When researching Cuba I felt disheartened that storms happened most days. I am familiar with the end of the day storm to cool things down in Australia but I was concerned that Cuba had storms every day. Some days when it got so hot I was happy it rained.
Oh and we found it can storm several times a day, just once or not at all. Having been caught in a storm in Paris the week prior when it was cold wasn’t fun. Being caught in a storm in Hot Havana or Trinidad was refreshing. More of being caught in storms later.
We are loving our breakfasts of fruit, coffee and eggs at our Casa Particular Casa Colonial yadilis y Joel. All sustenance to walk up stairs in forts, museums and around Havana & Trinidad. The kids with a large breakfast forget about morning teas and snacks. Actually, if we are busy they forget about food all together. Especially when we visited a local kids playground in Havana. No flashy Disney rides here (like Paris last week) but the kids still enjoyed themselves. You have to remember with kids under 12 it’s a bit of play stuff for them, then a museum for us. All balances.
We had to visit the Museum of Revolution. As you can guess it is full of revolution memorabilia and military machinery. What impressed me the most was the building itself. Not revolution décor but a rich architectural beauty in a state of renovation. We visited Versailles in Paris a week earlier and saw lots of similarities. Chandeliers, marble pillars, large windows and ornately painted ceilings in many of the halls. But that’s where the similarities end. A thunder storm (first storm for the day) arrived and this beauty has holes. We wanted to keep dry and stayed longer inside but the rain entered the museum too. It crept into most of the room exhibits and though the centre dome. It was heart breaking seeing all the staff mopping puddles constantly. All mops have a special hiding place in each of the rooms. Renovation is a slow revolution in Cuba. If you look closely at the stairwell picture below you can see the stairs glistening, that is water on most of the steps. Unsafe, yeah but that’s how it is.
“You want a horse and cart to take your family around Havana? It’s air conditioned?” We were constantly being asked by Havana and Trinidad hawkers. We finally agreed and took the kids to Havana’s famous ice creamery Copellia. By the time we had our ice creams dished up & took a quick snap it melted in the heat. Heaps of flavours on offer *sigh* so little time.
We read there was another good museum at Forteleza de San Carlos de la Cabana across the harbour in Havana, with armour, guns & stuff plus a canon blast at 9pm for the tourists. So we agreed to take this cute 1950s yellow restored convertible taxi via the harbour tunnel to the fort. Our driver wore a cow boy hat and smoked a cigar, of course. Nigel declined cowboy Cuban’s offer to buy a cigar too. Then thunder storm two hit unfortunately our convertible didn’t have its roof up. No auto electronics in this 1950s classic meant we got wet. All we could do was laugh. It felt so refreshing in the heat of the day.
Our view over Havana from Forteleza de San Carlos that evening was beautiful especially with the sun setting around the storm clouds. I took a number of photos of the guards preparing the canon firing. I quite like the silhouette one. The third & then later fourth thunderstorm hit an hour apart. I think, I kinda lost count. Dinner was in one of the out door restaurants but due to the storm four (I think) the staff placing our table & chairs in the back kitchen preparation area. No one else was silly enough to eat there during the rain. The canon blasted across the harbour & whilst the kids loved it, Nigel & I were deaf for the ride home. Our taxi back I am afraid wasn’t restored like the yellow convertible one we traveled earlier in the day. I grit my teeth as the kids kept pointing out failed interior bits, window handles not there & bits hanging about. At least we didn’t have to push the taxi.
We survived a few wrong turns driving our hire car out of Havana the next day. Luckily we finally found Australia on the way to Santa Clara. A sugar mill called Central Australian was built in 1902 in the Cuban town called Australia. When we stopped & took photos, as we do, a local asked us where we from. We were quite proud to say Australia. He was impressed & gave a little history about the mill, when the Australian owners left and how it eventually closed. Sugar prices fell in the 1930s (I think) and it wasn’t viable to keep it running.
Santa Clara a few hours drive out from Havana has the Che Guevara statue & his mausoleum. Of course we had to visit. Che was killed in Bolivia in the 1960s but the Cuban’s brought him & his Cuban comrades back into this huge memorial. I thought it touching that two roses were sitting at the bottom of his statue. I am going blog a piece as a Che memorial. But celebrating the Che souvenir 🙂
Finally we reached Trinidad our base for three days. It’s small, quaint, charming but the hawkers or as they call them in Cuba, the jineteros/tourist hustlers are like flies. All the warnings were spot on. Even by our Casa Colonial Munoz owner in an email warned us. Again, I am in awe of the variety of architecture & loads of Spanish influence looking around Trinidad. I have written a post about Buildings in Cuba.
Cienfuegos was a day trip from Trinidad with its wonderful architecture influenced by the French. We loved seeing the variety in building style also bundled in a visit to Playa Giron. If you know your history it’s in the Bay of Pigs battle area. I’ve included a few photos. Two swims one snorkeling & the kids are hooked on snorkeling. Actually, we met some Canadians at the Playa Grion resort pool who got their diving licenses from an Australian holiday asked why were we here when we had the Barrier Reef to snorkel at. Good question. It’s a bonus to snorkel here but it’s not the reason we are in Cuba I told them.
Anyway our day to Cienfuegos and Playa Giron was long and we got a little lost in the dark on the way back to Trinidad. I could see a thunder storm threatening too. No Internet data via phone means no Google maps. Our printed maps are not detailed enough and trying to buy a map in Cuba proved impossible in Havana. So for this first part of our trip we are using a mix of iPhone pre-installed maps with GPS locations, a few printed Google maps we brought from home & locals pointing the way when all else failed.
We had a quiet day on our last day in Trinidad it was a day to recover.
To view a larger picture and photo gallery, click on any image below.
Do you know how there came to be a town called Australia in Cuba?
From what we read in Lonely Planet & what the local told us. We think it was Australian’s who opened the sugar mill in 1904 but the Australian’s left in the 1930/40s. The mill itself didn’t close till sometime later when sugar prices became to low to continue operation.