Hello! We’re back and just about over the jet-lag and weird swaying sensation we seem to have acquired after a week on a boat. We had an amazing holiday and it was exactly what we both needed. It was our first cruise and I definitely had my reservations before we went but a week of good food, cocktails, sunshine, books, great company and exploring new places has left us feeling refreshed and needing to get back to the gym! I always like to write up a little holiday debrief when I get back from a trip (and love reading about other people’s too!) but I realised that writing about all four countries we visited and my views on cruises in one post would take ages so for today, here is Havana…
So, after a glam night in a Gatwick Travelodge with an M&S picnic, we started our day of travelling going from London to Madrid then onto Havana. We flew with Air Europa who I would not recommend (two drinks on a ten-hour flight and no films is not the one!) and landed in Cuba pretty knackered. We were picked up by coach and driven down to the port to board our boat, the MSC Opera.
We found our cabin with ease and jumped in the shower to freshen up. Our room was small but perfectly formed with lots of storage dotted around. We didn’t have a window which was a little disconcerting but we were only really in there to sleep so it didn’t matter too much.
It was about midnight (5am UK time) and we were starving so went exploring and found a buffet and a bar – I found they were serving ribs which was a great sign for me!
We woke up early the next morning and headed on deck for our first glimpse of Havana and to hit the gym – my view from the treadmill was definitely better than my gym at home!
It was then time for breakfast. We had a couple of options for meals on our ship: a buffet to help yourself to, a slightly more formal restaurant with table service and two pool bars serving hotdogs, fruit salad and the most amazing freshly made pizzas. We tended to have a breakfast buffet, pizza and salad for lunch then dressed up and went to the restaurant for dinner where we had the option of 7 courses…yeah, my jeans are a little tighter than they were when I left!
After breakfast (and the realisation that I wouldn’t be able to get a decent cup of tea until I was back in the UK), we headed into Havana to explore. Our ship was docked at the port in the old town which meant we just had to cross the road and we were in the heart of the city. I loved this as it meant we could spend all day exploring and head back to the ship in the evening.
I loved Havana from the moment we set foot in it. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it is one of the most colourful, vibrant and friendly places I have been. I loved the beautiful colours of the buildings and all the open squares which were perfect for grabbing a cold drink and people watching.
There were several art installations around the city – I liked these decorated cats in Plaza Vieja.
The old American cars are a highlight of the city and add another pop of colour as they pass you along the Malecón.
That afternoon, we went on a little sightseeing tour to visit La Plaza de la Revolución, the university, a rum and cigar factory, El Capitolio, the cathedral and to enjoy a mojito at Hemmingway’s favourite bar, La Bodeguita del Medio.
The next day, we had another day in Havana visiting museums, wandering through the little streets and drinking daiquiris at La Floridita (another of Hemmingway’s hangouts).
A lot of my photos show the more photogenic side of Havana but that wouldn’t be a fair representation at all. It is still a very poor city with many of the buildings in a very sorry state and simply no materials to remedy this. I had done a bit of research before our trip but I was still shocked at how dilapidated some of the buildings were that people were living in amid crumbling walls.
That afternoon, we sailed out of Havana, along the Cuban coastline which was stunning to watch as it became a little speck in the distance and we made our way to Montego Bay, Jamaica.