Nassau, Bahamas (2018)

From the top deck of our ship at the pier, a view of Nassau, Bahamas

From the top deck of our ship at the pier, a view of Nassau, Bahamas

 

The Bahamian capital of Nassau blends colonial British heritage with a beach lifestyle in the warm waters south of Florida.  In addition to sunbathing, snorkeling and fishing, most visitors make time for shopping the luxury retailers along Bay Street and pick up a conch shell or straw hat at the Nassau Straw Market.  Crossing the bridge to Paradise Island, visitors can experience the high-rolling restaurants and casinos of the Atlantis resort.  While modern influences are apparent throughout the capital, imposing Fort Charlotte’s dungeons and battlements convey historical tales from pirates to cargo smuggling.  Bahamian culture is best seen in its vibrant art, delicious conch salad or potent Yellow Bird cocktail, with the native “rake-and scrape” music playing in the background.

 

The road from the pier is an extension of East Street in Nassau, Bahamas; many restaurants, bars and cafes line Woodes Roger_s Walk (the street in the foreground), while, a block behin

The road from the pier is an extension of East Street in Nassau, Bahamas; many restaurants, bars and cafes line Woodes Roger’s Walk (the street in the foreground), while, a block behind that, Bay Street is full of souvenir, jewelry and clothing shops

 

A close-up of the restaurants and shops along Woodes Roger_s Walk, fronting Nassau Harbor in Nassau, Bahamas

A close-up of the restaurants and shops along Woodes Roger’s Walk, fronting Nassau Harbor in Nassau, Bahamas

 

As soon as you exit the cruise ship pier, travelers traverse a large outdoor “mall” of small vendor stalls selling local knick-knacks and souvenirs – the highlight is a good sized

As soon as you exit the cruise ship pier, travelers traverse a large outdoor “mall” of small vendor stalls selling local knick-knacks and souvenirs – the highlight is a good sized pavilion where a large number of local women, “Certified Hair Braiders”, offer a large menu of services, Nassau, Bahamas

 

The pier in Nassau harbor is always full of cruise ships (from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Nassau, Bahamas

The pier in Nassau harbor is always full of cruise ships (from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Nassau, Bahamas

 

Once ashore, the intrepid explorer lost no time in making friends with Captain Morgan, creator of his eponymous rum, Nassau, Bahamas

Once ashore, the intrepid explorer lost no time in making friends with Captain Morgan, creator of his eponymous rum, Nassau, Bahamas

 

Dating from 1790, the early British local government legislature met in this building on Bay Street, the site of the main viewing stands for seating at the end of December for watching t

Dating from 1790, the early British local government legislature met in this building on Bay Street, the site of the main viewing stands for seating at the end of December for watching the New Year’s Junkanoo Parade, Nassau, Bahamas

 

New Year’s Junkanoo Parade: Junkanoo began as a celebration of freedom by African slaves in the Bahamas who were given a few days off at Christmastime.  Slaves gathered, played music, danced, and celebrated their brief freedom along with their African roots.  After the abolition of slavery, a few islanders kept the tradition of Junkanoo alive, and today it remains a celebration of freedom.  The Junkanoo Festival begins in the early morning hours of 26 December, with a parade on each island kicking off the day’s events.  The celebration is now repeated on New Years Day, and has evolved into an elaborate display of hand-made costumes and floats, organized by neighborhoods that vie for best presentation.  This National festival of the Bahamas is a joyful expression of Bahamian art and culture.  In Nassau, the parade runs down Bay Street.  You hear the drums, horns, bells, and whistles, as thousands watch and dance along.

 

Next to the Straw Market is the woodcarvers_ lane where local artisans demonstrate their craft and sell loads of carved palm trees, fish, turtles, cars, etc., Nassau, Bahamas

Next to the Straw Market is the woodcarvers’ lane where local artisans demonstrate their craft and sell loads of carved palm trees, fish, turtles, cars, etc., Nassau, Bahamas

 

The stained glass windows were installed with a Church restoration in 1866 at the Christ Church Cathedral (the Anglican-Episcopal Church on George Street in Nassau, Bahamas); the Vestry

The stained glass windows were installed with a Church restoration in 1866 at the Christ Church Cathedral (the Anglican/Episcopal Church on George Street in Nassau, Bahamas); the Vestry of the Cathedral was established in 1723 and is the oldest elected Board in The Bahamas

 

Your blogger was caught by a local pirate and put into the stocks – fortunately, for you, gentle readers, he was rescued by the intrepid explorer who had been duly fortified upon arriv

Your blogger was caught by a local pirate and put into the stocks – fortunately, for you, gentle readers, he was rescued by the intrepid explorer who had been duly fortified upon arrival by Captain Morgan’s spirits, Nassau, Bahamas

 

The iconic Atlantis Paradise Island resort features the Caribbean_s largest open-air marine habitat; the Aquaventure waterpark with waterslides, river rides and 11 swimming pools; 20 r

The iconic Atlantis Paradise Island resort features the Caribbean’s largest open-air marine habitat; the Aquaventure waterpark with waterslides, river rides and 11 swimming pools; 20 restaurants; haute couture shopping; a casino offering 85 games tables and over 700 slot machines; Nassau, 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.

