Maggie and I visit Havana three times on this trip and I’m going to wrap up the first part in this post. I have a lot of photos I haven’t yet shared from this amazing city.
I’ll start off with our casa paticulare. It’s so warm and inviting, with magnificent views of Havana and the water.
Is this not the most perfect breakfast spot? For a few extra dollars, Lindiana makes us a delicious meal of fresh fruit, toast and eggs in the morning, complete with juice and delicious coffee.
Nope, still not sick of this view.
The streets of Havana are teaming with life. We walk down this street once or twice a day to get to the main tourist areas around Parque Central. I enjoy watching people going about their daily routines.
As I’m taking photos, these guys stop me and ask me to take one of them. They don’t even care to see it after, they just want to be part of my memories.
I find this statue unusual for two reasons; it’s very modern in it’s design, with everything fading away behind her, but also because artwork and creative expression are often restricted in communist societies. It’s great to see this giant sculpture along the Malecon for everyone to enjoy.
At the start of the Malecon (assuming you start in Havana Vieja), is the Castillo de San Salvador de la Punta. This fortress was built to protect Havana Bay, as well as El Morro on the other side. Today it’s a relaxing place for people to hang out and tourists to soak up the atmosphere.
PUPPY!! I just want to pick it up and squish it!
As the sun sets, we find ourselves on the Paseo del Prado, a tree-lined pedestrian walkway leading back into the heart of Havana. It’s the perfect place to take a break out of the intense sun and people-watch.
Kids fly by on skateboards and rollerblades, kick soccer balls around and artists sell their paintings. Everyone is out here enjoying life. It reminds me a bit of Las Ramblas in Barcelona.
Lining the Prado are old mansions built in styles imitating Madrid, Paris and Vienna. The one on the corner below looks Moroccan to me. After the revolution, these buildings were left to decay, though some have now been restored.
Looking back down the Paseo del Prado towards the waterfront.
The end of the Prado brings us back to Parque Central.
As I mentioned before, if you want to use the internet, you need be at a park that provides it. They aren’t hard to find, just look for a ton of people on their phones.
Maggie getting her wifi fix.
On the recommendation of Maggie’s friend, we have dinner one night at San Cristobol Paladar. Apparently this is where the Obama’s ate during their visit to Cuba two years ago. The genial owner walks around mentioning this to anyone who will listen. It’s pretty amusing.
The decor is eclectic and the food is decent. It’s on the more expensive side for Cuba.
After dinner, we catch a taxi to the Tropicana. Unfortunately, our meal took too long and by the time we get there, the show is half over and there’s no point in going in. I’m disappointed to miss it, but I’ll just add it to the list of things I want to do when I come back. Because I’m definitely going to have to come back one day.
The next night we see Buena Vista Social Club at Sociedad Cultural Rosalia de Castro. Lindiana, our host, kindly makes us a reservation. The show sells out in advance, so it’s best to call a day or two before to save a spot.
Even with a reservation, it’s best to get there early. Seating appears to be on a first come, first serve basis. People gather on the sidewalk, elbowing to the front. When allowed in, everyone rushes up the stairs to get ahead in line. It’s pretty frustrating, but typical of Havana.
Since we’re here early, we get a seat relatively close to the band.
Dinner can be included if you want, for an extra cost of course. You are offered a choice of beef, chicken, pork or vegetarian. I order the beef. As expected, it’s okay. The staff is overworked and after trying to get a water from three different waiters, I get up and get my own from the bar. It’s not a big deal, this place is crazy busy, but it’s a little frustrating.
Fortunately the music is much better. The band stays mostly the same throughout the evening while a different singer comes up for each song.
Members of the audience are welcome to get up and dance if they so desire.
On the whole, it’s a fun, if expensive way to spend an evening, but I do have one complaint and it’s more to do with the venue than anything. The way this place is set up, there’s a large courtyard in the middle, meaning some people sit on the opposite side of it from the band. The members do a good job of traveling throughout the tables to allow everyone a more personal experience, but it leaves everyone else a bit disconnected. Just as you’re getting in to a song, the person singing it disappears and you’re left feeling like you’re listening to music over the radio. It’s a minor gripe, but worth noting if you’re planning a visit here.
Even with 2 and a half days here, there’s still so much more I want to see and do. I’m so glad we’re coming back after a few days in Viñales.