst food ever but had us waiting practically all night for it. Our normally quiet and well behaved French friend Matt stormed into the kitchen demanding they bring out what was ready immediately!
Matt giving the kitchen the "what for!"
And there was the very interesting Museo de la Revolution, housed in the old Presidential Palace and decorated by Tiffany's of NYC. Inside we found life size Che & Fidel figures, a history of Cuba, their struggles against the world (told with an incredible communist slant, natch) and the funny Wall of Cretans!
And also the Capitolio Building, a gorgeous domed structure resembling the US Capitol that use to house the Cuban Congress. It's full of beautiful offices, libraries, huge bronze doors, and even a 35 foot statue of a woman. In the center of the main floor is a 24 carat diamond from which all distances between Havana and other cities in Cuba are measured.
There was the day spent in Vedado with it's huge abandoned mansions, amazing Art Deco, Hotel National, Plaza de la Revolucion and the cemetery Cristobal Colon, including it's impressive list of residents such as La Milagrosa
And one of the most fun nights spent up at the Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana where Dayne shook drinks on a cannon before we all sat and watched the festivities of the nightly 9pm cannon shooting, complete with guards in costume!
Besides staying in a Casa Particular we also stayed at the Hotel Sevilla, considered to be a moderately upscale hotel. In addition to the stories about other thugs, writers and celebrities Al Capone once rented out the entire 6th floor here. We enjoyed their large rooms, running hot water, outdoor courtyard, music and mojitos.
And there was New Years Eve, which was a quiet one this year since we had to get up early the next day. We started with champagne, shared with Luis and Luisa at their home, then had a nice seafood dinner by the waterfront where we watched fireworks at midnight. There were parties in the streets as we headed home, people dancing and having a great time. Unfortunately for Tim and Forest, there is also a tradition of dropping water balloons off balconies, which they experienced first hand.
So there you have it, our Cuba trip 2009-2010 in a nut shell. Lots of pictures of all these things and more are in two sets here and here!