Total distance travelled: 32,634.6 kilometres (20,269.94 miles)
It was a slightly improved Havana that greeted us for our first full day in the country, patches of blue sky amidst lighter white (as opposed to the previous days dark grey) clouds.
With Julie (Sarah’s mum) not due to land until around 2pm, this meant the morning was ours and our first order of business was breakfast, something quickly settled with a few sweet eclairs and essentially a chocolate donut (or doughnut, whatever you prefer) made using profiterole pastry!
We’d resolved to not do too many of the sights that were more substantial than just a wander, as with fresh company soon, we figured many of these places would be somewhere we’d simply just have to repeat.
Therefore, our morning was filled with a lot more ambling of the unexpectedly quiet cobbled streets, admiring the faded facades and grand plazas.
Having spent all of our time within either the narrow, warren like streets of Habana Vieja or along the waterfront, we thought it only right that we make some extra effort and venture a little further afield.
Thus followed a rather long walk out to the Plaza de la Revolucion, the large square complete with communist era style monument to eternal independence hero, Jose Marti.
If I’m being accurate here (curiosity motivated me to research this upon our return to El Salvador), the actual walk was 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) in one direction, so double that for the round trip!
Truth be told, it never felt that far, as there were plenty of distractions along the way, including, but not limited to, our first up close look at El Capitolio and Havana’s Chinatown (unique for its apparent lack of anything or anyone Chinese)!
Admittedly we were sweaty, be let’s be honest, with the humidity, we would’ve been hot and sweaty regardless!
We didn’t linger too long, mindful that we had to return with time enough to meet our taxi for our airport collection duties, posed for a few obligatory ‘selfies’ and continued on our way.
It’s a pretty short trip from downtown Habana out to the airport (but that doesn’t stop it costing $25.00 CUC in either direction), so it wasn’t long before we were stood amongst masses of people (mainly drivers waiting to collect passengers from recent flights) waiting and hoping to catch a glimpse of Sarah’s mum.
The daunting thing about this task (spotting a nervous, non-Spanish speaking woman emerging from customs) is that there are actually two possible points she may emerge, an east and a west gate!
Fear not, the electronic board notified us quickly which one we needed to wait before… only we were inside, so which way is east, and which west?
Eventually, with a few queries, we established where we needed to be, just in time to spot a familiar face emerge from behind the closed doors that delineate immigration from the rest of the airport.
After hugs and kisses were exchanged (I think one member of the posse may have also had tears in the eyes), it was back to our taxi to get whisked back into the city… only our driver was now missing!
Eventually we spied him running towards us, he having assumed, and perhaps fairly so, that we’d take much longer than we had (at that time we hadn’t realised the plane had landed earlier than anticipated).
Back in town, we were eager to deposit Julie’s bags in our room, show off the charming casa and get back out into the city.
But… this wouldn’t fly, not before the distribution of some goodies. That’s right, Sarah’s mum had brought us essentially a care parcel.
In addition to some items we’d arranged be brought in advance, we were spoilt with a selection of treats from home in the form of Salted Caramel Tim-Tams (chocolate covered sweet biscuits) and two boxes of Shapes (A baked savoury biscuit/crisp from Australia)!
Factoring in the travel fatigue (from which we were all suffering in some degree), the afternoon/evening consisted of little more than short strolls to take in the old cities ambiance, and another scrumptious meal before we essentially called it a night.
There may have been a bit of photo viewing as we caught up on Julie’s Mexican adventures, before we turned in, ready to tackle our first full day in Havana as a party of three!
* A taxi to (our from) Havana’s Aeropuerto Internacional Jose Marti-Habana seems to be a set fare of $25.00 CUC. No drivers would budge on this, and several even apologised!
* It was expected that the El Capatolio building would have had its restoration works completed by the end of 2013, however as of December 2014, the building remains closed and a work in progress.