After the wedding, we toured Havana, went deep sea fishing, and enjoyed our time on the beach.
After the wedding, we had a really nice reception dinner at our resort. This cake was made for the
event and it was actually bruleed in brandy as well. Incidentally, I was honoured with the opportunity
to make the toast to the couple, and I look forward to seeing the video of how it turned out.
Robin and Tara cutting their cake.
The cake being lit.
This is George, Don, Robin, and Tara after the reception.
Havana trip Robin-and-Paul style
Robin and I decided that rather than do a full bus tour, we'd simply rent a small bus, and tour ourselves
around Havana. Armed with our Lonely Planet guidebooks, we started the trip to Havana from Varadero. This is
a bridge separating Matanzas province from Havana province.
This is a shot of Robin looking into the foggy valley south of the bridge.
The same shot but without Robin in it.
9 of the 13 Havana trippers. The missing adventurers are Julie, Don, Orville, and Terry.
This is a shot looking north towards the Caribbean from the bridge.
As we arrived into Havana, we came from the north west of the city. Prior to taking the tunnel
into central Havana, we went up on the hill where this immense statue of Jesus looks down towards
This is the view from the top of the hill to the west of the city of Havana.
Here I am, ready to tackle the city of Havana. As we began this morning, I was a little nervous that the
weather wouldn't work out, but I was to be pleasantly surprised.
We began our tour near the old Presidential Palace, in the north west corner of Havana. We had the bus
drop us off and we walked from here along the Malecon (sea wall), and back into central Havana. This tank
probably has some historic significance, but I took the picture strictly for the sign on the side of it.
And, yes, I would've climbed on it, but there was a very large cop standing just off-camera to the left.
Here is a shot of the palace, with the tank in the foreground. In front of the tank, you can also spot
one of the oddities that we never quite figured out about Cuba. It turns out that all of the school uniforms
sport a seriously short skirt (for women, pants for men). We thought this was just a little odd, seeing 12 year
old girls skanking it up.
As it turns out, the Spanish government is having some manner of program wherein they are offering Spanish
citizenship (and passport) to any Cuban who can prove Spanish lineage. As evidenced by the lineup outside
the Spanish embassy (beautiful old building, by the way), a Spanish passport is quite a hot item.
A really cool balcony on the corner of the Malecon and the Prado. This is part of the Spanish
The view down the Malecon. I thought the larger building on the left was interesting,
and I will have to look into its history.
The ocean view down the Malecon, showing the newer city in the distance.
Here is Austin on the Malecon, looking back towards older Havana.
The ocean crashes into the sea wall, providing many tourists a cool picture.
The Speer family posing along the Malecon. It was an interesting trip, because Don
was looking at all of the crazy old cars ("Wow, that was a 1960 Fairlane station wagon! That's amazing!"),
Robin was eyeing all of the historically significant buildings and goings-on, and Austin and I
were trying to find bad mullets, entertaining-looking people, and funny road signs.
Robin, buying a Coke. Robin: "Now, the TuCola here is miserable. I mean, it's worse than
a bad fourth-tier generic cola in Canada, like I'm talking REALLY bad. The TropiCola on the
other hand is actually really good, and then there's another kind of cola here that's alright
Trocadero street in central Havana.
So, point blank, Cuba is a terrible place to be an electrician. When the Americans held sway prior to
the Revolution in 1959, they wired the whole country with 110 V 60 Hz electricity grids. Of course,
when Castro invited in the Soviets, they rewired a bunch of the grid with 220 V 50 Hz. The result is
what you see here on the side of this house, a complete cluster.
Huge Cuban flag along the Prado.
Really intricate mosaic work alongside the Prado, near the Capitolio.
Austin horsing around on the Prado.
Me, again being culturally sensitive, this time after asking a police officer if he cared that I
rode this particular lion. Not understanding, and me being so smily and polite, the police officer
said "Si, si", and so I took a picture. I afterwards shook his hand and said, "Gracias".
View near the Park Centrale, with a Ford something in the foreground. I just really liked the
swan hood ornament. It's not quite as ostentatious as the swans at Neuschwanstein ,
but it's entertaining nonetheless.
This is the Art Deco - style Bacardi building. Since Bacardi's holdings were taken over by the Cuban
government following the Revolution, I'm not sure who actually owns this building, but it's probably
a safe bet that it's Fidel.
These little three-wheeled cabs take people around Havana. I think they look like yellow eggs.
