What’s so special about Havana?

Cuba

Up until recently we weren’t so familiar with Cuba besides parts of it’s communist history. But after having multiple pictures of Havana pop up on our feed it started to really infatuate us. Finally last November we got to find out for ourselves what exactly made this city special. (Check out our Cuba video to find out more)

Here’s some of the unique features of Havana:

Time Travel

If you ever wondered what the 1900’s might have looked like then Havana is the place for you.  The untainted ambience is something truly unique and feels like a walk through the past. The old buildings in the city centre mixed with vintage cars driving down the streets really bring it all to life.

It all feels like a dream until you realise this is Cuba’s present day reality. Havana in particular is such a pedestrian friendly city that you can’t help but wander and explore. It feels like buildings are frozen in a previous time which actually enhances it’s beauty even though some building’s structure is questionable. The only way you can tell you are still in the 21st century is by the tourists walking around. 

The Architecture

One obvious thing when passing through Havana is that you can’t help but stop and stare at the architecture.

In fact some other travellers we met were architecture students on an exchange in Cuba. But you don’t have to be an architect to appreciate how special it is.

The Grand Theatre of Havana (pictured above), the large classic Hotels and the vibrant warm colours of the apartment buildings in Havana Vieja are all prime examples of this. Even the houses in the suburbs are fascinating.

The buildings seemed to be left untouched for decades, the only thing different is the people walking around them.

The people that live within these buildings are equally as interesting. For most of our time in Cuba we lived within these houses in Havana Vieja with local Cuban families and the interior didn’t disappoint. I guess coming from cosmopolitan city life  to the high ceilings and plentiful balconies of Cuban homes is quite a contrast.

Fascinating culture

 Havana is calm yet buzzing at the same time. You never know when you might run into a music carnival around the corner. Or when someone might break into song  with a live band at a local restaurant!

The communist culture is still embedded in society as sharing is still a very strong and noticeable part of Cuba. Locals were super friendly and the city is very safe. At no point did we ever feel unsafe… be it walking around the city past midnight or having a driver take us a couple hours outside of Cuba to a beach resort. There is just a general care-free attitude among the locals with little to complain about and to be thankful for what they have.

If you are staying in a casa we found our hosts went above and beyond to ensure we had an incredible Cuban experience and expect little in return. Our day tour guide was especially wonderful in giving us more colour on the history and day to day life in Cuba and answered most of our intriguing questions.  

We kept asking ourselves if we lived here for a few months how would we spend our days? The answer: Salsa & lots of Vitamin R (aka Rum)! 

It’s a also a great place to people watch! 

An Internet detox 

Wifi still hasn’t quite infected the country and the disconnect was one we pleasantly enjoyed. It really let us unwind and enjoy our time in Cuba. We would definitely advise Cuba as a great getaway and secluded escape from the western world. The moment you land you feel like you are on vacation which can’t necessarily be said about all places. The detachment from the rest of the World was relaxing and refreshing. In our case we were in Cuba during the US Elections in November and only found out Trump won once we landed in Toronto during our stopover!

Drinking all day is accepted 

Even though we aren’t big drinkers, like us you may find yourself craving a rum mojito at 11am in Cuba. A part of me blames it on the heat but then again we were on vacation. Watch out, your inner alcoholic just might come out. The one thing though was we never got hangovers for some reason. No complaints there. 

 

We could go on and on but the point is Havana is a place worth experiencing. If it isn’t already, Cuba should definitely be on your travel bucket list!

-MO

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