I joined a new team a little while ago. The first meeting we had together the boss did a little getting to know you all session. He asked us all what our perfect day was. Quite a few people said their wedding day, or the day they had their children. I’ve been married twice and divorced just as often, so whilst I had a really nice time on both my wedding days, I definitely wouldn’t say they were my best days ever. The days I had my fabulous children. Er, no. Maybe if I was a father that might be the case. As the woman having to get a child out of my body I would most definitely say I’ve had few worst days, and definitely had better ones. I remember the day I had my youngest my mum came to visit me. She asked me how it was and I just looked at her. “That bad?” she said. “He’s worth it though isn’t he?” “Not yet he isn’t” I replied. Both of them most definitely are worth it now, but the actually giving birth days themselves have to be as far away from perfect as it’s possible to be.
It got me thinking about what my perfect day would be. I realised that for me it’s not necessarily about the momentous days, the ones you’re supposed to remember as perfect. In the end I settled on two days that were vying for the title of perfect day. They were both quite different, but had a fair number of common factors. In both of them I was abroad on holiday, the sun was shining (although not all the time) and on both of the days I was spending time with a good friend. I’ll tell you about the first Perfect Day, and maybe I’ll write about the other one another time.
My first version of my perfect day is set in Havana. I had a holiday in Cuba a few years ago. We went to celebrate my friend’s 50th birthday. We’d both wanted to go to Cuba for ages, so this seemed like a fitting excuse to finally get over there. We were renting rooms in a Cuban home, under the Casa Particular scheme, which is Cuba’s equivalent of Airbnb. We were staying right in the centre of Havana, and it was like being in a different world. The poverty was overwhelming, but then so was the zest for life evident everywhere. People were playing dominoes out in the street, the bars were full of real characters and everybody wanted to talk to you to share their story and find out about you.
This particular day started with me waking up really early. Even jet lag can have its place in a perfect day. I put my running stuff on and at 5am I quietly let myself out of the big wooden door and into the street. I ran down the hill towards the malecón where people were already out and about getting their days started. I ran along the seafront, passing fishermen, couples strolling hand in hand and plenty of other runners. Even at that time in the morning it was already starting to warm up. Any later and it would have been far to hot for me to contemplate my five mile run. I ran past the capitol building and stopped for a selfie. Well, it would have been rude not to.
Back at the room I got myself ready for the day ahead, with that feeling of satisfaction you get from having got some miles in your legs before other people have even made it out of bed. We then strolled into the centre of Havana for a fantastic breakfast. Can a perfect day really be perfect without a truly outstanding breakfast? Maybe, but luckily this one had a fantastic one that set us up for the day.
We decided to do an open top bus tour to get our bearings a little bit. The weather was doing that thing where it’s boiling, but rain is threatening. Not just a shower, but that really laugh out loud rain that you only really seem to get abroad. We got on the bus, made our way upstairs and settled down for a tour of Havana. Apparently health and safety is not really a thing in Cuba. Pretty soon we were having to duck for electrical cables, street signs and traffic lights. Then the rain started. Calling it rain doesn’t really do it justice. It was bouncing off the bus and we were immediately soaked to the skin. We were having so much fun that we didn’t go downstairs to the dry. We just laughed our way through the tour. When they got to the outskirts of Havana they were clearly running out of things of historical interest to point out. When they mentioned a supermarket that Fidel Castro used to frequent we pretty much dissolved into hysterics. Maybe you had to be there, but take it from me it was one of the highlights of the trip.
By the time we got off the bus the sun was out again and we pretty soon dried out. Then we did one of our favourite things to do on holiday. We like to call in soaking up the atmosphere, but it could look like just walking around looking at buildings, people watching and stopping occasionally for refreshments. There’s certainly plenty to see in Havana. We sat in a little square for a rest. My friend disappeared off for a bit and came back with cake for us both which someone was selling from a cart. It was the best cake ever. And let’s be honest, a perfect day isn’t a perfect day without cake.
Next we took a tour in a classic car that Havana is famous for. I generally view cars as lumps of metal to get me from A to B, but even I could appreciate the glamour of what we were being driven around in. We got dropped off at El Floridita, a bar made famous by Hemingway, and the home of the daiquiri. Even as a non-drinker I had my photo taken with a daiquiri. It just has to be done in Havana, even if you’ve no intention of actually drinking it.
By this time we were ready for some dinner. We were walking around looking for a restaurant. Someone approached us to take us to one of the small scale restaurants that have been established in people’s houses. We followed him up a winding staircase and entered a lovely restaurant with a handful of tables. He apologised for the balcony table not being available, but we assured him things were perfect. We were enjoying our drinks. It took them a little while to reconcile themselves to the fact that I wasn’t drinking alcohol, but they made me a virgin cocktail which was delicious. Then the guy who’d brought us in rushed over. He’d noticed that the balcony was now free. He moved us over and we settled ourselves in, making the most of the views of Havana. The lobster we ate was out of this world. Would it have been more perfect if I was there with a partner rather than my gay best friend? You know, I don’t think it would. We have the best holidays and I can’t imagine doing that trip with anyone except him.
In Havana terms the night was still young, so we walked along the malecón where I’d started my day with my run. We followed the sounds of music, laughter and glasses clinking and found some sort of a festival going on. There were a few tourists there, but mainly it was locals enjoying themselves on a Friday night. We got a drink from one of the outdoor bars and walked around. We got chatting to a group of people and one of the guys offered to teach me to salsa. I love to dance anyway, but when a Cuban offers to teach you to salsa in Havana you snatch their hand off. It really was the perfect end to a perfect day.