Dec 22-Dec 26
Havana may have suffered fifty years of being neglected, but the city is still full of charm. Despite the dilapidated buildings and alley ways, there is something about this city that fills you with energy as you take it in – perhaps it is the mash up of past and present – Spanish colonial architecture and classic american cars now share the cityscape with bustling streets, new restaurants and nightlife.
Adriana and my arrival in Havana started out a bit painful with a 2-hour long queue at immigration. This was then followed by baggage claim, forms, and the currency exchange, and finally we got in a taxi and headed over to the villa to meet up with Ahu, Ryan, Vaibhav and Bastiaan. Svetlana and Popy had not come in yet but as it was late, we all headed over to dinner near the villa and then called it a night.
We spent the next three days taking in Havana. We wandered around Habana Vieja appreciating the mosaic of art deco, colonial baroque and neoclassical architecture.
We also spent some time visiting Centro Habana and Vedado to continue to get a feel for the city, and took a ride in a classic car to facilitate some of the sight seeing.
There are plenty of museums and cultural sites in Havana as well. We visited Museo de la Revolucion, which is housed in the old presidential palace, containing bullet holes from the revolution and a number of exhibits documenting Fidel Castro’s triumphs.
Just behind the museum is Granma, the yacht that was used to transport 82 revolution fighters from Mexico to Cuba in 1956, with the goal of overthrowing the Batista regime.
We also visited Museo de Cuidad, Gran Teatro de la Habana, Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana and Che Guevara’s house.
We spent one of the evenings walking along the malecon, appreciating both the waves crashing against the seawall as well as the local scene — where the locals hang out listening to music buzzing from old phones while drinking rum from tiny plastic cups.
Vaibhav, Ryan, Popy and I also got in a couple of salsa lessons to improve our Cuban salsa technique, and spent one evening at Club 1830 to get in some practice and experience the local salsa scene.
Generally, we just enjoyed experiencing Havana – meandering through the city and enjoying nice dinners and evenings out, including a jazz club, La Zorra y El Cuervo. We of course, spent one of the nights at La Fabrica de Arte Cubano, the old cooking-oil factory now converted into a multi-purpose center, mixing everything from a bar, movie theatre, coffee shop, art installation and live music.
|La Zorra y El Cuervo
|Christmas Dinner in Havana