Bimini, Bahamas

Bimini, Bahamas, located just 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Florida, is a popular vacation spot where lounging on pristine beaches, snorkeling, diving, and sport fishing are

Bimini, Bahamas, located just 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Florida, is a popular vacation spot where lounging on pristine beaches, snorkeling, diving, and sport fishing are the top activities

 

Just 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Florida sits Bimini, the closest Bahamian island to the United States, where lounging on pristine beaches, snorkeling, diving, and sport fishing are the top activities.  On North Bimini Island visitors can tour the quaint local shops and seafood restaurants in Alice Town.  On the quieter South Bimini, visitors can stroll the Bimini Nature Trail and find the Fountain of Youth, said to have been discovered by Ponce de Leon in the early 1500s when he sailed to Bimini from his base in then-Spanish Cuba.  Bimini is a one-time favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway and is where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. found speech-writing inspiration.  The island also has a rich history laced with tales of rum-runners and gun-runners.

 

After passing through a small “Entrance Point” channel separating the South and North Islands, our tender boat motored up the east side of the North Island to reach the Hilton at Res

After passing through a small “Entrance Point” channel separating the South and North Islands, our tender boat motored up the east side of the North Island to reach the Hilton at Resorts World Bimini, Bahamas

 

Approaching the Hilton and its marina, we passed by many homes and bungalows belonging to Resorts World Bimini, Bahamas

Approaching the Hilton and its marina, we passed by many homes and bungalows belonging to Resorts World Bimini, Bahamas

 

The main entrance of the Hilton at Resorts World Bimini, Bahamas

The main entrance of the Hilton at Resorts World Bimini, Bahamas

 

The sprawling beachfront property of Hilton at Resorts World Bimini features three pools, including an adults-only rooftop infinity pool; Serenity Spa and Salon; numerous fine dining and casual restaurant options; a casino with table games and slot machines; and the Bahamas’ largest marina complex.  Bimini Undersea, the hotel’s onsite watersports operator, organizes jet-skiing along the island’s coast, kayaking by Paradise Beach, and snorkeling and scuba diving at the SS Sapona wreck.  Visitors can also book fishing charters or rent a golf cart to explore the resort and neighboring small towns.

 

The Hilton at Resorts World Bimini, Bahamas, fronts onto a channel that provides boat access to both the hotel and some of the Resort_s homes and bungalows

The Hilton at Resorts World Bimini, Bahamas, fronts onto a channel that provides boat access to both the hotel and some of the Resort’s homes and bungalows

 

Our Yacht Club chartered a local boat for a snorkeling trip for a small group of us (8), that also included a chance to land on a nearby cay_s beach and feed the sting rays, Bimini, Ba

Our Yacht Club chartered a local boat for a snorkeling trip for a small group of us (8), that also included a chance to land on a nearby cay’s beach and feed the sting rays, Bimini, Bahamas

 

As part of our morning Yacht Club boat outing, we snorkeled around the SS Sapon, a concrete-hulled cargo steamer that was used as a warehouse for alcohol during the era of Prohibition an

As part of our morning Yacht Club boat outing, we snorkeled around the SS Sapon, a concrete-hulled cargo steamer that was used as a warehouse for alcohol during the era of Prohibition and ran aground near Bimini during a hurricane in 1926, Bimini, Bahamas

 

“SS Sapona was a concrete-hulled cargo steamer that ran aground near Bimini during a hurricane in 1926.  The wreck of the ship is easily visible above the water, and is both a navigational landmark for boaters and a popular dive site.  Sapona was built by the Liberty Ship Building Company of Wilmington, North Carolina as part of a fleet of concrete ships authorized by Woodrow Wilson during World War I, because steel was in short supply.  Like many others in the fleet, the ship was completed after the end of the war, and Sapona was sold for scrap… [and after being used as a casino and later for oil storage was sold] in 1924 [to] Bruce Bethel.  Bethel moved the ship to Bimini, using it as a warehouse for alcohol during the era of Prohibition.  Bethel also intended to use the ship as a floating nightclub, although this plan never came to fruition.  In 1926, the ship ran aground in a hurricane and broke apart.  During World War II, the wreck was used for target practice by the U.S. Army Air Force…  The wreck lies in about 15 feet (4.6 m) of water, the stern broken off and partially submerged by hurricanes that struck in 2004. Little concrete is left on the hull because of the effects of bombing and weathering.  The wreck itself and the surrounding area is a popular site for Scuba divers and snorkelers.” – Wikipedia

 

Paradise Beach (part of the Hilton at Resorts World Bimini) was not very crowded and had loads of room for the few visitors to spread out and relax in the sand, surf and beach, Bimini, B

Paradise Beach (part of the Hilton at Resorts World Bimini) was not very crowded and had loads of room for the few visitors to spread out and relax in the sand, surf and beach, Bimini, Bahamas

 

A friend rented a golf cart and we had a chance to drive around and explore Bailey Town and Alice Town on the North Island – pictured here in Alice Town is the Elk_s Pub and Sports B

A friend rented a golf cart and we had a chance to drive around and explore Bailey Town and Alice Town on the North Island – pictured here in Alice Town is the Elk’s Pub and Sports Bar (Kitchen Conch-Chicken, Fish, Salad, Fries), Bimini, Bahamas

 

At the southwestern tip of North Bimini Island, we discovered this severely weathered beached wreck, Bimini, Bahamas

At the southwestern tip of North Bimini Island, we discovered this severely weathered beached wreck, Bimini, Bahamas

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Charleston, South Carolina, USA (2017)

A beautiful three-story home in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, USA, a city in the American South that blends early American history with a youthful ambiance punctuated by speakeasy

A beautiful three-story home in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, USA, a city in the American South that blends early American history with a youthful ambiance punctuated by speakeasy-themed bars and casually chic cafes

 

Part Southern charm and part trendy culinary and musical scene, Charleston, South Carolina, blends early American history with a youthful ambiance punctuated by speakeasy-themed bars and casually chic cafes.  Visitors frequently begin their explorations in the city’s French Quarter lined with cobblestone streets and churches and the iconic Drayton Hall Plantation beguiled with Georgian-Palladian architecture.  Historic homes in the Battery District such as the Heyward-Washington House and Middleton Place, home to signers of the Declaration of Independence, tell a lot of history.  Fort Sumter National Monument commemorates the location where the first shots were fired that started the American Civil War on April 12, 1861.  The city is famous for its Southern cuisine, restaurants and welcoming people.  We enjoyed excellent dinners at Husk, Southern Living’s South’s Best Restaurants 2017, and The Ordinary, widely known for its fresh seafood.

 

Construction of the United States Customs House started in 1853 (before the Civil War, 1861-1865) but was not completed until 1879, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Construction of the United States Customs House started in 1853 (before the Civil War, 1861-1865) but was not completed until 1879, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

 

A graphic sign indicating the “menu” for the restaurant in the downtown district of Charleston, South Carolina, USA

A graphic sign indicating the “menu” for the restaurant in the downtown district of Charleston, South Carolina, USA

 

St. Philip_s Church, the state_s oldest congregation dating from 1681, is the church that gave the name to the street (“Church Street”) that conveniently bends around the 1838 ch

St. Philip’s Church, the state’s oldest congregation dating from 1681, is the church that gave the name to the street (“Church Street”) that conveniently bends around the 1838 church building, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

 

Washington Square is named after the general of the American Army in the Revolutionary War (against Great Britain) and the country_s first president, George Washington, Charleston, Sou

Washington Square is named after the general of the American Army in the Revolutionary War (against Great Britain) and the country’s first president, George Washington, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

 

St. Michael_s Church, built in the 1760s with a massive steeple and cedar pew is where George Washington sat in 1791, is flanked by the United States Postal Service and Postal Museum B

St. Michael’s Church, built in the 1760s with a massive steeple and cedar pew is where George Washington sat in 1791, is flanked by the United States Postal Service and Postal Museum Building, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

 

Charleston_s Holocaust Memorial in a corner of Marion Square, located less than one block away from the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston’s Holocaust Memorial in a corner of Marion Square, located less than one block away from the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

 

“This memorial arises out of a collaboration between the board of officers of the Sumter Guard and Washington Light Infantry, the City of Charleston, and the Charlston Jewish Federation.  It is erected to remember those who were murdered in the Holocaust in Europe between 1933 – 1945, and to honor the survivors who came to South Carolina to rebuild their lives.

“The denial of human rights, combined with advanced technology and a pity less willing to dominate others, caused the death of innocent millions in the annihilation of most of the Jews of Europe.

