René Peña

Havana, Cuba, 3 September 2016

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel

We were fortunate to be able to visit the studio of the renowned Cuban Photographer René Peña.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel

We received a fascinating account of the insights he converts into photographs.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel

Though based in Cuba, he has exhibited in Spain, Italy and the US as well as Cuba.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel

Here is another link that includes a short video.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel

Back in the open air: 1956 Chevrolet in the foreground; Fidel in the background.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel

Small motorcycle in front of Jose Marti monument in Revolution Square.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel

Jose Marti was a leader of the Cuban Independence Movement in the nineteenth century, which included three wars.  He died in battle in 1895.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel

Che.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel

1950 Chevrolet in the foreground; Fidel in the background.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel

1951 Chevrolet.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel

Back in the old town.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel

Later in the evening, we are heading back from dinner in a taxi.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel

At times my mind was wandering.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel

Now in the harbour promenade under streetlights.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Photography, René Peña, Street photography, Travel

Taken by the taxi driver.

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Relics of the Cuban Missile Crisis

Havana, Cuba, 3 September 2016

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(Click images for a larger view, as for all posts).

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

It’s early morning and this is the old city of Havana from the other side of the harbour.   There’s a fair amount of smoke coming from a factory funnel.  They probably don’t have the best pollution controls in Cuba so probably for the best that it’s not highly industrialised.

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El Capitolio (under renovation), built 1926 to 1929.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

A merchant ship beside some mostly derelict wharves.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Some people, old cars and a horse and carriage in front of the Castillo de la Real Fuerza (Castle of the Royal Force), and someone in the foreground fishing.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

In 1959, this was Che Guevera’s home and command headquarters at a time when the revolutionaries captured the nearby Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana (a little more on that below).

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

It is not generally known that the Portuguese explorer Christopher Columbus and his men were actually midgets and the castles that they built have been adapted for different uses today.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

1955 Oldsmobile Starfire.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

We are now in the Museo Historico Militar, dedicated to artefacts of the Cuban Missile Crisis and this is a MIG 21.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

I think these must be anti-aircraft guns.

Younger readers may not be familiar with the Cuban Missile Crisis.  In October 1962, the US became aware that the Russians were building up batteries of ballistic missiles in Cuba, aimed at the US.  Kennedy resisted the military, and in particular the infamous Curtis LeMay and instead of bombing and invading Cuba, implemented a blockade.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Remains of U2 spy plane.

Then near the end of October 1962, the Cubans shot down a U2 spy plane (actually, the order was given by a Soviet Lieutenant General).  The world appeared for a while to be poised on the edge of a nuclear war.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

More remains of U2 spy plane.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Ballistic missile.

Fortunately, Kennedy faced down both the Russians and his own military.  Western media told us at the time that Kennedy’s machismo had forced Khrushchev to capitulate and withdraw but what actually happened was that there was a secret deal that the Soviets withdrew their missiles from America’s border in Cuba while the Americans withdrew their missiles from the Soviet border in Turkey.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

SA-75 anti-aircraft rocket, range 34 km.  Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana in the background.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Rear end of R-12 rocket (SSC-4) (replica).  700 to 2,100 km range with 1 megaton nuclear payload (77 timers more powerful than Hiroshima).

There was another noteworthy incident during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  US ships sent practice depth charges (with negligible explosive) near a Soviet submarine to try to persuade them to surface.  They sent messages to the submarine saying what they were doing but the submarine did not receive them.  Two of the three officers on board assumed that war had broken out and wanted to launch nuclear missiles.  The third and most senior officer vetoed the other two.  The submarine surfaced and steamed back to the Soviet Union.  Nuclear war did not happen that day.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Sopka rocket (SSC-2) for anti-ship coastal defence.  80km range with conventional payload.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Mig 21.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Getting closer to the Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Some musicians playing outside a Government Cigar Shop.  .

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Entrance of La Cabaña (Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña).

