The Sleeping Beauty City of Havana (part 2)

Gem in front of Capitolio Nacional

Time stands still in the historic capital of Havana, just like stepping back in time. We are here not only for history – it’s also for sun, surf and sand!

From the Bacuranao Villas at the La Habana Del Este, , a cluster of small single-storey cottages spread over a sprawling property about 20 minutes bus ride to the city, we already love the experience of a bay with a beautiful sand beach on the oceanfront often quiet in the morning and noisy with the waves in the evening. For a week we enjoy our sojourn at the villas – with free breakfast at its on-site restaurant, ‘mojito’ drink in its lounge , and daily dip into its swimming pool..

A daily public bus trip to the capital city gives us enough time to hang out in “Parque Central”. Here the buzz and the noises created by the locals and the tourists are infectious. The Parque Central is one of the best known sites of Havana. You’ll be stunned by the building housing the Cuban National Ballet. Among the edifices surrounding the park are the Gran Teatro de la Havana, the famous Hotel Inglaterra, the Hotel Telegrafo, El Hotel Iberostar Parque Central, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Hotel Plaza, and the shopping complex known as “La Manzana de Gomez.”

The Parque Central is dominated by the carrara white marble statue of the Cuban national hero, Jose Marti, a poet, writer, lawyer, and fighter for Cuban independence and noted for his concepts of freedom, liberty and democracy in all of his works. The beautiful gardens surrounding the monument have a series of paths with its twenty-eight (28) royal palms that signify hero’s birth date as well as eight (8) coffin-shaped stonework representing the medical students shot by the Spanish government on the island during the 10-years war on 27 November 1871.

No visit is complete without a photo in front of the Capitolio Nacional. Completed in 1929, it is a smaller replica of the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

We’ll get a glimpse of glory at the Plaza Vieja of the UNESCO World Heritage Old City with almost 1,000 buildings of historic significance. We’ll also wander the narrow, congested but delightfully intriguing, cobbled surrounding streets of the Old City by hiring a “bici” taxi, the cycle rickshaw powered alone and propelled by muscle. And to top them all, we’ll sip a “mojito” a la Hemingway or “daiquiri” at the famous El Floridita and La Bodeguita del Medio.

Trivia: Did you know that in 2015 Cuba became the first country in the world to eradicate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis?

Lita cooling off at Parque Central

Gem & Lita in front of Jose Marti’s monument