“We remember the holocaust to alert ourselves to the dangers of prejudice, to express our outrage at the scourge of racism, and to warn the world that racism can lead to genocide.” – Holocaust Memorial, Marion Park, Charleston, South Carolina

 

The Emmanuel A.M.E. Church has the oldest African-American congregation south of Baltimore, MD, and was the site of a mass shooting in which white supremacist Dylan Roof murdered nine Af

The Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church has the oldest African-American congregation south of Baltimore, Maryland and was the site of a mass shooting in which white supremacist Dylan Roof murdered nine African Americans in 2015, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

 

The oldest African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church in the south, Emmanuel A.M.E. Church was organized as Hampstead Free African Church in 1818 by Reverend Morris Brown.  After seceding from the Methodist Church, Charlestonians organized three churches that were named collectively the ”Bethel Circuit“. Reverend Brown and other African-American ministers then sought to have the Hampstead Free African Church affiliated with Reverend Richard Allen‘s African Church movement in Philadelphia.  In 1865 Bethel Circuit acquired the present site on Boundary Street (now Calhoun Street) and constructed a wooden church under the direction of its minister, Richard Harvey Cain.  The church was renamed “Emanuel“ meaning “God with us“.  Emmanuel A.M.E. Church has the oldest African-American congregation south of Baltimore, Maryland.

“The Charleston church shooting (also known as the Charleston church massacre) was a mass shooting in which white supremacist Dylan Roof murdered nine African Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, United States, on the evening of June 17, 2015.  Roof, a 21-year-old domestic terrorist and white supremacist, killed nine people (including the senior pastor, state senator Clementa C. Pickney) during a prayer service.  Three other victims survived.  The morning after the attack, police arrested Roof in Shelby, North Carolina.  Roof confessed to committing the shooting in the hope of igniting a race war.  The shooting targeted one of the United States’ oldest black churches, which has long been a site for community organization around civil rights.  Roof was found competent to stand trial in federal court, and in December 2016 was convicted of 33 federal hate crime and murder charges stemming from the shooting.  On January 10, 2017, he was sentenced to death.  Roof was separately charged with nine counts of murder in the South Carolina state courts.  In April 2017, Roof pleaded guilty to all nine state charges in order to avoid a second death sentence and was sentenced to life imprisonment for each, clearing the way for his eventual federal execution.” – Wikipedia

 

A three-story house of wood construction with a beautiful “X” outdoor stairway, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

A three-story house of wood construction with a beautiful “X” outdoor stairway, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

 

A monument to the Confederate defenders of Charleston during the American Civil War (1861-1865) in the waterfront White Point Garden Park at the southeast corner of Charleston, South Car

A monument to the Confederate defenders of Charleston during the American Civil War (1861-1865) in the waterfront White Point Garden Park at the southeast corner of Charleston, South Carolina, USA

 

Beautiful homes along the southeastern waterfront (along East Battery Street) in Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Beautiful homes along the southeastern waterfront (along East Battery Street) in Charleston, South Carolina, USA

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Holiday Season in New York, New York, USA

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular show featuring the high-kicking Rockettes is a New York City musical tradition that takes place in the iconic Radio City Music Hall, New York, New Yo

The Radio City Christmas Spectacular show featuring the high-kicking Rockettes is a New York City musical tradition that takes place in the iconic Radio City Music Hall, New York, New York, USA

 

“The holiday season is arguably the most exciting time to visit New York City and definitely a time with popular family appeal.  Beginning in late November, the Big Apple is transformed into a festive holiday destination, from the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center and the beautifully decorated storefronts along Fifth Avenue to the Christmas lights displays in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.” – http://www.tripsavvy.com

 

Holiday lights on one of the Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue) skyscrapers near 50th Street and Radio City Music Hall, New York, New York, USA

Holiday lights on one of the Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue) skyscrapers near 50th Street and Radio City Music Hall, New York, New York, USA

 

Manhattan can't be beat for its wow-factor holiday light displays at Christmastime with Rockefeller Center ranking at the top for its towering illuminated tree and plaza set aglow with t

Manhattan can’t be beat for its wow-factor holiday light displays at Christmastime with Rockefeller Center ranking at the top for its towering illuminated tree and plaza set aglow with twinkling angels, toy soldiers, wreaths, and more, New York, New York, USA

 

