Determined to make the most of my last day I negotiated with a cycle-cab chap who took me around to parts of the city I hadn’t yet visited.
I said I fancied a coffee and he said he’d take me to the best coffee place there is. So off he pedaled with me bouncing away on the seat behind him, down cobbled streets, weaving in and out of pedestrians with him wolf-whistling at every single female and turning round to grin at me each time, making the ride all the more precarious, until we finally came to a stop outside a smart looking pavement café on one side of a very large square.
A wonderful smell of fresh roasted coffee had wafted through the streets as we approached so I was looking forward to sitting still for a bit, letting my insides settle down, and having a cup. I invited him to join me and was persuaded by the waitress to try their iced coffee as it was a hot day. Yes – great taste but they hit me with a bill for 5 CUC each.
That was around 4 CUC per cup more than anywhere else. OK so it only worked out at about 6 or 7 quid but even so you couldn’t help feeling ripped off. I mean hiring him for the morning had only been 5 CUC. Presumably he got a back-hander later in the day. Anyway he was worth it as he then took me to a massive undercover market by the train station where he was happy to hang around whilst I browsed the stalls, and then insisted that he take some pix of me on one of the pre-1950s engines that served the west to east, Havana to Santiago de Cuba line. I’m told that it’s the sixth oldest railroad in the World having opened its first 17 mile stretch back in 1837.
Then it was back to the Central Park square which is the hotel hub of the city and where there is always a long line of colourful 50s cabs waiting for hire, all in great nick.
With acknowledgement to one of my favourite 50s rock artists, Chuck Berry, I took a particular fancy to a pristine Thunderbird Ford and therefore, in true tourist style, requested to pose therein.
From there I bad goodbye to my pedalling-taxi friend and strolled down OBISPO street once again, into a smart and airy bar that had a very talented pair playing the piano and flute; the acoustics were terrific and it was good to slump in a comfortable arm chair, beer in one hand and cigar in the other and simply enjoy the music.
I had a supper of chicken escalope Milanese in case your interested, yes, I’m afraid in yet another bar, again with it’s own residential band, where I got into conversation with a young Australian guy; well it was quite hard to have a proper conversation as in true Aussie form, due to his constant intake of numerous bottles of beer, he kept getting up and announcing loudly in a broad Australian accent, that he’d ‘gotta take a squirt!’, and literally every other word was ‘effin’ this and ‘effin’ that; amazing how many uses that word can be put to if you are thus inclined; it all made me smile inwardly but he was a good bloke and we enjoyed each other’s company for a bit.
Well I had one more stop to go before calling it a night and that was to be able to say that I had been in the famous ‘Sloppy Joe’s’ bar where, yes, you guessed it, Ernie H and his mates used to hang out. Not a lot going on there, not even a band, but good to see nonetheless. And so to bed. Tomorrow it’s the flights back.
If you’ve been interested in any of this report and it has kindled your desire to go to Cuba and experience all these things and more for yourself, then you may want to make a note of some of the contacts and tips that are on the drop down menu under the FRESH LOOK TRAVEL BLOG tab at the top of this site.
If you go I hope you have as great a time as I did. Maybe let me know? I’d love to hear from you. If you would like more information or just get in touch, Click HERE.
Please keep checking in to the website to see what else I get up to. Meantime, thanks a lot for visiting and wherever YOU are off to – ‘Bon Voyage!’