Day 5: Valentines in Havana

We awoke on Valentines day, exchanged cards and had a lovely lazy morning. Our original plan was to hire bikes and head to Fusterlandia, a local street art project but I realised I’d totally underestimated the distance we’d have to travel so we changed that plan and instead spent our morning running a few ‘chores’ (getting water, getting cash) and looking around the Capitol building.

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The Capitol building in Havana is currently under construction but that doesn’t detract from the fact it’s such a beautiful building and the surrounding square (where our Airbnb sat) is full of colourful houses and vintage cars.

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There’s something so beautiful about buildings like this

There were a few art museums in Havana and I was a bit confused which one to head to but we spent an hour or so at the National Museum of Fine Arts. The art itself was interesting but what really stole the show was the stunning building that houses it, particularly with its beautiful stained glass ceiling.

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The entry was 3cuc and I’d recommend it just to climb the staircase alone!

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Can you spot me?

We’d hoped to have lunch at Los Nardos, a place that was reviewed very well and had been recommended by our AirBnB host but it turns out this wasn’t such a well-kept secret and when we arrived the queue was very long and the guy at the front door estimated the wait at 2 hours.

We decided to go back to El Chanchullero, our dinner destination from our 3rd day. That night we’d found ourselves eyeing up the tapas on the other tables so felt a return trip was needed. After a 10 minute queue we were seated up on the roof terrace and ordered 3 lots of bruschetta with prawns and chicken and then a sausage platter with fried bread. It was all so delicious. All the food with drinks was 20cuc total.

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Soon it was time for our Valentines day treat, our car tour! The vintage cars that you see on every street in Havana can be easily jumped into but if you want to save a few pennies and you’re not too confident with your bartering skills I would recommend prebooking one online.

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We booked a 3 hour tour from Old Cars Havana for 90cuc. They have a huge collection of cars and I let Adam choose which one to book, although I did specify that it had to be red for Valentines day! After much debate Adam selected a stunning Chrysler Imperial from 1957.

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We were collected from our Airbnb at 3pm on the dot by a lovely driver called Michael. The tour company give you the opportunity to book a guide to accompany your driver but we declined that option and Michael tried hard to give us information despite a language barrier.

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As we picked the longer tour Michael asked if there was anywhere we’d like to go in particular and I asked if we could head to Fusterlandia so off we went. It took about half an hour to drive there but riding down the Malecon, with the sun shining down and a breeze through our hair, it was heaven!

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Our driver waited outside whilst we made our way around Fusterlandia, such a bright and whimsical place and free to enter! This tiled masterpiece was created by Jose Fuster in his own neighbourhood over the span of 20 years and the result is a wonderful mish mash of colours with a clear Gaudi influence. If you had more time a stroll around the neighbourhood would be recommended but we just stayed inside the main complex.

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Our next stop was Havana Forest, which had the most beautiful trees, but was full of rotting animal carcasses and vultures so…not so nice. I wouldn’t recommend a visit unless you too are also into animal sacrifice.

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We also drove past the Colon Cemetery, a 140 acre cemetery known for its elaborate memorials and mausoleums. Although we just drove past it was clear to see what a beautiful place it was, with an amazing entrance gate.

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We then went to the Plaza de la Revolucion, a notable square where a number of huge political rallies took place and where Fidel Castro addressed huge crowds of people on a number of occasions.

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The plaza isn’t particularly pretty, its pretty much like a huge car park but it’s famous for its huge memorials of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. The plaza is where you can also view the Jose Marti memorial, a tall tower which I thought was quite ugly.

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Before we set off again our driver let us sit in the car and take pictures. The Imperial really was a beautiful car and I was very happy with our choice!

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Our driver explained to us that there was a time where Fidel Castro wanted to dedicate certain areas to important people of the world and so if you look around you might find a park dedicated to Princess Diana or in our case, John Lennon.

The park was quiet with few people there which allowed us to grab some photos with the statue. The internet had led me to believe there was a security guard at the park which placed the glasses on the statue on request but when we went there was no guard and no glasses.

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A few more stops around Havana, like the beautiful Lady of Kazan Orthodox Cathedral, and we were soon back at our Airbnb. The 3 hours had flown past and left us utterly exhausted so we had a short nap before getting ready for dinner.

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We had dinner at El Dandy, where we’d made a reservation which was certainly needed. The food was absolutely delicious. I had some pork tacos with the most beautiful sweet potato fries I’ve ever tried and Adam had a quesadilla and the odd choice of an omelette. This, along with 3 drinks, was meant to have come to about 30cuc but for some reason we were charged 35cuc. I think overcharging is quite common in Cuba but this is the only time that ever happened to us. Regardless it was still great value.

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Easily one of the best Valentines day ever!!

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In other news isn’t the staircase of our AirBnB soooo pretty!

Steps walked: 13,870

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