The portrait above is without doubt one of my favourites from the Cuba albums, the unforced and charming smile, the shadows, the colours, the hat – and capturing something so old and foreign to us, yet so common on the island – payphones. In some places people were even standing in line to make a call from one of these.
With only one day left to explore La Habana, we went for yet another full-day walk. I always think that we meet the most interesting people and see the most interesting things when strolling around without a goal, so to compromise, we usually do the “must-see’s” with my mom, and then make sure we have some time left to “just walk, talk and look” so I can take my photos and feel like I get into the vibe of the place. It’s a good deal and one of the reasons travelling with my mom is so comfortable – we get to do both because of our different priorities. So we walked and explored 14km of the city by foot, and among some interesting characters, we met Ivan with the cool hair-do and then found our way to Plaza Vieja again where we sat for a while and had mojitos and delicious Cuban croquetas. We also stumbled upon the chocolate museum where we sat down and had a couple of pralines, and we basically walked all day until it got dark and we had to make our way to the San Cristobal Paladar on the other side of town where we had booked a table for dinner. A nice walk in less touristy parts of the city.
San Cristobal was a nice restaurant with a quite unpredictable decor, and the food was fantastic. We ordered black bean soup with sweet potato chips, fried yuca, and the lamb, which was delicious and a perfect choice for what has become my once-monthly ration of red meat. We had some mojitos in the mezzanine of the hotel on the way back, and then a nice long lazy sleep – our last night on the comfy Saratoga mattresses.
Next morning we packed, had breakfast at the nearby Hotel Inglaterra which serves a nice and very priceworthy buffet for 6USD per person, and went straight to the pool to get some last moments of fun in the sun before flying out. The Saratoga staff agreed to give us a late checkout and I think by that point we decided that it actually had been a good choice despite the cost. Cuba had overall been quite an expensive trip, but all had worked out really well – from the convenience of the car rental, to what we felt was an appropriate amount of nights in every place, to the people we had met and the things we had seen. Cuba treated us really really well.