Cuba was by far one of the most interesting places I have ever been. As I am an American citizen and the borders have been closed since 1961, when the borders opened up in 2017 naturally my friends and I JUMPED at the opportunity to go to this forbidden place. I have a few friends who had been before and said it was amazing, everything you would think it would be. Beautiful beaches, awesome old retro cars, cigars, rum and just genuine fun. Hvana is all of these things, and is also one of the most historically relevant countries I have been to. When people say it’s a 3rd world communist country, you can’t really imagine what that really means. I have been to 3rd world countries so I knew what to expect in terms of that, but the communism there is still prevalent which i was not expecting.
The day we arrived, we checked into our Airbnb and as I usually do, tried to find the nearest convenient store so I could stalk up on water/ snacks for the house. There are absolutely no grocery stores or convenience stores in Cuba. Everything is still in rations and you can’t buy big water bottles anywhere. This came to as a surprise to me as I am so used to popping over to any bodega within 250 ft of me in NYC and buying myself a big ozarka. In order to stalk up on basic supplies like this you would have to go to a hotel and order 4 water bottles and just walk around with them. The buildings in Hvana are fascinating, they are all shells with the insides having been completely demolished. It's quite sad to see such beautiful architecture completely ruined. There are amazing restaurants that are literally located in rubble. One of the first nights we went to one of the best restaurants in Hvana called La Guardia. You walk into this massive building with spiral marble staircases and the inside is in complete shambles. The food is great here, but in general the food isn’t great in Hvana- again due to the rations. There are so many great surrounding beaches and so many awesome Squares you have to visit.
I am so lucky to have gone when I had and had such a memorable experience. There is so much history here, so i suggest reading up on it prior to visiting! The buildings/cars/water are all beautiful colors so make sure to bring a wardrobe to match! Oh and It's super humid, so bring anti-frizz if your anything like me!
Food: San Cristobal (amazing authentic spot). Dona Eutima (in old city). El Cocinero. Rio Mar. Cafe Laurent. Barraca at Hotel Nacional. Hotel Saratoga. La Cocina Del Lilliam. Cafe Del Orienet.
Nightlife: Mijo y Tuji (late night), Fabrica de Artes (for a concert) - I don’t think it opens until June 1 (i was so excited), La Casa de Musica in Miramar (live salsa music), Sia Kara Cafe, El Floridita- one of the best 7 bars in the world. Hemingways second home in havana
Things to do: Sightseeing: Old City, Hotel Sevilla, Hotel Nacional (nice pool you can pay to go), Day trips to Vinales (zip line here and boat through a cave) Varadero (beautiful beaches) Other beaches are playa el salado, santa maria del mar, Plaza Del Cristo (where a lot of cute bars and cafes are) Historic Revolution Square- square that Fidel Castro delivered his addresses, 331 Art space, Casa Abel- pairs cigars with local rums. 4 major plaza’s you must explore: Plaza Amas, Plaza de la catedral, plaza vieja, plaza san francisco. La Bodeguita del medio- where the mojito was invented. Partagas- historical cigar shop. Cuban Museum of the Revolution