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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 15
2015
Cuba and Florida
   
 Classic American car in Havana
 
   
05.22.15
Friday
Day 8
Havana
 
     

Slept fairly well in our king-sized bed at Hotel Melia Cohiba and woke refreshed at 6AM.  Showered, dressed and enjoyed a delicious full first-class breakfast in the hotelís expansive dining room.  Eggs, fish, meats, cheeses, juices, and coffees in a multitude of varieties were available and we made good use of them.

   

Breakfast at Hotel Melia Cohiba
Breakfast at Hotel Melia Cohiba
    

On the bus at 8:30AM, Hermes drove us through the busy narrow streets to Habana Viejo (Old Havana) where a young knowledgeable guide named Daniel introduced us to some of the architecture, history and problems of this antiquated, beautiful and quaint area.  Spanish and Moorish influences are evident all around us, mixed with modern art and Catholic cathedrals.

       
Daniel, our guide in Old Havana
Daniel, our guide in Old Havana
      
Cathedral in Old Havana
       
Carol with a character in Old Havana
Carol with a character in Old Havana
       
Napping in Old Havana
      
Art in Old Havana
      
Art in Old Havana
       
Graffiti in Old Havana
       
Art in Old Havana
      
Character in Old Havana
     

At 10:30 it was time to board the bus again for a ten minute ride to a day-care center where a group of adorable pre-schoolers serenaded us as their caretakers showed us their facility, which exists due to the charity of the Church and strangers.

   

Pre-school in Havana
      
Pre-school in Havana
       
Bonnie autographs her book at the pre-school in Havana
Bonnie autographs her book at the pre-school in Havana
        

Next stop was the impressive botanical gardens where a young supervisor guided us among chocolate orchids, bromeliads, pear trees, vegetable gardens and a hummingbird nest with two tiny newborns.

  

Art at the botanical gardens in Havana
      
Orchid at the botanical garden in Havana
      

At the botanical gardens we enjoyed a delicious lunch of grilled fish, rice, beans, fried plantains, bread, grilled vegetables, soda and sugared papaya.

  

Lunch at the botanical gardens in Havana
Lunch at the botanical gardens in Havana
      

After lunch Hermes drove us to the magnificent estate and house owned by Ernest Hemingway.  As always, along the way Bob and Ramiro provided us with valuable information and tips of what to look for once we arrived there (you canít enter the house but you can peek in the windows.)  After touring the house and the grounds I spent a wonderful twenty minutes practicing my Spanish with Hermes, a warm and beautiful man who patiently and gently corrected my many mistakes.

     

Hemingway House in Havana
     
Hemingway House in Havana
      
Surrounded by beauties (Marney and Lindsay) at the Hemingway House in Havana
Surrounded by beauties (Marney and Lindsay) at the Hemingway House in Havana
       
Hemingway House in Havana
       
Extracting sweet juice from sugar cane at the Hemingway House in Havana
      
With Ben and Ken at the Hemingway House in Havana
With Ben and Ken at the Hemingway House in Havana
      
Delicious mojitos at the Hemingway House in Havana
       

We spent about an hour and a half at the Hemingway estate and then Hermes kindly (it was not on his required schedule) dropped a few of us off at the massive (and incredibly schlocky) indoor souvenir market near Havanaís canal.  Hermes generously offered to pick us up at 5:30PM (on his time off) so we would not have to pay for a taxi.  Carol and I fell in love with Hermes and we miss him to this day.

   

We arrived back at the Hotel Melia Chohiba at 6PM to shower and rest, then met Mike, Annettte, Mary Caye, Jerry and Doris in the lobby.  The plan was to walk two blocks to Atelier, a restaurant that Bob had suggested, but when we arrived we were told that we needed a reservation. We checked out another nearby eatery but the gang decided to select one of the several restaurant in our hotel.  We selected La Piazza and had a very tasty Pizza ai Pesco de Mar.  At one point there were two short, very dark, power outages, which apparently are not uncommon in Havana.  We very much enjoyed schmoozing with our new friends and then said Buenos Noches.  Mike and Annette went to explore the Malecon, Doris went to her room as did Jerry and Mary Caye.

   

Tasty pizza at hotel Melia Cohiba in Havana
       
Oscar and Miriam stepping out for an evening in Havana
Oscar and Miriam stepping out for an evening in Havana
      

Carol and I decided to sit in one of the hotel bars and sipped on Mojitos as I savored a delicious Cohiba Robusto.  A very enjoyable hour as we watched the young hookers strut from table to table displaying their assets.

   

At 10PM we took the elevator to our room on the seventh floor and fell into bed after another full day of adventures in fabulous Havana.

          

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