The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is lit every year after Thanksgiving, a tradition that began in 1933, New York, New York, USA

The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is lit every year after Thanksgiving, a tradition that began in 1933, New York, New York, USA

 

We caught Santa Claus on a reconnaissance trip in New York, New York, USA – checking up on which New Yorkers have been naughty and which have been nice (we can nominate a few in the na

We caught Santa Claus on a reconnaissance trip in New York, New York, USA – checking up on which New Yorkers have been naughty and which have been nice (we can nominate a few in the naughty category…)

 

Also at Rockefeller Center we found words on a building entry from the 1930s that are very relevant today, New York, New York, USA; “WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE SHALL BE THE STABILITY OF THY

Also at Rockefeller Center we found words on a building entry from the 1930s that are very relevant today, New York, New York, USA; “WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE SHALL BE THE STABILITY OF THY TIMES”

 

And what better place to seek wisdom and knowledge in New York, New York, USA, than the main branch of the New York Public Library that opened in 1911

And what better place to seek wisdom and knowledge in New York, New York, USA, than the main branch of the New York Public Library that opened in 1911

 

The lobby of the main branch of the New York Public Library decorated for the holidays, New York, New York, USA

The lobby of the main branch of the New York Public Library decorated for the holidays, New York, New York, USA

 

Part of the original 75 miles (121 kilometers) of shelves for books from when the main branch of the New York Public Library opened in 1911, New York, New York, USA

Part of the original 75 miles (121 kilometers) of shelves for books from when the main branch of the New York Public Library opened in 1911, New York, New York, USA

 

The massive reading room, above several floors of stacks, is one of the jewels of the design by Carrére and Hastings in the marble building that is regarded as the apex of Beaux-Arts d

The massive reading room, above several floors of stacks, is one of the jewels of the design by Carrére and Hastings in the marble building that is regarded as the apex of Beaux-Arts design, New York, New York, USA

 

Behind the main branch of the New York Public Library is a winter wonderland with the Bryant Park ice skating rink (skating is free!) and a “pop-up” Holiday shopping arcade with doze

Behind the main branch of the New York Public Library is a winter wonderland with the Bryant Park ice skating rink (skating is free!) and a “pop-up” Holiday shopping arcade with dozens of small shops and food stalls, New York, New York, USA

 

It_s not just at Christmastime that Times Square is brightly lit, but the sign in the image gets into the year-end spirit- “Have a Magical Holiday”, New York, New York, USA

It’s not just at Christmastime that Times Square is brightly lit, but the sign in the image gets into the year-end spirit: “Have a Magical Holiday”, New York, New York, USA

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

A view of the Caribbean Sea from near a summit on our jeep ride up the Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra mountains, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

A view of the Caribbean Sea from near a summit on our jeep ride up the Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra mountains, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

From our pier near downtown Santiago de Cuba we were driven in a jeep about and hour-and-a-half into the surrounding mountains with stunning landscapes.  Stretching across much of the southern coast, Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra boasts exceptional land and seascapes, from its wave-swept shoreline to steep ravines, rugged peaks and remote sugar cane fields farmed for generations by the same families.  The park is also home to a World Heritage Site celebrating the region’s earliest coffee plantations, exemplified by the its traditional platforms used to dry the beans.  At the summit of the mist shrouded Sierra Maestra Mountains we explored, with a local guide, the historically significant remnants of one of Cuba’s first coffee plantations.  The mountain range is where some of the finest Arabica coffee beans can be found.  Not always a peaceful site, its history includes guerilla warfare and was a refuge for Cuban rebels since the 1500s.  From the coffee plantation we drove to Jardín Ave del Paraíso (Bird of Paradise Garden).  A specialist guided us on a walk through the lush ferns, orchids, bromeliads and a rainbow of tropical plants in the beautiful, representative botanical garden.  Afterwards, following our jeep drive back down form the mountains, we enjoyed lunch at Km 0, one of the city’s paladares (employer-owned, rather than state-owned restaurants) that served typical Cuban dishes.

