Cuba
La Habana

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  • Day2

    Havana

    February 7, 2020 in Cuba ⋅ ☁️ 23 °C

    Der erste Tag in Havana. Wir sind gestern nur noch müde ins Bett gefallen und zum Glück ohne Jetleg erwacht. Wir schlafen in einem sehr süßen Apartement bei Carola, die uns mit ihrer Schwester in Empfang genommen hat. Sie spricht kaum Englisch und wir kaum Spanisch und doch war alles klar und herzlich- so habe ich mir das vorgestellt. Heute erkunden wir die Stadt. Der erste Eindruck ist schonmal seh positiv. Ein sehr charmantes Flair liegt in der Luft, alles sehr farbenfroh und verfallen und doch mit viel Seele. Wenn man durch die engen Gassen schlendert sieht man bunte Farben und Oldtimer soweit das Auge reicht. Und doch ist es eine geteilte Welt - das Havana der Einheimischen und das der Touristen. Mitunter ein beklemmendes Gefühl. So gibt es diverse kleine Läden in den Eingangstüren der Häuser, die aber nur den Einwohnern zu gehören scheinen. Tritt man auf eine sogenannte Sehenswürdigkeit treten dann plötzlich wie aus dem Boden gestampft Cafés und Restaurants im europäischen Stil zu Tage die nur allzu gern ihre Karte an uns antragen. Anstrengend.
    Da hätte es mich doch eher interessiert wo der Typ mit den 2 toten Hühnern und 1 Schildkröte den wir auf dem Weg sahen hingeht.
    Zum Mittag erstmal in eine Bar um endlich Internet zu haben - der Suchtdruck steigt. Daher erstmal einen Mojito und Caipi bestellt und schon jetzt betrunken 😅 Heute Abend haben wir eine Kneipentour mit einem Einheimischen gebucht.. wird bestimmt lustig.
    Deutschland vermissen wir nicht, aber es sind halt auch erst 24 h 😬 und genug deutsche laufen hier auch rum..
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    Laora

    Die Bilder sind tatsächlich wie ich mir Kuba vorstelle. Genießt die Cocktails und das Flair, so startet ihr richtig 🙂

    2/7/20Reply
     
  • Day7

    On our Bikes in Havana

    March 8, 2020 in Cuba ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    It's now almost a week since I left Melbourne. The long journey to Cuba took me first to Vancouver, then to Toronto, before arriving in Havana two days ago. Although it has been nice to have some time to explore and soak up the history at the Hotel Nacional, of course the real reason for coming all this way was to ride bicycles. And today that is what we did.

    In our previous adventures we have been treated to some pretty large and impressive buses, but I can honestly say that our bus in Cuba is by far the biggest we have ever had. I am not sure if they did not understand the difference between 16 and 60 when they made the bus allocation as I am sure the bus could easily hold the larger number.

    The bus is actually so large that all our bikes can easily be accommodated in the huge lower storage compartments. We have now met all the support staff that will be accompanying us for the next 16 days. Apart from the youthful Lee (our main guide), we also have a bus driver (Coco) and a bike mechanic (Titi). The bikes themselves are TREK brand mountain bikes equipped with semi slick tyres.

    We began the day at 8 am with an obligatory group photo (or series of photos) in front of the hotel, followed by a short drive in the bus to the place where we would be fitting and testing the bikes. My first impression was very favourable, The bike was relatively light and easy to ride and soon we were snaking our way on the streets of Havana.

    It was something of a relief to find that the streets were almost devoid of traffic. Maybe that was because it was not only a Sunday morning, but daylight savings had only just started that morning meaning that many people may have not put their clocks forward and were still happily home in bed.

    Although the traffic was light, the wind certainly was not. In fact it was blowing a gale all day. Our cycling route took us along the coastline towards the old part of Havana. This also meant that we were heading into the wind for about 80% of the ride. We hoped that this onslaught would not become a daily feature of the weather here.

