My first time in Havana, a place that until now I had only visited in my dreams
Havana, Cuba. My first time in Cuba, my first day in Havana. When we arrived in Cuba, we spent the first day in Varadero, a beach paradise with white beaches and crystal clear blue water. Some people visit Cuba as a perfect beach get away, to enjoy the lovely ocean, drink the fresh mojito’s and pina colada and of course, enjoy the incredible music. Ofcourse all of that was part of my trip, but in the whole time I was there I haven’t spent more than a couple of hours in total at the beach. I was too excited to explore, get to know Cuba! The culture, the little streets, the people, the amazing landscapes.
Havana has so many things, I barely knew where to start. But let’s start with the first afternoon. To get an idea of where we wanted to go, we started with a drive around the city, just looking everywhere we could and soaking in the views.
Yes, we did it. The open bus tour.. How touristy it might sound, it is a perfect way to cover a lot of ground at the start. You can take your time to take in the view, during a drive all over town. Through the different areas, even going far out to the sides. And there were amazing views. It gave us some time to get a feeling of the different areas and to make plans of which places to really dive in.
To see blue skies and sunshine all day long in December is such a blessing! Coming from Europe I couldn’t wait for 2 weeks of sunshine and exploring. I had been reading my Lonely planet 100 times already, making notes at every thing we saw that was in there or that should have been in there. Havana has about 2.2 million people living there and consists of 3 areas: Havana Vieja, Centro Havana and Vedado. Our drive around was through all areas.
It’s amazing to see all the colorful houses, the oldscool American cars and just all the streetlife everywhere. The city is full of life, of art, of music. Next to that, Havana, like the rest of Cuba, is still full of history, of culture, of stories. Che Guevara is still a national hero, respected by many Cubans, which is seen both in the street view as on the Plaza de la Revolution.
Vedado is the fanciest / wealthiest area of Havana, built with the massive amount of money generated by the sugar industry. It has the old villa’s, the palmtrees, the famous Hotel Nacional (which was built with maffia money). Now, it is the place to go out, but also the place with the best view and walks along the Malecón.
The Malecón is definitely one of my favorite places to hang out in Havana. Except for the beautiful views and the soft breeze of the wind, it’s where social life is booming. Whenever it turn into sunset time, couples stroll past the ocean, groups of friends are sitting on the wall having fun, musicians are playing music, lovers are dancing. Such an amazingly special vibe, next to the ocean.
While enjoying the view… I couldn’t resist a fresh mojito, and a try of a real Cuban cigar. Havana is one of, if not the best place to get the real Cuban cigars. We got ours at the cigar shop of Hotel Conde de Villanueva. This hotel has been designed for the special enjoyment of cigar smokers. Each of the rooms is named after a famous Cuban tobacco plantation, and what they say is the very best cigar shop in the city is tucked away secretly in the mezzanine floor of the hotel.
I was already extremely excited and amazed by all the beautiful things, views, people and feelings. Next week I will go into more details on my favorite areas, all the amazing street art and the Havana nightlife!
The Dreamy Discoverer