Total distance travelled: 32,634.6 kilometres (20,269.94 miles)
Clear blue skies and another breakfast of chocolate covered pastries. Day 3 in Cuba started in a remarkably similar fashion to the second.
After wiping our faces of chocolate (and most likely licking some surely sticky fingers), it was on to re-visit some of the cities sights on a morning of glorious sunshine.
Despite the doors opening ten minutes later than scheduled, Catedral de la Habana was first ticked off our list. The one time resting place of Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus), this place is a must see, the floor illuminated in lovely reds and blues by this particular mornings sun.
Back on the waterfront, the faintest puff of wind and bright sunshine had transformed it from a dark and menacing looking place, to the charming focal point that it truly is.
On the opposite side of the harbour sat our next goal, El Morro, the cities first grand defensive bastion.
There is however no bridge, and although there is a ferry across, when we discovered there was a tunnel, we decided to do it in a little more style…
Had Sarah known that the cross harbour ferry would have deposited us in a suburb called Casablanca (the movie of the same name is one of her favourites), perhaps it would have had a look in, but when in Cuba, we had to ride in at least one classic beast!
Dazzled by the shiny chrome and slippery white leather bench seats, we slid our bums beneath the harbour as this gas guzzler ferried us through the tunnel and up to el Morro.
Once at the fortress, we gained our entrance through a long, narrow tunnel before we emerged near the main entrance where fees were paid to access the main keep (separate payment was necessary to both climb the attached lighthouse as well as take photos).
The construction of this behemoth was made necessary due to marauding pirate/privateer activities, but it was almost 80 years before the task was completed (from the 16th into the 17th century) eclipsing the tenure of a multitude of Cuban governors.
For all its flaws (its quarters were often damp leaving the soldiers unwell and it was built with some fairly soft stone), it still stands, and now presented us with a great place to explore and some stunning views of this city and harbour.
The higher elevation afforded by the lighthouse was even more impressive than the view provided by the battlements, although it proved a more difficult task to get into it than expected.
Despite having paid our admission fee to include the lighthouse, we stood before a very securely locked and bolted door.
Disheartened and with both Sarah & Julie having had enough, we made our way to the exit seeking a refund, but they much preferred our money, so the door was quickly unlocked and shortly, we were sweating and panting our way to the top.
I’m pretty confident in my appraisal that the views were indeed worth it!
The remainder of the afternoon saw us back in the city exploring a few other sights, the first of these being the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de la Habana.
This was a national museum in a really classical sense, housing some fine art and with wings devoted to ancient Greece, Rome, the Egyptians and all manner of grand civilisations.
My favourite item however? Well that required one to lift their eyes towards the sky, where sat this most stunning stained glass ceiling.
A tasty lunch at the beautifully restored Sloppy Joes (well for the girls, my Cuban Sandwich wasn’t great) was followed by some time wandering through a free card museum (as in playing cards) which was pretty novel and a photo exhibition that was notable for its paucity of images (although the ones they had were very nice).
It was then time to retire to our casa, where a casual comment about heading out to purchase bus tickets in the morning was met with horror by our hostess!
She was adamant that we’d need to get our tickets today rather than tomorrow, and contrary to the information we had, that the bus station ticket office would close at 5pm, not the 8pm we believed.
Leaving Sarah’s mother behind and with tired legs, so began what promised to be about a 6km trek out to the bus station and back.
Then it began to rain…
At which point, with heads bowed to shelter our eyes from the torrent, I got us lost.
About an hour later I got us back on course…
Then proceeded to get us lost again!
When eventually we’d found our bearings again, all thought of making it to the office had been abandoned, and two weary travellers slowly crawled back to their casa resigned to the fact that they’d need to try first thing in the morning.
* We negotiated our taxi fare across the harbour down to $4.00 CUC per person.
* Another $4.00 CUC gained us entrance to the fortress, with an additional $2.00 CUC contribution for entrance to the lighthouse and the same again to take photos.
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