Timeworn but magnificent.
Cuba is incredibly magical island which is trapped in time and so unique with all the mixture of shabby facades, narrow colorful streets, well known Cuban cigars, salsa, mojitos, bananas, coconut trees, pineapple, rum, white sandy beaches, numerous palm trees, bunch of charming old timers in the streets,.. and all that add to its uniqueness.
This largest Caribbean island definitely has to offer many interesting things to see, visit and do.
I was there with my friend back in November 2013 (that was my Master’s degree graduation gift 😉) and our 15 day trip started with 4 days in Havana.
We stayed at the Plaza Hotel, which is designed over 100 years ago.
Early 20th century elements are still reflected in details such as the (partial) original floor in the lobby. We had a large old fashioned room with wooden furniture and high ceiling. The hotel totally contributed to our impression of Havana and Cuba.
During that four days we spent a lot of time just wandering around and absorbing everything about this amazing city: friendly people, music and salsa dance in the streets, tobacco scent in the air, architecture..
While you are in Havana you have the feeling like the time stops, and it literally passes slowly (weird feeling), like you are lost in time and you don’t need to worry about time at all (like we did at start), ’cause you’ll have time for everything.
Our hotel was located in La Habana Vieja or Old Havana – the historic heart of Cuba’s capital, near the Prado promenade with the Capitolio and the Gran Teatro diagonally across the street and within a short walk we also found Havana’s main shopping street Calle Obispo, China town, the Museum of Fine Arts and more.
Whenever I travel somewhere, visit to the Info Tourist Centre is the first thing on my to do list. There you can get all the information you need and pick a free city map. I totally recommend it. You should take all the benefits this Info Centers has to offer. Walking through the city with a map in my hands is absolutely my favorite way of exploring new city, as you already know from one of my previous posts.
El Capitolio or National Capitol Building was the seat of government in Cuba until after the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
Gran Teatro or Great Theatre is performing arts center, home of the Cuban National Opera and the seat of Cuban National Ballet.
Havana’s colorful architecture is a product of its historical development.
Paseo del Prado is a boulevard with a promenade in the middle. During the day you can observe local people and experience the authenticity of everyday Cuban life. On the other hand, during the weekends you can find local people displaying their art and handcrafts here, and also different kind of performances are live in the street.
During our walk around Old Havana we discovered several plazas.
We also visited big souvenir market where you can find all kinds of souvenirs for a fair price. From there we took a coconut shaped taxi to the next plaza – Plaza de San Francisco.
Plaza de Armas is Havana’s oldest square. It’s one of the liveliest square we visited with it’s interesting second-hand book market.
You can also see Cuban women wearing their colorful traditional dresses. Bright colors are everywhere around you.
Partagas tobacco factory’s entrance.
Taking pictures here was not allowed (upstairs in the factory) but it was fascinating to see the process how all the cigars are handmade by several hundred employees and the majority of them were women. Although the process of rolling cigars was interesting to see, they work in a tough conditions and do really hard work there to produce the world’s finest cigars like cohiba.
Next to the factory there is a shop where you can buy all kind of cigars and rum. Havana Club is a brand rum created in Cuba and is one of the bestselling rum brands in the world.
Tropicana is the show which we found recommended everywhere while we did our research before going on a trip and because of the great impressions other travelers had we decided to go. It was an interesting show with a colorful costumes and a lot of music and dance, but in my opinion a bit pricey for what you get.
All right, my fabulous readers.. This is it for my first post from Cuba.. Stay tuned to read more about this amazing city in my next post..