Thursday, August 6, 2009

Habana - Capitolio Bld

Downtown Habana is quite spectacular with an array of beautiful old buildings, lots of public squares, boulevards, parks, gardens, theatres, museums and public buildings. The capitolio bld is the former parliament house used until the time of the revolution. It is similar in architecture and design to the capital bld in Washington. Today it is used for public meetings and as a museum. You can sit in the president's chair, as Fynn did, and roam around the spectacular foyer and the old Senate and Rep's chambers. The old parliamentary library has been turned into a free public library.

Camera hunting

After losing our camera somewhere in Habana we went hunting for a new one and checked out lots of camera processing shops and Cuban versions of department stores. Eventually whilst in a film processing store asking if they knew where we could buy a camera a shady lookn bloke with a large black bag full of 'second hand' cameras waved us outside and we did a deal. This is the first photo we took with our new camera - the bloke who sold it to us was reluctant to be in the shot.. We did wonder if our camera was in the bottom of his bag.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Habana and Vinales

Well we are here and having a fabulous time. Have visited lots of museums, stayed with local families, had ice cream at the Coppelia, lost our camera, bought a new camera ´second hand´from our man in Havana, been horesriding in the mountains, negotiated lots of situations in Spanish, seen a thousand images of Che (you know the one), explored caves and avoided eating roasted guinea pig. The family we are staying with in Vinales are wonderful and Mariano made cigars for us to go with the rum we were enjoying. Vinbales is a small farming village where tobacco, maize, pineappes, mangoes and rice are the staples. Lots of pigs, chickens, goats and quite a few tourists wandering about having a lazy time.

It isn´t that easy to get internet access and it is slow and in spansih so updating the blog isn´t our highest priority.

On our first day in Habana we got taken (literally) to a small local bar by a young guy called Parko who showed us some sights in return for a Mojito. Habana is spectacular and pretty full on with a lot of poverty but it seems to take a different form. Doing the basics each day is hard such as queing for 90 mins to get in the door of the bank and another 40 to get to the one teller. Cubans are incredibly patient and good natured about these daily sufferances.

We head off for a day of snorkelling tomorrow at Cayo Jutias and then head off to Cienfeugos and Trinidad. Time is flying but we are loving it.

Ciao - Julian and Fynn

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Birthday eadie

Hi Gorgeous Eadie - Its hours before your birthday and we are trying to post a photo of you on the blog but everything is in spanish AAAHHHH ! Fynn and I love you heaps and miss you - we trust you will have a great birthday knowing that Mum and Louka and all your mates will look after you - happy birtday eade !

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Montego Bay

This is the beach were we've been swimming and snorkeling for the past few days. Has been hard to get Fynn out of the water (which is good) and he has really enjoyed exploring the reef and kayaking. The place were staying is an all inclusive resort and many guests are spending most of their days at the bar making sure they get their moneys worth. We've managed to exercise some control when it comes to the unlimited beer and cheeseburgers preferring the outdoors.

Bob Marley Museum - Jamaica

We've been in Jamaica for about a week staying in Kingston and Montego Bay. Kingston was great to visit and despite the obvious poverty and the hard edge to the place people were friendly and open. The guide book said the two things you don't do is get in a taxi that has no official taxi emblem or go to the downtown area near the market as its too dangerous - we did both on the first day and it was all OK. Our cab driver Horace was a government driver making a bit extra on the side and he had lots of good tips for us. We visited the Bob Marley Museum which was a must see for Fynn and the Jamaican national gallery - a must see for me. Caught the local bus from downtown that day which was an adventure but it was good to get amongst the locals. There were lots of school kids heading to the bus so I figured it couldn't be too much of a problem. Kids on the bus had good tips and advice for us as well.

