May 25: Arrive Havana; Museum de la Revolucion, Plaza de la Revolucion
Our group is met at the hotel in Miami by Ronny Mena, our Tauck Tour Director, who, on the way to the Miami airport, explains the process of passport control and customs on arrival in Havana. At baggage check in, we produce the charter flight ticket issued last evening at our meeting with Ulla, and are issued a boarding pass for the 0730 flight. As we arrived three hours early to avoid congestion at check in, we are taken to the “VIP” lounge to await boarding.
The American Airlines flight of 45 minutes was without complication, and we arrive at the Jose Marti airport, Havana where we pass through customs; each suitcase and carryon is Xrayed. Belts off; shoes on. Officials, mostly women, wear tight clothing in this humid tropical environment.
The twenty-six of us are directed through a separate exit to our idling air conditioned bus for a drive through the heart of Cuba’s capital city, Habana Vieja – Old Havana, home to examples of Spanish-Colonial architecture. We pass by the Plaza de la Revolucion, on the way to Museum of the Revolution occupying what was once Cuba’s Presidential Palace. For a short history of Cuba from its Spanish beginnings to the present, look here.
After lunch, we were treated to a discussion of US-Cuban relations with a professor of The University of Havana, who pointed out that there are small steps being realized to overcome the strictures resulting from decades of the US embargo of Cuba.
We set out for supper on our Chinese built air conditioned bus, and crossing 3rd Avenue, the bus appears to have mechanical problems. Ronny is apologetic and appears somewhat upset; then, breaking into a smile, he discloses that Tauck has arranged for alternative transportation, and points across the intersection to a row of 50s era American taxis – convertibles – awaiting passengers. The ladies are provided with a scarf, and we ride to this evening’s paladar, a private home converted into an upscale gourmet restaurant – delightful. The previous link might be somewhat dated, and perhaps the regulations have changed. Check this out: Havana Restaurants .
On the way to supper, we drive along the Malecon, passing the US Embassy, the Mount of Flags, The Russian Embassy, Castle of the Royal Force, Castillo San Salvador de la Punta .
Our first day in Havana was packed with new appreciation of our neighbor to the south.
A couple more taxi pictures: