The third day of our trip started bright and early, around 7:30 a.m. so that mom and I could get an early start exploring Havana. In the past couple of years, when either of us have traveled to Cuba, Pepe has been very protective, never letting us go on our own for even a walk around his neighborhood. This year, however, he had a cough and didn’t feel well enough to do all the walking we would be doing, so…..he let us off of our leashes! We were excited to see Havana in a different way; through the eyes of tourists with our guidebook and a map.
Day three started like every other day of our trip, with a bath and then oatmeal, bread, and some espresso for breakfast.
After breakfast, mom and I sat on the balcony and watched life go by. I tried to capture some of the liveliness around Yolanda’s balcony, but the pictures don’t do it justice.
The above photo is of a man that walked up the street and around the corner every, single morning at 8:30 a.m. While he would go buy, he would sing to draw people out of their homes and come buy his flowers.
Eventually, Yolanda took us to the corner and grabbed a collectivo for us and with that, we were on our way to explore La Habana Vieja. I took a couple of videos of life whizzing by while we were in the taxi, but I need to figure out how to post them.
After snapping a few pictures there, we headed to a cadeca to exchange money, but we were really looking for Obispo street. Obispo street is the most popular street in Old Havana. It is closed to cars (for the most part) and has a number of shops, cafes and restaurants that run along it.
We had a great time looking at the little shops, watching the people go by and soaking up the energy there. After a bit of walking, we set out to find a cafe that met our two requirements: 1. It has great coffee, and 2. It has a bathroom we can use. Finding public restrooms in Cuba is like finding Waldo in Where’s Waldo. We stopped at Paris Cafe where we ordered a coffee and milk to share. Wow! That coffee was great, thanks to the deliciously frothed whole milk that was used.
After re-energizing, we continued down Obispo street with a mission to find the four famous squares in Cuba. First we found the Catedral de San Cristobal de La Habana in the Plaza de la Catedral. The Jesuits began instruction of the church in 1748 and the work continued despite their expulsion in 1767. The remains of Columbus were interred here from 1795-1898, but moved to Seville.
From there, we made our way to the Plaza de Armas, which is Havana’s oldest square. The plaza was originally named Plaza de Iglesia after a church, but the name Plaza de Armas was adopted in the 16th century because the site was used for military exercises.