Day 3: Es Muy Diferente!

Thur. 16th August 2012

An interesting setting for the restaurantBy the time we got to Palacio O’Farrill yesterday we were very tired and with it being dark too we weren’t really able to take in much of the hotel or surroundings. It was too late to eat much but there was some chicken soup on the menu so we settled for that and were shown to a table in the restaurant situated in the internal courtyard within the hotel. We could have done without the 3 musicians mangling a salsa version of ‘Let it Be’, but the Carlos Santana cover was OK.Stained glass sets off the courtyard

The morning revealed more of the faded glory of the hotel – the stained glass windows and wooden shutters around the top floor were particularly striking. As it turns out, the rickety lift (don’t look down through the gap between door and floor!) and peeling paint in the back stairwell were more typical of old Havana.

Revolutionary Police HQ - Not a place you would have wanted to visitWe had the time for a little walk around Havana Vieja before our 12 noon checkout. This was enough to confirm that all the stereotypes of Cuba & Havana – 1950s cars; crumbing buildings; colourful people & landmarks to the revolution are still all present. The fortress that was the command centre for the Revolutionary National Police is right next door to the hotel. I’m guessing that you really wouldn’t want to be ‘invited’ for a visit when it was in use.Meet Olly (Wenlock) who is travelling with us

We will come back to Havana Vieja and do more exploring after our cycling. There are plenty of photos to be taken. We will also explain about Olly, our ‘Wenlock’ Olympic mascot who is accompanying us on our travels. Expect him to make an appearance every now and again. (You may need to zoom in order to spot Olly, the statue is of Antonio Gades BTW – no, I don’t know either!)

It was then time to transfer to the Occidental Hotel in Miramar where we will later be meeting up with the Exodus group we will be cycling with over the next few days. Miramar is a 20min taxi ride from Havana Vieja, but might as well be on a different planet. We are now back in international tourist country, and the Occidental whilst comfortable and modern is pretty much indistinguishable from other hotels in other sunny, tourist places. I ought to be careful what I wish for, but this isn’t the Cuba I came to see.

Still, the cycling starts tomorrow and no doubt we will start to see the real Cuba and before too long I will be wishing for air-conditioning and an international menu.

One service at the Occidental that is much appreciated is Internet access. They have WiFi here (hence the two posts) but I have been told to expect very intermittent and dial-up based Internet access elsewhere on the island. Future posts may need to be stored up until we can get decent access again.

PS – Hello to Jason Isaacs.

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6 Responses to Day 3: Es Muy Diferente!

  1. Rob Quickenden says:

    Look forward to seeing the cycling photos. Havana lOoks like a great place to visit.. Still on our list. How far will the cycling take you?

    • Dave says:

      Hi Rob,

      Great to hear from you. Really enjoying Cuba and the cycling (it is v. hot though). We are cycling about 45km a day ( 3 – 4 hours) which is about right for our fitness and the weather. There is a post coming up with more on the cycling – though internet access is v limited here and its not clear when we will get WiFi access again.

      Hope all is well with you.

      Dave

  2. Alan says:

    Hi Guys…. well its scorchio here today…. but wont last too long. Hope its all going well. Just to let you know (Janet), that I sent your required copies of Village Life to your mum’s address today. I also put in a certificate and Jack Rogge badge that people were given on their last shift. Dunno if the lovely ladies gave you that stuff or not…but I did anyway. Have a ball….. Alan Spink

    • Dave says:

      Many thanks Alan.

      Hope all is well with you. The Olympics seem so long ago – Cuba is very much a different world.

      Janet & Dave

  3. John says:

    Hi Dave, glad to see u both got away safely and Looking forward to seeing photos if cycling and Havana. One question, is Wenlock your little one eyed friend who is prone to making the odd appearance a euphemism for anything? Anyway give him a lucky rub from Platty as he is missing you already. John

    • Dave says:

      Glad you are missing me. You might think there are connotations with Wenlock, but I can’t vouch for the way your mind works!

      Say hi to Platty for me – I hope Ellie is keeping him under control.

      Dave

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