Between music, culture, tradition, and ropa vieja
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Hello, I am glad to greet you, I am Yael Yancelson and today we are going on a journey that takes place between music, culture, tradition, and historical attractions. Let’s travel to Havana in Cuba, so breathe, close your eyes and let yourself be guided, we begin.
Cuban dances and sounds infect each one of those born in this land and those who like us visit it; customs and traditions that remain intact come together in Havana, the Cuban capital, which is located in western Cuba and although it is the smallest of all the provinces, it’s more than two million inhabitants make it the most populous in the entire island. In its 15 municipalities, particularly in those of Playa, Plaza de la Revolución, Centro Habana, Habana del Este, and Old Havana (World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1982), I assure you that on this trip we will find innumerable sites of architectural, cultural and tourist interest. Among its most representative monuments is the Cathedral of Havana, the Plaza de Armas, the Morro Castle, the Museum of the Revolution, the National Palace of Fine Arts, the Great Theater of Havana, the Capitol, the Plaza de la Revolución, and the Malecón, perhaps the most internationally recognized symbol of the city.
And so we began to walk along the Avenida del Puerto y Prado in the well-known Old Havana to pass by the Castillo del Salvador de la Punta that stands at the entrance to the Port of Havana, together with the Castillo de Los Tres Reyes del Morro and the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, is part of the defensive system of Havana. After major repairs at the end of the 20th century, the San Salvador de La Punta Museum was installed in the Castle and it was declared a World Heritage Site in 1982.
Let’s continue along the East Bank of the entrance channel to the Bay of Havana to reach the Fortress of San Carlos de La Cabaña, which served as a prison and its moats were sites for executions. In the 20th century, it lost its defensive character and served as a warehouse, troop accommodation, and prison. It has a Weapons Museum and is the venue for cultural and recreational activities, including the Ceremony of the Cañonazo de las Nueve.
The friends who are very kindly accompanying us today tell us that the Plaza Vieja was founded at the end of the 16th century, but it was not only until the 17th that it became one of the main squares in the city for its commercial and social activity (fiestas and religious celebrations). It is a site of great value and tourist interest, it is surrounded by the Dark Camera, the headquarters of the Fund for Cultural Assets, a small brewery, and the Hotel Conde de Villanueva.
If you like, we continue our interesting route to see the Plaza de San Francisco de Asís, which inherited its name from the original convent of this order that was built at one of its ends at the end of the 16th century. In 1628 it became the main center of activity in the town. In the 20th century, it witnessed transformations and its space enjoyed better expansion and brilliance. And from here, very close, you can see the famous Plaza de Armas, which was the first plaza built in the town of San Cristóbal de La Havana, and its functions were commercial and public. Today it is the heart of the old city. Take a good look and look at the Templete, which was the scene of the first mass and town hall, celebrated under the leafy tree called ceiba. Every year on the eve of November 16, the date on which the city was founded, the place witnesses the pilgrimage of hundreds of Havanans who walk around the Ceiba three times and throw coins at its roots, while silently thinking of a wish.
Did you know that the Plaza de la Catedral is made up of a group of elegant mansions of the aristocracy of the time, and is the maximum expression of the baroque period of colonial architecture that characterized the place with its religious solemnities? It has been the scene of various historical, political, and social events. Considered the most attractive and harmonious on the continent. We also discovered the Plaza de la Revolución which was built in 1959, under the name of Plaza Cívica, notice how it has a star-shaped base with an obelisk 109 meters high with a viewpoint that is the highest point in the city. If you look closely, a marble statue of the national hero José Martí stands on its forehead.
The Paseo del Prado was originally called Alameda de Extramuros or Isabel II. It was built in 1772. In it there are 8 statues of lions, made of bronze that seem to guard the promenade, don’t you think? During the tour, we can appreciate the Fraternity Park, the Great Theater of Havana, and the ruins of the old Jail Building at the end.
Here in Old Havana, we walked from the Fuente de la India and Parque de la Fraternidad to the Malecón and arrived at Central Park, notice how it is surrounded by 3 traditional hotels: Inglaterra, Plaza, and Telégrafo. In its center is the first statue erected to José Martí in 1905, the work of the Cuban sculptor José Villalta Saavedra built in Carrara marble. One of the most popular places for Havanans due to its leafy trees and palm trees, what if we rest a bit and enjoy the wonderful street music that this corner of the world offers?
