Last summer, just after my graduation from University, my family and I embarked on an adventure of a lifetime. We were going to Cuba! I didn’t know much about Cuba before we decided to go, other than Rum, Communism and the Cuban Missile crisis. This trip was a dream of my Mum’s, having always been fascinated by the place and wanting to experience it before it became ‘Americanised’. Our long journey started at Heathrow and was a non-stop, 8hr flight across the Atlantic to José Martí International Airport in Havana. It was a hell of a journey, there was a lot of turbulence which slightly freaked me out. On long haul flights like this I get a bit antsy and feel a bit trapped – like cabin fever – where I imagine myself falling out of the plane and it all gets a bit out of control! Ended up watching Moana to calm myself down (everyone else was asleep) and pretty sure I was singing out loud! Anyway, after the long flight, we got a car from the airport to our hotel in the middle of the city. The journey was quite long, but gave me my first impression of Cuba, somewhat living up to this image that I’d built up in my head, but also hitting me quite hard as it is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.
Havana is such a beautiful city, so vibrant and colourful, unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. The hotel we stayed in – Iberostar Park Centrale – was just incredible. The lobby was beautiful and felt very colonial. There was a slight haze from the cigars and there was always a band playing some music. Everywhere you look you see the beautiful, old cars lined along the street. Everyone is so friendly, and welcoming. Sometimes a bit too welcoming, theres a lot of hassling and haggling going on as you walk through the streets. ‘Come to this restaurant, it’s the best in the city.’ ‘Don’t go in there, my friend’s, brother’s, cousin’s restaurant is better!’ It was a bit of a culture shock I won’t lie, I’m not used to the constant badgering as you walk along the street. However, in a way it created this atmosphere, unlike anything I’ve ever seen, that was quite magical. We did take one man’s advice and went to this rooftop bar in the middle of the city. It was such a spectacular view, the vast city laid out in front of you, with all the colourful buildings and music blaring from nearby cafes.
We did quite a lot while we were there, did a tour of the city and took a guided tour in one of the old cars (the guy didn’t speak English so he tried to do the tour by speaking really slowly in Spanish – was quite funny), went to visit Ernest Hemingways house and had mojito after mojito. As an avid mojito lover, I was truly living my best life.
This was the view from the roof of the hotel we stayed in. It was truly spectacular.
I’ve struggled this week with how I was going to talk about everything that I saw, but I think its better to show you!
Visiting Havana, was spectacular and such incredible experience. I enjoyed it so much and would love to go back again and explore more. The cocktails were amazing, the food was interesting and the atmosphere was magical. There were times I felt uncomfortable, the poverty in the city was very prominent and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Everyone in Havana was so welcoming and friendly. It truly is a great place to go visit and experience before it changes. The old cars were beautiful – some were a bit dodgy when you got in them and they were literally falling apart, but it all added to the charm of the place. Sadly, I think I got sunstroke on the last night, so I missed the best meal – according to my family – at a lovely restaurant in the city.
Definitely a place to see and an incredible part of the world. If you ever need some info about Cuba and visiting it, let me know or leave a comment!
Next up on the travel series – Varadero, Cuba! 🇨🇺