Mystery Machine

This photo is for you Louka knowing how much you like Scooby Doo - couldn't actually find him or shaggy but universal studios does have an all you can eat deal so I guess they were busy.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hollywood Boulevard

Today we went out to Hollywood and had squiz at all those stars set into the pavement and took a short tour. We were there when Cameron Diaz had her star dedication ceremony. I also ducked into the L Ron Hubbard (I kid you not) museum thinking I might get to meet Tom Cruise and John Travolta - no luck on that front and we managed to get out without doing the tour. You can see Fynn (before his haircut) touching the Jimi Hendrix star !! The whole place really is a facade and it's surprising how intermingled the poverty and crappy housing is with the glitz and the rich. It's a lot like the Gold Coast without the beach - lots of tourists, gimmicks, souvenir shops and no-one quite remembers when the place had genuine character but they're sure it did at some point. Rest of today we spent in town - Fynn got a haircut at a very cool barber whilst I had a beer in a very cool bar. We've had a great time in LA, beautiful weather, easy to get around and people are friendly . Food ain't great unless you like burgers and chips but there's been no complaints from Fynn. Early night tonight and Jamaica tomorrow !

Meeting a hero - Marg Simpson

I reckon I know how Paul Keating felt when he met the queen. I met marg Simpson and had a photo taken with her - I too couldn't resist putting my hand in the small of her back and pulling her in just a little closer. Fynn and I visited Univeral Studios and had a fab time. The Mummy Returns ride - a roller coaster that goes from 0 to 45 mph in 3 secs - in the dark - and backwards - was my highlight of the day. You start off going forwards then come to a screaching halt in front of a brick wall and then do it again backwards in case you didn't throw up the first time. Actually I liked the backwards bit as it put all my intestines back where they'd been at the start. The studio tours were fun and we cacked ourselves in the house of horrors - no train ride you just wander through the house and get attacked by various gouls. You're not allowed to touch them (or them you) but when Frankenstein came at with a knife I had a go back. Staff were quickly on the scene and asked me to move on despite my protest - " He's the one with the knife and the bolts in his head - why don't you ask him to leave"

Landed safely

As you can see we landed safely in LA on Saturday morning LA time and after clearing customs got a shuttle into downtown and our hotel. Took Fynn on a torturous walk into town through the Korean and Spanish parts of LA which was fun. Really noticeable how grey this place is and the distinct lack of parks or good recreation space - apart from the freeways and wide streets of course. Locals have been very friendly and we've been on buses and subway trains gettn around. Fynn is lovn stayn in the flash hotel and wants to move to LA asap - I think he presumes that the TV with 15 channels at the end of the bed and room service would be part of the lifelong package.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Drinks on the house

Have booked into a resort in Montego Bay for a few nights after finding a good deal on the net and sending the credit card details off to a dodgy website - hope the hotel actually exists when we turn up - still they have to hope my credit card exists. As you can see this twin tower monster, (fynn is booked into the one on the left and I'm in the one on the right), is close to the beach and the package includes all meals and drinks !! for the four days. I imagine the place will be filled with people with the same priorities in life as Homer Simpson. Still if we get stuck for entertainment we can start up a game of scrabble and we'd be sure to win.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Beach gear

Digging up some of the beach gear from the bottom of the cupboard today and remembering previous times Fynn and I have been on holidays. Always good company (him not me) but then again we're heading into the teenage years hmmm...... Shot of Fynn with sea in the background is Tootgarook - we'll see if the Carribean can match the best Port Phillip Bay has to offer. Have to remember snorkeling gear, sunscreen, hats, thongs, stubbie holder (is there a universal size for stubbie holders?), sunnies .............

ready, set, go .......

Ten days to go and getting ready for the trip to Jamaica and Cuba. Fynn has checked out the flash beach front place in Montego Bay we're planning to stay at and approves - haven't shown him the more gritty accommodation in Cuba - will save that till we're on the plane. Looking forward to being immersed in different places and time to muck about with Fynn. He seems very determined to sample rum and cigars which at age 13 is a tad too young. No alco pops for him. Had all our vacination jabs yesterday and not withstanding swine flu, which we're probably more likely to get staying at home, I'm sure the worst thing we'll face is some jet lag.