Tag Archives: wanderlust

Havana, Cuba Square One

As I began to write this post, I realized the wealth of information (and photos) I walked away with, so I decided to break up my Cuban adventure into various blog posts. I’ll begin at square one, Plaza de San Francisco Asís, the first of four historic squares we visited on our city tour.

I still cannot believe it has already been a week since I set sail for Cuba on Empress of the Seas.

Sail Away!

It was an unforgettable experience. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when we docked in Havana at sunrise, but I was ready to explore and learn as much as I could, despite it being the crack of dawn.  I’m not a morning person.

We booked a shore excursion through Royal Caribbean, the Old Havana Walking tour. At first, I was concerned about not having a chance to explore on my own, but our guide generously gave us time to wander and take photos–even shop.

The tour began right outside of the cruise port, in Plaza de San Francisco Asís  (San Francisco Square).  The name comes from the convent built in the square during the 16th century, Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asís.

San Francisco Square

We stepped off the ship and into a time warp. The streets were relatively quiet as we crossed from the cruise terminal to the square. Later in the day, classic cars and horse and buggies line these streets offering tours. Highly recommended experience.

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First glimpse of the classic cars which the Cubans simply call “American cars.”

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Lonja del Comercio, served as a stock exchange until 1959. It is now an office building housing various media outlets.

At the center of the square lies a beautiful white marble fountain, the Lion Fountain.

Fuente de los Leones (Lion Fountain) built in 1800’s

I was instantly amazed by the vibrant colors and stunning architecture. Part of me was expecting the city to be run-down and dirty. It was far from that. In fact, some areas of the city were so clean and well maintained, I felt as though I was on a movie set.

We’ll continue down this alleyway in my next post.

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Enough with the Rain, Florida

I get it, it’s been a long time since we’ve had any significant rain in Florida, so we need it but why does it have to rain on my beach day?

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I look forward to this trip to Captiva Island all year long and the last place I want to be in sitting in my room, listening to the rain fall ALL DAY LONG. I want to be out there, lounging on the beach, sand beneath my feet.

However, at least I was blessed with an absolutely perfect sunset last night.

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The sun will come out tomorrow, I hope.

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Viva Las Vegas!

Las Vegas is a fascinating place. While many shrug it off as a place to gamble and drink 24/7, there is so much more to this city.

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If you’ve visited Vegas before, you know it’s easy to get caught up in the magnitude of the hotels and resorts and the various gimmicks that are Vegas.

Case in point…

But, if you are interested in learning more about the history of the largest city in the Mojave Desert, then I suggest touring The Neon Museum where the past becomes “illuminated.”

Founded as a city in 1905, it wasn’t until 1931 that gambling became legal. Originally, it was a home base for to workers constructing the Hoover Dam. Due to the primarily male population, this created a market for large-scale entertainment. Unfortunately, many notorious mob bosses had connections to the building of the first resorts and entertainment venues in Las Vegas.

The Golden Nugget opened in 1946, featuring the date 1905, celebrating the birth of Las Vegas.

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The amazing thing about touring The Neon Museum is that you can see how Las Vegas’ style changed throughout the years. The Golden Nugget sign for example.

And what would be the likely hood of seeing signs like these on The Strip today?

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The museum takes you back to all the glitz and glitter that was old Vegas and showcases some of the most iconic signs.

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As well as iconic traditions…

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It wasn’t until the 1980’s that organized crime finally decreased leading to a new era in Vegas history. Population increased throughout the century, as did tourism. Las Vegas is now a leading travel destination, coming from humble beginnings.

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Viva Las Vegas!

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