Posts Tagged With: Plaza de la Revolucion

Getting around in Havana

One of Havana’s great pluses is a double-decker hop-on hop-off bus that tours the city. Tickets are $5 for the day. It’s a great deal even though it isn’t perfect. You have to tell the driver if you want to get off; there are only a few places where it always stops. One of those is the Plaza de la Revolucion, a highly touted city tourist draw that is — to my mind — just a huge parking lot ringed by government buildings that feature giant images of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos (another Cuban revolutionary but less well known outside Cuba.)

I visited the Plaza four or five times because the bus stopped there coming and going, and when I rented a classic car for an hour’s tour of the city, my driver insisted on stopping there as well and giving me a chance to take more pictures.

Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana. You can see Che's face everywhere but I was surprised how rare it is to see a picture of Fidel Castro.

Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana. You can see Che’s face everywhere but I was surprised how rare it is to see a picture of Fidel Castro.

I have a story about the bus. At the end of one day, I took the last bus from Parque Central about 5:00 in the afternoon. Locals take it as well as tourists, if it’s convenient for them. I doubt they pay tourist prices for it.

Four local women got on when I did and went to the upper level. They got off somewhere along the Malecon and the bus continued. Almost immediately, another vehicle passed us and the driver yelled something to the bus driver. Piecing together what happened, I think he told the driver that one of the women who had got off had left something behind.

The bus driver pulled over and went upstairs and came down with a bag of shopping. Much discussion between him and the woman conductor taking the tickets, and we continued.

As soon as we came to a place where he could reverse direction, he turned and drove back about a mile. At some point he saw one of the women, pulled over and she got on to take her bag. She was very thankful. I doubt they knew each other because there was no hand-shaking or kissing which is very common amongst acquaintances.

The bus driver retraced his route by a mile at least to return this woman's shopping bag. She was very grateful for it.

The bus driver retraced his route by a mile at least to return this woman’s shopping bag. She was very grateful for it.

The driver drove until he found a spot where he could turn the bus again and we could continue on our way.

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I´m in Havana!

This is my second day in Havana and I´m still in the adjustment stage. I´ve had a lot of experience adjusting to very different cultures and a lot of them have been much more extreme than Cuba.

My plane was late arriving and by the time I got my luggage and arrived at the casa it was well after midnight, but everything went smoothly other than that.

My room is very clean and the bed comfortable but a bit soft. Water pressure is low but Brian, my host, is helpful and he brought me the nuvo water softener to have a bit more of pressure. Breakfast is plentiful – much more than I can eat – in a sunny dining room looking on to the street.

I´m in Hotel Parque Central at the moment using their computers and I only have 39 minutes of my hour left. There are no Internet facilities in private homes, only hotels. It takes a bit of adjustment since everything is in Spanish.

I spent yesterday wandering along the sea wall of the Malecon until a big wave washed over and nearly knocked me into traffic. It was unexpected because some stretches appear really calm. Fearing to ruin my new sandals, I crossed over the road and continued.

People are friendly and helpful for the most part, although you can get very conflicting information about where the bus stops and how much things cost. Everyone says ´take a taxi. Just $5´ but I wanted to take the hop’on hop’off bus. )Excuse the punctuation. It´s all different on Cuban keyboards.

The first day, after getting very conflicting information, I was walking across a plaza and fell flat. I wasn´t hurt and a couple of people came over to make sure I was ok, but at that point, I took a taxi.

I did get on the bus, however, and found that it will take you all over the city, but rarely stops unless you ask it to. A woman takes the tickets and gives Eng and Span on a very bad sound system so it all sounds like a Peanuts cartoon thus mwah mwah Avenida de las Presidentes mwah mwah a la izquierda mwah mway Plaza de la Revolucion.

When I went outside the first morning, this was the view as I started to walk. That’s the Malecon in the distance, basically where it ends. It starts 8 km further north in Habana Vieja.

Just outside my casa looking towards the Malecon. The days are lovely.

Just outside my casa looking towards the Malecon. The days are lovely.

I walked for 20 minutes or so loving the sight until my encounter with the wave.

I intend to take a classic car ride today and see a cabaret tomorrow night at the Hotel Nacional, the one made famous by American mobsters (and I think, the Godfather.)

Here are some more pictures so far.

Plaza de la Revolucion with picture of Che. It´s touted as a major attraction but in reality it is a huge parking lot surrounded by buildings like this one. Another has a similar pic of Cienfuegos, a revolutionary leader, and a statue of Jose Marti, revolutionary leader.

Plaza de la Revolucion with picture of Che. It´s touted as a major attraction but in reality it is a huge parking lot surrounded by buildings like this one. Another has a similar pic of Cienfuegos, a revolutionary leader, and a statue of Jose Marti, revolutionary leader.

Lots of taxis some of which are classic cars, some these mini cars which are double the rate, and bicycle taxis which are much cheaper and only really available in Old Havana.

Lots of taxis some of which are classic cars, some these mini cars which are double the rate, and bicycle taxis which are much cheaper and only really available in Old Havana.

Street performers on stilts in Old Havana. This little girl in the pic is giving them money.

Street performers on stilts in Old Havana. This little girl in the pic is giving them money.

The big pot under this lady´s hand in Old Havana is full of boiling corn. The cobs are all cored and the vendor is sticking a piece of wood in it as a handle. There´s also a big bowl of melting butter sitting in the top of the pot and a line up of people waiting to taste.

The big pot under this lady´s hand in Old Havana is full of boiling corn. The cobs are all cored and the vendor is sticking a piece of wood in it as a handle. There´s also a big bowl of melting butter sitting in the top of the pot and a line up of people waiting to taste.

Typical classic car in Parque Central waiting for a customer. The city is half and half classic cars and newer vehicles, but most of the old cars look their age.

Typical classic car in Parque Central waiting for a customer. The city is half and half classic cars and newer vehicles, but most of the old cars look their age.

Car interior just in case anyone is interested. The well cared for ones are beautiful. This one has white leather interior completely encased in plastic.

Car interior just in case anyone is interested. The well cared for ones are beautiful. This one has white leather interior completely encased in plastic.

Until next time…

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