Havana First Impressions – Paseo del Prado

Playing on the Prado

I thought it would be easy to sit down and write a post about my first impressions of Cuba and Havana, but I was wrong. There is too much to say and I know too little.

Man in Thought

After a morning of travel and lunch stop at a government restaurant, we finally settled into the Hotel Parque Central around 4pm. By 5pm I was taking my first, tentative, walk in Havana, down the Paseo del Prado.

After Work

The Prado is a large pedestrian walkway that leads from Havana Central to the harbor and the Malecón, the sea wall. Immediately I felt the presence of the people, birds, and traffic which roared down the busy Paseo de Marti on either side.

Family Afternoon on the Prado

The Prado is a gathering place for friends, family, children playing, street vendors, and just a place to sit and rest at the end of the day. Every few feet is an alcove with stone benches built into the wall separating the Prado from the busy 2-lane street on either side of the walkway. Immediately I was attracted to the small groups that would gather in each of the alcoves. Kids playing, people resting, families, and friends engaged in conversation. I could have spent the week just walking up and down the Prado capturing its little scenes.

Mercado La Primera De Prado

Some kids follow you along, asking “monea, monea?”. Unfortunately this is too common with young children and old women. But mostly people sit and talk and go about their business and are open to the American, Canadian, and European tourists snapping their pictures.

An Open Trunk

The ubiquitous 50’s American car, in all states of repair and disrepair. A car by the side of the road with either the hood or trunk open is a common site.

Red car in motion

Street Scene

After a short walk, I reached the Malecón. Like most landmarks, there are lots of great travel images of the Malecón taken at the right time of day, in the right weather, with just the light, the right car coming down the road, and the appropriate amount of waves splashing over the wall or children playing. But my first impressions are on a mostly cloudless day as the sun sets. Men and boys playing with their dogs as a couple of young photographers look on.

The Malecón

3 thoughts on “Havana First Impressions – Paseo del Prado

  1. neilwaybright February 10, 2013 / 5:09 pm

    It is good to see you back, but you have created some fabulous images here. The OM-5D seems to have served you very well.

    These scenes of Havana certainly seem “gritty”. Was there construction to offset the decay? I probably won’t ever have the chance to go myself, but look forward to hearing you talk about it over pizza…

    • inancy February 10, 2013 / 5:33 pm

      Neil – it was a fantastic trip and it is easy to go (you just need a little money – I can highly recommend the SanteFe Workshops, but they are done for this year, I think).

      There is some construction going on, is select areas, mostly in Old Havana (La Habana Vieja), not in this area (Havana Central). There are more buildings falling down than being restored. But with independent businesses now allowed, things will start to change.

      It is an amazing city. It will take me some time to get this all written up, but it was a fascinating trip.

  2. M. Firpi March 11, 2013 / 4:24 am

    You chose a fascinating place, my father went there some time ago. I’m glad they became more flexible with traveling so at least there is cultural exchange.

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