    The roads were liberally spotted with potholes of various sizes, but were probably in better condition than I had expected. During the course of the morning we stopped at a succession of historically significant locations, while Lee explained their history to us. Because I have a limited capacity to store vast amounts of this type of information, I contented myself with just looking at the buildings, rather than trying to remember all the place names and dates. One theme that did keep repeating is that the history of Cuba and Havana in particular, dates back over 500 years. The city is liberally dotted with ancient buildings that have made it a World Heritage Site.

    When our cycling was complete we adjourned for lunch in a cafe which was apparently one of the favourite haunts of Ernest Hemingway who did much of his writing in Cuba. The afternoon was spent in a walking tour of the old city, however the wind was now blowing so hard that it was hard to stand upright.

    Tomorrow's ride will take us on a much longer foray into the Cuban countryside.
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    Margot Schuhmacher

    Lovely pink ladies 😉

    3/9/20Reply
    Margot Schuhmacher

    🚴‍♀️

    3/9/20Reply
     
  • Day6

    The Night Plane to Havana

    March 7, 2020 in Cuba ⋅ 🌙 21 °C

    Today was always going to be a bit messy. The problem was that my flight from Toronto to Havana was not due to leave till around 8.30 pm in the evening. "So what ?", you may well ask. The complicating factor was that I was supposed to be checking out of my apartment at 10 am in the morning, so what was I going to do with all those spare hours ?

    The singularly unhelpful concierge had already told me that there was nowhere I could leave my luggage. At least I thought I could spend a couple of hours sitting in the lobby before my taxi arrived to take me to the airport. That was about as much of a plan I had been able to come up with.

    Unlike the beautiful blue skies of the previous day, I awoke to a leaden cloud cover. On closer look I could see that there were intermittent flurries of snow falling. It was quite spellbinding to watch.

    After making myself my final breakfast in Toronto, I sat by the window and spent some time watching the falling snow gradually build up on the branches of the trees. Although I was supposed to check out at 10 am, there was no point in being too early. I needed to steal every hour I could.

    By 11 am I thought that I could stretch the matter no further, collected my luggage and made my way down to the foyer. I found a quiet corner, opened my computer and started watching a movie. It did not take long for my favourite concierge to come over and ask what I thought I was doing. Of course I told him I was waiting for my taxi. Since no one else needed my seat, I could not see that there was a problem. Of course I was wrong.

    "This is not a hotel", he repeated his now familiar refrain. "You will have to go". While I could have been confrontational and reminded him that it WAS snowing outside, I really had had enough of the pathetic little weasel. He obviously thought that being a concierge was only a step or two below being the Prime Minister, so I decided to pack my stuff as slowly as I possibly could and then roll my way out of the building for the very last time.

    Fortunately there was a very warm shopping centre just across the road, so that is where I went. I purchased a coffee, found a spare table and made it my home. My taxi was due at 1 pm, but did not arrive till 1.30 pm. I had spent the missing thirty minutes waiting in the doorway, while the cold was slowly permeating into every corner of my body. We just don't know what cold is in Australia, but I should have been grateful it was only about -3 C. Last year at this time it was apparently -26 C.

    Alex and I continued our discussions about the cricket all the way to the airport. I completed the self check in without incident and made my way through security and immigration. Another very long wait at the departure gate. Outside the snow was still falling. The time passed slowly. I continued watching my movie.

    The time for boarding finally arrived and we all jammed into the modest plane. There was not a spare seat in sight, but it was only a rather modest three and a half hours, so I did not really care.

    I was seated by a window which gave me a great view of the never ending succession of brightly lit cities we passed over as we flew over the eastern states of the USA. The night was crystal clear, without a single cloud to obscure the view. In some ways there is something cosy and comforting about a night flight. At times I dozed. By almost midnight we started descending into Havana Airport and another adventure was about to begin.

    As I retrieved my bag from the jammed overhead lockers, I noticed that my luggage label had somehow gone missing. I suppose I should be grateful if that was the only thing that went missing - I still had that anxious time of waiting to see if my main luggage would appear on the carousel.

    Back in Australia we had all paid significant money to the Cuban Consulate for a visa to enter their country. You can imagine my surprise when the hostess walked around the plane, handing out blank tourist visa forms and telling us to fill them in ourselves ! It looked like we all may have wasted $100, but it would not have been worth the risk.

