Saturday, 14 October 2017

Havana - The Malecon

The Malecon is the lovely promenade that curves around the Bay of Havana.
It's about 8km in length.
The eastern end begins new the old city area (la Habana Vieja) 
The boulevarde Prado (see previous post) leads directly to this end of the Malecon.  

It's also a great spot to view the Castillo de San Salvadore la Punta and the larger Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro.

Equestrian statue of Generalissimo Maximo Gomez, one of the heroes of the War of Independence.
Castillo de San Salvadore la Punta was part of the city's first line of defence when it was first built 1590-1630. Across the port is the bigger Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro. A chain was stretched between the two castles that guarded the entrance to the port. It was pulled tight each night to shut the port or to stop the advance of an enemy ship.

Mr Seasons and the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro.

Locals enjoy walking across the rocks during low tide.
Walking the promenade path often leads to being splashed by big waves as they crash against the rocks and the walls approaching high tide!

Many of the buildings have suffered decay and erosion thanks to the wind and salt water.
Some are being renovated, but most are being lived in as they are.

Primavera - Rafael Miranda San Juan

Hotel Deauville

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Keeping It Off by Michelle Bridges

Diet books by hosts of reality TV shows are not my usual fare, but in my role as editor for the General Non-Fiction page at The Australian Women Writers challenge, I'm trying to highlight all the possible types of non-fiction books out there.

Michelle Bridge's Keeping It Off has an admirable aim - to help us all be fit and healthy for our entire lives. As her starting point is the sad but true fact that most of us who lose weight while on a diet or get-fit program, will put most of it back on again within two years.

Bridge discusses how her approach to food and fitness has evolved over the years thanks to experience and research. She is no longer a pure 'calories in - calories out' advocate thanks to new research around how we all burn calories differently as well as the way environmental factors influence us. Weight loss, she claims, is a science, but keeping off is all about psychology. Bridge cites the work of Dr Katharine Samaras from St Vincent's Hospital and the Garvan Institute.

The 60-odd pages devoted to Bridge's ideas and thoughts is written in a direct, down to earth, humorous way. Unfortunately most of the photos don't have the same appeal (Mr Seasons accused me of having a 'you women are hard - you eat your own' attitude, before admitting that he also found the photos to be ghastly). Perhaps I'm just showing my age, but all those heavily made-up, photo-shopped images do nothing for me whatsoever. They don't inspire or impress. The more natural photos of Michelle exercising where better and felt authentic.

Case studies, food plans and work-outs make up the bulk of the book. The recipes looked simple and tasty. Using the same set of ingredients, the recipes were divided into meal portions for toddlers, teens, mum and dad.

The main message though is one most of already probably know - there is no magic pill or easy fix. Keeping the weight off is a lifelong commitment to eating well and staying fit.

The trick is to find the way that works for you.

Keeping It Off has kick-started my annual spring 'let's get fit and healthy' spree. That's a good thing. Ultimately, though, Bridge's book will probably not inspire me long term. Perhaps it's time for me to read another chapter of Changing Habits Changing Lives?

Out of curiosity - is there a fitness/health guru that inspires you?
I'm quite taken with Michael Pollan and Michael Mosley's approach to food and health as they appeal to my own attitude towards life and their ideas fit into my lifestyle. But is there someone else out there that could tempt me with the right balance of science and practicality?

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Havana - Paseo del Prado

Officially named Paseo de Marti, but locally known as the Prado, is a European style boulevard leading from Parque Central (see previous post) to the Malecon and the Straits of Florida.

After leaving Parque Central we wandered around some of the local side streets, enjoying the cool shade created by the buildings.

Mr Seasons taking yet another photo of an old car in Havana!
The car in question!

The Prado was a lovely tree-lined avenue dotted with market stalls and teeming with tourists.
Construction began in 1770 with the idea of creating a boulevard to rival Las Ramblas in Barcelona.
Build just outside the old city walls, it became the haunt of the wealthy to take rides in their carriages.
Bands dotted along the way would provide music for their amusement.

The military also used the Prado for parades and carnivals.

In 1927, the French architect Forestier redesigned the Prado - widening the streets, paving the walk and adding the bronze lions and marble benches.

Apparently the markets are only open on the weekends.
The many apartments and buildings that line the Prado are now in various states of disrepair or renovation.

The beautiful wrought iron street lamps were added in 1834.

The closer we got to bay and the Malecon, the more active the renovation.
Hotels with a lovely view of the sea, we suspect.

This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Habana Baby!

We had three days in Havana...and boy, did we put that time to good use.
So sit back and relax as the next few weeks will feature our time walking around the streets of old and new Havana.

The first challenge was to drop our hire car off at the rental counter, right in the centre of the city, near Parque Central and Capitolio Nacional.
Mr Seasons careful planning, my navigational skills and Maps Me got us there with a minimum of kerfuffle and stress. It was a pleasure to be back on foot, strolling and wandering to our heart's content.

Parque Central is a beautiful green haven along the Prado (Paseo de Marti). It was full of tourists, buses and old cars lovingly restored. Surrounding it where many beautifully renovated buildings.

La Manzana de Gomez 1910 - recently restored to its former glory by a Swiss hotel group.

Hotel Telegrafo was founded in1860 on another site but rebuilt here in 1911.
It was considered to be one of the most modern hotel of it's time with telephones for international calls in every room and on every table in the restaurant.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

The marble Jose Marti statue 1905 in the middle of the park was the first statue of thousands erected in Marti's honour throughout Cuba.

Capitolio Nacional was built after WWI by the US-backed dictator Gerardo Machado.
It's a slightly taller with more extravagant detail version of the US Capitol building.
Formerly it was the seat of the Cuban Congress, but since the revolution it housed the Cuban Academy of Sciences.

Set in the floor directly beneath the dome is a copy of 24 carat diamond.
All highway distances throughout Cuba are measured from this point.

It is being restored to once again act as the seat of Cuban government.

Gran Teatro de la Habana - a neobaroque Galacian social club built in 1907-1914.
It is one of the world's largest opera houses.

Sala Polivalente - one of the 67 facilities especially built for the 1991 Pan-American Games. 
It was named after Eligio Sardiñas, also known as Kid Chocolate, Cuba’s finest amateur boxer.
 The facility was constructed on the site of a former hotel.
 It retains the original façade of the old building. 
The playing court is on the second floor, one of the few such courts in the world.

Local street behind Capitolio Nacional

Next week we stroll down the Prado.
This post is part of Saturday Snapshot.