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Havana Pictures

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My husband and I have travelled to Cuba three times, but this last time, was our first visit to Havana. Feel free to check out our tour of the city.
http://ca.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/todd_ronald/my_photos

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    Wow!
    Thanks for taking me back to Havana! :)
    Looking at the pics took me back toplaces I thought I had fortgotten...like that amazing little craft shopping mall in pics 124-126. I loved that place! :)
    And the view from the old fort (?) was and still is spectacular!

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    We stayed in Cayo Coco at the Playo Coco resort and flew into Havana. The resort is fairly new, and except for a lack of "lush" vegatation, the resort was great. The beach was awesome. We waded out to the sand bar and walked for miles.

    My daughter went to Cuba a few weeks later and stayed at the Sandals Resort - she said it was "to die for" - food and service were A1.

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    Travel Bug, may I ask how was the food at that resort and would you recommend it. I hear the beach in Cayo Coco is even better than Varadero.:)

    We have stayed at Sandals Royal Hicacos in Varadero. I wasn't expecting the best food as Cuba is not know for it's food, but were pleasantly surprised, the buffet was OK and the a la cartes were very, very good. :-)

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    The food at Cayo Coco flavour / variety-wise was similar to other resorts we have stayed at in Cuba. My husband ate mainly seafood, while I tended to eat pork (stay away from the beef and chicken - flavour is nothing like we are used to). The one big plus with this resort, was that neither of us got "the runs" like in previous resorts. The Japanese restaurant was the best.
    The beach was great for walking on. We waded out to the sand bar and walked on it for miles. Anyone who snorkled raved about the fish - personally the sea life scares me, so I tend to stay out of the ocean (except for the wading out to the sand bar).
    I would recommend this resort because it is lower priced than most and perfect for a restful, lay in the sun, walk on the beach holiday. The staff were accommodating and friendly. Note if you like action, this is not the place for you - there are no other resorts around, and the shows at night are not good.
    I have already booked the Sandals Royal Hicacos in Varadero for this coming March Break. My daughter stayed at the sister resort this past year and really liked it.We figured we would try Varadaro area again since it's been 8 years since we were there last.

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    Hey there Travel_Bug_Cin, thanks for posting the Havana photos. I've been there 9 times now and can't wait to go back again.

    I use Havana as a base to get out and explore other parts of Cuba but I've sure got my favorite cafes and music spots. Besides the architecture, I find the music to be the heart and soul of Havana.

    Thanks for the photos and the memories.
    Steve

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    Hi Steve,

    My husband and I will probably head to Havana for a day when we are there in March. Any highly recommended cafes to go to? Any other hidden gems we may find interesting?

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    Hola Travel_Bug_Cin......

    Well I get asked that quite a lot so here's the standard post I reply with. My big list of what to do and see in Havana. Includes some restaurants and Paladars as well.

    Enjoy yourselves....

    WOW!!! Havana and what to do?

    Here in no particular order are some of my favourites. You can't possibly do the whole list in one day, but it might give you some ideas of where to start.

    1) Plaza Revolution and Jose Marti monument and museum. View from top is great. Postal Museum is right around the corner as well if you like stamps.
    2) Coppelia for Icecream at top of La Rampa. (Calle 23 esq. a L, Vedado.) 30,000 a day are served. Cubans love icecream.
    3) Parisienne Cabaret (at Hotel Nacional) for show, or Tropicana Club for dinner show.
    4) Muesum of the Revolution (Just down the street from Parque Central on Ave. Agramonte (Zulueta)
    5) Calle Obispo. Very bohemian with lots of galleries, shops, cafe's. Just around the from Parque Central and the Capitolo.
    6) La Floridita Bar for Daquiri (just at Parque Central and Calle Obispo)
    7)Cathedral Square.
    8)La Bodeguita del Medio for a Mojito. Just around the corner from Cathedral Square.
    9)Plaza Armas for Sunday bookfair (if it fits your schedule)
    10)Free Market (hard currency) on Tacon in Parque Cespedes, at the waterfront just behind Castillo la Real Fuerza for hand made souvenirs.
    11) El Morro Castle. Canon firing at 9:00 p.m. ceremony. Make sure to climb Faro (the lighthouse) for a fabulous view across the harbour at old Havana.
    12)Bocoy Rum factory (Fábrica de ron Bocoy, Calzada del Cerro No. 1417, Cerro) or the Havana Club Fundacion Outlet (San Pedro y Sol, Ave. del Puerto #262) Here's the link to the Havana Club Fundacion website.
    http://www.havanaclubfoundation.com/en/default.asp
    13) Plaza Vieja at the bottom of San Ignacio for the tremendous architecture and also there's a microbrewery in the southwest corner.
    14) Museo de la Revolucion, Calle Refugio #1, Habana Vieja.
    15) Hemmingway Marina
    16) The Capitolo. 3rd largest indoor statue in the world inside under the dome.
    17) All the rest of Habana Vieja (Old Havana) right in your neighbourhood.
    18) Chinatown. Just to the west of the Capitolo by a few blocks. Walkable distance on Dragones at the south end of the Capitolo.
    19) Castillo Real Fuerza. Right off Plaza Armas and very nice to walk through.
    20) The Malecon. Oceanfront drive that is very popular for strolling along the seawall.
    21) University of Havana (up near la Rampa and Coppelia)
    22) Cemetary Colon. Many mausoleums and artistic graves. Very historic. Near Plaza Revolution.
    23) Parque Lenin and Las Ruinas for lunch. Very pretty.
    24) Partagas Cigar Factory (Casa del Habano Partagas, Industria No. 320) Phone 537-33-8060 Tours every 15 min, 9:30-11:00 and 12:00-3:00