    In spite of preliminary fears about the difficulties of entering the country, the immigration process was quick and easy. I was soon reunited with my luggage and went out the exit door into the unfamiliar world of Cuba. I had been told that a driver would be waiting for me (even though it was now about 12.30 in the morning).

    Once again the arrangements went perfectly and soon I was being whisked along in the back seat of a comfortable taxi. Even at this late hour there were plenty of cars on the road and plenty of people wandering the streets. The temperature was a comfortable 22 C. It did not take long to see the old cars that Cuba is famous for. It was like being at some sort of a retro car show. Obviously they just never get junked, they just keep rolling along.

    Our home for the next few days is the huge and very imposing Hotel Nacional de Cuba. This vast place was the place of choice for the rich and famous back in its heyday of the 30s and 40s. Even all these years later, it is still an impressive place. The foyer is massive and filled with colonial character. There was even a working lift !

    I was relieved to discover that my allocated room was clean, huge and had fully working air conditioning. I think I will enjoy my time here, but my first thought was to head for the bed and finally get some sleep.
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  • Day6

    In the Footsteps of the Rich and Famous

    March 7, 2020 in Cuba ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    I have stayed in some pretty incredible hotels over the years, but the Hotel Nacional de Cuba will certainly go down as one of the most memorable. This opulent hotel was opened in 1930 and soon become the place where the rich and famous of the world always stayed when they were in Cuba.

    The list of previous guests includes a huge cavalcade of famous names - Nat King Cole, Winston Churchill, Jimmy Carter, Frank Sinatra, Josephine Baker are just a few of the images I noticed while walking the halls. The Nacional Hotel was also the preferred place for notorious gangsters and Mafia heads as well. It is one of those buildings where every doorway could tell a story.

    Even though those grand days are now well past, the place is still imposing. It has recently undergone a refurbishment and the rooms are certainly comfortable and spacious. Even more importantly the wifi works in every room.

    The hotel seems to have an inordinate number of immaculately dressed staff. It almost feels like there is one staff member for each guest. The place is also liberally stocked with wandering musicians and singers. You cannot go far without hearing live music.

    Behind the hotel there are a series of constructions that give an insight into those notorious days in 1962 when the world nearly descended into nuclear war. It is interesting to hear the story told from the Cuban side as most westerners would only be familiar with the commonly accepted narrative of events.

    I began the day with breakfast, followed by a fascinating tour of the hotel. At noon I ventured out into the nearby streets in search of lunch, but ended up returning to the hotel empty stomached. At least the hotel is liberally catered for.

    Since I am still operating from a state of sleep deprivation, I then returned to my room for a siesta. When I opened my eyes it was after 5 pm ! The best sleep I have had for days.

    All members of our team have now arrived at the hotel, and in the evening we shared our first meal together in a cafe in the garden of the hotel. Overhead the full moon was shining brightly and we could hear the sounds of the large waves crashing onto the rocks nearby. The food itself was rather disappointing, but the ambiance was amazing.

    Tomorrow we begin our first day of cycling in Havana.
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  • Day3

    Havana

    February 8, 2020 in Cuba ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Heute war ein später Start angesagt - genauer gesagt sind wir um 12 aus dem Bett gekrochen, nachdem wir gestern Nacht erst um 4 nach Hause gekommen sind. Wir hatten einen super Abend mit Bar Hopping, der dann im Club endete. Es gab viele kubanische Drinks zu probieren und natürlich tolle Musik zum Tanzen. Zudem hat Aljona ihre erste kubanische Zigarre geraucht - hmm naja muss man mal gemacht haben, aber lecker war es wohl nicht.
    Dann sind wir nachts halbvier betrunken durch die dunklen Gassen Havanas zurückgeschlendert.. wir fühlen uns schon wie zu Hause und nicht eine Minute unsicher.
    Nach dem Katerfrühstück (Pizza) stand dann heute Bildung auf dem Tagesprogramm - Revolutionsmuseum. Das war leider eher enttäuschend - viel Propaganda und wenig historische Hintergründe. Haben uns danach mit dem Reiseführer hingesetzt und sind jetzt deutlich schlauer! Nun geht es noch nach Chinatown und dann müssen wir die Weiterreise organisieren. Geplant ist Vinales.. mal sehen ob alles klappt. 😁
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    Danke für die schönen Eindrücke. Leider sind die Videos ohne Ton

    2/9/20Reply
     
  • Day8

    Cuban Showers, Lobsters and a Super Moon

    March 9, 2020 in Cuba ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

    I suppose I could have claimed that I had planned it that way, however that would have been a bit of a lie. The truth is that it was just one of those glorious coincidences that often seem to happen during travel.

