A Travellerspoint blog

Cuba, Part 2: The Lure of the Lair

The next morning we greeted the day from the rooftop at Casa Densil.

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Then we did something we almost never do: We set off without a plan.

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But we did have a map, which we'd marked with various shops, bars, restaurants, art museums, and other points of interest that I'd researched before arriving. That sort of planning is essential for a visit to Havana, since looking up anything on the fly, including directions, isn't an option: WiFi is virtually nonexistent.

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Soon we found ourselves drawn to La Luz, a small local spot with outdoor tables where we could enjoy the live band that had just started playing.

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We settled in at a table in the shade and ordered up a couple of cool cocktails to beat the heat.

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Soon we were hungry, we so decided to order some fried chickpeas to snack on. We were a little confused when they brought us a spoon, but these stewed chickpeas turned out to be one of our very favorite dishes of the entire trip.

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After lunch there was more music, this time with dancers on stilts.

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After lunch we ambled around Vieja to take in the historic sights. Our first stop was Museo de la Ciudad, the museum of the city of Havana.

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Of course, once you've seen one cannon, you've pretty much seen them all, and that seemed like as good an excuse as any to go grab a drink.

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We headed up to the rooftop at Hotel Ambos Mundos, which was home to Ernest Hemingway for seven years during the 1930s.

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Surely Hemingway must have enjoyed a pina colada or two served in a hollowed-out pineapple while writing "A Moveable Feast," so I figured I'd have one, too.

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Angel decided on a caipiroska, which was quickly becoming our drink of choice in lieu of mojitos, since we weren't loving the ubiquitous Havana Club rum.

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Having been properly, er, fortified, we decided to check out Fort San Salvador, which was built in 1590 as part of Havana's colonial-era defense system.

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It had been a long day of sightseeing and my feet were aching, so we picked a candy-apple-red ride to match my dress and headed back to Casa Densil.

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After a short siesta, it was time for dinner at the famed La Guarida, just a couple of blocks from our casa.

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Known as the restaurant in a ruin, La Guarida -- which means "the lair" -- is known for its faded but stunning architecture and secret-hideaway feel.

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Even the bathroom was cool.

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The space is large and spread over several floors, including a main dining room; a couple of smaller, private-feeling rooms with just 3 or 4 tables; a narrow balcony overlooking the street; and a large, open-air terrace overlooking the city.

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Happily, the great food -- including tuna tartare, ropa vieja, and grilled swordish -- and the mismatched glassware just added to the charm.

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Indeed, everything was so delicious that we decided to have dessert -- a deconstructed lemon pie with almonds for me, and a gorgeous apple tart with vanilla ice cream for Angel.

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After dinner, we braved the precarious sprial staircase up to Guarida's sexy rooftop lounge, El Mirador (which means the tower or turret), for a nightcap.

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Though Havana's mojitos failed to impress us, the rum old-fashioned, made with Havana Club 7-year, was a hit, as were the succession of sweet, tart, perfectly muddled caipiroskas.

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Soon it was time to head home, and the empty streets on the way back to Casa Densil looked ominous. But we found Havana to be incredibly safe, even late at night, and so we strolled back to Casa Densil arm-in-arm.

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Mostly to keep from falling over after all those caipiroskas.

Posted by TraceyG 05:36 Archived in Cuba Tagged ruin el_mirador casa_densil la_luz fort_san_salvador ambos_mundos la_guarida

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Comments

Tracey,
Wow! I am so drawn into the adventure. Beautiful pictures as usual. You have captured the mystery of Cuba. I love it, and props for going anywhere without WIFI. My adult children would have a meltdown.

by Toni Peterson

We set off without a plan.

That literally made me break out in a cold sweat.

by Vicki

Your pictures are spectacular. Thank you for showing us the beauty of Cuba. You take beautiful vacation trips, and we enjoy all the photos.

by Marge Goochey

Fab as always. Waiting with baited breath for some sort of misadventure...you always seem to have at least one!

by charlene fowles

Charlene, never fear: It's coming in Part 4! :)

by TraceyG

Your photos are fabulous - loving everything so far and looking forward to part three!

by Quetsch

Lovely pictures and great narratives. I guess the question is, would you go back? Did you like it enough for it to draw you back to it? Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

by Christine Mitchell

Your pictures are ah-mazing!

by Andrea

Some of the nicest pictures of La Habana I've seen!

by jon michaels

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