From the BlogSubscribe Now

Last updated by at .

Travel Photo Thursday: Cuba’s Classic Cars

Red Havana car

As I watched a Godfather marathon on television recently, my eyes locked onto the Mercury Montclair Michael Corleone drove while he was in Havana. I thought of the cars I saw while I was there and wondered what the recent announcement that the government is planning to allow Cubans to buy and sell their cars and homes would mean.

Would Cubans exchange their iconic cars for much needed foreign currency? Would the government even allow them to?

In a CNN report, a Cuban is quoted as saying, “If these cars didn’t exist, not as many foreigners would come to Cuba to drive around in them and take pictures.” Fortunately, there is a lot more to Cuba than classic cars. Seeing them, seeing the old buildings – one other thing Cuba’s famous for – made me feel as if I’d stepped back in time.

Se Vende/For Sale Havana Classic Car

Se Vende / For Sale, Havana Classic Car

When I was going to Cuba, one of my friends told me she’d love to be able to own one of the cars. I took this photo for her. At the time, I didn’t even consider that it might have been illegal to sell them.

Classic Car taxi

1952 Oldsmobile

Quite a lot of the cars I saw were in pretty good condition considering they were 50-plus years old. There were, of course, some pretty banged up ones as well but for some reason, my photos of those didn’t come out very well.

Havana Classic Car

Green Chevrolet

Havana Classic Car

Red Plymouth

We noticed that quite a number of the cars were being operated as taxis. It’s quite inexpensive to take one, about $20-25 and tour the city. They’re big and roomy and can fit up to 6 people (depending on their sizes).

Classic Car taxi

Red Olds

Red Havana car

Red Chevy

Havana car

Cadillac

This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website!

 

The Top Ten Places I’d Like to Visit

Hotel Inglaterra, Havana

There are so many places I’d like to visit that I get overwhelmed when I try to choose. Each place has something that appeals to me.

For example, although I’m not a good swimmer, I love water and places that have beautiful beaches call me. I discovered recently that I also love the mountains. Mountains capture my imagination and give me a sense of peace so any place that has both makes me happy.

I’ve always felt that I was born in the wrong era and the wrong place. I love looking at old buildings and visiting quaint villages that take me back in time. I’m also in awe of old stone monuments, Gothic cathedrals and the ruins of ancient civilizations.

[Read more...]

Random Havana Photos

Screen shot 2011-06-12 at 1.46.51 AM

Yes, I have still more photos. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I took nearly 400 photos in just a week walking around Havana. There was that much to see.

Hotel Inglaterra, Havana

Hotel Inglaterra

Hotel Inglaterra from Parque Central

Hotel Inglaterra, seen from Havana’s Central Park

 

Havana Taxi

Getting around

Coco Taxis

Havana’s Coco taxis an eye catching jolt of color that can’t be ignored.

Monument to Jose Marti in Plaza de la Revolucion

Spanish tiles from the restaurant at the Hotel Ambos Mundos

Statue of St. Francis of Assisi outside the Convento de San Francisco in Old Havana

Ladies in the courtyard outside the Convento

Old Havana Street

Mural in Old Havana

Like this post? Subscribe to read more, comment and share.

Havana, And My Mojitos Sucked!

Screen shot 2011-06-12 at 1.43.24 AM

I love a good cocktail, especially one with a rum base.

So when I knew I was going to Havana, I was as excited about going as I was about all the rummy cocktails I knew I’d get to drink.

Cuba is, after all, rum country. It’s also home of the mojito, the daiquiri and the Cuba Libre – all made with rum and lime juice, my other favorite ingredient.

But it was the mojito, the perfect refreshing antidote to hot days, that looked forward to downing.

Unfortunately, my first Havana mojito sucked!

And it wasn’t just that it needed more sugar. We tried that and it still tasted ‘off.’

So did the next one at the second bar.

The mojitos I’ve had in New York and elsewhere – the taste I’ve come to love – are a delicate balance between rum, sugar, mint, lime juice and ice. Even allowing for slight variations in the taste of the ingredients and the quantity of each that was used, I couldn’t explain the big difference in taste between Havana’s mojitos and New York’s.

I was disappointed.

I just knew the mojitos in Havana would have been good, so good, I’d be drinking them instead of water. And I knew I’d be raving about them when I returned home. I just knew!

Instead, I found myself doing what I do when I’m out and can’t find my favorite brand of spirits, I revert to something that’s foolproof: in this case, rum and coke.

(Yes, even though Cuba has its own brand of cola, this American import is available, especially in tourist areas.)

Now, there’s really nothing wrong with my backup drink: rum and Coke or the rum, Coke and lime mix called Cuba Libre. But since my taste buds had been primed for weeks in anticipation of the mojito, it felt like a poor substitute.

Several days later, while we were having lunch in a hotel restaurant, I noticed something that to me explained why the mojitos tasted so different.

There, on the bar, were rows of glasses. Each had sugar, lime wedges and several sprigs of mint leaves. How long had they been sitting there, waiting?

Could this slow marinating of these two ingredients account for the difference in taste?

Even from where I sat, I could see that the mint leaves had wilted to a deep green and a brownish yellow was slowly overtaking the vibrant green of the wedges of lime.

I watched as a waiter walked over, picked up a glass, added rum and ice, muddled the ingredients and served it to a diner.

I’m not a purist. Neither am I one of those people who thinks food has to taste the same everywhere, you know, like McDonald’s?

Glasses with Mint

But you cannot convince me that that wasn’t the reason for the difference.

Tell me if you agree.