Havana. How to write Havana.
I think there is no way to write to write an all encompassing summary of Havana, you can only write about your experiences and what you saw. This is the start of our time there…
We took a 2 hour cab ride from the resort in Varadero to Havana, to a casa particular recommended by Lonely Planet as the best casa in Havana. I will says this: The architecture and location are awesome, the building dating back to 1912 and only one block from Plaza Vieja. However, unless you know spanish the casa owner and his helpers are not really that great at giving directions, puzzling through our spanglish or helping you use your time to the fullest.
After settling in we headed to the Plaza by following the music. In one corner of the plaza was a restaurant which has fermentation tanks behind the bar where they make their own beer. I had the medium and it was pretty good. Very malty in flavor. We sat at a table in the square and watched the live band. The food was not kid friendly and we left soon after. The bar would sell beer by the glass or by the liter. For larger orders they would put the beer in a tall beer tower on the table. Every time we went through the square that restaurant was busy and the tables full of beer towers.
From Plaza Vieja almost to the Capitol building is a pedestrian only zone. This is the area where the buildings and roads have been restored to various degrees and is full of resturuants, casa’s and small souvenir shops. It being low season there isn’t too many tourists around and the squares and streets are full of locals going about their business. I can’t imagine what it would be like in high season.
One thing we saw the most of was taxis: bike, coco, classic cars, modern cars and horse drawn carriages. Every where you go people are calling out “TAXI” to you. We did end up trying all of them out once and the hands down favorite was the coco taxi. They reminded me of tuk-tuk taxis in India.
There is no way you can ever see everything in Havana, but we did our best to get to the top picks in the Lonely Planet books. We went to the Rum Museum, several Church’s and Cathedrals, a Planetarium and the Revolution Museum. The Capitol Building was undergoing renovations so we could not see that one unfortunately. We only made it one of the two forts because the other one is on the opposite side of the bay.
One of my favourite things about the city was the sound. All day and most of the night you can hear a mixture of music, cars and voices filtering up from the street. At times you would hear children at the school across the street singing, the bike tax drivers chatting below our window, music from a party down the street, the nightly cannon fired from the fort at 9:00PM and many shouted conversations some happy and some not. The sound would rise and fall but was always there. To me the sound was the spirit of Havana – restless, vibrant and continually changing… I can’t get enough of it!