We pitched up at the Virgin rep's meeting first thing yesterday morning to see what she had to say and whether she had any interesting exclusions on her books that perhaps we couldn't do better (and cheaper) under our own steam. We ended up booking a few things (more of that later in the week) that seemed like good deals but resolved to do most of the exploring yourselves - on foot. This turned out to be a good idea in that we got to see some places that I suspect a guide would not have taken us. Not that I dislike tour guides per se as they generally know their stuff, it's just I like to get my bearings in the place first. As it turned out our meanderings around Havana old town took us to some tourist traps ("Have your picture taken with the lovely lady, mister", some nice museums (Fidal Castro can do no wrong, apparently) and some back streets where real Cubans live (these were real eye openers and depressingly squalid).
For lunch we found a nice restaurant down by the sea. We had a basic but perfectly decent meal and a couple of mojitos while a Cuban quartet played suitably lively mambo and salsa tunes for us. As I looked across the table at Stu I knew that at this point the holiday had really started for me.
On the way back to our hotel for a siesta we poked around a few more dusty squares, one or two of the shops selling the usual touristy tat and dropped by the chocolate museum to take a look around and sample their wares. My, the chocolate was delicious.
Our siesta turned into a full blown sleep and we ended up sleeping right through until the next morning. We must have needed the rest. And we'll need it as today we have a pretty full itinerary ahead of us so I'd better go jump in the shower.