The Cuban Revolution

As I explored the country, there was definitely a theme in many of the museums and national monuments.

I did stop by the national museum where you can find most of Fidel Castro’s vehicles, boats, and other historical items in downtown Havana.

I was tempted to take a selfie with Fidel’s tank he rode/drove in the revolution, but I decided I should not promote such events.  It was cool to see his actual tank, boat, jeeps, etc. that have shown in all the historical pictures.

Next, lets talk about the rebels which Fidel united. Going back to yesterday’s blog posting about the cave hiking…the location is not famous for the large caves, it is also famous that is where the rebels hid out in the mountains during the revolution.

For only 1 peso, you can get a 15 minute history of how all the rebels united together and hid out and planned there revolution in these actual caves.  Quite a hike for them to go back and forth into them for their headquarters I would admit…

Now going back to Havana…Che is quite the hero in Cuba (outside of Fidel) and he appears everywhere.  This is the Cuban FBI building.  No, I was not arrested…

But you can see his first house that sits on top of the fort that overlooks the bay and city.  I will try to get the picture uploaded later.  For some reason the Internet is slow in Cuba 😉

You can see some of his original gear, photos, backpacks and personal machine guns.

The fort has some great views of the sunset in the evenings.

And there is a ceremony every night commemorating the Independence from Spain.

It is called the cannon firing and at 9 PM every night, the local soldiers fire the cannon to celebrate the independence.  It happens every day at 9 PM, 365 days a year.  Quite popular with tourists and locals.  You can watch the video here thanks to your world reporter!

(if you scroll to the last 15 seconds, you can see and hear the big boom)

 

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Hiking in Cuba

There are not many places you can actually hike or climb in Cuba, but one area you can explore is the Vinales Valley.

This is a nice panoramic view looking over the valley and the national park area.

I found the San Tomas caves which are the second largest in both North and South America.  They are about a 150M climb up the steep rocks to the entrance near the top if you look close.

The caves are not easy to navigate and you have to be very patient and careful as the rocks are slippery with all the moisture and with 90 degrees of heat and 100 percent humidity…you need to be prepared for slips, hydration and cutting yourself on the sharp stalagmites.

However, this are awesome caves to hike, explore and take a fair amount of time examining.  Since it is 3+ hours away from Havana, you don’t run into many tourists here 🙂

There are so many things to see here, I cannot post all the pictures…spiders,. frogs, bats and birds.  If you ever want an active hike, check out these caves!

 

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Exploring Havana Cuba

Now that the running is complete, time to explore the city.

There is a lot of history here.  I was surprised to learn that there are miles of underground tunnels here that used to carry the water under the city.  Big time Dungeons and Dragons clubs here that venture down into the underground lairs…

The city is old, without a doubt.  But the rent is cheap.  These apartments rent for $80 a month.  Check out how some of the balconies are held up.  Yes, those are boards holding up peoples balconies and people are standing on them!

Now, this is not in old Havana, but it is a very unique part of Havana called Fuster.  It was a Cuban Picasso designer/architect/artist.  Worth checking out if you have 30 minutes to take a drive before visiting the Russian embassy for your appointment. (see below for directions)

I did go and check out the US Embassy which has claimed it has been under various sonic wave attacks.  No issues for me when I went by it a few times.  It really stands out by itself by the water, but not far from the National Hotel…look further before on this one.

Now the Russian Embassy which was built in the 1950s really stands out. It is supposed to resemble a rocket…to demonstrate its leadership over the US during the cold war.  What a sight!

Not too farm the US Embassy is the famous National Hotel which is gorgeous and like a Four Seasons that has a garden right on the waterfront.

Interestingly, just like some of the famous hotels in Virginia in the US, this hotel has a bunker underneath it that was built during the Cuban Missile crisis.  Unfortunately, I did not have time to get a tour of the underground facilities.

Speaking of the Cuban Missile Crisis…on the other side of the bay, you can visit the military museum that has some of the former Soviet armaments and missiles.  This is one of the ICBMs from the USSR that was pointed at the US 70 years ago…?

