Posted by: pennyinparadise | September 19, 2017

Cuban Adventure #1

This year I wanted to give Jim something very special for his birthday (besides his big party seen on my last post), and I decided a trip to Cuba was it.   Jim’s grandfather, Booker, was a real character who made frequent trips to Cuba in the 50’s before Castro took over in 1960 when it was shut down travel for Americans.  One can travel to Cuba (where the whole rest of the world vacations) from Panama, but at the time we went, Americans were everywhere.   The travel ban is lifted for certain reasons and things will change very rapidly…they already are….when the Americans hit the island.

However, recent news is that several airlines are not moving forward on plans to fly from the US.   Disappointment by early visitors from the US is caused by the difficulty getting internet service, no cell service, no American credit cards accepted, expensive hotels and food.   Our group stayed in a large 4 bedroom/4 bath condo that was very modern and not expensive.  We didn’t have any problems but never got on the internet (which was a blessing in disguise).   We felt very safe at all times….however we were always in the tourist areas.

At the party I gave Jim his REAL present….a trip to Cuba!!

So the party was great…I had a TaylorMade golf ball birthday cake and we had 40+ people for the party and golf shoot out in our back yard driving range.  At the cake cutting I gave Jim his “present” which was the invitation below.

Here’s Jim’s birthday card

We went with 8 other people, and had a blast.   We took lots of photos….so many photos that we’ve had to split them into several galleries and 6 posts.

The airport was pretty modern, but we were told not to check our luggage (only carry on) because it would take hours for it to come on the carousel.  Lots of tour groups arriving, including Americans.   The trip into Old Havana where tourists stay offered a display of many billboards praising Fidel and many praising Che and Cienfuegos.

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In the heart of Old Havana (Habana Vieja) there sits the Capitol building.   Designed and built by an American company in the 1920’s/30’s, it is currently undergoing a huge renovation projecct.   The tour guide told me that “it is 2 meters longer than the one in Washington”.   This was a familiar theme in Cuba…..such as the tower in Revolution Plaza being “2 meters taller than the Washington Monument”…and when asked if they have ever been to the US they say “No…of course not!”, and when asked how they know these things they say “Because Fidel told us so”.   Very sweet but very sad.

The National Theater (sometimes called Teatro Gran) is the magnificent building you see the corner of in the first photo below.   Further in the gallery will be closer views of this magnificent building.   We were fortunate to see a Flamenco Show there one night.  It was exactly like being in Carnegie Hall in New York.   Amazing.

Other buildings are shown below, including the iron portraits of Che Guavara and Camilo Cienfuegos displayed on two modern buildings on the opposite side of the Revolution Plaza, across from the Revolution Tower and statue of Jose Marti’ (the man who fought for freedom from Spain….Cuba’s version of Simon Bolivar who feed South and Central America from Spain.

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Everyone knows that Cuba has an amazing amount of 50’s cars…we were surprised by the sheer numbers of them and the incredible condition most of them were in.   And not just in Havana…we understand the entire country has them.  There were thousands in Havana…so many that I’ve had to create more than one gallery just to show you a small portion.

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