    So that's my basic starting list. In addition in Old Havana there are many galleries, museums of various types and it's nice to sit in one of the many small cafes and just soak up the ambience, a cold beer, and listen to some great music. Usually a combo, trio or quartet. For me personally that is the real soul of Habana... it's music.

    For shopping and souvenirs, there are several places that are almost a must see/do.
    There are many small shops along Calle Obispo in Old Havana that have some nice stuff. Also in Parque Cespedes located between Av. del Puerto and Tacon (right behind Castillo de la Real Fuerza) is an Artisan Market where lots of handmade handicrafts and stuff is available. It's also a neat place to just wander about. Keep an eye out in this park for the guys that husk/slice and open fresh coconuts for the tourists. A fresh coconut and a straw is a nice refreshing drink. Not too many as fresh coconut milk can upset your GI system.

    There is also another craft market located on the Malecon (shoreline drive) between the Hotel Nacional and the Melia Cohiba Hotel. I walked the full length of the Malecon and this craft market is on the south side between E and F. For regular shopping in a Cuban version of a shopping mall, there is the Galeria Paseo located at Av Paseo & the Malecon (across the street from the Melia Cohiba.
    Another Galeria is located on the south side of Av Salvador Allende between Calzada de Infanta y Oquendo. You can walk to it from the Capitolo quite easily in about 20 minutes by walking up Av Simon Bolivar.

    To orient yourself, here is a good map site for Cuba.
    http://www.cubaroutes.com
    Select the City of Havana map on the left & when that opens select List all Places in City of Havana on the right hand side. You can check the boxes for Accommodation, attractions etc. Will give you a good map showing where stuff is located. Zoom the map in closer for a better look.
    Here is the site of INFOTOUR, the City of Havana Tourist Office. Good info and there's a map showing the location of their stores in Havana. A good place to get maps, info etc., once you are actually in Havana.
    http://www.infotur.cu/index.html

    And what's Havana without EATING. So here's my favourite list of good places to eat.

    1) EL ALJIBE in Miramar (Calle 7ma. e/ 24 y 26, Miramar. Playa. Ciudad de La Habana Phone:(53 7) 204-1583 · 204-1584) offers a great house specialty, Lemon Chicken. Grand and not too pricey at $12. Good wine selection as well. El Aljibe is popular with the Cubans and I've always enjoyed eating there. It's one of my "Must Eat" places everytime I am in Havana.

    2) EL FLORIDITA in Habana Vieja serves the absolute BEST frozen daquiri imaginable. But at $6.00 per drink it is a little pricey. But that's the bar and drink made famous by Hemmingway and there's lots of photos of Papa Hemingway on the walls (with Fidel no less). Food is pretty good as well, but I've only eaten in the bar section, not the dining room.

    3) EL PATIO in Plaza de la Catedral is also great. You can dine inside or outside in the square under unbrellas. I prefer the outside because the music isn't quite as loud, and I simply love to soak up the atmosphere in the Plaza. Service can be a bit slow however. I often stop here for lunch (Sandwich Cubano) with a cold Crystal Beer. Very nice.

