Havana Highlights. Havana the brilliant and decrepit capital of Cuba is a diamond in the rough. A smorgasbord of people and cultures have melded in this Caribbean metropolis. Over two million people are crammed in this city founded in the 16th century by the Spanish. Old Havana (La Habana Vieja) is a UNESCO world heritage site. Havana offers so many options from museums to cafes, yet you will be fulfilled simply by exploring its streets.
While there are a handful of touts roaming the city looking to separate you from your money, you will meet some genuine friendly, people on the streets of Havana. Buenos dias!
The reputation is spot on. Expect to hear a lot of music. Whether it is on a street corner or a restaurant, whether it is a lone guys with a guitar or an ensemble; you will be thoroughly entertained. Musical talent overflowith in Havana. Bring some cash, they deserve your tips. Enjoy.
My favorite song from Cuba, from two different artists.
It is all true. Be prepared to be overwhelmed with Americana car awesomeness. Witness these beautifully, rainbow-colored cars. Slide into the backseat of one of these convertibles and be chauffeured around town in 1950s style. A US embargo that began in the early 1960s, has prevented any new US automobiles from gracing the streets of Cuba. Cubans have been forced to jerry rig their cars to keep them running.
The Cigars and Rums
Cuba Libre. Mojitos. Daiquiris. Havana is numerous watering holes to enjoy these cocktails. These drinks’ lineage can be traced right in Havana. And of course, enjoy that drink with a Cuban cigar.
The Spanish love their plazas and open spaces, and Havana has their fair share of spectacular plazas in the old city. Relax and stroll through these historic landmarks.
Plaza de Armas
Plaza de San Francisco
Plaza de la Caterdral
Cementerio de Cristóbal Colón was founded in 1876 and sprawls 140 acres. It was named after Christopher Columbus and contains over 500 major mausoleums and vaults. Over 1,000,000 are interred here. Colon is considered one of the great historical cemeteries in the world. There is a beautiful, 75 foot monument to a group of fallen firefighters who lost their lives in 1890. Spend some time admiring this historical landmark.
Monument to fallen firefighters
Coppelia Ice Cream
When in Havana, make sure you visit this Havana landmark. Gates open at 10 am, and I was impressed as 200 people rolled into the ice cream parlor. This state run organization founded in 1966 and 35,000 customers visit a day. And you are part of history when you dine here, Coppelia was the brainchild of Fidel Castro himself.
Cuba has a well-earned reputation in sports excellence. In fact, Cuba is one of the top 20 countries for winning medals in the summer Olympics, despite have less than 12 million people. Cuba excels in both boxing and baseball. I spent some time visiting the Gimnasio de Boxeo Rafael Trejogym. I watched a group of kids train in the ring. I made a small donation to the coach when I visited the gym. If you go, consider bringing some boxing equipment, they are in need.