    We had been told that we were being taken to a lovely rooftop restaurant in old Havana. That was all we knew. At 7 pm out bus collected us from the hotel and took us back to the now familiar centre of the city. A short walk took us to the selected restaurant, followed by a challenging climb up several flights of stairs on a very narrow and very steep staircase.

    We emerged on the very top of the building where a long table had been prepared for us. Soon we were happily chatting away when I noticed the clouds part to reveal a glorious full moon. There was something magical about seeing a huge full moon over the rooftops of such a famous city. It was only later that I learned that the moon really WAS special - it was one of those "super moons" that only occur at certain times when the moon is closer than usual to the earth.

    The meal itself was also rather special. I chose the "number 7", which was a full seafood spectacular. complete with prawns and a huge lobster tail. It was the best meal I had eaten since arriving in Cuba. I had heard a lot about Cuban lobsters, but this was my first chance to actually taste it for myself.

    This I awoke to some good news and some bad news. The good news was that the howling wind that had almost blown us off the island yesterday had slightly abated. The bad news was that it had been replaced by a succession of light passing showers. It always seems that every extended ride is accompanied by at least one wet day, and it looked like toady was going to be that day.

    While I don't mind getting slightly damp, the thought of being saturated right down to my shoes did not have much appeal. Before we actually began the ride we were transported to an elevated location near a giant statue of Jesus. The thing that makes this statue someone special is that it was created by a woman.

    We unpacked the bikes and donned our wet weather gear. The first stop was a nearby display of old military items from the cold war days. It also included the remains of the US spy plane famously shot down during the missile crisis. We also created something of another international incident when several of our team (including me) accidentally climbed onto the sacred military monument and were chastised by the angry guard.

    The next hour or so alternated between showers and sunshine. When the sun did appear, the humidity shot up and we were soon sweating away inside our jackets. The rain did eventually disappear completely and we were able to dispense with the coats.

    One of the biggest hazards of cycling in Cuba is not the risk of being run over by a car, as the drivers are generally very courteous and give us a wide berth. The real danger is that of being asphyxiated by a lungful of noxious black smoke from the ancient vehicles. I suspect that some of them have not had an oil change in decades and the fumes really are nauseating.

    After riding for a considerable distance along a busy highway, we were relieved when we finally turned off onto a much quieter road. This gave us our first real experience with rural Cuba. Several old horse drawn carts passed by. Numerous "holas" were exchanged in greeting. Our riders were in high spirits and thoroughly enjoying being out of the traffic.

    Our destination for the morning was an organic farm, that was well known for the innovative ways that they raised a wide variety of crops, fruits and livestock. It really was fascinating and the lunch they served was wonderful. The highlight was a whole pig that they had prepared for us, complete with crackling ! I could not help but return for seconds.

    Later in the afternoon we were taken back into Havana for a Salsa Class. This was conducted on a rooftop terrace, complete with loud music and a collection of Cuban dancer partners. For a shy introvert like myself, this was about as much fun as a visit to the all night dentist. I was happy to sit and guard the bags while the rest of the group hopped and gyrated around.

