|starts at||9:00 a.m.|
|sights to see||Capitolio, National Theater, Louvre Sidewalk, Sevilla Hotel, Cathedral Square, The Cathedral, The Museum of Colonial Art, The Main Square (Plaza de las Armas), The Palace of the Spanish governors in Cuba, The Castle of the Royal Forces, Obispo Street, “La Floridita”, El Malecon, Avenida de los Presidentes, Cementerio Colon, Plaza de la Revolucion, Fifth Avenue, Cubanacan.|
|breaks||Lunch break, one coffee (cocktail) break|
|price||80 Euro (group of 3) to 60 Euro (group of 7)|
|price includes||All entrance fees, the fees of the musicians, the dinner (lobster, beer, cocktail), three cocktail (soft drink, coffee, rum), a bottle of mineral water|
My idea for this tour is to offer you a travel through the “times of Havana” – the classical Spanish times in Havana Vieja, the “modern” Spanish times around Prado and Malecon, the American and young Cuban times along the Malecon and Vedado, classical Cuban times through Almendres and Fifth Avenue, modern Cuba with the beautiful hotels and touristic complexes along the sea coast and Plaza de Revolucion. Also we will try some Cuban food, listen to the exquisite Cuban music and enjoy some of the world-known Cuban cocktails. An ambitious program for several hours. Impossible but doable.
1. Starting hour – 9:00 a.m. Meeting point – the Monument of the Indian Woman (Havana Noble) near the Capitolio.
2. We start walking along the Capitolio, the impressive National Theater (Teatro Tacon in Spanish times), the San Rafael Crossing (the Regent Street of early Cuban times), The Lovre Sidewalk (meeting point of the Cuban independists) then down the Prado (Isabela II Promenade in Spanish times and Jose Marti in Cuban times), we will pass along the Spanish Club of Havana (now Palacio de Matrimonio), the Ballet School of Alicia Alonso until we reach the Sevilla Hotel where the gangster elite of USA used to reside.
3. Then we will turn right, cross “Zulueta” (named after the man who made his fortune demolishing the Havana Wall situated on the same street during late Spanish times) and head for the Cathedral Square. This is my favorite square because here you can see a real concentrate of the magical diversity of the Cuban world.
4. The Cathedral is a heavy, dark, fleshy representative of the classical Spanish perception of Faith, God and the World. The charming detail is that just opposite the Cathedral is the Museum of Colonial Arts.
5. It is situated in a luxurious building in typical 18th century style and you will see what unbelievable mixture of colors, delicate forms, rich materials and limitless imagination in creating pieces of art and luxury is hidden behind its walls. A perfect contrast to the gloomy Cathedral.
6. And there is more to come. On the left side of the square, just next to the Cathedral, in the house of Marquis de Aguas Claras is situated the “El Patio” restaurant – the successor of the most famous restaurant of Havana for the first thirty years of the 20th century that was founded by the personal cook of Emperor Napoleon III of France.
7. Just a few meters up “San Ignacio” is the other house of Aguas Claras that was honored by the presence of Fanny Elssler – the prima of the Austrian Ballet that visited Havana in 1841.
8. A few more meters and here is the Wilfredo Lam (the most prominent Cuban sculptor) Art Center (and Café). What a neighbourhood? Such incredible mixture can be found in Havana only – Jesuit Church Cathedral, a celebrity chef, ancient ballerina and a fine artist, just like that, peacefully co-existing shoulder to shoulder. And the Colonial Arts’ Museum – sparkling like a glass of champagne facing them from the other side of the square. We say farewell to all that and along “Empedrado” head for the Main Square – Plaza de las Armas.
9. There we will enjoy the image of the financial, governmental and military power purposefully collected at Plaza de las Armas during the Spanish times. The best place to visit with its Hall of the Mirrors is Palacio de los Capitanes Generales (the Palace of Spanish Governors of Cuba) but currently it is under repair.
10. The Castle of the Royal Forces also contains interesting collections of ship models, gold and silver plates transported by the Spanish ships, remnants of ships sunk in the bay of Havana etc. Also from the upper terrace there is a splendid view over the bay of Havana. La Giraldilla (the somewhat unusual statue of a woman that became a symbol of Havana and that you will find on the label of “Havana Club”) is perched over one of the towers of the Castle.
11. Enough castles, cathedrals, museums. Time for the vivid hustle of the Havana streets. The busiest (and also the most touristic one) is Obispo. There are street musicians, a full-bodied manicera (peanuts seller) is advertising her good singing the famous “Manicero”, people from different nationalities, colors, sticking to different dress-codes and hair-styles are presenting a thick porridge along the narrow sidewalks. There are two main points that we have to visit – the rich restaurant with authentic atmosphere of the 50s where we will enjoy our lobster, a cocktail and a Cuban beer listening to the Cuban evergreens performed by a traditional septet and the small bazar where you can by some souvenirs. As always time will be problematic but at 3:00 p.m. we should be getting out of Obispo exactly where the famous “La Floridita” (the birthing place of the world best cocktail - “Daiquiri Frappe”) is and heading for the Prado to catch the Sight-seeing Bus that will drive us around the rest of Havana showing us the Malecon, Vedado, Plaza de la Revolucion, Cementerio Colon, Almendres, Cubanacan, Fifth Avenue and the exuberant gardens and parks of Havana. The tour takes two and a half hour and we will jump off the bus at Prado.
12. Hopefully we will have time enough for a farewell cocktail in Café Louvre or the bar of Hotel Sevilla depending whether you prefer the imaginary company of the gangster elite or the Muchachos de la Acera – the young liberals from Café Louvre that later became Independence Wars heroes.
13. Finish – 18:00-18:30 at Prado next to the National Theater.