Sunday, January 27, 2013

La Habana (II)

So we were back in Havana! But this time, to the newer parts of Havana. And it definitely looked different that Habana Vieja. Wide streets in a grid pattern with trees and houses reminiscent of the 19th century. And big open spaces... Like Plaza de la Revolucion with the large Monumento a Jose Marti (one of the heroes of Cuban Independence from Spain)...

... and the famous buildings with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara's faces.

We could even find amazingly cheap restaurants for locals in which soup and one dish of rice and a burger/sausage/egg was only 5 Cuban pesos or less than 5 euro cents or 5 yen!!! Beer was also different! Not the one for tourists but for locals. These beers are Mayabe and Cacique. Mayabe is the equivalent to Cristal and Cacique was the equivalent to Bucanero. Cacique was not a bad beer and I drank it always I could find it. 

There were also many panels with revolutionary slogans (or propaganda depending on your views).

Vedado also houses the most important graveyard in Havana, and Cuban graveyards are very beautiful and tourist destinations on their own! This one, Necropolis Cristobal Colon actually charged a hefty 5 CUC (=5 USD) for foreign nationals. But it was interesting to get in to see what a Cuban graveyard looks like. And it did not let us down. It was full of memorials and statues wherever we went.
(Main entrance)

(Tomb of the writer Alejo Carpentier)

(Random street)

(Random statues)

(Random mausoleums)

(Some weird looking memorial)

(Memorial for the Revolutionary Armed Forces)

(Memorial for the revolutionaries who died in the Granma landing)

(Detail in the Memorial for the Dead in the Independence War. The legend translates as "Freedom is not asked, it is taken by the blade of a machete")

(The main church were funeral are held. The only 8-sides church in Cuba)

After the walk in the Necropolis, we went to the stunning "Seccion de Intereses de Estados Unidos en Cuba", kind of the American Consulate. Apparently, the American administration under George Bush Jr. decided to display panels with counter-revolutionary slogans on this building. Fidel's reaction was to put tens of flags in front of the building so nothing could be seen and he built a huge plaza were revolutionary meeting are held regularly. Of course they also put some revolutionary slogans around.

This place is at "El Malecon", the seafront boulevard. This boulevard is quite famous and it is more than 8 km long. The sea is always pretty rough and wave usually get over the walls and pour into the street above. That is pretty interesting and you have to be very alert not to get a bath!

In the end of that plaza, there is a nice statue of Jose Marti holding a baby in his hands, so I could not restrained and I did the typical thing...

In that area, there are many famous hotels and high rise buildings...

(Hotel Nacional) 

(The tallest building in Cuba is the tallest in the photo) 

(Hotel Habana Libre, taken by the revolutionary forces when the Revolution succeeded) 

To go into the Hotel Nacional is like coming back in time 60 or 70 years. It feels like being in an old movie...

... and the taxis waiting outside really match that feeling!

Around the hotel, it is the central area of Vedado, with crumbling previously gorgeous houses. Notice the tall building in the back of the first photo, this is El FOCSA, the tallest building in Cuba.

This was our glimpse into Vedado, the new part of Habana downtown. The next day it was time to move onto Trinidad to celebrate New Year's Eve in the countryside!

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