The day before we had agreed to have breakfast at “ocho y media” (0830) but we overslept because we had a room that did not have outdoor window and to have a dark room in the morning was kind of new to us. We used a long time this morning, looking at the view and the street life, meeting their daughter and grand daughter etc, and did not leave the casa before 11 am. When we were about to go out the door, a couple from New Zealand got out of their room, and we started chatting. They were going to Trinidad, and we gave them of course all the tips we could remember before they left in a taxi. We started our day walking towards the train station and the remains of the city wall, avoiding all streets with tourists. It was fun to see the normal life in the streets, boys playing baseball and small shops out off the window of private houses. After strawling through the streets for about 15 minutes we arrived at the city wall. It was not much left, but we got an impression of the size. The train station was more impressive, but when we got close we saw that it could use some restoration as almost everything else in the city.
We walked back to Plaza Viejo to have a beer, the microbrewery seemed closed so we did go across the plaza to a place called Cafe Taberna (more about that later). After the short rest, we took an elevator up to the highest building around the plaza where they have something called “Camera Obscura”. This is an optical device that gives you a live 360 Degrees view of the city with zoom and focus. Very impressive! There was also a great view from the terrace on the top. From there we had a plan to go to the chocolate museum, but since there was a long line to get in and we”re not really that into chocolate, we continued to the Havana Club Rum Museum instead. We walked around on the first floor, to the bar and shop, but skipped the museum part since we already did that last year at the Rum Factory. Then we went to a official cigar shop, to check out the prices (all cigar and rum prices are fixed) and buy a cigar cutter.
We followed another of Lourdes” recommendations and had lunch at the roof terrace of Paladar La Moneda Cubana by the cathedral. Great views and good food. We stopped by Museo de Farmacia, before we went to several car rental companies to try to book a rental car for Pinar del Rio in January. None of them had any cars available, and we started to think of other options to get there. We ended up at a business center in a large hotel, and learned that internet has gotten slightly faster in Cuba since last year, but it”s still really slow. We didn”t manage to book bus tickets online, so just in case we did a search for rental cars (the same companies that we visited), and actually found one available car that we booked. 🙂 We started talking to some locals and bought them a couple of mojitos in a bar. They gave us a couple of sigars and two local pesos for souvenirs. A girl claimed to be a hairdresser and braided Gunnhild”s hair, using plastic from cigarette packs as hairbands. Lots of people started showing up, so we made an excuse, payed the check an left before it got expensive.
We stopped by Las Estaciones for a beer. The waitress from last night (Lily) came over and talked to us, asked where we were from and wanted to be friends on Facebook. The lady on the table next to us (Vilma) had picked up that we were from Norway and wanted to say hi. She told us that she had worked at the Cuban Embassy in Norway for 14 years, but now had moved back to Cuba. She had travelled a lot around Norway and the Nordic countries (more than us), and had several very good friends from Norway she met trough work in the embassy (politicians, union, culture etc). She told us many great stories of her travels and official meetings, some of them including people we know from the media. Her husband, Ernesto, turned out to be a chef at Cafe Taberna where we had a beer earlier that day. He went home to get some sigars that he gave us as gifts and he also showed us some tricks regarding cutting it, lighting it etc. In return we went home to get the last rest of Akevitt we brought from norway, it was not much but Vilma loved the guesture. Vilma had also travelled quite a bit in Cuba, so we got a lot of suggestions regarding what to see and do around Santiago de Cuba and Baracoa. We had ordered a taxi for 0330 the next morning, so we planned to go home early, but we had such a great time, and when some of their friends came by we had to have a beer with them as well. One of them was a painter, and we agreed that when we got back to Havana in January we would go for dinner at Ernesto”s restaurant, and he would take us til his friend”s studio. Vilma wrote down her address and all contact information so that we could stay in touch and maybe stay at their place the next time we visit Cuba. Lily”s nephew was hanging around in the restaurant, and we gave him some drawing paper and a flashlight. He really connected with Fredrik, and was laughing out loud when Fredrik lit up his ears or fingers. We finally said goodbye to everyone around 10 pm, and went back to the casa to pack and get ready for Santiago de Cuba.