 

A traditional concrete drying platform for drying coffee beans in front of the proprietor_s home at the oldest coffee plantation in the Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de

A traditional concrete drying platform for drying coffee beans in front of the proprietor’s home at the oldest coffee plantation in the Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

The proprietor_s home at the oldest coffee plantation in the Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

The proprietor’s home at the oldest coffee plantation in the Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

The ground level remnants of the walls of the slave quarters at the oldest coffee plantation in the Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

The ground level remnants of the walls of the slave quarters at the oldest coffee plantation in the Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

The outdoor circular platform for crushing the dried coffee beans (the long wooden rod was pulled in a circle by a horse with a stone wheel in the track cracking the beans), Gran Parque

The outdoor circular platform for crushing the dried coffee beans (the long wooden rod was pulled in a circle by a horse with a stone wheel in the track cracking the beans), Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

Only one slave quarters building remains at the coffee plantation, Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Only one slave quarters building remains at the coffee plantation, Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

The view of the estate from the kitchen of the slave quarters at the coffee plantation, Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

The view of the estate from the kitchen of the slave quarters at the coffee plantation, Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

The son of one of the local guides at the coffee plantation, Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

The son of one of the local guides at the coffee plantation, Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

Another view of the Caribbean Sea from the summit on our jeep ride along the Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra mountains, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Another view of the Caribbean Sea from the summit on our jeep ride along the Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra mountains, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

Locally grown and roasted coffee beans making a cup of drip coffee at a roadside stand on the summit of the Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Locally grown and roasted coffee beans making a cup of drip coffee at a roadside stand on the summit of the Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

The Jardín Ave del Paraíso (Bird of Paradise Garden) was planted with lush ferns, orchids, bromeliads and a rainbow of tropical plants, Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago

The Jardín Ave del Paraíso (Bird of Paradise Garden) was planted with lush ferns, orchids, bromeliads and a rainbow of tropical plants, Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

Sadly, this was our last day of our trip around Cuba.  Looking back, our overall impression is one of a beautiful lush tropical small island country filled with friendly, entrepreneurial, hopeful people from a wide range of backgrounds from Africa, Europe and the Caribbean.  Virtually everyone we saw or met was friendly and accommodating to visitors, proud of their culture.  The music, art, dance, and food that we experienced reflected the peoples’ love of life.  We look forward to a return visit and to the day when the United States restores a fully open relationship with Cuba.

 

A bird of paradise flower in the Jardín Ave del Paraíso (Bird of Paradise Garden), Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

A bird of paradise flower in the Jardín Ave del Paraíso (Bird of Paradise Garden), Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Portraits in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

A mansion in the Vista Alegre neighborhood that was the home to the wealthy prior to the revolution, including the Bacardi Family, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

A mansion in the Vista Alegre neighborhood that was the home to the wealthy prior to the revolution, including the Bacardi Family, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

Beautiful ceramics for sale to the public at the gallery-workshop “Casa de la Ceramica”, a socio-cultural project created three years ago and formed by a group of ceramists who also

Beautiful ceramics for sale to the public at the gallery-workshop “Casa de la Ceramica”, a socio-cultural project created three years ago and formed by a group of ceramists who also give lessons to local children, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

A ceramist at work at the gallery-workshop “Casa de la Ceramica”, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

A ceramist at work at the gallery-workshop “Casa de la Ceramica”, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

The José Ignacio Martí primary school, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

The José Ignacio Martí primary school, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

School children after school walking home, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

School children after school walking home, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

A typical home in the Vista Alegre neighborhood that was a “regular” home, rather than a large mansion (as above), Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

A typical home in the Vista Alegre neighborhood that was a “regular” home, rather than a large mansion (as above), Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

A school girl posed for your photographer as she began her walk home, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

A school girl posed for your photographer as she began her walk home, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Cathedral (The Basilica Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption) and Parque Céspedes viewed from inside the Museo de Ambiente Histórico Cubano (loca

Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Cathedral (The Basilica Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption) and Parque Céspedes viewed from inside the Museo de Ambiente Histórico Cubano (located in Casa de Don Diego Velázquez), the oldest house still standing in Cuba, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

The very Spanish-design interior of Casa de Don Diego Velázquez, the oldest house still standing in Cuba, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

The very Spanish-design interior of Casa de Don Diego Velázquez, the oldest house still standing in Cuba, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

Shoppers on a weekday walking down the main shopping street in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Shoppers on a weekday walking down the main shopping street in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

Local men playing dominoes in a park in downtown Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Local men playing dominoes in a park in downtown Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

The proud proprietor of a small hardware store in downtown Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

The proud proprietor of a small hardware store in downtown Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

School children posing in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

School children posing in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Parque Céspedes, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

