Window Shopping in Havana’s main shopping street

WE decided we’d head to the Oxford Street of Havana, known as Calle Rafael, a block away from Hotel Inglaterra, where we’d spent our first night. On our way there, we came across some interesting building works

a) roadworks in the main pedestrianised street image
b) in the absence of cranes the Cubans use ropes and manual labourimage
the large piece of wood is quickly hauled up, away from unsuspecting pedestriansimage

BILL was in heaven for a lot of the trip as one of his passions is tractors, especially old ones….many a time he struck up a conversation using his  ever-increasing Spanish (it was non-existent at the start!) with a driver…this one was in the main street in Old Havanaimage

WE eventually arrived at the shopping area, a pedestrianised street, imagewith a myriad of shops, some simply open plan having everything (or practically nothing) on display, others more specific, selling clothes or furniture.  Interesting items are sold on the same premises; one store sold bags of cement  and toothbrushes, another three piece suites and outdoor furniture.
FEW shops had window displays, although there was a Christmas tree in one window….not sure if it was a window display or for sale.image
OH!, and we also spotted an old car parked with some goats on the back seat!
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ALL this window shopping was making us thirsty so we went back to the Hotel Inglaterra for a daiquiri on the rooftop – this time we were prepared with our Cuban pesos so we ordered two daiquiris and relaxed, overlooking the Capitolio and the streets of Havana.
DUE to our early start the next morning, we decided to go for an early dinner- to El Mesón de la Flota for some tapas and live music with flamenco. We thought we’d continue the daiquiri theme so had the Havana Special daiquiri with pineapple juice, Ron and maraschino. We had a delicious chickpea & chorizo starter and shrimp al ajillo-  extremely yummy. They didn’t have what we wanted for the main course so we had fillet of fish in shrimp sauce with vegetables. We ordered mineral water (not specifying any in particular but assuming it’d be Cuban) but they brought San Pellegrino Italian mineral water! I guess they get their pesos every way they can! The next time we ordered mineral water I asked for Cuban and they told me they only had imported so we had no choice, but the brand Ciego Montero is normally widely available).

The band and flamenco dancers were very talented

and it was an enjoyable meal, though it’s also on a tour group itinerary as we saw a large group of tourists come in and be served a set menu……so not really a place I’d recommend, but it served our purpose of serving tasty food early!

TO get back to Casa Javier we wandered along a main street resembling Las Ramblas in Barcelona, though without all the side stalls and touts – a much more pleasant experience!

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JAVIER was visiting his sister so we spoke to him on the phone (there is always someone in a Casa to help you, either extended family, friends, hangers on…!) to confirm that we’d pay him tomorrow for the two nights and arranged our early breakfast for 7am so we could get a taxi to the coach station on the outskirts of Havana and the bus to Viñales, two hours further west.
So…..next stop….Viñales.
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