Friday, January 3, 2014

Daytime Havana

Christmas Eve 2013 in Havana
St. John's is not making it easy to adjust back to winter.  This time last week we were in Cuba and we visited Havana in shorts and t-shirts on Christmas Eve.  Today, in St. John's, we already have more than a metre of snow and because its the coldest winter in two and a half decades, most of it is still on the ground.  We're having rolling power outages across the Province because everyone has their heat cranked.  On top of that we are on a blizzard watch and will most likely be getting another 25-40cm of snow in the next 24 hours.  I am looking forward to some excellent snowshoeing on Sunday, but forgive me if I spend my computer's battery life reminiscing about warmer days while waiting out the second blackout to hit our street since breakfast.  

Looking up in La Plaza Vieja
Havana has 500 years of history, not including the indigenous people who lived in Cuba for thousands of years before the Spanish arrived.

Much of Havana is showing its age.  Businesses and public buildings are being renovated and restored, but residences don't enjoy the same treatment.  Makeshift scaffolds and supports keep the ornate exteriors from crumbling onto the streets below.

Museums, shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions are enjoying the effects of revitalization and Old Havana is becoming a colourful, vibrant destination.

Aside from a few decorations in the hotels, Christmas really isn't noticeable in Cuba.  The season coincides with the sugarcane harvest and the holiday has only been observed for the past decade or so.  We stopped for Mojitos in the Ambos Mundos Hotel, where Hemingway lived, drank, and wrote for several months.

One of the large government buildings surrounding Revolution Square.

Areas of the city are being revitalized, in part through UNESCO funding.  This sculpture by Roberto Fabelo was installed in the newly renovated La Plaza Vieja in 2012.  

The older stone architecture had a very European feel to it and the Spanish influences can be seen everywhere in the older part of the city.

Another view from La Plaza Vieja

More than 2 million people live in Havana, not counting the Canadian, British, and German tourists.  The streets are full day and night, which, again gives the feeling that you've been transported to Spain.

The house on the hill overlooking the harbour was the residence of Ernesto "Che" Guevara while he lived in Havana. 

The restaurant we had lunch in had an eclectic style.  No restaurant is too small to have a live band, and at this particular spot Peacocks and chickens roamed under the tables and lounged around the walls and fountains.  Not sure what the noose was for.

The view of the city from the lighthouse.  I don't know what I was expecting Havana to be like, but I had no idea it would be so beautiful.

A large church across the street from the City's indoor market.

The market has an overwhelming array of art.  Its the perfect place to get an inexpensive original painting of classic cars, Havana streets, and naked ladies.  The handful of artists producing original designs stand out.  We bought several pieces from this vendor.

Every mode of transportation imaginable can be found on the streets of Havana from horse drawn carriages and classic cars to scooters, buses, and rickshaws.

The ubiquitous turkey vultures make Havana their home, too. 

Statue of John Lennon in John Lennon Park.  Apparently the former Beatle never actually visited Havana, but he inspired the people enough that they built a park in his honour.  The glasses really make the statue.  The glasses have been stolen and broken on several occasions, so now their is an elderly custodian who is their caretaker.  He keeps them safe in his pocket, but will bring them out and put them on Mr. Lennon for photos.

More Spanish architecture.  More Peacocks.  

We only had one day and one night in Havana.  Some day we'll return for a longer visit.

Street musicians, buskers, peanut salesmen, and all manner of hawkers and performers punctuated the streets and intersections of Old Havana.

A famous Havana citizen, who roamed the streets during the 20th century has been immortalized in bronze.
Its easy to see how the streets of Havana could inspire generations of poets, painters, travelers, and writers.

Photo Credits: Lori White and Tim Rast


  1. There have been a lot of restorations since my first couple of visits to Havana in 2007 & 2008. Definitely need to go back again!

  2. I'm certainly game to continue documenting the improvements. Its a tough job, but somebody needs to do it.


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