Getting around

Havana Travel Blog

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Always crowded Ice shop Coppelia.

My first sightseeing in La Habana was a supermarket ;) and three things got my attention: - there are some international brands there like Dove Shampoo; - there is practically no variety; - things are freaking expensive, this Dove Shampoo for instance was about 2 CUCs. My new cuban friends were showing me everything, and asking me how is it possible to live there getting, if a good salary, 30 CUCs a month. You must choose if you buy a shampoo or meat. It was a schock. Even though all cuban families receive monthly from the government a basket of goods, with things for primary needs including cigarettes (!), it's not enough for the whole month and eventually they must buy something.

La Roca - drinks, stand up comedy and music.
Small things like eating an ice cream (1 CUC) can be luxury. Ok, there are places on the street where you can buy food with pesos nacionales, muuuuuuch cheaper. At Coppelia, for example, a famous ice-cream shop, cubans can afford buying ice-cream after waiting over an hour in the line.

At night, I went out with Eric who showed me around and the first stop was at the Hotel Nacional. There I drank my first Mojito :) it was simply great. You can sit outside with a nice view of the Malecon or at the lobby where a band plays. After finishing our drinks we went to a restaurant called La Torre on the top of Edificio Focsa. This is the second-tallest building in Havana and from there you have amazing views from the bay.

Congriz (typical cuban dish) with chicken and salad and sweeeeet pinneaple juice
After having another Mojito :) we went to this bar/restaurant called La Roca. It was just at the corner where I was living and it ended up being the place where I spent most of my after hours :)

Yeah, it was a pretty busy first day but I knew there was much more to come. So I went to sleep and when I woke up next morning there were 2 more guests living in my house. A mother and her son, she from Croatia and he half croatian half german, both living in Germany. Actually, the mother presented her son with a travel to Cuba to celebrate his graduation. We went together to the Hotel Melia Cohiba, she had to exchange some money and we drank a nice fresh guava juice at the lobby. Walking over the Malecon, we made a stop to have our first cuban meal: famous congriz con pollo (congriz is rice and beans cooked together ) with chicken.

The guy ordered the same and his mother looked at my plate not so sure and just ordered a salad ;) For me it was actually really tasty. For non latin-americans, I am not so sure because they are not used to eat rice and beans. For brazilians, this is our national dish: rice and beans with beef/chicken/fish practically every single day, so I felt at home :) Anyways, it's worth to try it at least once and decide for yourself.

After lunch, we continued our nice walk at the afternoon. The weather was great, there were kids playing baseball at the street, people reunited at the Malecon... As we walked, a cuban boy approached us. My mama Marta instructed me several times, 2 things before going out: that I should NOT talk to strangers in any circumnstance if they approach me and that I should be VERY careful when taking pictures coz there are many cases of pickpockets stealing cameras and money. Back to the boy... I did talked to him. And he seemed really nice. But out of sudden, a car stops just next to us and this boy starts to run away desperately in the opposite direction and 4 guys get out of the car and go after him. We were paralized. They take him to the car, close the doors and drive away. We couldn't understand what was going on. All the other people at the street just watched that and act like nothing happened. I even asked an old man what just has happened and he told me that this boy was probably owing money to these guys. I don't know. I felt pity for him and just can remember that before entering the car he smiled at us. When we got home, and I told that my mama, first she was totally mad at me (like a real mom! ;) ) for talking to him, second she told me that he was probably going to rob us. What was that exactly, we'll never know.

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Always crowded Ice shop Coppelia.
Always crowded Ice shop Coppelia.
La Roca - drinks, stand up comedy …
La Roca - drinks, stand up comedy…
Congriz (typical cuban dish) with …
Congriz (typical cuban dish) with…
photo by: mario26