Winding down

Trip Start Jan 16, 2007
Trip End Mar 01, 2007

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Where I stayed

Flag of Cuba  ,
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Malecon calls to me. I spend the early morning (pushing Lucy in the stroller) and late afternoon walking miles along the waterfront, drinking rum with university students who are diving off the rocks, chatting with patient fishermen who catch nothing.

The ocean at Havana is a fickle and transient thing, conspiring with the sky above to create any number of vistas over the course of a day. The morning charms me with a sky the colour of honey over a mauve sea. The hard azul skies of the afternoon reflect on sluggish emerald waves that bump the rocks of the seawall half-heartedly.

Between these walks, I join the family for a last full day with Grandma Rosemary. The chocolate museum beckons to us. With that as our prime objective we taxi to the Plaza de Armas for a Best of Old Havana excursion. We seek refuge from the heat in various air-conditioned lobbies and stores, working away from the Museo del Chocolate along Amargua and back up towards Parque Central.

Julie manages to breastfeed in two lovely lobbies: the Hotel Ambos Mundos and the Hotel Raquel. Tourists suturate the former. We find an out-of-the-way seat by the turtle pool and look at the Hemingway photos. The Raquel provides a quiet and beautiful contrast. It's a very new upper-end boutique hotel in an old trading house, with ornate columns bolstering its 30-foot high lobby. The attentive staff soon has us esconced in plush seats, drinks in hand. A security guard gives me a tour of the whole building, taking the old caged elevator up to the rooftop, and peeking into an unoccupied suite. It's a lovely hotel, surprisingly well-priced. Without any listings in the guidebooks, deals can likely be had.

Back at the Hotel Nacional, we swim and relax until dinner. Castro apparently gave a speech on the radio today for half an hour, but there's no television broadcast of it. Not sure what to make of that. Rosemary treats us at the hotel's buffet, where the kids miraculously fall asleep before we even have our appetizers, awarding us the single adult-only dinner experience of the trip. A lovely, relaxed gift at the end of Rosemary's stay.
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