    4) LA BODEGUITA DEL MEDIO
    If you are in Havana and want a great Mojito at the legendary bar made famous by Ernest Hemmingway, then you have to have a drink at The Bodeguita Del Medio, Empedrado 207, Habana Vieja (Old Havana). Comida Criolla y Mojitos (Native food and Mojitos), what a great place to eat and drink. Located just around the corner from Cathedral Square. The walls are covered with signatures of its patrons from the day it opened. Famous signatures such as Hemmingway's and Salvadore Allende's are protected under glass. No visit to Havana is complete without a Mojito at la Bodeguita.

    5) LA DIVINA PASTORA. Parque Histórico Militar Morro-Cabaña. Tucked into the berth of the sailing ship El Galeón at the foot of El Morro Castle, it is a good spot for dinner after the cañonazo (cannon blast) at La Cabaña. I took my girlfriend here and the atmosphere is terrific. Soft breeze, soft music and soft lips. What a treat. Very romantic spot with the lights of the harbor glimmering. The food is good too. Not a place where you have paid for the view and get substandard fare. Worth every penny, though it does take quite a few of them. If you only have one night and want to make it special, then this is the place to go.
    Also, right alongside La Divina Pastoria is a small annex bar called BAR EL MIRADOR which also offers terrific city views and the same menu as the main restaurant next door. A breezy terrace makes it one of Havana's romantic getaways. Standard criollo dishes -- plátanos a puñetazos, frijoles negros, ropa vieja -- are available along with international specialties.

    6) AMELIA - Also in Miramar suburb in the Miramar Trade Center directly across the street from the Melia Habana Hotel. (Calle 3ra. e/ 78 y 80, Miramar. Playa. Ciudad de La Habana) Classy dining but won't break the budget. I've eaten there three times and have always enjoyed it and felt I received value for the money.

    7) La TERRAZA - which is an outdoor patio/grill at the Melia Habana Hotel which I had a very nice steak dinner at. Also their fish was good the night I ate there.

    8) Cafe La MINA - Calle Obispo No. 106 esq. a Oficios, right at the edge of Plaza de Armas at the corner of Oficios. Excellent food and a reasonable wine list. There's a nice Cuban Chardonnay called San Cristobal that is quite enjoyable at $14 / btl. You can eat outside and watch the world pass by, or for a more intimate dining experience, the central patio courtyard with it's lush vegitation is a nice spot. The food is great and dinner for two including a nice bottle of wine and dessert will set you back about $50.

    9) DULCERIA DONA TERESA - Also on Calle Obispo just north of Plaza Armas. Good food and here is where I usually have a nice sandwich Cubano for lunch and a cold beer. They also have good hearty chicken soup that I have enjoyed. Outdoor patio area only.

    To the west of the Capitolo on Ave. Dragones is a small China Town. Not bad actually. I wandered around and ate at a place that looked nice. Sorry, didn't note the name.

    Also, in the Miramar suburb just about opposite the El Aljibe (and near the Canadian Embassy is a place called Sandwichteria (not sure of exact spelling) which is a very cheap place to eat. Sort of a cross between a sub-shop/burger stand/ice-cream parlor where you can eat cheap but good. Six of us ate there (3 adults, 3 kids) and got out for less than $30 US. It's very popular with the local Cubans so its also a fun place to eat. Very informal.

    Other good eats can be found in Paladars which are restaurants licensed by the government but run by private owners. Here's some suggestions sent to my by one of my good friends in Havana.

    La Guarida
    Calle Concordia #418, entre Gervasaio y Escobar (8669047).
    Open 7pm-midnight daily; reservation required.
    Main courses $15-$20.
    Perhaps the best-known paladar of them all, La Guarida owes its fame to Fresa y Chocolate, the successful 1993 Cuban movie, which was filmed on the premises. Finding this place among the Havana rubble is a rewarding experience; the surrounding buildings are near to collapse, but the restaurant has been restored beautifully. The prices here are a little higher than at the average paladar, but the choice and quality of the international food justify this. Although the normal 12-covers rule doesn't apply (the owners must be well connected), it is still necessary to make an advance booking to secure a table.

