Hi,


To the previous part of the series:
Ten Years Ago III... What's the best way to Cuba? (50 p.)
http://railroadforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=42613



We continue our exploration of Paradise Island, Nassau, on February 15 2003.

"Royal Towers" of one of the largest resorts worldwide, Atlantis Paradise Island, inbetween an enormous artificial laguna had been constructed. The "Bridge Suite" between the towers was the most expensive in the world at that time, at $25000 per night.




The main attraction of the hotel is the built-in aquarium, this water slide here...




... leads directly through a shark tank.









In the basement you have views through massive glass panes into this artificial underwater world.




Even big rays could be seen here.




In the evening Costa Atlantica left Nassau in a sharp turn.




Back to the reality of housing for Bahamians.




February 16 2003 we spent again on Paradise Beach, my cousins rented a jetski from a Rastafarian shortly before departure.




But we made it in time to Cubana flight Nassau - Havanna, by Yak-42 (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yakovlev_Yak-42 ).




The not completely trustworthy plane filled quickly, we got to talk to various people, partly from the US, visiting relatives in prison on Cuba. Before takeoff steam was escaping from AC ducts under the seats, were reassuring... ;-)




Yet we reached Havanna punctually that evening and took a taxi to our private accomodation previously booked by phone and later postponed due to our delay of a few days. Raul, our host and not-that-young son of a diplomat, rented out his appartment in a wealthier quarter of the city (here in Calle L: http://goo.gl/maps/oiztR ). Afterwards we visited a friendly private venue with him. These had been allowed in addition to the state-owned chains, but only for a limited number of guests. As it had been exceeded a little by our group, we sat inside. In such a closed circle of course more open discussions were possible, we immediately asked Raul about his opinion about Fidel Castro. He answered diplomatically that there were good and bad aspects. Due to the occupation of his father he definitely had no bad life.

After the first night on Cuba, a first view out of the window - instantly a great scenery with American classic car and old American or Soviet highrise.




While the others were still preparing for breakfast, I sneaked outside for a few surface impressions. Our side street soon lead to famous "Malecón", the wide coast boulevard in Western Havanna.
A city map can be found here: http://www.weltkarte.com/uploads/pic...an-havanna.jpg , we stayed right next to the "US interests section".




This probably explained this propaganda mural, the first of many I would encounter on this trip.
Also the "Tribuna Antiimperialista José Martí" could be found in the vicinity.




Back to my tranquil street I found more interesting things, still from Al Bundy-times my cousin and me were Dodge enthusiasts. Already on our US trip we had not found a single - even new - car without any rust! ;-)




A crazy mix of various historic vehicles in front of this old mansion.




The previously mentioned "US Interests Section" - surrounded by an army of small Fidels.




A Cuban beauty on a balcony cannot be missed.




A little later a taxi took us to the city center. It was the turquoise classic station wagon, of course no lack of space for the six of us inside.




The monumental district of the capital, the capitol can be spotted in the background.




View across the Bahía de la Habana to the Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña, once official seat of Ché.




We moved on to the old town Habana Vieja, more about it can be read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Havana




Typically the Soviet vehicle had to be repaired, not the US classic car. In Cuba things generally are just repaired until they are working again.




Havanna cathedral.




A seemingly depressed street band.




On Plaza de Armas.




Castillo de la Real Fuerza, on the bell tower "La Giraldilla" can be found, a female figure with wind vane, a landmark of Havanna. However, this is just a copy, we will see the original later in a museum. It became well-known around the world as enblem of Havanna Club rum.




View from the fortress at Casablanca district where I was about to depart from Havanna by train two days later. On the hill above you can spot 18 yards tall Cristo de La Habana.




Habana Vieja is divided into a fancy part with all touristy sights, and a part where actual Cubans live.




Cuba street crosses the whole district North to South.




People already have adapted themselves to the needs of tourists...




A proper "Perro caliente" (hopefully not ;-)).




One of many beautiful courtyards in Havanna, at the Franciscan convent.




Immediatly behind it, here: http://goo.gl/maps/moNAO an old six-axled railroad car was exhibited, sadly it was closed at that time.




The history of car "Mambí" ("Mambí" was the name of 19th century independence fighters against Spanish rule): Originally three of this type were ordered by the president of Pennsylvania Railroad Company, car #99 reached Cuba in 1902 and served several state presidents as parlor car, recently before the revolution Batista. More information (in Spanish) including pictures of the interior can be found here: http://modelismocubano.com/2010/12/2...ocarril-cubano




Plaza Vieja, old war material was often used as street barriers.




Even more modern equipment...




Back to "real" Havanna, here I noticed the largest population density along the journey.




In front of a school.




With my always curious and interested relatives I looked inside.




Talking to the headmistress, on the wall they obviously had painted a quote from one of the many hours-long speeches by the "Máximo Lider".




A class room.




Back to the narrow streets of Habana Vieja.




Some would pay a fortune for the contents of this garage.









Yo, man, party this evening! ;-)




We approached the freight yards of Estación Central.









Everything well guarded and closed off.




We will continue next time with the pretty building of the main station... :-)