When you drive on the highway into Havana, you can't see the city at all until you go through a tunnel under the harbour and when you emerge, the city appears before your eyes. We were staying in Havana Vieja (Old Havana), so it was hard for our driver to get close to the area as some roads are blocked off for pedestrians. After the driver asked for directions a couple of times, we finally made it. The place we stayed was right next to Plaza Vieja.
We were woken up at 5 am by some local roosters who seem to do a call and response routine every morning. After picking up a $2 breakfast of pastries and orange soft drink at a local bakery, we went to the local tourist booth to find out how to book excursions. Unfortunately, we couldn't book with them and we had to walk to the other side of Havana Vieja to do so. As a result, we changed our plans for the day and decided to tackle that side of the city first.
There are three floors of information, photographs, and artifacts. Some of those artifacts are what you would expect from a museum, but a substantial percentage of them were bloody uniforms - as weird as that sounds. The Cubans seem to save the clothing that people were wearing in various battles and put them on display without having washed them. It definitely had an impact and while it is unusual, it made the situation much more real. We were still kind of uncomfortable with it in the end.
They also have an outdoor exhibit of vehicles used in the revolution, including the yacht that brought Castro and 81 other revolutionaries to Cuba in December 1956. Very historically significant.
That night, we decided to take in the famous Tropicana Nightclub. It's an open air cabaret-style show that has been running since 1939 and is still done in 1950s style. The performers were all talented dancers and musicians, albeit scantily clad. The show is purely for tourists, making it the most touristy thing we did, but it's an amazing production and we're glad we went. It was pricey, but it did come with a bottle of Havana Club rum to split, champagne, and a few snacks. No complaints!
5 Days in Havana (Part II)
Viñales Valley Wednesday
5 Days in Havana (Part III)
Here are some more photos from Part I of our trip to Havana!