We live in Nova Scotia, Canada and it has long been a dream to visit the island of Cuba and especially the city of Havana.
My sister, my husband and myself just returned from a one week vacation in Veradero where we stayed in one of the many beach resorts.
It was great. The weather was wonderful and the sea was a very comfortable +28 C degrees...what more could you ask for? The sunsets at dusk were spectacular.
After a few days in the sun we decided we had to see Havana. Over the years I had heard from others that the beautiful city was slowly crumbling and had not been well maintained.
Well it came as a complete surprise to me - the city is BEAUTIFUL and work is being carried out on a daily basis. What a wonderful safe city and the people are overly friendly and happy to see you. They all try to speak to you in English. I loved every second roaming the narrow streets of Old Havana. I have to apologize to our wonderful and charming guide Carlos who works for Transtur Tours. While Carlos detailed the history of many of the famous buildings, hotels, statues and churches. I did not listen because I was too busy taking photos. I tried to capture as much as possible in a short time. My six hours in Havana has made me realize that I have to go back. I am already looking on the internet at small hotels in Old Havana and ways to travel to the nearby beaches which are only 15 minutes from the city. I think Havana offers the best of both worlds, the busy city life, the peaceful old city life and beautiful beaches a short drive away.
This is the place for me. It is a photographer's dream. So I am sorry to say I cannot tell you too much about the history of Havana but I do know that there are 2.4 million inhabitants living there and it is the largest city in Cuba. The city has a magnificent fortress which is steeped in history and was built hundreds of years ago to keep the city safe from pirates, buccaneers and French corsairs. The Presidential Palace is now a wonderful museum which is closed on Mondays. Near the waterfront there is a huge market selling an interesting variety of handcrafts, sewing, paintings, pottery and jewellery. A wonderful place to buy your souvenirs.
When you arrive in Havana you are greeted by a number of beautiful women dressed in typical Caribbean costumes and they are willing to have photos taken for a peso or two. The local people provide wonderful ideas for photos and for me it was a great opportunity and a chance to help the local economy. I am always willing to pay for that "perfect" photo. It does not bother me to contribute to the local people which makes their life better and my collection of photos more interesting. Scenery and old buildings are great but it is the people of the country who remain in your memory. I try to capture as many as I can. The Cuban people are very attractive and make wonderful subjects for photos.
The tiny shops along the narrow streets in Old Havana are worth exploring and make sure you visit the beautiful churches. Old Havana reminds me of the wonderful Mexican city of Merida in the Yucatan Peninsula and also the Colombian city of Cartagena. All three are Spanish Colonial cities and could very easily be sister cities.
My advice is to visit Havana and see for yourself the beauty of the old city as well as the busy new city. Both areas have so much to offer. Relax in the beautiful parks, enjoy a cold beer in the many outside cafes and taste some delicious Cuban food...it is worth it and it will certainly make your trip worthwhile with lots of wonderful memories.
Take a day away from the beach and sun and visit Havana you will be nicely surprised. Make sure you go to the roof top bar in the hotel Saint Isabel. The view up there is fantastic, the beer is cold and the staff is great.
I am already making plans to go back and this time it will not be so rushed. I plan to spend five or six days exploring every nook and cranny of beautiful Havana. Thanks Carlos for a wonderful day and a great tour. You were super.
- Visit our page for Havana tourism organisations
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