Days 8-10 in Cuba: Back to Havana

7 Feb
This cost $3,50.  It's a place of chicken from the grill with plantains and rice and beans. It was fantastic.

This cost $3,50. It’s a place of chicken from the grill with plantains and rice and beans. It was fantastic.

The bus back to Havana from Trinidad took about two hours longer than the trip down, so we didn’t make it to our new casa until about 4 p.m.

We are in a different neighborhood than the first visit, this time at Frank’s casa at the edge of the swanky Vedado neighborhood.

We quickly hit the pavement and got a lot of stuff done:

– Jeff was hungry so we got him one of his favorite Cuban sandwiches, called pan con Lechon – basically roasted pork.

– I needed to change the last of my Canadian dollars into Cuban money I could use for the last few days. The exchange line on La Rampa was much shorter here than downtown.

– We ended up browsing at a few different cigar stores. I picked up a few to take home as gifts for others. None for me, thanks.

– We walked along the Malecon, stopping once or twice for beers, before ending up at the Rivera Hotel. This place was amazing – a totally untouched time capsule to 1958.

– On the walk back there was a busy parrilla full of locals, so we found a table there for dinner. I had a chicken plate that was great – and only cost $3.50. And with two beers at $2 each, it was all a bargain.

– From there we walked in the dark (many streetlights out) to Copellia, the famous ice-cream parlor-slash-park the size of a city block. Because it was late on a cool night, there was no line to get in, which is quite unusual. We were directed to a table and watched as local families gorged on multiple dishes of the stuff. It was pretty good, especially the little cookie-crumble topping they put on it. It’s dirt cheap for Cubans, but because we could only pay in the “big” money, they gouged us at $5 each. Was worth it for the atmosphere though.

As soon we headed out after breakfast on Sunday morning, Jeff’s last day in Havana, it started to sprinkle. And then it started really raining. For the rest of the day.

We were at the Hotel Nacionale when I decided I had to go back to the room to get my pancho. Jeff was smart and had brought his rain jacket. I got soaked getting back to the casa.

We took a taxi from there to the Museum of the Revolution, back in Old Havana. Cool stuff in the building that used to be the presidential palace before Fidel took over. Then a closer look at the Granma yacht and other military vehicles used in the revolution that took place 1956-58.

From there we walked to a swanky hotel to get online for an hour. It was refreshing, actually, not being online much during the trip. The only two news items I got the entire 10 days:
– That Trump had issued his refugee ban.
– That the Patriots and Falcons had made it to Super Bowl.

Next up were another stop at a cigar store and some gift shopping. We cabbed it back to the casa where Jeff caught a cab and was off for the airport.

I didn’t do much the rest of the day because it continued to rain.

On my final morning, Monday, the sun was back. I walked along the Malecon, explored some new neighborhoods and did the last of my shopping and packing. At 2 p.m. It was time for my ride to the airport and the long trip home – not expecting to be home until almost 3:00 a.m. Tuesday Seattle time. But at least the first-class upgrades came again. 🙂

Coming tomorrow: The trip wrap-up. Would I ever want to visit again?

Folks enjoy their ice cream at Copellia.

Folks enjoy their ice cream at Copellia.

A dish of ice cream at Havana's sweet spot, Copellia.

A dish of ice cream at Havana’s sweet spot, Copellia.

This cost $3,50.  It's a place of chicken from the grill with plantains and rice and beans. It was fantastic.

This cost $3,50. It’s a place of chicken from the grill with plantains and rice and beans. It was fantastic.

The locals joint we found on a cool Havana night toward the end of the trip.

The locals joint we found on a cool Havana night toward the end of the trip.

A step back in time - the interior of the Riviera hotel is essentially untouched from when it was built in the 1950s.

A step back in time – the interior of the Riviera hotel is essentially untouched from when it was built in the 1950s.

The view from our casa on Neptuno Street, the last two nights of the trip.

The view from our casa on Neptuno Street, the last two nights of the trip.

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