 

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.

 

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

 

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.

 

Religious Sites in Havana, Cuba

Construction of La Catedral de la Virgen María de la Concepción Inmaculada de La Habana (Havana Cathedral) in Old Havana was started in 1748 and completed in 1787, Havana, Cuba; it's

Construction of La Catedral de la Virgen María de la Concepción Inmaculada de La Habana (Havana Cathedral) in Old Havana was started in 1748 and completed in 1787, Havana, Cuba; it’s one of the oldest in the Americas

 

“Havana Cathedral (The Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception; Spanish: La Catedral de la Virgen María de la Concepción Inmaculada de La Habana) is one of eleven Roman Catholic cathedrals on the island of Cuba.  It is located in the Plaza de la Catedral in the center of Old Havana.  The thirty-four by thirty-five meter (112 feet by 115 feet) rectanglular church serves as the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Cristobal de la Habana.” — Wikipedia

 

A curiosity of Havana Cathedral is its interior, which is neoclassical rather than baroque and relatively austere; frescoes above the altar date from the late 1700s, Havana, Cuba

A curiosity of Havana Cathedral is its interior, which is neoclassical rather than baroque and relatively austere; frescoes above the altar date from the late 1700s but the paintings that adorn the side walls are copies of originals by Murillo and Rubens, Havana, Cuba

 

“Described as music set in stone, Havana’s incredible cathedral, which is dominated by two unequal towers and framed by a theatrical baroque facade, was designed by Italian architect Francesco Borromini.  Construction of the church was begun by Jesuits in 1748 and work continued despite their expulsion in 1767.  When the building was finished in 1787, the diocese of Havana was created and the church became a cathedral – it’s one of the oldest in the Americas.

“The remains of Christopher Columbus were brought here from Santo Domingo in 1795 and interred until 1898, when they were moved to Seville Cathedral in Spain.

“A curiosity of the cathedral is its interior, which is neoclassical rather than baroque and relatively austere.  Frescoes above the altar date from the late 1700s but the paintings that adorn the side walls are copies of originals by Murillo and Rubens.”  — https://www.lonelyplanet.com/cuba/havana

 

A close-up of the candelabra and statuary above the altar in Havana Cathedral, Havana, Cuba

A close-up of the candelabra and statuary above the altar in Havana Cathedral, Havana, Cuba

 

An unusual painting and metal sculpture in a side altar in Havana Cathedral, Havana, Cuba

An unusual painting and metal sculpture in a side altar in Havana Cathedral, Havana, Cuba

 

Temple Beth-Shalom Gran Sinagoga de la Communidad Hebrea de Cuba, built in 1952, is considered the headquarters of the Cuban Jewish Community, Havana, Cuba

Temple Beth-Shalom Gran Sinagoga de la Communidad Hebrea de Cuba, built in 1952, is considered the headquarters of the Cuban Jewish Community, Havana, Cuba

 

Temple Beth-Shalom Gran Sinagoga de la Communidad Hebrea de Cuba, built in 1952, is a Jewish synagogue located in the Vedado neighbourhood of downtown Havana.  In 1981 much of the original building was sold to the state, and was then turned into the Bertolt Brecht Cultural Center, including a theatre, a music venue, a gallery and a bar.  Only part of the structure remains in Jewish hands today.  Extensive repairs were undertaken in the 1990s. Beth-Shalom is considered the headquarters of the Cuban Jewish Community. The building also houses a Jewish library.  Overall, the Jewish community has enjoyed security and anti-Semitism has been minimal.  In the years leading up to his death, Fidel Castro even attended the community’s Hanuka celebration. — sourced from Wikipedia

 

Ceremonial candelabras, lions, and other gilded objects decorate the front doors of Temple Beth-Shalom Gran Sinagoga de la Communidad Hebrea de Cuba, Havana, Cuba

Ceremonial candelabras, lions, and other gilded objects decorate the front doors of Temple Beth-Shalom Gran Sinagoga de la Communidad Hebrea de Cuba, Havana, Cuba

 

The interior of Temple Beth-Shalom Gran Sinagoga de la Communidad Hebrea de Cuba, Havana, Cuba

The interior of Temple Beth-Shalom Gran Sinagoga de la Communidad Hebrea de Cuba, Havana, Cuba

 

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