cars, colours, music and rum

Havana Travel Blog

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After a very short 45min flight from Cayman to Cuba we arrived at around 1am. We had already organised for a taxi ($25) to pick us up and take us into where we were staying. We arrived easy peasy at Hostal Peregrino as they were who we had organised the Casa we were going to stay at (they were full). Marlena lived only a few doors down and at $25 a night for the room it was a huge bargain! Super clean and had our own bathroom. There was even a fridge of drinks we could purchase for a very very small charge. 

Next morning after picking up a map and some direction we headed out walking around Havana Vieja and Havana Centro. It is really hard to describe how much of a sensory overload it is! Bright coloured buildings, old cars, music, people all so full of character.

I think I probably walked around with my mouth open for the first hour or so! We stopped in at Hotel Saratoga for something to eat which was rather underwhelmimg but the cocktails were awesome and cheap. After we headed over to Plaza Vieja and then on to the Havana Club rum museum. For some unknown reason they had closed it for the day even though it should have been open so we went into the bar next door and had a couple of tasty Mojitos. They had a fun band playing who even got Sam and some of the other gentlemen up for a dance :)

We continued on down through Havana Vieja looking at various old beautiful buildings, Plazas and statues. We then went into a very famous bar that is the birthplace of the Mojito 'La Bodeguita del Medio'. It was one of many Hemmingway hangouts that also had a band and delicious drinks.

We could totally sat there all day! we continued our walk up the The Melacon which is a costal walkway right up one side of the city. By now it was 5ish and we were getting a bit sleepy so headed back for a rest. I stopped in at Peregrino and organised us a salsa class for the morning too.

After our rest we went out to a restaurant we had passed on our way. Something like California restaurant I think. we had a giant meat plate to start and then ravioli for me and lobster for Sam. More delicious cocktails including Havana Especial (Havana club, pineapple juice and Maraschino). After dinner we were stuffed so decided on a stroll back down to 'El Floriditas', The home of the Daiquiri. We sat at the bar and had one regular and one Hemmingway Daiquiri, neither of which were particularly awesome but it was cool to go there and see the surly bartenders do their thing.

Next morning we had booked breakfast at hostal peregrino which was pretty good. Fruit, bread, meat, cheese and omelette and well as juices and coffee. ($5) then off to our Salsa class. I cant remember our teachers name but she was lovely. She came and met us and walked us to her house where we had our 1 on 2 class ($10 per hour). It went pretty well and we booked in another hour for the next morning.

We then walked up the malecon the other into Verdado which is the newer part of town...just. We stopped in to look around the Hotel Nacional and had a Mojito in their Gardens. For lunch we went to the Nearby 'Waoo' which was recommended by a collegue of mine and right next to the Hotel Habana Libre (The hotel which Fidel commandeered and ruled the country from in 1959) The food at Waoo was awesome! Tapas style, fresh and yummy.

Not surprisingly the cocktails followed suit. The El Presidente was particulaly good.

As it had been quite a long hot walk over there we decided to get a little Coco Taxi back to Havana Veija. They are kind of like a tuk tuk and nice and cheap. We got droppped of at the little shop that is next to Patangas cigar factory. Unfortunatly the factory is closed but the shop is awesome! We spent a few hours in there with our friendly bar man Eric drinking rum and smoking cigars. Sam also did the trifecta and had a great cuban coffee. This really was a highlight for some reason. Not very touristy and Eric was great! Answered all our cigar and rum related questions and really made us feel welcome! He even made us a dinner reservation :)

Another nap was needed now as our reservation wasnt until 9.

30pm. We got a taxi to 'Paladar la Guarida'. It is on the top floor of a dilapidated tenament buliding but beautiful inside. They sat us out on a private balcony which was super gorgeous and seriously romantic! We knew before coming that it was one of the most expensive restaurants in Hanava but compared to Cayman it was actually extremely good value. The food was fabulous. Carpaccio and a goats cheese salad to start then I had suckling pig and Sam had crusted Mahi Mahi. Crema Catalana and a Santiago de Cuba 20 yr old rum was dessert. We also had a couple of cocktails each and the bill was $100 including service. Stuffed again we headed to bed!

Our dance lesson was a bit more difficult this morning but still lots of fun! As we had to leave for the airport just after 1pm we decided not to go to far so had a walk down Obisbo St.

It is the most touristy street with lots of bars and restaurants. We found a yummo ham and cheese sandwhich and squeezed in a few more coctails before going back and getting our taxi to the airport.

Overall I really really loved Havana! It would be a photographers paradise and all the people we met were warm and inviting. There were some pretty obvious scams happening around but if you stick to the 'If somethings to good to be true it probably is' Mantra then I would be surprised if you had any trouble. We caught cabs if we had to go very far at night and didn't appear flashy or covered in jewellery but took no other precautions and felt totally safe the whole time. I would be surprised if this is our last visit!

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photo by: mario26