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

The British occupied Cuba in 1762, during the Seven Years War.  In taking Havana, They demonstrated the vulnerability of the fortress of El Morro to an attack from the landHowever, a year later, under the Peace of Paris, they swapped Cuba for Florida. The Spanish then built La Cabaña between 1763 and 1774. You can see El Morro in the distance, where the lighthouse is.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Sometimes cannons are not all they’re cracked up to be.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

We have moved along and this is now El Morro including the lighthouse Faro de Castillo del Morro.

El Morro was built in 1589 (the year after the Spanish Armada failed to reach Britain) to protect Havana from raid by privateers, French Dutch and English.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Looking down on a gun emplacement, part of El Morro though outside the walls.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Objects to purchase at a roadside market including wooden boxes, horses and cars.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

1953 Chevrolet.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

1953 Chevrolet.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

There’s a kindergarten or primary school here somewhere.

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Architecture, Art, Cars, Cuba, Cuban Missile Crisis, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Maybe the door of the hotel.

(The comment under the sixth image is an illustration of how internet memes start).

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Big Band in Havana

Havana, Cuba, 2 September 2016

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Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

We came here at the end of our first full day in Cuba, for dinner and to see the band.

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Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

I can’t tell you the name of the restaurant or the band but it was on a corner just before a large square, possibly the Plaza de la Catedral.

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Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

It was a traditional big band, perhaps in a similar style to Buena Vista Social Club.

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Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

And before long they had many people up on the floor dancing.

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Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

We also received two complimentary cocktails, which were excellent: a mojito and a white Russian.

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Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

So a good time was had by all…

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Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

And as we were walking back to our hotel on largely deserted streets, we were serenaded by a young woman on her guitar.  She was very accomplished.

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Callejón de Hamel

Havana, Cuba, 2 September 2016

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Afro-Cuban Art, Architecture, Art, Callejón de Hamel, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

This image is the odd one out because it is in the Cathedral.

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Afro-Cuban Art, Architecture, Art, Callejón de Hamel, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Our guides took us for a drive to Callejón de Hamel.

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Afro-Cuban Art, Architecture, Art, Callejón de Hamel, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

This is a Havana street that is a work of art in itself.

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Afro-Cuban Art, Architecture, Art, Callejón de Hamel, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

It is all the work of one person, Salvador Gonzáles Escalona.

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Afro-Cuban Art, Architecture, Art, Callejón de Hamel, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Except for this, which is called “Small cat sleeping” by Mother Cat.

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Afro-Cuban Art, Architecture, Art, Callejón de Hamel, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Though known as Afro-Cuban art, he describes his work as a mixture of surrealism, cubism and abstract art.

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Afro-Cuban Art, Architecture, Art, Callejón de Hamel, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

It al;so references the Santería religion, brought by slaves from the West African religion of the Yoruba, and influenced by Roman Catholicism.

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Afro-Cuban Art, Architecture, Art, Callejón de Hamel, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

He has been creating art works in Callejón de Hamel since 1990.

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Afro-Cuban Art, Architecture, Art, Callejón de Hamel, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

This is a different kind of object of religious veneration.

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Afro-Cuban Art, Architecture, Art, Callejón de Hamel, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Nearby street scene.

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Afro-Cuban Art, Architecture, Art, Callejón de Hamel, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Definitely a place worth a visit.

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Afro-Cuban Art, Architecture, Art, Callejón de Hamel, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Afro-Cuban Art, Architecture, Art, Callejón de Hamel, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Afro-Cuban Art, Architecture, Art, Callejón de Hamel, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Afro-Cuban Art, Architecture, Art, Callejón de Hamel, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

Havana Cars

Havana, Cuba, 2 September 2016

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Still on the same day as the last post, we are walking in Central Havana and there are lots of old cars around.  The blue car is probably a 1946 Oldsmobile.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

1956 Ford.

I’m not sure what the others were doing at the time but I found myself able to stand on a street corner.  We are on the corner of Infanta and Neptuno, out of the central city.  You have no doubt seen images of the immaculate old vehicles that tourists are offered rides in in the old city.  These are the cars that the ordinary people drive.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Blue car maybe a 1947 Chevrolet.  Red car behind it is probably a Lada and the yellow car beside that is a Moskvich.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

The yellow and black taxi is a Lada, behind that an early 50s Ford, behind that probably a 1952 Chrysler.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

The green car going away is a Chev.  Don’t know what the blue car in the middle is.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

The red car is a 53 or 54 Chevrolet.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

1949 (Chrysler) Plymouth taxi.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Oldsmobile, probably 1954.  Another taxi.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

1955 Chevrolet.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

1953 or 54 Chevrolet.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

1947 Plymoutn.  Limpimg along, it seems.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Ford Fairlane 500 V8, about 1955, carrying tourists.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel Chevrolet, around 1950.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

1956 Pontiac (Taxi).

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

We then dropped into Hotel Nacional de Cuba for a while.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

1957 Ford Fairlane 500 convertible.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

… waiting for tourists to take a ride back to town…

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

1954 Ford convertible.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

On the road towards town.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel

This one’s a mystery.  It must be a European car, but what I don’t know.  It bears the name Pininfarina on the dashboard and, very small, on the rear of the car.  But Fininfarina didn’t build cars, they were a coachbuilder.  They had a close partnerrship with Ferrari and provided services for many other marques including Alpha Romeo, Peugeot, Fiat, Lancia and Maserati.  The radio says Jensen, but I think that’s just the brand of radio.  I can’t find any plausible candidates. Maybe a small manufacturer or a custom order.  I’d be intrigued if anyone knows.

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Architecture, Cars, Cuba, Havana, Live Music, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

Havana Stroll

Havana, Cuba, 2 September 2016

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Hitting the streets again after breakfast, there was this fine gentleman striking a wonderful pose (he was playing the trumpet as well of course).

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

The door is probably a side entrance to the Cathedral.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

A street-side washing line.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Simca 90A Aronde 1955-1958..

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The old and the very old.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Street market.  I think it was here I picked up a cap with a picture of Ché and a Cuban flag.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Back to our hotel for lunch.

We were staying in central Havana, probably in a Government-run hotel, which was probably originally the grand mansion of an aristocrat centuries ago.  I know close to where it is but not the name of the hotel because it changed in our Group Itinerary.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

A wall in our hotel inspired by Mayan or Aztec art.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Preparing to leave again.  Some of the people are members of our group and carrying cameras.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

A harp player in a nearby art gallery.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Cistern.

The sign at the bottom in Spanish and English says “Aljibe – Early nineteenth century cistern for gathering rainwater”, though actually cistern is mistranslated as system.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Plaza Vieia.

In this and the next three images we are in Plaza Vieia or Old Square.  It was created in 1559 and originally names Plaza Nueva, or New Square.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

If I recall correctly, during my time in Cuba I didn’t see many nubile young women carrying a large fork and riding a rooster.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Corner of Calles Mercaderes and Armagura.

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Early Morning in Havana

Havana, Cuba, 2 September 2016

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Dancing school and cafeteria with pizza.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

This is an hour before sunrise so there are not many people around.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

We are walking towards the Cathedral.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

La Catedral de la Virgin Maria de la Conceptión Immaculata de la Habana.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

There are not many people around and some aren’t moving much.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Almost empty streets.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

“Quiltrin Legitimate Cuban Fashion”.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Early morning cargo.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Across the Plaza de la Catedral.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

A few early morning people walking by in front of the Cathedral.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel .

 

Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Waiting for Godot perhaps?

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

Still in the Plaza de la Catedral but from a different angle,

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel

It’s getting close to dawn.

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Architecture, Cuba, Havana, Photography, Street photography, Travel .