Day two in Havana began with breakfast at my casa (fruit, coffee, juice, bread and honey) before going out to walk aimlessly a bit more in old Havana. Everything was quieter in the morning, but just as lovely.
I was meeting my friends, Stripes and Noodles, at the Partagas factory at noon so before that i walked out of Havana Vieja and to central Havana, where i walked around the currently reconstructed capitol building (which bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain government in the US), past some lavish hotels, then beyond, into a grid of streets which still bore the same once beautiful buildings, but they were less restored, far from postcard perfect. This was actually more to my liking in some ways than Havana Vieja - fewer tourists, more locals shopping at sparse bodegas with blaring salsa music, butchers, fruit sellers, and windows selling greasy looking pork sandwiches.
We arrived at the grand National Hotel, which sits perched impressively on a hill overlooking its surroundings. There is a wonderful courtyard area with seating for the bar. Fortunately, some of it was under cover, because as we arrived, the rain began to pour. We sat comfortably and watched the rain and wind assault the palms from our cozy spot, enjoying cigars and perfect piña coladas. I mean, seriously, these drinks were amazing. Not since Cartagena have i had such fruity perfection in a glass. It was lovely.
We traveled to our respective accommodations by way of a speedy Lada taxi. I got off a few blocks from my casa and enjoyed the walk home down the wet, silent streets.