Perhaps it began when I would frequent Miami a few times a year in my 20’s. Late nights with Media noches and morning hangover cures with Cuban coffees in the hot SoBe sun. However it came about, I have longed to experience Cuba. I was intrigued by the people. By the endurance and strength of the country that was just next door.
Finally! The gates have opened. The time has arrived for exploring Havana. So off I went, with one of my life long friends from school. Apparently this was part of our continued education in embarking on this journey to Cuba together. For we learned that there’s much more to the country than what we had even bargained for. So much so that it can only truly be experienced by experiencing it for yourself. Nonetheless, I do have suggestions to get you started on your very own journey:
Having only studied French, oddly enough, I always had a deep connection to Latin cultures and countries and was thrilled for the opportunity to engage with and start to learn more about my neighbors also while working my best Spanglish. Though fortunately, most speak English, so Spanish is not required, though serves more as a courtesy.
El Malacon– We enjoyed the sights of the Malacon in a classic convertible, salsa music blasting, wind blowing in our hair. Though if you’re feeling like a promenade on this famous sidewalk, sunset would be highly suggested.
El Floridita- The spot for Daquiri’s. Made famous by none other than the Daiquiri king himself, Ernest Hemingway. Located just off Havana’s Parque Central. Try and score a table or bar spot for the nightlife. Live music and energy for days, this place will have you feeling like a local. (even though tourist are all that you see- all around)
Almacenes de Deposito San Jose- Looking for something unique with local flavor and culture, then shop here for some of the best in arts and crafts within Havana.
Cigar Factory- (I mean did you not expect to see this included?)
Museum of Rum- Avenida del Puerto 262, esq. Sol, Habana Vieja Ciudad de La Habana.
Need I say more?
El Museo del Ron Havana Club
Finca Vigia- Finca Vigía Km. 12 ½, La Habana, Cuba
The Cuban home of Ernest Hemmingway. Although we didn’t include this on our journey, if you’re a devotee to Hemmingway, then this is not to be missed. As it’s just 15 miles outside of Havana proper. Hop in a classic car and make your journey east to find his former casa. It’s said his home offers spectacular views of Havana!
Hotel Nacional-Calle 21 y O, Vedado, Plaza, La Habana 10400, Cuba
Located in the heart of Verdado for the last 80 years, this hotel has endless history and has welcomed celebrities and visitors from all over the globe. Hotel Nacional is a symbol of great pride for the city and serves as a central location for indulging in some local Rum, along with live entertainment most nights.
O’Reilly- #304 | Habana & Aguiar, Havana, Cuba
+53 5 2644725
Nothing like a quick run in for lunch with Jillian Michaels. Well, not actually dining with her, though we shared a few moments of connecting over Cuba in this quaint little restaurant. This place is thee place. A true hot spot- great energy, ceviche and cocktails!
Paladar– at time of writing this (2018), is the only privately owned restaurant, as all others are owned by the government.