We woke up in Viñales on our last full day in Cuba and we were greeted with a layer of fog that had settled into the valley. It was beautiful! We left Viñales to head back to Havana for our last night. Our first stop was the fishing town of Jaimanitas, which has been turned into an art kingdom by Cuban artist José Fuster. There are a couple of artists, Spanish artist Gaudi and Romanian artist Brâncuși, who have created public artworks in their countries. Fuster was inspired by these two artists to do the same in Jaimanitas, which is where he lives. He started decorating his home with mosaic tiles and eventually asked his neighbors if he could do their houses too. The result is Fusterlandia – an entire neighborhood decorated with mosaic tile. Everything has tile – houses, bus stops, road signs, doctor’s offices, and retaining walls. Fuster has transformed over 80 houses in Jaimanitas and elevated this fishing village to a tourist attraction that brings much needed money into the community. Members of our group had tried to explain Fusterlandia to us, but it was something that definitely needed to be seen to be understood. It was beyond anything I could have imagined. The vision that Fuster had and the way he executed it, literally bit by bit, is just astounding! We spent some time at his home base and then wandered around the neighborhood just taking everything in. There were so many different murals depicting different countries around the world and it was just so incredible to see how this was all put together by one man.
After Fusterlandia, we went to lunch and then checked back in to our hotel. I was so sad to see the news about the Hotel Saratoga in Havana – that wasn’t the hotel that we stayed at, but it was about two blocks from where we stayed. We stayed at the Hotel Telégrafo, which had actually just reopened to visitors about two weeks before our trip. They had been shut down for almost two years due to the pandemic. I had wanted some pictures of the Capitol before we left Cuba, so Mike and I walked the two blocks down the street to see the Capitol. The Hotel Saratoga was right across the street from the corner of the Capitol. It’s so sad to think that we were just there and that things are so different now.
For our last night in Havana, we took an old car ride through Havana to our restaurant for dinner. When we first signed up for this trip, this was probably the thing I was looking most forward to. The whole time we were in Havana, there are just constantly people coming up to you asking if you want to ride in an old car. This is an extremely popular thing to do in Havana! It did NOT disappoint. We rode in a lime green old Ford and our driver was Ana. Our group had a total of 5 or 6 cars and we cruised down the Malecón with the tops down, wind blowing through our hair, and the sounds of the weirdest and funniest car horns honking away. Some of the horns played songs, but ours was just a really high pitched honk which made me laugh whenever Ana used it. We drove through tunnels and around parts of Havana we had seen already and some parts we hadn’t. As we headed towards dinner, the sun set over the ocean and we had a front row seat. I got an amazing picture of a fisherman in silhouette against the sunset and I can’t believe I got that from a moving car! Here are two videos that Mike took of our cruise:
Our dinner was at the Restaurant La Torre, which is located on the top floor of the tallest building in Cuba. The views were spectacular and the dinner was delicious. It was a perfect end to our last day in Cuba. Here’s the view from our dinner table:
We left Havana on Sunday afternoon and we had lunch before we headed to the airport. We did have a nice final lunch with great music. The restaurant was located right off the Plaza de San Francisco de Asís, which was a beautiful plaza with a fountain:
Mike took a great video of the band that serenaded us through lunch:
And then we were off to the airport and back to the United States! Mike and I are both glad we got to see this beautiful country and learn about its history and culture. And get some amazing pictures in the process!
This next picture is of a dog that was on the Capitol grounds. We saw a couple of dogs on the grounds, which wasn’t necessarily unusual because there are dogs wandering all over the city. However, when I was taking this picture, I noticed he had a card around his collar – it’s his official Capitol BADGE!! It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen – he looks so proud in his picture too!