We were picked up from the hotel by our tour guide first thing the next morning and begun our tour of Havana. Spending a couple of hours driving around in the mini bus, gave us a real feel for the size of the city and how the different areas fitted together. Havana is built around a harbour, with the old Colonial part of the city (la Habana Vieja) to the West of the harbour.
One of the things that you’ll notice when you are in Havana, or any other Cuban city for that matter, is the crumbling buildings. These once magnificent Spanish colonial style buildings are now falling apart and propped up with makeshift scaffolding, with paint peeling off of every wall. At the beginning of our tour we drove along tree lined wealthy residential streets, filled with two storey mansions, faded, but beautiful
Our first stop on the tour was Revolution Square. This square has been Cuba’s political-administrative and cultural centre since 1959. In the photo below you can see the Ministry of the Interior Building. The ironwork on the building is of Che Guevara, who was the first Minister of the Interior appointed by Fidel Castro.
In the next photo you can see the José-Marti Monument, which was completed in 1959 and the 109 metre high column.
After a quick wander around in the scorching sunshine we got back on our air conditioned bus and headed towards la Habana Vieja – the old colonial part of the city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This was a beautiful part of the city and many of the buildings have been restored to their original splendor. Despite this fact, the majority of the buildings that I saw in the city were crumbling.
We walked around the colonial part of the city for a couple of hours, taking in the many fantastic Spanish style colonial buildings, grand Plazas and wandering through the cobbled streets, watching people go about their day to day life. The tour guide was very informative and explained a lot about the history and the ways of life of the Cuban people.
In the photo below you can see the Opera house
At around 11.30 our tour guide took us to a bar and recommended that we try a Mojito – a famous Cuban cocktail made from Rum (or Ron as its known in Cuba), Fresh mint and soda. We normally have a no alcohol before noon rule, but decided to make an exception in this case and ordered a Mojito each.
I was a bit shocked when I saw the huge quantity of Havana Club that the barman poured into my glass and expected it to taste really horrible and strong – but I was wrong. It was a very refreshing drink. I’ll definitely be having one of them again!
In the afternoon we split up from our tour guide and took a wander round the city. We started off trying to find a restaurant for some lunch. I must admit – this was a little difficult. It seemed that all the restaurants were serving the same kind of food e.g. rice, beans and meat. We settled on a restaurant with a little patio outside and had our creole style rice, beans and meat meal. It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t like to have to eat out here often!
After a wander, the next stop of the day was the Capitolio building.
This magnificent building was built in 1929 and was modelled after the Capitol building in Washington DC. Unfortunately we missed the guided English tours of the building, but went inside for a wander. Below you can see a picture of the dome, looking up from the inside of the building.
After our visit to the Capitolio we caught a little yellow “taxi” in the shape of an egg back to the hotel and spent a couple of well earned hours relaxing by the pool.
We taxi-d it back into the centre later in the evening for dinner and again struggled to find a nice restaurant. I don’t know if we were just unlucky at finding decent restaurants or if there actually aren’t very many nice restaurants in Havana. In the end we found a Pizza place, so that kept us happy.
The following day was out final day in Cuba and we made the most of it by taking a trip to the Museum of the Revolution in the morning. The museum is held in the former palace of the dictator Batista and houses various newspaper clippings, photographs and artefacts from the revolution. It was a very interesting museum, but I struggled as the place was boiling hot with no air conditioning and the sun blazing in through all the windows. The photo below is of the museum from the outside.
We had intended to visit the Museo del Ron (Museum of Rum), but we were so overheated and dehydrated that we ended up going back to the hotel for a swim and chilled out for a while in preparation for our long flight home later that day.
Amazingly for the first time on our trip, the Cubana flight was on time. We had a couple of final cocktails at the hotel, then left Havana for the cool climate of Scotland.
Overall I’ve had a fantastic holiday. It’s been good to spend most of it relaxing and recharging my batteries at Playa Pesquero, but I’m also glad that I spent 3 days in Havana and saw the real Cuba.
If you have any questions about the hotels that I stayed in or the places that I visited feel free to post a question below and I’ll try my best to answer it.
You can also read more Reviews of Attractions in Havana on Tripadvisor