Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cuba Day 4 - Explorative Day and a Fancy Dinner

Day four of our trip, our last full day in Havana.  If you read about how night three ended you'll understand why we slept in a bit on this beautiful Saturday morning!  We met Erick out front of our hotel, which was heaving with tourists waiting in line to go up to the 5th floor to see the room (right above ours) where Hemingway lived.  We walked in a new (to me) direction and I was so surprised when the road opened up to a beautiful plaza called Plaza de la Catedral.  The first thing you'll notice is the beautiful Catedral de San Cristobal taking center stage of the plaza.  The cathedral was once described by novelist Alejo Carpentier as "music set in stone".

This is 1 of 11 Roman Catholic cathedral's in Cuba

Casa de Lombillo on the east side of the plaza
Archway in the plaza

Door of the cathedral

Next we walked down one of Havana's narrow streets toward Hemingway's favorite place for mojito's. 

Empedrado Street

The famous La Bodeguita Del Medio!

I eased my way through the crowd to get inside for one of the famous mojito's!

Making non-stop mojito's

Had to do it!
Live music

I Googled this poet but can only find other tourist images of him - no info

Next we walked through more of Havana's bustling streets to get to El Floridita to finally have one of Hemingway's favorite daiquiris!  The day was glorious.  The colorful, crumbling buildings were simply extraordinary.  And the people watching was spot on!

This little baby was missing an eye  :0(

Onions anyone?

How much is that kitty in the window?

When Erick saw a man frying bananas he said we must have some!  We watched as he put a fresh batch in.  He flirted with me as they fried and blew me a kiss.  Too cute!

Down the way I could see a boy on a stable bike and I wondered what he was up to.  Very ingenious way to sharpen knives!

We continued on our way...

Dumpster gato


Nail salon

We finally arrived at El Floridita!  Of course it was busy, but we were able to order the famous daiquiris and find a seat at the bar in the nice air conditioning!

This really was the best daiquiri I had in Cuba!
Bronze statue of Hemingway, with his reading glasses on a book on the bar (I covered up someone's face)

Next we walked up to the Malecon, seeing more of Havana along the way.

These trucks are used as buses.  We saw some of them packed full of people.

Cool piece of art
Across the street from the Malecon

So beautiful

We took our shoes off and let our feet blow in the sea wind

From here we got into a vintage car and headed to the Hotel Nacional de Cuba.

Pulling up to the Hotel Nacional


Walking out to the grounds - Malecon is across the street

Cocktails outside - glorious afternoon
Back inside we were searching for the cigar room

Found it!  Kenisha...this is where we bought your Monte Cristo's!

From here we took a beautiful vintage car back to Erick's house!

Top down, beautiful day, being driven along the Malecon in Cuba!
At this point the battery in my camera died (imagine that).  But we went back to Erick's house for a quick second and I used my phone camera for the next few images.  We met his Mother at this time as well but I didn't get any pictures...bummer!

I finally got him to smile for a photo!!!  Well, okay, Sol and Sochy got him to smile!

Luna stretching in the sun
We went across the street to see a man about more cigars.  The building where he lived is what Erick explained as being called "El Solar".  It had no main roof, and he said that about 20 families live in the various rooms of the building.

Inside el solar - which we never would have seen without Erick

The different living spaces inside

Crumbling roof and spiral staircase

And then Erick found this teeny tiny baby kitty!!
Next we went back to Ambos Mundos. Eric and I freshened up, I put a fresh battery in my camera, and then Erick walked us to O'Reilly 304, a bar I had been wanting to check out.

Graffiti art

We were told Husky's are a hot commodity right now in Cuba. This guy was selling out of his backpack.
We arrived at O'Reilly 304 and scored a seat at the bar.  There was a one hour limit at the bar, which was fine because Yoandy was on his way to collect us to take us to our nice dinner.  And the bar was the BEST seat to see the amazing mixologists create their masterpieces!

We scored those 2 seats at the bar

Roberto at work!

My drink!

I beautiful?!

And it tasted as good as it looks!

Okay, this post is ending soon, I promise!  The night ended with reservations at Otramanera. Yoandy was kind enough to take us to dinner and arranged to pick us up a few hours later.  I picked this restaurant because the owner was the sommelier at the world famous (now closed) elBulli!  So you know I had to take food porn!

Front gate - you had to ring the bell to be let inside

We dined al fresco

The lovely dining room

Cute sign! The wash area was only separated by a shared mirror so men and women could see one another

Amuse bouche

Red snapper ceviche with fried banana chips


I had the vacuum-sealed lobster with potato puree and truffle oil

Eric had the pork belly with tarro puree

And then I got to meet Alvaro Diez Hernandez!  He told us that his wife is Cuban and once el Bulli closed that they decided to try the "food thing" in Havana.  We talked a bit about wine.  He said his favorite California wine is currently Wente.  I told him it was an amazing meal and then we moved onto dessert!

Rice pudding for dessert

As we left this wonderful dinner, we saw a place next door that piqued our interest.  Unfortunately they were closed, but I'll leave you with the name of the establishment:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."  ~ Mark Twain

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