    This evening some of the group went to a show in the old town, while the rest did their own thing. Tomorrow morning we will be checking out of this fine old hotel and moving on to the next leg of our adventure.
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  • Day17

    Abflug aus Havana

    February 22, 2020 in Cuba ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Nun ist es also soweit und der letzte Tag in Kuba steht an.
    Es war auf jeden Fall ein gelungener Start in unserer Reise, auch wenn ich ehrlicherweise sagen muss, dass ich ein bisschen froh bin es jetzt hinter mir zu lassen. Kuba ist ohne Frage ein empfehlenswertes Urlaubsziel, man muss sich aber darauf einlassen können. Wenn man das schafft, erwarten einen tolle Landschaften und Erlebnisse und auch viele interessante Begegnungen. Dennoch liegt über allen ein wenig der Schatten der Isolation und des Verzichtes, was aber gerade zu Beginn dieses Abenteures irgendwie passend ist. Umso mehr freuen wir uns nun wieder in die "westlichere" Welt einzutauchen, in der man sich tatsächlich im Supermarkt etwas zu essen kaufen kann um sich selbst zu versorgen, in der es vor allem mehr als Pizza, Burger und Brot gibt. In der man ohne Probleme im Internet ein Hostel buchen kann (hier ist zum Beispiel Booking.com verboten) und ohne Riesen(zeit)aufwand von A nach B kommt.
    Aber ein bisschen werden wir wohl auch gerade dieses einfache Leben mit den Salsarhytmen aus jeder Ecke - ja, auch im Altersheim - und dem kompletten Ausstieg aus dem stressigen Alltag vermissen.
    Von jetzt an herrscht ein neuer Ton, denn es geht in das wunderbare Mexiko 🤗🌵🌮
    Wir freuen uns wie verrückt auf die tollen neuen Eindrücke, die faszinierende Geschichte und natürlich das leckere Essen 😅 Auf geht es!
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    Radolf P.

    Lieber Gruß an Euch. Wünsch euch eine schöne Zeit😃

    2/23/20Reply

    Na ihr zwei Hübschen, dann mal "Hola Mexico"

    2/23/20Reply
     
  • Day16

    Havana

    February 21, 2020 in Cuba ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Hier sind wir also wieder, zurück im schönen Havana. Der Kreis hat sich geschlossen und so hat es heute auch mal wieder nach zwei Wochen Sonnenschein dunkle Wolken und ein wenig Regen gegeben.
    Wir sind heute durch Vadado, das letzte noch ausstehende zentrale Viertel von Havana gelaufen. Höhepunkt war das Jose Marti Denkmal, wo wir mit dem Fahrstuhl die Turmspitze erklommen haben und einen tollen Blick über Havana erhaschen konnten. Im Anschluss waren wir noch - dank Aljona's krimineller Energie - verbotenerweise ohne zu zahlen im Museum... 😱
    Das Viertel ist das ehemalige Mafiagebiet und hatte viele hübsche, aber auch oft zefallene Villen anzubieten.
    Am Nachmittag haben wir dann zum Ausgleich unserer geschundenen Beine ein bisschen Oberkörpertraining gemacht, auf das wir uns garnicht mehr bewegen können! 🏋️‍♀️ In der Casa gab es nämlich lustigerweise Hanteln..
    Dann bricht auch schon wieder die letzte Nacht in Havana an, denn morgen ziehen bzw fliegen wir weiter und verlassen Kuba 🙂 Kleiner Tip: unser nächstes Ziel ist in einem der Bilder versteckt 😉
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    Laora

    Ich wünsche euch eine gute Weiterreise 🌎

    2/22/20Reply

    Hab es gefunden😉gute Weiterreise nach Mexico, freu mich jeden Abend auf die Berichterstattung

    2/22/20Reply
     
  • Day6

    I tried but I did not succeed...

