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.

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Jose Marti Monument and statue, Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana, Cuba

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Office of the Interior. Che Guevara outline.

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Ministry of Communications, Camillo Cuenfuengos

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Museum of the Revolution; previously the Presidential Palace

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Front Entrance of the Museum of the Revolution. A female police officer.

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NeoClassical cupola of the Museum of the Revolution.

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Bust of Jose Marti in lobby of the Museum of the Revolution. Note the bullet holes asserted to have resulted when students attacked Batista’s headquarters.

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Office of the President in Museum of the Revolution.

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President’s desk.

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Jose Marti

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Mural depicting important figures in the Cuban Revolution.

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Ellicia, our local guide, informing us of Cuba’s history.

 

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Revolutionary trio.

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Mural on ceiling of second floor hall, Museum of the Revolution.

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Bust of Abraham Lincoln in Museum of the Revolution.

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 .

 

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This taxi took us to supper our first night in Havana. The sound system was impressive. We heard only American pop tunes from the 60s.

 

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On the way to supper. We are reflected in the rear view mirror.

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On the way to supper, we drive along the Malecon, passing the US Embassy, the Mount of FlagsThe 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:

 

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