After breakfast on the roof terrace, we met Monica for our last morning with her, during which we had a guided tour of Havana Vieja with a local guide.
This took about 3 hours and we ambled all around the old part of the city, much of which has either been restored or is part of the restoration project. The buildings in Havana are magnificent and it is heartening to see that an effort is being made to restore them.
Our walk talk us down the main street, Obispo, to the University, Plaza de Armas, the beautiful Cathedral Square, the Plaza of St Francis, where the United Nations exhibition of teddy bears is currently being held, and into the Plaza Vieja, the whole of which has already been restored. There were a number of men and women dressed up and smoking their large cigars and posing for photographs for the sum of 1CUC. I paid for one of the many peanut sellers, who sing out their wares in very deep voices, and Gerard was hassled by a couple of women, one of whom became quite aggressive when he tried to escape from her clutches. This was quite unusual for Cuba as people would ordinarily not persist if you told them you weren’t interested.
The city was buzzing, not least because it was Sunday and everyone was out perambulating. Once the tour had finished, we had lunch at a not very good Government run restaurant, where the service could not have been more casual and unfriendly if they tried. It seemed that there were a number of items not available, but there were still queues at the door waiting for a table. I’m not quite sure why! Monica was very emotional at saying goodbye. It was her first major tour and she has gone out of her way to be helpful, to the point of almost being smothering. However, the Australians put her straight!
After lunch, we all went our separate ways, having arranged to meet on the terrace at 7pm and go out together for dinner. I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering wherever the fancy took me, which was back to a couple of the Plazas we had visited this morning, on to the Malecon, where I was greeted by a very tall black man who ‘always wanted to visit my country’ and wanted to know what was I doing this evening, and then up the Prado, where a number of artists were displaying their creations and where I bought a couple of etchings.
Once I had walked the length of Obispo Street again, I was in dire need of a sit down and a drink so sat at a cafe in the Saint Francis Plaza having a beer whilst watching the mass of people who swarmed around the teddy bears.
Later, I met all the others on the Casa roof terrace, where a reasonable amount of rum was consumed before we walked into town and had dinner at a restaurant with an excellent band playing. More rum was consumed, and when Mariana decided her mojito was too strong, I drank that too. She doesn’t like ice and I think they must have replaced the ice with rum. I definitely should not have drunk it!
Eventually, we staggered back with Cheryl, who had trained the staff in many bars in Cuba to make Espresso Martinis (a lethal but very tasty cocktail), and who had drunk more than her fair share this evening, making a lot of new friends along the way.