Places I've Stayed: Eddy's Casa Particular

I would highly recommend Eddy’s and am really glad I stayed there.  For one the house is really clean, comfortable, and well lit, but more importantly, Eddy is super nice! He knows English well enough that when I was lost in trying to find Cafe Presidente spent ten minutes drawing me a map of the neighborhood and all the places that I should see.

There were two ways to access my room, the most charming being from a tiny linen cupboard that connected to both the kitchen and the main hall.  Although I mainly went through the normal door that lead to the outdoor courtyard and front yard, the cupboard made going to breakfast feel like I was traveling to Narnia.  (:  My room and private bathroom were very clean and unlike the two casa particulars I stayed after afterwards, both had windows to the exterior….ah natural light!!  There was AC that kind of worked, a refrigerator which I never tried to use, a TV, and good water pressure.  His house is located a quarter of a block off the Avenue de los Presidente and one block from La Rampa.  While the location isn’t the most touristy it feels like a more single-family like neighborhood (it’s not and to be honest I’m not sure any house is single-family occupied anywhere in Havana anymore).  I ended up really enjoying the Vedado neighborhood and plan on going back.  There seems to be a younger more “hip” crowd, or a crowd that’s more interested in their own lives than in the lives of a tourist, if that makes sense.  His house is a short walk (ten minutes?) to the Hotel Nacional and the Hotel Presidente isn’t far either.  Up and down La Rampa (Calle 23) are a ton of buses and taxis, but more importantly wifi hotspots and hotdog stands!!  (The famous ice cream shop, Coppelia, is on La Rampa but the lines were insanely long and I never felt like standing alone in one for hours in the sun...I'm more of a savory than sweet gal anyhow.)

Courtyard entrance to my room

I thought the lighting and wall color was really nice... 

Staghorn ferns hanging outside my window, so pretty! 

The dining room

The living room

Why you no like me?!  I want to pet you!!  Unfriendly neighbors ):

The patio

How I spent the evenings; 723 pages on Cuba (via The Cuba Reader) and I read all of them!

Eddy suggested an handful of restaurants that I should try: Cafe Presidente, El Gringo Veijo, a Mediterranean place, and a seafood place.  Cafe Presidente was my favorite, good food, comfortable surroundings, and cheap.  El Gringo Viejo was really cool inside, you have to go through this covered patio area and then down a short flight of stairs, and finally into the basement where it’s decorated like a mom and pop version of Olive Garden…sort of haha.  It’s really cozy.  There’s a wall dedicated to the movie El Gringo Viejo, which I’ll have to research the history of once I have internet again.  The food wasn’t anything to write home about, but maybe it was just what I ordered.  

My room...perhaps I should have made the bed lol

Well my room looks put together but my selfie action is embarassing...

Check out the dates...1930!  This used to be Eddy's moms home before she passed away a few years ago.

Off to breakfast, through the linen cupboard I go!

Cari pup!  Dying in the heat

Breakfast #1

Breakfast #2

I would highly recommend Eddy’s.  Don’t go if you’re looking for the most luxurious room but do go if you’re looking for a peaceful neighborhood and friendly folks.  I felt super at home and comfortable my entire stay and was sad to leave.  Oh, I almost forgot to mention Cari their beautiful long-haired black dog who’s a total sweet heart.  She was less interested in me than I wished for *sniff* but she is extremely calm and well behaved, she didn’t bark at me once and always ran to the front door when the chimes jingled.  I paid 45.00 a night which included breakfast, if you didn’t want breakfast it would be 40.00 a night.

El Gringo Veijo Restaurant

Eddy's Casa Particular

Sunken Courtyard(s)

Eddy showed me this place, he called it a "hole."  I don’t think I’d ever have discovered it otherwise.  How crazy awesome is it!?  Though it was sad to hear him say, “It’s ugly now, but 50 years ago there would be music and parties and it was beautiful.”  I never really imagined having to see your city and home crumble before your eyes and not be able to do anything about it.

The "hole" near Eddy's house - just imagine this place full of music, food, and people!

A sunken courtyard Eddy showed me near his wife’s house.

In my attempt to find the other side of Eddy's "hole" I stumbled upon another courtyard!  I would have NEVER guessed that these existed in this neighborhood.  The area (Vedado) appears to be block after block of beautiful (albeit deteriorating) single-family homes of what was once the upper middle class.  It's not the living density that surprises me but the massive scale of these courtyards and how much earth they had to move to create them.

...I never was able to find the entrance to the other side of Eddy's, mostly because it felt impolite to walk down every private alley (i.e. trespassing) looking for it.

Entrance from street

Looking from the courtyard's alley toward the street.

Another residential courtyard I discovered. 

Success and Hotdogs

[ 26 July 2016 - Tuesday ]

Day four!  Happy anniversary of the start of the revolution.  Happy indeed….

Walking around in Vedado

Improvised nationalistic banner (and drying laundry)!

“Revolution is to Build"

In Vedado

Success tastes like a hotdog! (:  I spent the day walking around Vedado, I found where the Fabrica des Artes is (edit: actually no I didn't), found the crafts market which either wasn’t open today or wasn’t open since 5 years ago (it’s hard to tell here), then went to the American Embassy to see that and the Wall of Flags.  Then saw the memorial for the USS Maine.  I looked around the Hotel Nacional briefly for Carmen, Tom, and Isabel but didn’t see them so I dropped off my postcard to Martin and tried to get online.  Apparently Google Apps don’t work here???  So that means no Gmail.  Then of course I forgot my Facebook password…but I finally got online like a real Cuban on la Rampa / Calle 23.  I still couldn’t login into my umich Gmail but I did have a text from Martin (who knows how old it was by now though and I hope my iMessages went through…they did say that they were delivered.) I also had a few WhatsApp messages from Mom and Erin.  After that I was walking up back to Eddy’s and saw the most glorious looking hotdog I’d ever seen.  I went up to the stand and read that a “Perro Caliente con Pan” costs 10.00 and for a second I thought it meant ten CUCs.  What Cuban…what person anywhere...is paying 10 dollars for a hotdog?!  Then I realized it was Cuban pesos and actually only cost about 50 cents.  I didn’t have any Cuban pesos so I continued on to Eddy’s planning to ask him where I could change CUCs for pesos.  He told me that I should be able to pay 1 CUC for a drink and a hotdog.  So I walked back, asked “Es posible por uno CUC?”  "Sí!" was the reply.  Like I said success tastes like a hotdog! 

In the foreground, a school and in the background, the Hotel Presidente.

Parque Martí

Playground 

"...finally some photos!" I can hear you all saying. (: