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Ruby and Marcello's travel blog

Cuba- Havana

CUBA | Thursday, 1 March 2012 | Views [1075]

We decided to squeeze in a short trip to Cuba’s capital Havana. Unfortunately we only had 5 days and for all of this time I had worsening symptoms of the intestinal infection from Belize and Marcello’s symptoms we starting to reappear so our experience was hindered by this.

  

Everyone who had urged us to go to Cuba had said, it’s changing you have to see it now. I think since 2008 when Fidel Castro became too sick to continue as President and his brother Raul took over there have been incredibly significant changes so much of the crumbling charm of Havana is hidden back a few blocks from the main tourist areas.

  

Tourism is massive in Havana which is something that left us a bit confused in regards to private land ownership etc. There are lots of resorts that offer a range of tours that shuttle tourists from one location to the next in air conditioned buses without the need for them to walk through the poorer areas or actually interact with a local outside of tour guides, cigar vendors or the barman who whips up their Mojito for them.

The Cars

   

It seemed most of the old American cars were now being used as Taxis (much to our delight as we got to go in a few) and there are now a large number of Asian and European cars available.

The Cigars

Pretty much every man and his dog is trying to sell you cigars whilst in Havana. People will follow you down the street, come to your table at a bar, offer them to you in a taxi, offer them with your food, with your drink with whatever. It gets a bit tedious after a while. Also, unfortunately because we’re coming back through the USA we can’t bring any home with us.

  

We went to the Tobacco Museum which was an interesting experience. Thinking that we’d learn something about the process of making cigars (and potentially even seeing one be made as the picture on sign out the front alluded to) we were instead shown a range of pipes and other smoking apparatus, lighters, labels and storage containers by an over enthusiastic Cuban woman who seemed to laugh at us every 2 minutes as she explained things in her rapid Cuban Spanish.

The Rum

  

At the direction of the woman from the Tobacco Museum we also did a tour of the rum museum- or more specifically the Havana Club Rum Museum. Marcello’s research tells us that Havana Club is government owned. Originally Cuba’s rum was Bacardi but during the revolution the guy who’d come up with recipe fled to the USA and when the government took over it was renamed Havana Club- none of this information was even hinted at during the tour that we paid for. The highlight of the tour was a model train set that illustrated a sugar cane plantation connected by train to the various buildings housing the various stages of rum production.

 

We followed the tour with a visit to the Havana Club Bar where we got slightly drunk on rum based drinks whilst listening to a Cuban band

Revolution Museum

  

We also went to the Museo de la Revolucion which contained everything from manequins dressed as Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos to spoons and forks used by revolutionaries during their time in prison under Batista’s rule. The highlight was the bullet holes in the foyer and the Granma yacht which was used at the start of the revolution (housed inside the large structure shown in the middle image above).

The Zoo

   

On our final day we went to the very dilapidated Zoo which housed lots of bored/depressed looking animals. It was a bit depressing. However I did get to see my first ever Cassowary...funny how I have to come all the way to Cuba to see a native Australian bird!

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