The Nacionale is a very interesting hotel. It's quite luxurious, particularly in the common spaces, but the rooms are a bit drab (but huge!). Clearly it's been well-maintained but it hasn't really been updated in a while, aside from the plumbing. It has two pools, several dining areas, okay food and good espresso. I think the food was a bit mediocre compared to the fantastic food that we'd been eating in the casas particular - they sure know how to do a lot of things with a few basic ingredients!
We spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool and by the bars, drinking espresso and then switching to wine before dinner
. We decided to go to a paladar called the Huron Azul close to the hotel for dinner. Were we ever glad we did! It was by far the best food we had the entire time we were in Cuba. It was a first-class meal. The paladar doesn't look like much from the outside (on Humboldt street), but once you go inside, it's the coziest, most decorative restaurant I've ever been in. We decided to get a bottle of wine with dinner, and really enjoy ourselves. We started with a HUGE fruit bowl, followed by bread and strawberry butter. We had potato fritters as an appetizers (SO good). Ross had pasta carbonara ('cause he hadn't quite had enough pork...) and I had swordfish. (First time ever!) It was absolutely amazing - like something you'd get in a four-star restaurant back home. For desert we had flan and chocolate mousse, again fantastic. The whole meal cost us 70 CUC, so definitely not cheap, but considering how much food we had and the 22 CUC bottle of wine, not really that bad. However, do watch for overcharging as we caught a couple of mistakes on our bill.
When we arrived in Havana after our 15 hour bus trip, our stomachs were still a bit uneasy, which contributed to our decision to stay at the Nacionale for the last two days of our honeymoon (pre-wedding). We knew that we were getting married in about a week and were hoping to have our digestive difficulties resolved by then!