From the night before our casa owner let us know that they would be replacing the elevator and so it wouldn’t be available from 9am-12pm. We were supposed to wake up and leave with him to go on the road but when he came by at 8:45am we couldn’t make it! Lol. We did stay awake though. We washed and sterilized bottles then prepped for the day. We booked our tour with Cubatur at Hotel Presidente then went to the bank to change money. Now listen, the eyebrow game in this place is something crazy. Men and women alike have well done brows and well, I got a little jealous. We made a stop at a barber shop down the road and for 1 CUC I was brought up to standard! I loved them!
We walked down to the Malecon and caught a cab to what should have been Almances San Jose to do some souvenir shopping. The driver was unable to find the place despite asking multiple people on the way, so we decided to just go to El Capitolo and sort ourselves out from there as it is pretty central. All that driving for only 3 CUC was a steal to me. It was just a bit annoying that taxis in Havana don’t know a lot of places. Even when they asked other taxi drivers. As faith would have it, we got dropped off on San Jose street and there was a sounvenir shop right there! Sigh.
We went in for a bit, but the prices were out of our reach. While walking down the street I felt a loose grip and realized that my slippers had gone rogue and no longer wanted to protect my feet:-(
My hero got me a new pair for 7 CUC at said souvenir shop. *facepalm*. Once back on track we made our way to Sloppy Joes for a delicious lunch! My gosh! The meals were so good and we had a very refreshing Coke! Our sloppy joe, chicken with vegetables sandwich, mojito and coke came to 19 CUC. We couldn’t complain at all. It had a North American flair and was the perfect break we needed from all things Cuban. It felt like we were in an embassy lol. Once we hit those doors, the annoyance from struggling to communicate all over, picking food conscientiously to avoid illness and dealing with the unorganized taxi system just floated away. It truly felt like a safe haven and the food being excellent was a much needed bonus! Even baby ate a lil. We have no complaints even though we had to maneuver eating while controlling him on a stool as there’s no tables and chairs. I wanted to go to the Museum of Belles Artes but as they were closed on Mondays we went across the road to the Museum of the Revolution.
It was 8 CUC each and while it was very interesting, it was also extremely biased. A few pieces were in English and an English speaking guide is there if you so desire.
There were a few pieces of blood stained clothes of warriors that gave me the creeps. As we walked through each room every one was very quietly, it was as if they were all taken aback at the blatant victimization in the language or the brutality in the revolution itself. Either way, it’s a MUST see. My hubby thoroughly enjoyed it and seeing military artillery such as planes, boats and trucks was very cool as well. Not to mention we got souvenir pieces, 10 pieces for 5 CUC, a leather covered ball for 2 CUC and 3 shot glasses 5 CUC. We shared a small tub of ice cream before heading out. We walked 7 mins to Plaza Vieja where we just chilled on the side of the curb for a good hour. I walked around for a bit but there wasn’t much more here for me as it was a bit hard to understand and locate the attractions in this area. Nothing is in English as the country doesn’t cater to English speakers despite the fact that Cubans don’t visit these attractions or know of them! Due to it popularity, I tried a croissant with ham and cheese from Cafe Bohemia and much was left to desired. After a while we decided to go home. We walked toward the Plaza de la San Fransisco to find the Malecon spot we left from before. During this walk we saw some teachers outside a school and gave them a few bags of the gifts we brought to give to the students. At the plaza we found the Jardin de Teresa Calcutta. As an extremely non religious person, I enjoyed this garden so much! I was raised in Catholic schools all my life and so the works of Mother Teresa was taught all over. It was a very beautiful, serene rest spot and I would recommend it as a break from the crowds, haggling and hustle of the streets. We spent a few minutes here then caught the cab of a lifetime! 6 CUC to take us to the monument of Calixto Garcia. We said no, and it went down to 5. We decided to take it and things got interesting. I wanted to stop and take a photo of a beautiful monument of a face I saw and somehow we communicated that. I showed him where it was and he turned around in the street and allowed me to take a couple pictures. It was so beautiful. When I was done I got back in the car but he didn’t drive off. He spoke and all I caught was ‘Donde?’ And I told him the same destination and he got so upset, hitting his steering wheel and all! I said Cuantos, quentas? (How much?) and the tirade continued as we sat quietly watching him. When he was done, he said 8 CUC to Hotel Presidente and we said ok. We had no issues paying more but his reaction caught us so off guard. When he got to Hotel Presidente, would you believe he got out, ran around to my door helped me out to the point of almost lifting me. Then, he took out all of our bags and took my son who was sleeping from the husband and helped him out as well. Introduced himself and asked us our names then he did a curtsy!! What a quack!! I thought this was hilarious as this comes after mentioning to hubs that almost every tourist I saw had a very shocked look on their face when their cab rides come to an end. We even witnessed 2 quarrels between taxi and guests over the cost of their splashy old car ride. The taxi world in Havana is very funny, a sad funny if you will. They hardly learn to communicate with you and they make up their prices as they go. The biggest trip we found was when we said no to their prices, they would say they are not a ‘collectivo’ when they are! As they will toot at people asking if they need a taxi while you’re in their car. When you say no they will also lower the price! You have to haggle twice as hard, or just walk! Havana, I must say is a walking city. There is TONS to see and do everywhere, so the walk isn’t dreadful. There are monuments all over the city and even though you can’t Google ino on a lot them they are still unique. There’s a lot of Greek influences across the city as well. We mainly took taxi or collectivos to far areas but walked around for the most part with baby in hand. The only regret is not bringing an umbrella stroller, which while it might not make it due to the roads; would have eased the child carrying burden somewhat. We had a good laugh at crazy man ‘Luis’ and walked home to prep for our day. We realized we needed to change more money for our final 2 days as we blew the budget of 40 CUC per day. While daddy when to Hotel Presidente, baby and I went to the park but the slide was broken and almost ripped a chunk of his skin out. Another section had no bars on either side and he got scared to play so we left. When we went home a Celine Dion concert was going on in English and we sang out our little hearts as she belted hit after hit after hit! Even hubby ‘air guitared’ it once or twice. Dinner was a to go box of queso pizza from Razones after prepping for our day tour to Vinales and doing a light packing for our departure home. There was a music video countdown going on and we had fun in bed singing all the songs and dancing, enjoying the fact that Cuban people would know certain entertainers such as Justin Timberlake, Sean Paul, Shawn Mendes, Alessia Cara (Btown represent!!), The Weekend, Selena Gomez, Chainsmokers, Imagine Dragons, Maroon 5, Sia and Rae Sremmurd. We especially cheered when Sean Paul hit the screen singing Rock a bye baby, rock a bye! As ignorant as it sounds we cheered as if these artistes ‘made it’ lol. Sadly, there was no Drake or Justin Beiber. Dia Cinco was complete!