And here is the remains of one of the US spy planes that was shot down over Cuba after photographing some of the missile sites.

OK – one last item to end with today’s leave.  We must go and celebrate the revolution!  The tallest structure in Havana and Cuban.  The Ministry of Defense and Cuban are nearby and I got some selfies with those buildings too!

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Havana Running Club

I wanted to try something different, so…

An early morning arrival in Havana Cuba!

Here is a view of the city from along the waterfront.  It is quite run down at a first glance, but I see there is a running club!

So, of course, I needed to join in!  The only limitation is all the debris and…lack of infrastructure that limits the distance you can run without just running clubs.

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Key West Florida

Escaped Miami before a massive thunderstorm hit.  You can see it in the distance.

Key West is a small place and far away from most things.

Lots of little islands and full of expensive homes.

Yes, this is the lowest point of the continental United States.

It is the end of the rode…or mile 0 as they like to say.

So, I took a self guided tour and run.

I visited the Naval Air Station, which has the only beach area…but they would not let me in even though I was a veteran.  I didn’t have my veteran ID card with me.

Of course, I could not miss visiting Ernest Hemingway’s House and Museum.  For $14 you can learn a lot of history here!  Worth a visit.  This was his original study.

and his house is full of 6 toed cats that are descendants of his original cat snowflake. This is the king sized bed he built from a gate from a monastery to form his headboard when king sized beds did not exist in the late 1930.

And down the street was his favorite place he liked to tank up and drink. and I guess he liked to fight too, but not sure if he was just betting on fights.

I ended up a place a little more famous to get a cold drink after this hot humid day.  The tourists pack this place for some reason.  Good live music I must admit!

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Miami Beach

Arrived in Miami at a great hotel along the water – the Marriott Biscayne Bay.

Great location and great service, but the restaurant…meh.

But I cannot complain as it is right next to the best running route in Miami.  There is a biking and running trail all the way to Miami Beach, but with the humidity, you will look like you went swimming in the ocean after a 10K.

Early in the morning, there is no traffic except the occasional Rolls Royce heading to Starbucks and you do not have to worry about traffic lights stopping your run.  But…if you do not time your sprints right, you will get caught by the bridges that open up every 30 minutes!

So, what can you do in Miami?  You can get on a cruise ship of course!  The checkin lines were brutal – 1 hour to just see you have the papers filled out and have a passport. Uggghhh! …and they say no bottles of water, alcohol or soft drinks.  I loaded up on Gatorade for when I go running so I don’t have to pay the ship $10 a bottle.

The room is actually kind of comfy.  It is an older ship with few balconies, but I got a really good deal on a single room and looking forward to the ports.  Should I try the bunk beds instead?

All unpacked and blending in with the crowd.  Will be fun.  Now can anyone guess where the ship is headed?  Stay tuned…

Update:

I came back from Cuba and decided to spend a night on the beach and check out the local scene.  It feels everything is about the beachfront and everything else one block away from the beach is a little run down.

So, I had some local PoBoy sandwiches and decided to take an afternoon jog in the cool 91 degree ocean breeze.  Brutal!

I wanted to try and do the whole beach and pace myself, but some parts of the beach are closed 🙂

But if you get bored, you can always work out with some of the Navy Seals in the outdoor gym.  No thanks!

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Red Rock Canyon – Near Las Vegas

It is only a half hour’s drive away from Las Vegas, but you can get totally isolated in the desert and see almost nobody for a long time if you would like to hike the mountains.

You do need to pay a lot of sunshade and water though!

Our route which was the visitor center to Calico Hills I, II and then the Sandstone Quarry.  About a 1,000 foot elevation climb and a 6 mile hike overall.

You can find all kinds of hidden routes and trails if you like.  Long pants recommended as some of the brush is quite prickly and also hiking boots recommended due to some of the sharp rocks.

For almost 3 hours, we saw almost no people, but if you look closely, we did find a few people scaling the rocks as a couple!  No sure how much rope they were using, very risky if you ask me!

Took a little video to try and capture some of the hidden views and adventurous spots you can find in this canyon.

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