The epitome of romanticized Cuban street life, Parque Céspedes -- surrounded by colonial architecture and the Cathedral -- is a vibrant mix of conversation, flirting, dancing and music

The epitome of romanticized Cuban street life, Parque Céspedes — surrounded by colonial architecture and the Cathedral — is a vibrant mix of conversation, flirting, dancing and music in the heart of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

Located closer to Haiti and the Dominican Republic than Havana, Santiago de Cuba is called Cuba’s “Most Caribbean City.”  It was founded as a Spanish settlement in 1515, and over the next several centuries, was invaded and conquered numerous times.  Its rich history can be seen in the diverse backgrounds of its residents, whose Spanish, African, French, British and Haitian roots are flavored in the city’s original and fascinating music, food, drink, and art.  The second largest city in the country (after Havana), Santiago de Cuba is rich with history and pride.  This history spans many centuries and includes the 19th century War of Independence, 1959 Revolution, and Bacardí’s first rum factory.

Often cited as the country’s cultural capital, Cuba’s second-largest city is also one of its oldest.  A vibrant mélange of Afro-Caribbean culture, Santiago de Cuba is known as the birthplace of most of the country’s musical genres as well as Castro’s revolution.  Our walking tour included the central Parque Céspedes, a lively gathering spot both day and night.  The square is surrounded by a number of architectural landmarks that were fully restored for the city’s quincentennial in 2015.  Highlights include the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción with its magnificent painted ceiling, and the Museo de Arte Colonial, housed in the former home of Cuba’s first Spanish governor, Diego Velazquez de Cuéllar.

 

Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Cathedral (The Basilica Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption) is located in the Parque Céspedes, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Cathedral (The Basilica Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption) is located in the Parque Céspedes, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

The beautiful Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Cathedral (The Basilica Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption) is a national monument and a landmark within the city of Santiago.  The present church was completed in 1922; however, there has been a cathedral on the site since 1522, shortly after the city’s founding.  The crowning glories are the cathedral’s two Neoclassical towers, seen as beacons for the faithful.

 

Dating from 1522, Museo de Ambiente Histórico Cubano (located in Casa de Don Diego Velázquez) is the oldest house still standing in Cuba, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Dating from 1522, Museo de Ambiente Histórico Cubano (located in Casa de Don Diego Velázquez) is the oldest house still standing in Cuba, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

Dating from 1522, Museo de Ambiente Histórico Cubano (located in Casa de Don Diego Velázquez) is the oldest house still standing in Cuba.  It was the official residence of the island’s first governor, Diego Velázquez.  Restored in the late 1960s, this former trading house and gold foundry was inaugurated as a museum in 1970.  Today, rooms hold period furnishings and decorations from the 16th to 19th centuries.

 

Architectural detail on one of the colonial buildings around Parque Céspedes, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Architectural detail on one of the colonial buildings around Parque Céspedes, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

 

A contemporary building adjacent to Parque Céspedes that incorporates many updated colonial architectural design details, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

A contemporary building adjacent to Parque Céspedes that incorporates many updated colonial architectural design details, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

The rooftop bar at Casa Granda Hotel (Hotel Casagranda) was a wonderful spot for a drink at sunset and dusk, overlooking Parque Céspedes and the adjacent Cathedral, Santiago de Cuba, C

The rooftop bar at Casa Granda Hotel (Hotel Casagranda) was a wonderful spot for a drink at sunset and dusk, overlooking Parque Céspedes and the adjacent Cathedral, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Cathedral (The Basilica Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption) at dusk, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Cathedral (The Basilica Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption) at dusk, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

A statue and one of the Cathedral_s two Neoclassical towers at dusk, overlooking Bahia de Santiago de Cuba, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

A statue and one of the Cathedral’s two Neoclassical towers at dusk, overlooking Bahia de Santiago de Cuba, Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2017 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

 

Classic Cars in Havana, Cuba

A beautiful 1950s black Chevrolet, restored by Nostalgicar Cuba, parked in front of the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski with a reflection of the hotel_s façade on the hood, Havana, Cuba

A beautiful 1950s black Chevrolet, restored by Nostalgicar Cuba, parked in front of the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski, with a reflection of the hotel’s façade on the hood, Havana, Cuba

 

