Wednesday, 10 June 2015
This was our last full day in Cuba, so we were keen to search out a decent breakfast. All I really wanted was a half-decent coffee. Susie hit on the idea of trying the café above a popular bakery called Santo Domingo. She tried a pastry or two and I tried the coffee, and we were both happy with the results.
Afterwards we ventured out into the nearby Plaza de Armas and browsed through stalls full of books and old trinkets. I spotted some decorative plastic swizzle sticks that had been souvenired from nightclubs in Vedado in the 1950s and ’60s. Susie was ecstatic. She had been collecting swizzle sticks where she could find them. These were truly elegant and trashy at the same time. One was moulded into the shape of a mermaid, and both had the names and addresses of Vedado clubs stamped into them. We bought a few more posters to add to our collection, and generally delighted in the merchandise which was so much more interesting than the usual bumf that spilled out of the touristy gift shops.
We walked up La Calle Obispo to Plaza Central to check our email for the last time using the expensive little Etecsa card, stopping for a cool drink at a shady little café whose name translates as ‘ruins on the plaza’. After enjoying a bout of people-watching in the shade of a low-hanging grapevine, we were captured by the thought of lunch, and Susie led the way to a fancy paladar that had been favourably reviewed. It was located almost opposite the printery where we had eaten the night before.
The tables were located upstairs in an airy terrace building. There was a three-piece band playing romantic ballads on a diminutive balcony adjoining the dining area. Both the food and the service were excellent, and we liked the band enough to buy one of their CDs. (We would be heading back to Australia with a healthy collection of Cuban music.)
After lunch we retreated to the casa to escape the heat of day. We finished packing our gear and took a brief siesta. Around 8 p.m. we ventured out into the streets again, this time to occupy a table we had booked on the first day we arrived back in the old city. We were returning to our favourite paladar, Doña Eutimio. I can’t remember what we ate, but I know it was good. The waiter was friendly and patient, and the ambiance was peaceful and romantic.
After dinner we were drawn inexorably one last time to the music at Café Paris. A beautiful mulatto headed the bill that night, and she sang us back into our own dreaming—aided by a couple of shots of the oily, amber añejo.