Because I have so many photos and stories to share from our week in Cuba, I’ve decided to supplement my Monday Musings with a few Fascinating Friday posts. At least I find them fascinating and I hope you will, too.
On our return to the cruise ship after the city tour, Hubby and I grabbed a quick lunch before heading back out for a stroll along Havana’s Malecon. We were in a hurry because we only had a few free hours, so imagine our dismay when we were greeted by a massive lineup for the x-ray scanner. Apparently another cruise ship had docked and their passengers were debarking.
Fifteen minutes later, our belongings had gone through the scanner, and we’d escaped the metal detector unscathed. The weather was breezy and warm, perfect for walking, and we were very happy to finally be out there enjoying it.
Havana is slowly giving its old beauties much-needed facelifts, often leaving the streets an interesting mix of rundown and restored.
The Malecon runs along Avenida Del Puerto to the mouth of the harbor where it turns onto Avenida de Maceo. Tour buses line the avenue and there’s a constant stream of old cars and taxis.
View across Havana Harbour to the east.
The Christ Statue
The Malecon is a hangout for the locals, and many of them fish along the water’s edge.
Statue of Neptune
The picturesque Havana Harbour with El Morro fortress and Castillo del Morro lighthouse in the background.
On the east side of the harbour is Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña (Fort of Saint Charles). Better known as La Cabaña, this large fortress was built in the 18th century to strengthen the fortifications of nearby El Morro.
At the mouth of the harbour, where the Malecon curves and widens, stands the San Salvador de la Punta Fortress.
Just like El Morro on the opposite side of the harbour, La Punta was erected in the late 16th century to protect the entrance to Havana Bay.
The fortress was joined with El Morro at night, using a thick chain whose ends were tied to guns on both sides, in hopes of preventing enemy ships from entering the harbour.
Hubby was quite taken with the brass etchings on this cannon.
El Morro fortress from across the bay.
The Faro Castillo del Morro was added in 1845.
The deep curve to the shoreline makes it appear as if there’s water separating the city skyline from where I stood on the Malecon.
We didn’t get to explore very far down Avenida de Maceo before we ran out of time and had to turn back. Because foreigners are only allowed to buy Cuban money in Cuba, we were relieved to find a money exchange inside the terminal building. Cuba has two different currencies, the Cuban peso (CUP) and the Cuban convertible peso (CUC). Both are legal tender, although Cubans are paid in CUPs, and tourists must use CUCs. One CUC is equal to one US dollar and worth twenty-five times as much as the CUP. Confusing, right?
While Hubby converted some Canadian funds into CUCs, I perused the colourful display of artwork set up along the terminal’s expansive second floor. I bought this cute little painting for three CUCs.
Our cruise ship looked more like a large yacht in its deep berth at Havana’s Terminal Sierra Maestra.
The surrounding area is mostly abandoned and very rundown.
Hubby got a bit nervous during the emergency mustering drill.
Not really, haha.
The evening entertainment was called Fiesta Latina, a musical voyage through Latin America. The singers and dancers are all Cuban, and we enjoyed the show, even though at times their enthusiasm outshone their talent.
According to Hubby’s new Fitbit, we logged 13.63 kilometers that event-filled day.