Ola from Havana!

Havana Travel Blog

 › entry 10 of 10 › view all entries

So we've been in Havana for about 3 days now and it's a completely different world!

Last week of placement in Toronto was great, sad to go but we were really excited about our week in Cuba, so it went really quickly - the flight here was only 3 hours so I can see why so many Canadians holiday here like Brits do in Spain - not many of them seem to come to Havana though! You wouldn't believe how many times people have said to us ''Oh I've been to Cuba! it's great - where are you going? Varadero?'' ''Er no, Havana'' ''Ohhh... I hear it's beautiful, we meant to go on the day trip but never got round to it... You are all-inclusive though aren't you?'' etc etc. There seems to be a sort of tourist-local apartheid in Cuba, so Varadero is actually a beach resort-filled peninsula of the island with huge gates keeping all the locals out unless they come across to work there. Apparently you'll find teachers and doctors waiting tables to make more money than they do at their day jobs.

The situation isn't that much different in the capital though - our hotel, Hotel Sevilla, has security guards on the doors stopping any cubans from coming in and accosting any that seem to slip through the net. It's a gorgeous hotel - still a bit shabby by European standards but really lovely all the same - Al Capone once hired out the floor we're staying on when the mafia were in Havana and Graham Greene based his book ''Our Man in Havana'' in this hotel too.

If I'm honest, I found it really intimidating to go out of the hotel in the evening, as we did on our first night here for a walk along the sea wall - we've been pretending we're Czech/Belgian/Italian etc everytime someone tries to speak to us in English, cos if you reply then they just won't leave you alone. At the end of the day when all the day trippers have gone then you stick out like a sore thumb amongst the Cubans so no wonder we get stared at.

In the day, the old town, Habana Vieja is swarming with tourists, so it's not as bad! Today we went to the Havana Club rum museum and yesterday we went to the Museo de la Revolucion, which was boiling but interesting, and otherwise we've just been wandering around the old town - the touristy areas are such a contrast to the rest of the city - everything is so run down and in such bad repair in the majority of areas and the 50s cars may look cool but they're really noisy and dirty to walk past! Although there is a gorgeous pink one that I keep drooling at...

Take a look at Alex's pics on Facebook for Cuba photos - for the rest of the trip, we're planning to go to a beach just outside Havana tomorrow, but otherwise it's chilling by the pool and a night in the toronto airport Hilton before we fly back and start placement on monday - hectic.

Hope you're all well - and will see you soon! Lots of love Catherine xxx 

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photo by: mario26