Sometimes I rather write about places I’m no longer at because missing them make me appreciate even more. This is the case of Havana. We fall in love the minute we leave the airport. Don’t go thinking we fell in love for everything and unlike what was to be expected, the raw things were the ones that made us fall in love.
Landing at the airport was enough to realize this was another reality. People crowded together to get past through custom, with their new appliances. From television to fridges we saw it all. Just forget if you’re thinking about taking a drone to Cuba for it’s not allowed. We’ll talk about it on another topic.
Havana has stopped in time and we hope it takes long before it gets industrialized. She is so pretty within its own chaos that it would lose its fun and identity.
Havana is rhythm and warm people, is old cars and coqitos. There is no internet, in fact, you’ll have to fight hard to an internet access. On the one hand it’s nice. It remembers me of when I was young and the only call I got was my mom yelling at me from the window, to come home and have diner. Here, tradition stays the same!
Mothers still shout from windows and kids still gather on the street playing with chalk, stones and balls. They even “sushed” us not to reveal what was hidden behind us for they were playing hide-and-seek.
Havana has nice restaurants. The not so famous ones where we eat well for less and the ones that celebrities made famous turning into money making machines, which food is not bad though people don’t go there just to eat. They go there because celebrities did also and there is no charm to that.
Havana is walking, getting to know the streets but being careful where you step. We walk through beautiful streets as well as doubtful streets that we didn’t like at all. Havana is salsa, old cloths, safety and rum. There are a few museums and vendors sell what they have on the streets. Maria warned us about the lack of coquito because ingredients sell out fast. Ingredients sell out to other spices as well.
Now, some practical advice:
1 – You can access the internet in the old city park which is faster than in the Hotel Inglaterra;
2 – They will tell you an old car tour is 60 CUC and they do it for 40 CUC – that’s sales talk though we found it well worth the price)
3 – Internet cards can be bought in many places and the price is 1 CUC. Unofficial sellers will charge 2 CUC;
4 – You can haggle taxi prices if you are tired of walking;
5 – It is best to take € for cash exchange, otherwise they’ll charge a 13% fee on dollars.
Where to eat:
– El Bodeguita del Medio;
– La Floridita;
– Los Nardos (Edifício com 3 restaurantes – internacional, cubana e crioula, pizzaria);
– El Dandi;
– Venami pizzaria;
– La Guarida;
– Café Paris
What to see:
– Rum Museum (Havana Club);
– Revolution Museum;
– National Museum of Fine Arts;
– Calle Obispo;
– Partagás Tobacco Factory;
Walk a lot and get to know every “plazas” and streets of Havana Colonial.
Where to stay:
Maria’s home, where else? Search booking.com for “Casa Amistad” which has view to the capitol. Not a luxury house but is full of love and nice chats. 25 CUC per day plus a 4 CUC charge if you want breakfast with fruits, coffee, bread, eggs, ham and natural juice all prepared by sweet Maria!
Well, one thing we did not enjoy is trash! Much garbage left in the streets showing lack of information about sustainability. After eating they leave litter on the ground. Garbage bins aren’t washed plus a blazing sun and you get a filthy smell on the streets. Nevertheless, Havana is a wonderful place!