View of the Capitolio, the seat of government in Cuba until Castro took over. Battista was the last to hold
court in this building. Modeled after the Capitol in Washington, DC, it's a very imposing building,
with much Cuban mahogany inside, as well as Italian brass and Italian sculptures.
Here we are inside the legislative house of the Capitolio. The seven regions of Cuba would have
been represented here. The government style, and the Constitution were written based on the American
experience. Not a bad idea, but tough to continue to implement, when all that matters is what
the American bully wants you to do.
Here I am rising to a point at the Speaker's Podium.
The seal of the Second Republica de Cuba
Here is Austin Speer, honourable member for the Communist Party, in the region of Varadero.
Honourable Member Speer, rising to be counted.
While in Havana, we stopped and had a tour of the Partagas cigar factory, just behind the Capitolio building.
As it turns out, all manner of cigars are made in this state-owned factory, Cohiba, Partagas, Romeo y Julieta,
etc. What makes up a brand is not where it's rolled, it's what type of tobacco leaves and mixture are used.
The rest of it is simply the size of the cigar. The larger cigars require larger leaves, and hence are more
expensive since tobacco leaves of the larger size are less in abundance.
The inside of the lobby of the factory. We were not allowed to take cameras into the factory, sadly.
Of course, I brought mine anyway, but nothing turned out since it was so dark inside. To briefly describe
what we saw: tobacco leaves come in two types, filler, and outer leaves. The filler leaves dictate the
brand of cigar. These leaves are fermented, steamed, and a few other things prior to being malleable
enough to actually be hand-rolled into a cigar. Then, the rollers (think of textile factory workers in
the turn of the 19th century), hand roll these leaves into a cigar, mold it, press it, and hand-seal every
cigar. What I don't quite understand is that every other manufacturing industry has progressed to
industrialization and mechanization, except cigar making in Cuba. And somehow, this is considered a high
end job! What an odd country! I would gouge my eyes out if I had to make 80-160 cigars in a day, every
day for 8 hours.
As we were walking away from the cigar factory, Terry caught my eye, and
said "Hey Paul, you've GOT to see this!!"
"This" turned out to be the bumblebee lady here. Ayyayyayy!!
Robin gets credit for the awesome line after viewing the pic, "Hey, her umbrella could be a stinger!"
Me, hugging a statue of Ernest Hemingway, in one of the bars he used to frequent, El Floridita.
This bar was the only place in the coutry where a drink cost was comparable to North America.
I got rooked for 6 convertible cuban pesos for a mojito.
Glenn, hanging out with Ernie.
A great apple box alongside the Obispa. Credit to Mary Ann for pointing this out. Yes, why DO they
taste so good??
In Cuba, as in most developing countries, tourists are constantly being hassled for money. This guy's trick
was to put a parrot on your shoulder and then ask for money for setting up the picture.
Here are some Cuban school-children coming out of their classes for the day.
Graffiti alongside a metal construction wall on the Obispa.
This is a really cool hand-made perfume factory in old Havana. I bought my mom some really awesome
jasmine perfume here. Much nicer than that tacky Brittany Spears stuff!
Here's Mary Ann posing with a small caiman (alligator) in a gun museum
in old Havana.
And not to be outdone, here's Glenn finding a comfortable place to take a rest.
I just couldn't believe this guy. He had dressed up his dog with glasses, a watch, and a dress
and put him in the rear of his bicycle. I thought the Cuban flag was a special touch. I mean, really,
what's the story here?
This is the San Francisco de Assis square and church in the southern part of Habana Vieja (old Havana).
From the top of the camera obscura, we had a great view of old Havana. This is Terry looking west towards
Me, looking west towards central Havana.
Jason Leuschen, here's a Cuban seagull for you.
Some of the winding roads in the old city.
Men playing dominos with San Critobal de Havana behind them.
If you've seen any artwork at all from Cuba, chances are that it had this church
in it. Alternatively, it may have had a 50s car, a Mojito, or potentially all three.
Terry makes a new friend. This guy freaked me out seriously, so I sent Terry
in to have a closer look.
Another old Hemingway haunt. This one he's actually quoted as saying "I take my mojitos
in the Bodeguita" or something to that effect.
The markets in Cuba will sell you almost anything, providing it's made in Cuba. This artwork
made me chuckle so it was worth taking a picture. Not quite a Warhol, but entertaining nonetheless.
Robin drinking from a coconut.
Deep sea fishing in Cuba
Robin and Tara's wedding pictures
Touring Matanzas and the resort
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