We have been told that the dream of building a green cathedral in the Cuban capital became a reality when this beautiful Botanical Garden opened its doors to the public in 1984. A natural exhibition center, it shows part of the Cuban flora and the rest of the world’s tropics. . It constitutes an educational, scientific, and recreational institution with exhibition pavilions, laboratories, nurseries, a herbarium, and an eco-restaurant. For its part, the Forest of Havana is a project carried out by the French urban planner Jean Claude Nicolás Forrestier in the 1920s. Currently, it is part of a vast project called Parque Metropolitano which covers a territory of 678 hectares and includes the municipalities of Plaza de la Revolución, Playa, Cerro, and Marianao. It has a variety of botanical species and is considered the green lung of the city.
Since we are seeing so much nature, what if we ride a horse in Lenin park which has an area of 745 hectares and is a busy place mainly on weekends, if you do not like horseback riding, you can ride a bike, get on the ride a steam locomotive or enjoy a picnic in the shade of leafy flamboyant trees. Founded in 1972, it has restaurants, food stalls, amusement parks, swimming pools, a Cuban rodeo area, and art galleries, among other facilities. I love it and you?
They tell us that we have to visit La Rampa to see exhibitions by Cuban artists of recognized international prestige, so it has become a traveling museum. Animated in its trajectory by a group of cultural, recreational, and restoration facilities, we cannot stop walking and enjoying the breeze on El Malecón Habanero, one of the most popular avenues in Havana. An ideal place especially at sunset time, let’s enjoy spectacular views! Wow!
Fifth Avenue is the most elegant in Havana. It has become an ideal area for tourism, with numerous hotels, restaurants, theaters, and shops selling local and international products.
Many must want to go to the traditional Partagás Tobacco Factory and see how the famous tobacco production process is. The truth is that the smell of cigars or cigars shocks me and doesn’t attract my attention, but if you want to come in, I’ll wait for you outside and I’ll join these street dancers while I wait for you…
You can see from here El Capitolio, that majestic neoclassical building, where the statue of the Republic of Cuba that exhibits is the largest in the world under its roof.
Do you like vintage cars? I found a panoramic tour of the boardwalk towards the tunnel of the bay of Havana, you will pass by the Ambos Mundos hotel, the University of San Jerónimo de la Habana, and the Bodeguita del Medio, which is a must to enter and see the quality of musicians and dancers of this emblematic restaurant. -On the way to the Capitol, we will take a panoramic tour of the Paseo del Prado, Parque Central, Acera del Louvre, and Gran Teatro de la Habana. Let’s make a short stop for photos. Heading to the Bocoy rum factory and rum tasting. -On the way to the Plaza de la Revolución, we skirt the Latin American Baseball Stadium, the University of Havana, the staircase at La Rampa that we already went to, and now if we are going to leave the car parked to enter the traditional Coppelia ice cream parlor, which was born from a project, personally directed by Fidel Castro, whose objective was to produce more flavors of ice cream than the big American brands, for which the best machines from the Netherlands and Sweden were acquired. Celia Sánchez, secretary of the Presidency and a close friend of Castro’s for many years, was the one who chose the name in allusion to her favorite ballet, Coppelia. When the ice cream parlor opened its doors in 1966, 56 flavors and 25 combinations were offered, however, currently the queue to enter the premises is usually long and the offer is quite limited, with only one or two flavors available, the most famous being strawberry and chocolate, which reminded me precisely of the movie that bears its name, do you remember it? Then we continue by car to the Yara cinema, and Habana Libre hotel and we end up on the Havana boardwalk, where when we return the car we can enjoy the typical Cuban dishes that are the result of the mixture of Spanish, African, aboriginal, Yucatecan and even Asian traditions. Among the most significant are Ajiaco, Casabe, Buñuelos, Tamales, Tostones, Roast Pork, and Congrí.
If you like to cook, I think it’s time to prepare our ingredients to go to the kitchen and make a typical dish called Old Clothes, click on the button or if you prefer, keep traveling.
And that is how we leave this beautiful and interesting region of the planet with the desire to return. We will travel every week to another corner of this wonderful world, to discover, enjoy and fly with the imagination, I wait for you every Friday and I ask you if you like to share the content with your friends and give me a like and a review of your comments because with that you help me a lot to raise the ranking of this podcast, ALTERNATIVE REALITY A UNIQUE AND DIFFERENT SPACE THAT CREATES COMMUNITY. I found that FOAL Cuba is a private non-profit association that through programs of labor inclusion, education, social integration, and institutional strengthening of public, private, or civil society organizations. It also promotes actions to improve the rehabilitation of people with visual disabilities, recreational and sports activities, research and application of new technologies aimed at the field of visual disabilities, and, in general, social action activities aimed at fulfilling the main goal pursued in this case in the educational system of the island. If you are interested in more about the subject, go to: https://www.foal.es/
We make a difference. And as I always tell you when helping others, we mainly help ourselves. Until next week and thanks for traveling with me.
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