Over Easter 2015, we spent about 15 nights in Cuba, the first 4 of which were spent in Havana.
We arrived around 10pm. It took a very long time to get out of the airport. First impressions of our area were not so great, as it was very deserted and dark and we were hungry! However upon walking 5 mins we did find somewhere to get food and all was fine. As always, arriving after a long journey in the dark somewhere it always a little daunting but the next morning dawned bright and beautiful!
We stayed in Sarita rooms which was run by a lovely lady and was in Centro, which is the middle between the two main area of the Old Town and Vedado.
We could walk for 15 mins towards the sea to reach the Malecon, and 15 mins to our right took us towards the Old Town, and 15 mins to our right to Vedado. Not bad!
During our time in Havana, we had drinks and saw the cabaret at the Hotel Nacional, Sunday Rumba at Callejón de Hamel, and ate some pretty cool swedish-cuban fusion food. https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g147271-d2649552-Reviews-Casa_Miglis-Havana_Ciudad_de_la_Habana_Province_Cuba.html.
Apart from this we wandered round a lot, and failed to actually visit any museums, major gallerys or do any salsa dancing! However just walking around was enough and you never knew when a ramshackle set of buildings would suddenly give way to a renovated house/ art gallery, or when prime sea facing high rises would be broken up by an empty space and let you see straight to the more run down streets set back from the Malecon…
Here are a few photos more photos from my phone of our general wanderings
Obviously the general look and feel of the city was incredible and did feel a lot like a film set. Centro area was full of these grand tall houses, which were very derelict. I do remember thinking I thought I would feel more ‘wow this looks totally different to anything else I have seen’, but I think having travelled to cities such as Jophur and Bundi in India where there are a lot of old colonial style builds with the same faded look, we found a sense of familiarity.
There are no ‘corner shops’ or anything in Cuba, but really small little shops where you can get a couple of things in each place, i.e one might sell tooth paste and shampoo, another will sell some beers and water, then separately there is a market place with veg etc. When we were there there was I believe 1 convenience story in the most touristy area where you could buy crisps and snacks etc.
What else do I remember looking back c 2 years later?
- it was HOT and walking around in the middle of the day around the very large city was not always the best idea.
- Mojitos are delicious, but in line with the above, not always the best idea at lunch time combined with lots of sweaty walking.
- Bring snacks from home! There is no such thing as grabbing a bite to eat on the street unless you are bang in the tourist zone.
- The old town was incredibly touristy (and this was around the same time as the announcement of improved relations with America had only just been made, so I imagine now it’s much more!)
- Cubans were so keen to chat to us and stop us in the street for general conversations and to give us tips (although this did only happen outside of the main strips of packed touristy areas). To start with, we were a tad jaded from experiences in India and were tempted to shut down conversations/pretend we were from Slovakia and spoke no english BUT they genuinely wanted to chat and this was fab.
- Taking out money is a faff and you have to be wearing smart clothes to get into a bank.
Even more pictures! I hope to come back and organise these better another time.
On our 4th morning, we got a cab to a sort of cab meeting point where we were told we could find other people to share a ride to our next destination with. It sounded dubious but was super smooth and far less hassle than the bus for about the same price. Till next time!