Just wandering around Old Havana, I saw the Bodeguito del Medio, the Floridita and Hotel Ambos Mundos (all of Hemingway fame), three of the four plazas (but not Plaza de San Francisco, which has the lion fountain I wanted to see) and many other interesting things. I also visited the maritime museum in the Castillo de la Real Fuerza (one of the forts). I learned a lot of treasure and pirate vocabulary there, which I thought made up for skipping class!
I returned to Calle J (near the University) and met up with the others around lunchtime. Madison and I went to Hotel Habana Libre and enjoyed the cafe there because we could use the internet, it had good food, and every time we spoke Spanish our waiter said "impresivo"! This became a favorite place of ours--it's called La Rampa cafe--and we spent a lot of time there while in Havana, especially when we needed to use the internet.
After lunch we had a tour by van of the whole city. It was interesting but it was raining so we couldn't see very much or take pictures. We saw areas that I want to explore more later--Plaza de la Revolucion, Parque Almendares, El Morro, and el Cristo de la Habana. The Christ statue is really interesting because the head was broken. I asked Sarai what happened to it, and she burst out laughing at the way I asked "What made his head broken?" and then told us that it had been hit by lightning!
Madison and I went to Coppelia after the tour and it was really good! The line was really long but it's really a part of the experience to wait in line and people watch. Tourists can go to a shorter line and pay 1CUC ($1) per scoop of ice cream, but it's better to wait with the Cubans--you get the full experience and the ice cream is only 1 peso MN (about 5 cents USD) per scoop! We sat with a Cuban couple and it was really interesting talking to them. The man works for a baseball team--the Industriales--and he showed us pictures on his phone of all of the US baseball teams.
(I fell asleep while writing this so I'm continuing the next day!)
The man knew more US baseball teams than I did! We ordered ice cream in ensaladas mixtas ("mixed salads"), which the couple told us is the best because you get the most--5 scoops of ice cream. Looking around, we didn't see anyone order anything but the ensaladas. The flavors today were mantecado (I liked it a lot but even Pepe didn't know how to describe it in English--later I found out it was shortbread) and avellano (hazelnut). Our new Cuban friends told us that before the 90s there were 50 flavors at Coppelia and now their favorite is chocolate. The man said his (petite) wife will eat 4 ensaladas (that's 20 scoops!) of ice cream when the flavor is chocolate! The flavors change every day so we will have to go back. It was a really good experience and felt very "Cuban". When we were waiting in line we saw people selling a flan-like cake, men were singing (it's culturally acceptable to just sing here--this morning at the maritime museum one of the guards was just singing to herself), people chatting, etc. It was a great part of the experience, and we really enjoyed talking to the couple we met as well.
After Coppelia we went to Old Havana. We found a really nice bathroom in Hotel Inglaterra (score!) and then decided to go to la Floridita. We took a bicitaxi and passed men who had asked us if we wanted a bici taxi (before we went to the hotel), and they weren't very happy with us! Old Havana can be tiring because everyone's always asking if you want a taxi or cigars. Oh there were also two younger Cuban guys who pointed at themselves and then at us like, "hey, there's two of you and there's two of us..." which made us laugh.
The ambience of the Floridita was nice and classy. There's a bronze statue of Hemingway and we had daiquiris that costed 6CUC ($6). It's expensive for Cuban drinks, but they were good and very strong. However, looking around the bar we didn't see any non-tourists in there, and looking at the menu food prices we decided to go somewhere else for dinner.
We went to a restaurant called Kilometro Cero. I had ropa vieja, a tasty traditional Cuban dish, drank a Cuba Libre, and we both really enjoyed the band. I bought a CD from them too. There are flutists in a lot of the bands here so now I know what I want to do with my life--move here and play flute in a cumbia or bachata band!