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The photographs in this lightbox were taken during my recent visit to Cuba. It was a fascinating journey from the tobacco country on the western tip of the island through the capital city of Havana to the most eastern town of Baracoa.
Photo Count: 32
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1. Flag of Cuba. According to Wikipedia: "The Cuban governments current, official version of the meaning of the Cuban flag states that the blue stripes refer to the three old divisions of the island, and the two white stripes represent the strength of the independent ideal, The red triangle symbolizes equality, fraternity and freedom, as well as the blood shed in the islands struggle for independence, Finally, the white star is meant to symbolize freedom."
2. Hotel Inglaterra, Havana, Cuba. This oldest Havana hotel was built in the second half of the nineteenth century. Located in the heart of the old city on Paseo di Marti and opposite the leafy Parque Central it continues to be a favourite of many international visitors.
3. The Bay of Havana in the moonlight, Cuba. This night view of the Bay of Havana was taken from the top floor of the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. The sky looked strange with the clouds sailing across the full moon. The flames and smoke from a distant oil refinery added the feelings of mystery to the scene.
4. Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana. The Hotel Nacional de Cuba, opened in December 1930, overlooks the Malecon and the Bay of Havana. It was once a home to famous stars, politicians, artists and writers. These days that historic landmark is a five stars hotel with the swimming pools, restaurants and bars, cigar shops, gardens and the Cabaret Parisien.
5. A house in Vinales, Cuba. On both sides of the long main street of this colonial town are one storey colourful houses and the tall pine trees. The Vi�ales town is considered a national monument.
6. The Vinales Valley, Cuba. This picturesque valley in the western part of the island is dotted with mogotes, limestone hills covered with vegetation and rising steeply out of the plains. The area is known for growing tobacco, sugar and rice.
7. Vinales Valley, Cuba. This photo was taken in a picturesque western part of Cuba, Pinar del Rio. The valley is famous for its tobacco fields, curious limestone hills, caves and friendly locals.
8. A tobacco field, Cuba. Tobacco is a main crop grown in the Vi�ales Valley. Farmers still use traditional methods of cultivating this annual crop from seeds, harvesting and drying of the leaves.
9. Drying tobacco leaves, Cuba. After the harvest tobacco leaves are arranged as pictured in the well ventilated huts (bohios) to dry. A slow drying process causes a break-up of unwanted chemical substances to achieve the vital qualities in tobacco. When the silky-soft leaves are dry they are packed and sent to factories for further processing.
10. The Antonio Maceo monument, Santiago de Cuba. The statue commemorates the 19th century Cuban general and national hero. The monument is overlooking the Plaza de Revolucion.
11. A yellow house, Cienfuegos, Cuba . In the second part of the nineteenth century many lightweight timber houses were prefabricated in North America and brought to Cuba. The one pictured here stands on a narrow strip of land by the sea, Punta Gorda.
12. An old car rusting on the beach, Cuba. The old cars are found everywhere on the streets (and occasionally on the beach) of Cuba. They are a tourist attraction but locals are not so keen having to struggle maintaining them. However, some companies use the well restored machines as taxis.
13. Sunday morning in Camaguey, Cuba. That peaceful image was taken in the Plaza del Carmen, the old square of the bustling colonial city. The locals rest there and read papers or talk to their friends while up on the roof washing flutters in the breeze.
14. Plaza Mayor in Trinidad, Cuba. The colonial square of the historic Trinidad is surrounded by the beautiful houses on the three sides and the church, Inglesia de la Santisima, on the fourth. The palm trees in the centre are a reminder of the tropical climate on this island.
15. Gossiping in Camaguey, Cuba. The sculptures of local residents by Martha Jimenez are scatered about the colonial square, Plaza del Carmen.
16. The Comedor de Aguiar Restaurant, Havana, Cuba. The pictured restaurant at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba offers the best of the Cuban and international cuisine in its luxurious surroundings.
17. Coco taxis, Havana, Cuba. These yellow vehicles are an alternative way to travel in Havana. They are cheap, fun and easy to find. But there is always a good idea to think about the safety.
18. Sunset in Cienfuegos, Cuba. A gust of warm wind comes from the darkening sea. The palms on the Punta Gorda throw no more shadows and the sun glides down the amber sky and takes a last look at the island of Cuba.
19. Pargue of Agramonte, Camaguey, Cuba. The equine statue in the middle of the park is that of Ignacio Agramonte, the nineteenth century Camaguey hero. He led a revolt against the Spanish and was killed in battle.The cathedral on the right comes from the early eighteenth century. A visit of John Paul II to Cuba in 1998 resulted in donations for renovation of the structure.
20. Havana girls posing for photos, Cuba. The pretty girls of Havana put on their bright dresses in the mornings and come to the Plaza de Armas and probably some other places to pose for tourists. They are not doing it for free - this is their job. And everyone is happy to give them a coin or two.
21. Havana unrestored, Cuba. The colonial buildings in the street leading towards the port and many others in the neighbourhood are waiting for renovations. For now they charm with the flowers on their balconies, occasional washing drying on the line and the passing old cars.
22. The Great Theatre of Havana, Cuba. Originally built in 1837, the theatre was renovated at the beginning of the twentieth century in the neo-baroque style. Today this beautiful building is the home of the Cuban National Ballet and Opera and a place of many the international festivals.
23. The Tomas Terry Theatre, Cienfuegos, Cuba. Named after the Venezuelan sugar plantation owner, the theatre was built at the end of the nineteenth century. In time past attracted the famous performers like Enrico Caruso and Sara Bernhardt.
24. A piano player, Cuba. This beautiful woman enjoyed playing the piano at the Moorish style Palacio de Valle in Cienfuegos. Now a restaurant, the ornate building is set at the edge of Punta Gorda and overlooking the bay.
25. The Castle del Moro, Santiago de Cuba. Built in the 16th century to defend the country from pirates and buccaneers, the castle commands the great views of the harbour.
26. Rosting piglets for lunch, Cuba. This photo was taken in a small village of the eastern Cuba. The two suckling piglets were being prepared as a local treat for a group of tourists.
27. A Trinidad house, Cuba. This oldest and most colourful town has been on the World Heritage list since 1988. That, and many other buildings are well restored and look wonderful in the hilly setting between the Sierra del Escambray and the Caribbean Sea.
28. The artisans' market, Trinidad, Cuba. A delightful street market in Trinidad is buzzing with life. There are musical instruments on tiny stalls, white cotton clothes on the racks, pretty jewellery, handbags, belts and many such items. All of them are hand made by the local artisans.
29. Gazing at the heros of the Revolution, Cuba. The portrait of two most prominent figures in Cuba and its history was seen in one of the restaurants in Havana.
30. The Caribbean sunset, Cienfuegos, Cuba. This beautiful sunset and the kayakers were observed (and photographed) from the sandy beach of a holiday resort in Cienfuegos.
31. Baracoa street markets, Cuba. A picturesque little town on the eastern side of the island is famous for being the first arrival point of Christopher Columbus, then for being the first settlement established by Diego Velasquez in 1511, and more recently for chocolate and coconut factories. Along the main street locals spread their stalls with shoes, clothes, toys or drinks.
32. Baracoa's native hero, Cuba. A statue of Hatuey, a Taino Indian stands in the main square of Baracoa. Hatuey fought against the early Spanish conquistadors. His fierce resistance against the colonizers led him to the stake, and he was burned alive.
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