    La Cocina de Lilliam
    Calle 48 #1311, entre 13 y 15, Playa (2096514).
    Open noon-3pm, 7-10pm Mon-Fri, Sun; closed Sat.
    Main courses $8.50-$10.
    La Cocina de Lilliam offers the best cooking in Havana and has earned a deserved reputation among expatriates for well prepared, well presented and tasty food. The chickpeas, fish and the ropa vieja are especially recommended. Dining in the garden is a delight and service is quick and unobtrusive. This place is something of a trek from the main tourist scene, but it's totally worth the taxi fare as La Cocina de Lilliam represents the best value for money in Havana. Note the unusual opening times. "

    "La Esperanza
    Calle 16, No. 105, esq. Avda. 1 y 3
    Miramar
    Tel.: 22 43 61
    Friday to Wednesday, lunch and dinner
    Moderate
    La Esperanza reminds me of some of the small, family-run restaurants I knew in parts of San Francisco in the 1980s. It is located in a 1930s-era middle-class family house in the chic district of Miramar. Diners are invited to take an aperitif in the living room and relax on a big, fluffy couch while gazing at an eclectic collection of modernist paintings, sculptures, religious icons and dusty family photographs. The handful of tables, also in the living room, have lovely family china, cutlery, tablecloths and napkins. There's a deft, light touch to the cooking, whether a crisp and refreshing salad of grilled eggplant or a main course of roasted chicken in a spicy tomato sauce. The friendly service is as if you are eating in a friend's home. This isn't really a restaurant; it's a dinner party.

    La Casa
    Calle 30, No. 865 e/26 y 41
    Nuevo Vedado
    Tel.: 81 70 00
    Monday to Sunday, lunch and dinner
    Moderate
    This is a cool hangout for those looking for the 1950s Miami/Havana atmosphere. This tiny restaurant is on the ground floor of a stucco family home built during that decade, complete with an industrial iron staircase, veneered wooden furniture and brightly painted rooms. (I thought I even saw a lava lamp and a wooden Spanish galleon clock.) Ask for a table on the tiny patio with a small pond with turtles floating by. The food is good, straightforward fare. A mixed starter of delicious fish ceviche, fried yucca, onion rings, potato balls and squid in a spicy tomato sauce is a meal in itself. The fresh fish, usually snapper, is always delicious for a main course, as well as grilled chicken or pork chops. Stay away from sauces, since they can be heavy, especially on a warm summer's night.

    La Chansonnier
    Calle J, No. 257, e/15 y Linea
    Vedado
    Tel.: 32 15 76
    Monday to Sunday, dinner only
    Inexpensive
    Although this very good, small family-run restaurant no longer has outdoor seating, it still dishes up excellent food. Located in a large neocolonial house from the early 1900s, it drips with atmosphere. The food is not very French as the name suggests, but it is hearty, simple cuisine. Order the special salad made with ripe tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, tuna, olives and anything else that resembles fresh vegetables. It's big enough for two people. Main courses of roasted rabbit in mustard sauce or pork chops are always good.

    La Fontana
    Calle 3ra A, No. 305, esq. 46
    Miramar
    Tel.: 22 83 37
    Monday to Sunday, lunch and dinner
    Inexpensive
    This is basically a Cuban barbecue joint serving up very good meat, poultry and fish on an outdoor grill. Seating is in the garden and in the cellar. The food is typical Cuban Criollo cuisine, with lots of fried yucca and marange; black beans and rice accompany everything. The spare ribs and small pork cutlets are particularly good. Come with an appetite; this is bold, pull-your-stomach-in Cuban home cooking."

    Al Medina:
    Calle de los Oficios 12, Havana, Cuba
    Phone: 7/863-0862
    Reports say this is a great restaurant for vegetarians though I have not been there.

    You must think all I do is eat, but it is a great hobby. In my trips I have found some nice spots and plan to spend more time just relaxing and absorbing the atmosphere.

    Have fun and FORGET THE DIET...... ha, ha, ha.

    I've been to Havana many times and still have lots more to see. If you feel like looking at some photos of Havana (with full captions and descriptions) then have a look at my website at.
    http://photopilot.tripod.com

    Hope you enjoy yourselves and have a Mojito for me.

    Steve

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    hi, you are all so lucky to be able to travel to cuba. someday americans may be free too. of course that will probably change the way the island is now and that may not be for the better. perhaps i need to emigrate north instead. i have wanted to go to cuba for so long now...
    your photos are wonderful. my favorites are #153 & 157, i am struck by how clean and well almost deserted havana looks. did you take your photos in the early am or it is always that way? the architecture is wonderful.
    as a girl, my mother used to tell me stories of her visits to cuba in the late 30's, with her sister and my great aunt - going to the nightclubs and beaches. i wish i could recall more of what she told me now.
    thank you so much steve and todd, for the pics.

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    The pictures you refer to are from the resort we stayed at in Cayo Coco (we flew into Havana). Havana is a very interesting city with very distinct areas that relate to its history. Cuba has its good points and its bad points. It would certainly be a different place if and when American intervention returns (not necessarily a good thing).

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