Cuba // Exploring Havana’s vibrant streets and highlights
Cuba is definitely one of the most intriguing countries we’ve visited over the past years. Traveling in this country can be a challenge, but is so rewarding!
La Habana Vieja
Whether you are wandering around the streets of beautiful La Habana Vieja (a UNESCO World Heritage site) or exploring the countryside, it requires little imagination to have the feeling of going back in time.
The cars look exactly the same as they did in the ‘50’s – Cubans are masters in keeping engines running for more than half a century – and propaganda signs on every street corner will make you believe the Cuban Revolution happened only yesterday.
I guess I don’t have to tell you that Havana is Gorgeous… with a capital G :) It was so surreal to walk through these vibrant streets and see the daily Cuban life, which is very colorful!
When you say Cuba, one of the first things that pops to mind is… cigars! Obviously we didn’t want to miss out on this part of Cuban culture, so we headed for the popular Partagas cigar factory to see how the national pride is made. And to have a smoke of course :).
Pictures are not allowed, but imagine a large (hot!) room full of desks where men and women are rolling tobacco leafs to perfection, while someone is reading a soap opera or the daily newspaper out loud. Cuban-style entertainment!
The factory is located just a block away from El Capitolio, which used to house the Cuban government before Fidel and his comrades took over.
As the name suggests, the building is a copy of the US Capitol located in Washington D.C. Majestic! Today it is being used by the Cuban Academy of Sciences.
Museo de la Revolución
A good place to find out more about the revolution is the Museo de la Revolución, which shows a large collection of revolutionary artifacts.
You can even see the famous “Granma” boat that took Fidel and 81 fellow revolutionaries from Mexico to Cuba in 1956 to start the revolution. The museum is located in the previous and very beautiful presidential palace.
Close to the Partagas factory, we discovered something we didn’t expect at all in the center of Havana: a train cemetery.
We had no idea how these trains all ended up here, but they did make for a good photo opportunity :)
Walking in the Caribbean sun definitely makes you thirsty, so what other place is better to cool down than La Floridita, known as the birthplace of the Daiquiri cocktail!?
Another not to miss café (read: very touristy) is La Bodeguita del Medio, a small bar where intellectuals like Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Neruda used to hang out. Nowadays, local live bands are performing Buena Vista Social Club style music to attract even more tourists. So it’s nice to see the interior of the legendary café, but I found it a little too crowded to have a relaxing drink and muse about these great writers.
La Plaza de la Catedral
After our stop at La Bodeguita, we walked down the street to discover another beautiful square, La Plaza de la Catedral, small but nevertheless very picturesque.
Just around the corner you can enter the Taller Experimental de Gráfica, a workshop where you can watch local artists creating their finest masterpieces and support them by buying one of their works, like we did :)
For the ultimate ’50’s nightlife experience, we splurged a little… and took place in the backseat of a classic Chevy convertible car and had ourselves driven up to the legendary Tropicana nightclub!
We watched this amazing open air cabaret spectacle while slowly sipping away some Havana Club rum and puffing away on a fine Cuban cigar (all included in the entrance ticket!). Dozens of colorful dancers and musicians really made this an unforgettable experience!
You cannot leave Havana without taking a stroll on the Malecón. This famous boulevard stretches along the northern coastline of Havana and is a popular hangout for young couples. On windy days, the Malecón is closed off for traffic because waves come crashing in on the seawall and splash all over the esplanade.
Most people avoid the Malécon with this type of weather, but we had a lot of fun daring each other to get as close as possible to the edge without getting wet :)
Hasta la próxima!