Havana – back to the 50th
A trip to Cubas Capital Havana is also a trip to a city stand still for at least half a century with plenty of old american cars from the 50s and 60s as well as the colonial style buildings in Havana Viejo – Havanas busy old town with its small streets, shops, beautiful plazas and a gazillion Kodak moments.
It is not a big surprise that Havana Viejo is a UNESCO world heritage where you find the typical touristy places and streets where you are the only tourist. Interesting enough to walk around for hours more than one day. Let myself drift away and immerse in the cuban way of life.
The lack of many necessary things and the huge amount of creativity could not be overseen. I did not expected many things like massive need of renovation of the buildings in Havanas old town.
Some houses gave a kind of feeling that they will collapse if you don’t tread carefully. This is a pity. But some streets are renovated and look like build up one week ago.
The big contrast are the buildings around Plaza de la Catedral, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de San Francisco de Asis, the University and many more. There you will find some nicely renovated streets and places which give the feeling that the situation is not too bad and the building supplier stores are not making the most profit following the black market business in ranking of most profit making business.
The 8 km long Malecon – the corniche of Havana – is running from Vedado to Vieja and invites for a walk to see the city from the ocean side.
During the day the Malecon is very quite but in the late afternoon it becomes more crowded when the Cubans come to go for a walk, hang around, play music and other entertaining activities.
Vieja is also a good possibility to start an old timer sightseeing tour around the city center of Havana. The tours starts with a duration of one hour and were a good possibility as a little break for our feet while enjoying the view. The tour brings you to the most important sights in the city center to have some kodak moments.
If you are a good walker you can explore everything by feet like we did. Starting from the Casa Particular which is located in more local neighborhood Cerro – in the south of Havanas modern center Vedado. We explored Vieja, Vedado and Havana Centro which are situated in between on foot or caminar like the cubans would say with an astonished look. Taxi you will find everywhere also like the bicitaxis (cuban rickshas) and with Spanish language skills it should be no problem to take the old timer taxis which are running certain routes through the city.
My feet and an article over 4 pages in the travel book brought me to the Cementerio Cristobal Colon an hour long walk. The cemetery is one of the biggest in America (57ha) and contains many impressive mausoleums, chapels and family faults. The streets on the cemetery have names and it is also possible to drive by car to the grave.
Havana is a city where it would be easy to spend one week exploring without getting bored and for passionate travel photographer also a paradise of great motives to fill the memory card.
What to visit
Havana Vieja – Old town and UNESCO World Heritage with beautiful plazas and cathedrals
Malecon – The 8km long corniche of Havana connecting the districts Vieja, Centro and Vedado
Cemeterio de Cristobal Colon – the most famous and biggest cemetery on the island
Universidad – Havanas University as one of the oldest universities in America
Camera obscura – perfect more for the view of havana from the top than for the camera
Where to stay
You can stay in some of the mostly quite pricey or/and run down hotels. The better idea to get in touch with the locals and do something for them is staying in one of many Casa Particulares in Havana.
We stayed at Casa Cuba Colonia which I found by coincidence in a travel group on Facebook. Situated in a local area we found a whole 55qm apartment just for us. Also in the popular areas Vieja and Vedado you will find an endless number of private places to stay starting from 20EUR per night.
Where to eat
Private and governmental restaurants are everywhere in Havana. Also like food stalls where you can buy very cheap food with peso national. The stalls with the longest queue have good food and that is known by the Cubans.
How to get around
The distances in Havana can be underestimated easily but if you have no problem with long walks it is possible to walk almost to every sight like we did. With some Spanish language skills the old timer taxis, which are driving certain routes through the city and mostly transport the locals, are a good option to go from A to B.
Another good possibility of transportation is the bicitaxi which is a kind of rickshaw and very often used by the locals.
How to get to
From Varadero and other cities you can use Viazul Bus. Sometimes the bus is fully booked why it is helpful to check and book in advance. The bus stops at several places in the city and the last one is the bus station close to the cemetery. From there you can take a taxi.