Monday, 12 February 2018

HOW WE SPENT OUR LAST DAY IN HAVANA

Hello dear friends,

If you are following my narratives about the holiday my husband and I took last year as a celebration of our 10th wedding anniversary, then you would know that today's post is going to be the last chapter(#4) dedicated to our stay in Cuba.  And if you happened to be  a new reader, you can find out what we did on Day I, Day II and Day III here.

AND NOW THE TIME HAS COME TO SAY GOO-BYE TO THIS FASCINATING CITY AND WE WANTED TO DO IT IN STYLE
You might recall that on Day II during our touring around Havana, we were lucky enough to snap up tickets for the ballet, Carmen, at the Ballet Nacional de Cuba that happened to take place on our last night in Havana.  Since both of us have been great admirers of this art, we couldn't think of a better way to end our stay. 
HOW WE SPENT OUR LAST DAY IN HAVANA
When it came to choose a venue for a pre-theatre dinner, we had a pretty clear idea of where we wanted to have it, at Gran Hotel Manzana Kempninski, one of the best luxe hotels in Havana.  One of its benefits  that it is situated just a four minute walk from the Theatre and about ten minutes walk from our hotel, the other was the presence of the hip rooftop restaurant called San Cristobal Panoramic restaurant with, as its name suggests, has a spectacular view over the city.
HOW WE SPENT OUR LAST DAY IN HAVANA
In the morning we walked to the Almacenes San Jose Artisan's Market to buy gifts for our children and grandchildren, visiting art galleries and old book stores and other bits and pieces that we had missed in the days before.
HOW WE SPENT OUR LAST DAY IN HAVANA
I am not sure if I mentioned it earlier that the shopping for shoes or clothes in a conventional way as we know it does not exist in Cuba.   There don't have department stores, shopping malls or boutiques  stocking the well known brands nor would you find any shops selling luxury goods that are so common all over the world.
HOW WE SPENT OUR LAST DAY IN HAVANA
Instead, there are a number of market places filled with myriads of small stalls where you can buy anything from the wide variety of souvenirs to clothes, jewellery, art and Cuban cigars and refresh yourself with the juice of the freshly cracked coconut.  Not only we were able to find appropriate gifts for our brood but I actually scored a string of beautiful river pearls for a fraction of the Sydney price which I will model for you in a future post.
HOW WE SPENT OUR LAST DAY IN HAVANA
Loaded with packages, we returned to the hotel and spent the afternoon packing.  We both felt really excited and charged with anticipation of the upcoming evening.  When we walked into the lobby of the hotel and by just looking around the interior we new that the room charges here must be quite high and the sleek lift took us all the way to the top with the view of the brightly lit up Theatre right in front of us.
HOW WE SPENT OUR LAST DAY IN HAVANA
We started with the pre-dinner drink of a delicious frozen daiquiri, one of traditional Cuban cocktails, followed by a superb dinner of lobster for both of us.  In a previous post I told you about the scarcity and simplicity of food supply in Cuba and how people have to make do with what they have.
HOW WE SPENT OUR LAST DAY IN HAVANA
Well, the one thing that they have in abundance is lobsters.  You can find them on the menu at almost every restaurant and at a very cheap price at that. The Cubans cook them very simply:  on the grill over charcoal. We ate them by the bucketful.  And so it was only logical that when we saw a lobster dish on San Cristobal's menu, to order it.
HOW WE SPENT OUR LAST DAY IN HAVANA
After a quick coffee, we hurried outside and it took us less then five minutes to walk to the Theatre.  As I mentioned previously, we had fantastic seats in row B.  In my earlier post, I blogged about how beautiful the Theatre building looked inside but due to the rehearsal, the main chandelier was not lit up.  This time all the lights of it were on and we could admire it in its full glory.  Soon after we took our seats, the lights were dimmed and the ballet began.  If you are familiar with Carmen's music, you would agree with me that it is divine on its own.  Add to it the highly professional excellent performance exhibited by the dancers and the whole experience became sublime.
It was truly unforgettable, thoroughly enjoyable evening, a perfect way to end our Cuban journey.

When the next morning we woke up and went downstairs to ask the concierge to arrange us a transfer to the airport, we couldn't help but wonder what kind of transportation would it be.  Turned out, it was one of those old vintage cars,  Chevrolet 1966 in its "original" condition.
HOW WE SPENT OUR LAST DAY IN HAVANA
I don't know how they do it, giving the lack of tools, spare parts and gasoline but somehow they made do with what they have at hand to keep these cars on the road.
HOW WE SPENT OUR LAST DAY IN HAVANA
It was a little bit like a cliche and at the same time it was fittingly perfect sequel to the night before.  Besides it was the first time for both of us to be driven in a car of this age and it was a lot of fun.

Farewell Havana, Rio-d-Janeiro, here we come!!!

Until then,
Anna
xoxo