This thread is meant as a companion to the ongoing Impressions of Havana thread, and both will be added to as we work our way through the many photos that Havana demanded we take.
The ones I'm posting first are all from November 16, 2017. That was our second full day in Havana and our walking route took us through many of the must-sees of Cuba's capital city. I'm eager to see what Kerouac captured that day and hoping that he'll expand on my skimpy details & correct any errors.
Starting off in the fancy hotel district of Habana Vieja ~
The Capitolio, not nearly as old as its style would indicate, is getting a major face lift ~
There is a lovely shady park on one side of the Capitolio, with a big mystery tree plus a familiar face in this foreign land ~
A floor mosaic in one of the many once lovely old shopping arcades ~
Some instances of everyday life seen on the way to the railway station ~
Continuing in time sequence from my last set of pictures (Soviet athletics), we approach the waterfront. This lion appears to be as confused as I am about the identification of the impressive gray building ~
Turning our backs on the old, we admire some modern sculpture ~
The two little ferries are chugging across to the towns of Casablanca and Regla ~
That Russian Orthodox church is an interesting addition to Havana. While the USSR was providing money to Cuba, it was officially atheist. Hence, no money for churches and any existing churches in Russia were used as museums, storage depots or were permanently closed for renovation, except for a few in the Kremlin that were tourist attractions. I'm not an expert on Cuban history, but would be surprised that the Castro regime had encouraged church going.
So -- why is there a brand new Russian Orthodox church? The article says Russian-Cuban friendship, but it's well after the fact.
And in the group picture of the saints posted by Kerouac, it says that they are Serbian saints!
While the USSR was providing money to Cuba, it was officially atheist. Hence, no money for churches ... I'm not an expert on Cuban history, but would be surprised that the Castro regime had encouraged church going.
I didn't know that about the officially atheist thing, Bjd. From what I could see, religion didn't seem to be curtailed at all. In his report on Havana in 1998, Kerouac says that the cathedral was only opened one day a month back then. But yes, the Russian Orthodox church was a big surprise. I did see quite a few faces around Havana that I'd characterize as "eastern European" and thought maybe there were enough Russian Orthodox people in Havana to merit a church -- maybe not such a grand one, though. A few days later, we went into a bar next to this church which featured some Russian items (see picture). The barman said that it used to be a Russian church. It is possible it was used as such, but I doubt seriously that was the original purpose of the building.
The last picture just before the stilt walkers - "Right then people, we have an area here to put something. A statue or whatever. Something to fill the space. Suggestions?" Voice from the back - "How about a naked woman sitting on a cock carrying an oversized eating implement?" Rapturous applause breaks out, nods of heads, "Yeah! Spot on! Just the thing! Make it so."
I think you are quite right Mark! I thought it could be something thought up by a Frenchman. The cockerel- a symbol of France, the fork - France's gastronomy, the naked lady - Follies Begere, so yeh, French again.
We've shown some of the fancy Habana Vieja hotels from the outside, but let's take a look at a couple on the inside.
This is the interior of the Hotel Inglaterra, where we went early on for "a nice lunch". That was an object lesson in the abject indifference of anything government-run in Havana, such as many hotels and restaurants. The interior is lovely, though ~
Another highlight of Havana is the malecón, a particularly delightful place to stroll in the late afternoon ~
You have to be nimble and alert, though, to avoid getting drenched ~
The Hotel Deauville, where we initially kept going to give their sporadic wifi another chance ~
Later we learned that the cushy comforts of the Parque Central Hotel's lobby included good wifi. The Parque Central featured live music on one end of their veranda facing the park ~
Here's where we filed such dispatches as we could from The Front ~
Imagine -- trying to put one over on the military! Tsk.
We have already bragged about scoring a great apartment in Edificio America, but an element of that building deserves notice as well. That is the Teatro America on the ground floor ~
The América Theatre ... first opened on March 29, 1941... The main lobby, which depicts a favorite element of Art Deco decorators, the sign of the zodiac, and all other interiors are decorated in modern lines of the strictest Art Deco. The theater has preserved to this day all of its original details, including the furniture.source
We'd seen people lining up in front of the theater for various events, but never looked further. Returning late from an out-of-town excursion, we were intrigued to see the lobby lit up but empty. Seeing us peering in & snapping away, the young man at the desk beckoned us in and gave us the run of the place for a cuc apiece ~
Here is a building that we came upon and were exclaiming over its beauty before recognizing it as a major highlight of Havana.
The Bacardi Building is regarded as a signature masterpiece of Havana Deco and is likewise considered to be one of the finest Art Deco buildings in Latin America. At the time of its completion, the 12-story Bacardi Building was Havana’s first skyscraper and for decades thereafter continued to be the city’s tallest building and one of its principal landmarks. Characterized by a facade of red granite, golden glazed tiles, brass fixtures, and colorful terracotta reliefs of nude nymphs designed by Maxfield Parrish, the building terminates in a stepped, ziggurat-inspired tower topped with a bronze rendition of Bacardi’s bat logo. source
I think Bacardi left town running when Fidel took over. Hmmm.. Wiki sez, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacardi Yep. Interesting that the Bacardi brothers were initially pro-Castro--until they nationalized everything. Bacardi were apparently tied up with the CIA too, and have been battling for Cuba sanctions ever since.
Fumobici, click the link in #25 for a little on the history of the Bacardi building. It seems that what we see now is more renovation than conservation. The theater actually seems as though it has been cared for, somewhat of a miracle.
This article maybe should go in the Havana food & drink thread, however it bears not only on Bacardi history, but also on a landmark whose facade we saw in #12 above -- the Floridita. We actually went into the tourist-packed interior one night, but passed on the $6 blender daiquiris served in undersized martini glasses. There was a rather good trio playing inside near the front door, and barely any room to move around. And yes, there really is a statue of Hemingway at the end of the bar.
Only one bartender! The young woman next to him is washing glasses. I did see one waitress, although there may have been more ~