Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cuba - part 3 (first daylight hours in Cuba)


After five hours of restful sleep in our dark and quiet room, Martha and I were ready to start our adventures. We waited until after sunrise to start exploring Havana. First up for me was breakfast. If you saw the pictures of the dinner spread in the previous post you have a sense of what our breakfast was like, minus the fabulous musicians. This is our daytime view from the terrace. We were centrally located -- inside of the historic district, but only a couple of blocks from Central Havana. A wonderful location. 

With our shortened time in Cuba, our itinerary was also shortened. Overall we were quite pleased with the itinerary as it left us more time than we would have imagined to explore Havana on our own, yet also gave us the foundation to better understand the culture and the history. The runners had to run the 3K local race that is run on the same day in every part of Cuba (though I heard some were planning on skipping this because of the long travel night). At the same time we had a talk by a sociologist about the impact of racism in Cuba. In a perfect world I would have done both -- I admit that race sounded awesome, but I am glad I got to learn more about Cuba from a Cuban. We then went on a walking tour that included lunch at a paladar (more on what that means in the next post) and a tour of the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Arte Cubano) with an expert on Cuban art. The runners had the option of going on a walking tour that did not include lunch or the museum tour. The next day they ran a 10K, half marathon, or full marathon and we went to a Cultural Center and an organic farm where we had another wonderful meal. A couple of runners commented to me only one of their meals was included, on the other hand I felt as if us companions feasted. More details as the blog posts evolve from my fingers.

Martha had very few requirements for the trip. The main one was to buy nice stamps at a post office and some post cards to send home to her family. How hard could that be? We left the hotel by nine to get to the main post office located around the corner from the hotel with the earliest hours of any post office in the area (remember, we are only in Cuba on Saturday and Sunday, and we anticipated post offices being closed on Sundays). It was closed for renovations. We walked to the next closest post office that opens a little later.

We did find Christmas decorations, though.
The section of the post office offering computers with wifi (for a fee) was open and happening, but not the side with stamps. We returned as often as we could that day, but the post office never opened. Martha did find some post cards, and the hotel gift shop sold her a boring stamp, but the quest continued (anyone who has read my travel blogs knows how much I support a good quest, fortunately Martha does, too, as will become apparent in the post about Sunday afternoon's jaunt). 

We did find this place all sealed up.

The streets were closed for the start of the 3K race. The flags hanging represent all of the different countries involved with the race. Someone told me this is the first year they have hung an American flag (no idea how to verify that, so take it for what it is worth).

Viva la Belgique!
Pacer car

It was too crowded to get a good picture of the dancers at the start. Use your imaginations.

And took more pictures because the roads were closed:

We saw people passing things from one floor to another using this method.

The capitol building

As the race started we headed back to the hotel for our tour. A couple of tour group members won in their age categories. Go Team USA!

I know this only covers three hours of our trip. I'll break here anyway so each post is not too enormous. We tried to make the most of each hour.

All pictures can be found HERE


  1. I guess putting up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving is not exclusively an American thing. Looking forward to seeing if you were successful on your quest!

  2. I guess putting up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving is not exclusively an American thing. Looking forward to seeing if you were successful on your quest!

    1. John, I don't think they celebrate Thanksgiving there. Keep reading! There are not a lot of words in each post, but lots and lots of pictures.