“Perhaps the strongest reminder of the hardened US-Cuban relationship is the 60,000 retrofitted metal relics clunking around the streets of the stagnant island nation.  Havana’s stunning 1950s-era “coches Americanos” — or “máquinas” —are often referred to as the “Galápagos of the car industry” since they have been meticulously preserved by their owners during the 55-year-long trade embargo.  Branded in Cuba’s surreal time-warp image, these cars provide crucial income for locals while servicing the island’s tourists.” — http://www.businessinsider.com

 

We saw this very nicely restored Chevrolet in Old Havana by the river, Havana, Cuba

We saw this very nicely restored Chevrolet in Old Havana by the river, Havana, Cuba

 

A privately owned and operated classic car that had been restored, Havana, Cuba – seen parked in Old Havana

A privately owned and operated classic car that had been restored, Havana, Cuba – seen parked in Old Havana

 

A pink beauty in Old Havana, Havana, Cuba

A pink beauty in Old Havana, Havana, Cuba

 

We saw many of the classic cars around the city, including taking taxi rides in several of them.  On our last morning we were picked up at our hotel in Central Havana and given an hour-and-a-half classic car driving tour of the city.  As there were four classic cars and 12 of us, we rotated to different cars and drivers each time we stopped, in order to have the experience of meeting new drivers and riding in different vehicles.  At the end of the tour we went to the workshop of Nostalgicar, the company that owns and restored the cars we were driven in.  The husband and wife owners of Nostalgicar met with us at the workshop and told us the history of the company.  They have more than a half-dozen cars now, having started with an initial restored 1950 Chevy (Chevrolet) that was used in the filming of Havana 57 in 2012. The couple has become the face of entrepreneurship in Cuba, taking advantage of the new economic changes under Raul Castro that allows them to operate a private enterprise restoring and operating these “coches Americanos”.

 

The working car for the couple that own Nostalgicar Cuba, seen at their workshop, Havana, Cuba

The working car for the couple that own Nostalgicar Cuba, seen at their workshop, Havana, Cuba

 

One of Nostalgicar Cuba_s exceptionally well restored 1950s Chevrolets, here parked in a city park on our driving tour of Havana, Cuba

One of Nostalgicar Cuba’s exceptionally well restored 1950s Chevrolets, here parked in a city park on our driving tour of Havana, Cuba

 

The entrepreneurial founder and co-owner (with his wife) of Nostalgicar Cuba, at his workshop in Havana, Cuba

The entrepreneurial founder and co-owner (with his wife) of Nostalgicar Cuba, at his workshop in Havana, Cuba

 

A Chevrolet under restoration being painted at the Nostalgicar Cuba workshop in Havana, Cuba

A Chevrolet under restoration being painted at the Nostalgicar Cuba workshop in Havana, Cuba

 

A restored Chevrolet truck from the 1950s at the Nostalgicar Cuba workshop in Havana, Cuba

A restored Chevrolet truck from the 1950s at the Nostalgicar Cuba workshop in Havana, Cuba

 

The intrepid explorer and your blogger outside the Grand Hotel Manzana Kempinski in the heart of Old Havana, Cuba, about to enter Nostalgicar Cuba_s blue 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air for a t

The intrepid explorer and your blogger outside the Grand Hotel Manzana Kempinski in the heart of Old Havana, Cuba, about to enter Nostalgicar Cuba’s blue 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air for a tour of the city, Havana, Cuba

 

About the origins of Nostalgicar (and its first restored car, a 1950 Chevrolet, nicknamed “Nadine”):  “It began in 2012 and after arduous restorations, Nadine was almost ready to go out.  He was missing quite upholstery insignificant details when a friend advised us to attend a casting vintage cars that were made ​​in the Hotel Nacional de Cuba for the filming of a movie Cuban-Canadian co-production.  Attended many cars of that era with different brands and models, but to our delight, Nadine was selected as the winner, because for all its aspects was considered the most original preserved of all cars in competition.

“The car was used by the actor in the filming of the movie Havana 57 for six weeks. Days working 11 hours a day at different times.  We were always close.  The actor had to drive the car in many scenes.  It took all safety measures to avoid any damage and the actors enjoyed shooting both expressed that they had the opportunity to feel like they are truly driving the 50.

“We keep this memory with particular gratitude, was the first vehicle movie experience and the first meeting with the public on the big screen.  So , for a few minutes at the scene, we felt that Nadine became famous.” – www.nostalgicarcuba.com

 

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