    February 11 in Cuba ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Der Tag begann vielversprechend mit Pancakes und frischem Obst. Er ging auch vielversprechend weiter. Wie bereits erwähnt gab es keine offizielle Möglichkeit über TUI nach Havanna zu kommen. Ein Taxi ließ sich aber organisieren. Und das Taxi entpuppte sich als Pontiac Pathfinder Oldtimer vom 1958 in Ferrari Rot. Ohne Sitzgurte versteht sich, aber mit ganz viel Feeling. Als ich saß fühlte ich mich in eine vergangene Zeit zurück versetzt. Es war herrlich durch die Landschaft Kubas zu fahren, die frische Brise zu genießen und den Rhythmen der karibischen Musik aus dem Radio zu lauschen. Es war perfekt. Zu perfekt. An der Provinzgrenze Havannas war dann Schluss. Ein Polizist informierte, dass Havanna seit heute komplette geschlossen ist. Zuvor waren lediglich einige Bezirke nicht zugänglich. Auch ein paar grüne Scheinchen und nettes Lächeln brachten uns nicht weiter. Sehr traurig. Aber ein Grund mehr nochmals nach Kuba zu kommen und dann richtig durch das Land zu backpacken!
    Nunja, es ging also gemütlich zurück ins Hotel. Die Straßen Verhältnisse sind übrigens überwiegend sehr gut, nur ab und zu holpert es ein wenig.
    Der Rest des Tages verbrachte ich wie gehabt am Strand. Ich merke aber deutlich, dass ich kein All-Inklusiv Urlauber bin, es zieht mich raus...
    Morgen steht eine Kletter Wanderung an.
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    Christina R.

    Eeeeendlich komme ich auch dazu dich virtuell zu begleiten! Ach Klappi, du machst es einfach richtig! Einfach in den Flieger steigen und abschalten. Ich freue mich, dass du so eine schöne Zeit dort hast! Bleib besser noch ein Weilchen dort - heute morgen war mein Fahrradschloss eingefroren, sodass ich laufen musste, es ist eisig hier! Wie lange wirst du dort sein? Kuba ist sicherlich eine zweite Reise wert, es soll wirklich eine ganz andere Welt sein! Viele Grüße aus dem kalten Mannheim!

    2/12/21Reply
    Patrick Sp

    Leider muss ich heute das kleine Paradies verlassen 😢 aber ja, ich komme nochmal, dann aber mit nem Backpack und einer Karte von ganz Kuba 😄💪🏼

    2/13/21Reply
     
  • Day4

    Mojito Mafia

    August 21, 2019 in Cuba ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Nachdem wir wieder in Havana angekommen sind, und ich mein Katzenzimmer (ohne Strom) getauscht habe („Two beds or one?“ - „Hm... let’s find me a nice one, ok?“), ging der Schlamassel um eine nicht funktionsfähige Fernbedienung los. Wenn man alleine reist, kann es so ein TV schon rausreißen! Well. Der Hotelchef gab mir neue Batterien aber sie ging nicht. Das Problem ist noch nicht gelöst. Es bleibt also spannend.

    Manchmal esse ich einfach gerne alleine. Das mag für andere Leute - oder für ungeübte Augen - immer traurig und einsam wirken, dem ist aber nicht so. Im Gegenteil. Ich finde es toll, mit niemandem reden zu müssen! Ich esse vor mich hin, trinke ein Bier und bin zufrieden. Manche aus der Gruppe verstehen das nicht und so waren sie ganz schockiert, als ich zum losen Verabredungszeitpunkt schon fertig war mit essen und mich dann - allein - an die Bar setzte.

    Sofia und Luigi fragten mich, ob ich mit wolle zum berühmten Hotel Nacional in Havana! Das ließ ich mir nicht zweimal sagen. Ich schmiss mich in mein Michael Kors kleines Schwarzes, zog die goldenen Keilabsatzsandalen an- und ärgerte mich, dass ich keine passende Tasche hatte 😂
    Gegen 21.00 holten wir ein Taxi und Sofia handelte wie eine Zigeunerin.
    Das Hotel ist sehr prunkvoll! Wir sahen uns die Empfangshalle an, sie sah aus wie eine Bahnhofshalle um 1900. Es hingen viele Bilder und Plakate von berühmten Gästen aus.
    Danach gingen wir auf die Terrasse mit Blick über Havana und die Bucht. Wir bestellten den Signature-Drink Mojito Mafia (anderer Rum) und Sofia zündete sich eine dicke Zigarre an. Immer wieder kamen Musiker vorbei und spielten die berühmten Buena Vista Social Club Songs.

    Ein Abend der mein Herz für Havana höher schlagen lässt.
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    Gigantesco!!

    8/22/19Reply
    Kathy Kinkel

    Impresionante

    8/22/19Reply
     

You might also know this place by the following names:

La Habana, Provincia de La Habana, Havanna