Havana, Cuba’s colorful capital
Havana is the most picturesque city we’ve ever been to. It has left the most vivid memories of our Cuban adventure. It is a city of retro cars that you can’t pass until you examine every little detail, take a photo from every angle, and wonder how this thing can still run :) It’s beautiful and interesting, with rich architecture and friendly locals. Some buildings are in serious need of renovations, and there are many social and economic challenges, but it has its charm. We spent three days in Old Havana (La Habana Vieja), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, walking around as much as we can, and we still don’t think it was enough.
We took over 10k photos there, as we wanted to take a photo of this bright turquoise building or this pink car, and that mint one simple cannot be passed by without snapping a few more images :) And this rusty wall, oh how good it looks! Some streets look like Hollywood decoration from a 1950s movie, while some other might look soooooo creepy that taking a photo is necessary just to prove to our friends that we’ve been there. In short, be prepared to consume a large amount of memory card space with your Havana photos :)
The Capitol(El Capitolio) – a building of the Cuban parliament until the 1959 revolution, it is now home to the Cuban Academy of Sciences.
Old Square (Plaza Vieja) is a beautifully renovated plaza surrounded by colorful colonial buildings. We happened to pass through it several times during our visit to Cuba’s capital and we found it to be a wonderful place to soak up the Cuban vibes.
For those who love a great coffee, there is Café Escorial at the corner of Plaza Vieja. It can hardly be missed as the aroma of roasting coffee beans is so inviting :)
Old Havana is a photographer’s dream destination: opportunities for photos are endless. All you have to do is walk around and keep your eyes open while soaking in the atmosphere.
Local ladies and gentlemen are posing with huge Cuban cigars for some extra money.
There is a story behind the photo below. We were roaming around Old Havana streets when a heavy rain started. Tons of water were pouring, so we decided to wait it out under a church roof. We waited, and waited, and waited… then decided to take a cycle rickshaw. On the way to the hotel, our rickshaw capsized into a deep puddle and landed on one side. Alex’s iPhone took a swim and never recovered. Luckily all of us were ok, our cameras weren’t wet, and a local artist invited us to his home studio to dry out a little.
There are a couple of nice restaurants in Old Havana. We really enjoyed the paladar (family run restaurant) La Guarida. It is located on the third floor of an apartment building. It’s worth visiting if only for the atmosphere and architecture, but the food is excellent too :) We went there for a late lunch without booking, and the place was almost empty. Dinner requires a reservation.
Another good paladar is Doña Eutimia located on a small side street off the corner of Plaza de la Catedral square. We ate there twice, it was DELICIOUS. The restaurant is very small and reservations are a must even for lunch. We didn’t take any photos, unfortunately.
Interesting facts about Havana and Cuba:
- Havana was founded in 1515.
- Havana’s nickname is City of Columns. Indeed columns and arches are the most distinctive features of Old Havana’s buildings.
- Cuba has two currencies: one for tourists (Cuban Convertible Peso – CUC), and the other is for Cubans (Cuban Peso – CUP).
- Up until 2008, it was illegal for Cubans to own a cell phone.
Visited July 2013