Ten Things I Love About Havana

I think Pete and I have been doing a good job of keeping up with our lives and interests while figuring out this parenting business.  But do you know what I haven’t been doing lately?  Travelling.  And I probably won’t be doing much of it for a while.  Pete is completely averse to travelling with a baby.  In the meantime, I’ve decided to cope with my travel fever by blogging about some of our trips.

Pete and I fell in love with Havana when we went there two and a half years ago. I had been to Cuba before, but never to Havana.  Big mistake.  Havana is magical.

Great Theatre of Havana

Here are some reasons why:

1) The people.  I know this may seem cliche, but I really mean it.  Cubans are friendly, warm and welcoming people.  And when they are sure no one is listening, they’ll tell you what they *really* think of the brothers Castro.

2) Cheap, delicious pizza.  Cuba is not known for its food.  But in Havana, we found a little pizza place (which was someone’s house with a little window open to the street) where we could buy yummy little personal pizzas for the equivalent of thirty cents Canadian.  I think that was the moment Pete fell for Havana.

Mmm…so affordable.

3) Safety.  I’ve never felt as safe in a large city as I did in Havana.

Typical Havana scene

4) Old Havana.  It’s simply gorgeous.  But of course, if you only see Old Havana, the very well-preserved and tourist-friendly portion of the city, you’re really missing out.

Cathedral of Havana

5) Cristobal Colon Cemetery.  When we toured the cemetery, we were the only ones there, which made it seem even more peaceful and serene (or creepy, according to Pete).

Colon Cemetery

6) Revolution Museum.  The museum is housed in the former Presidential Palace, which was stormed by the revolutionaries who ousted President Batista and installed Fidel Castro.  It’s hard to describe the Revolution Museum in a quick blurb, but I’ll try.  The museum will leave you in no doubt that the former regime of Fulgencio Batista was terribly corrupt and brutal (his jewel encrusted gun sums it up nicely), but the museum’s efforts to convince you that the current government has fostered nothing but happiness and prosperity are unconvincing, to put it diplomatically.

Also, just in case you aren’t aware, the Cuban government is not a big fan of Ronald Reagan.

The Revolution Museum has a “Wall of Cretins”

7) Mob history.  Before we went to Cuba, Pete gave me a book called Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost it to the Revolution.  It details the role of the mob in Havana before the Revolution.  I highly recommend it.  If you’re interested in the mafia, in the Cuban Revolution, or are a fan of The Godfather (especially Part II), you’ll love it.

8) The Russian Embassy.  How menacing is this building?  In a completely over-the-top, Cold-War sort of way, of course.  We had a view of the embassy from our hotel and Pete thought it looked like an angry Transformer.

Some Cubans think the Russian embassy looks like a syringe. I can see it.

9) Cheap pizza.  Pete insisted that I put this in here twice.  That’s how much he enjoyed the delicious, homemade, 30 cent pizza.

10) Tie! Revolution Square and  La Cabana Fortress.  Sorry about the tie, but it became necessary when I was forced to mention the pizza twice.  Revolution Square, with its giant statue of national hero Jose Marti and famous portrait of Che Guevara, can’t be missed.

The 18th century La Cabana Fortress is the largest fortress complex in the Americas.  It boasts a beautiful view of the city and a lot of interesting exhibits, including one focusing on Che Guevara’s place in the fort’s history.  He oversaw tribunals and executions during the Revolution.

Every night at 9:00 pm, there is a ceremony re-enacting the old tradition of firing a cannon to signal the closing of the city walls.

View from the fortress

Honourable Mention: Pete wanted me to mention that we took a cab into the city centre one day and when the cab driver opened up the glove compartment, there was a half-empty mickey of rum inside.  It’s the little (slightly terrifying) things that remind you that you’re not in Canada anymore.  Pete apologizes for the lack of photographic evidence.  He wasn’t quite quick enough with the camera.

* I apologize for the lack of proper accents in this post.  My keyboard is not cooperating.

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15 thoughts on “Ten Things I Love About Havana

  1. Pingback: Bike, Banjo & Baby - The SITS Girls

    • Are you from the U.S.? Cuba is a really popular destination for Canadians but even among Canadians Havana is often overlooked. A lot of people visit resort areas and skip the capital. It’s simply amazing there. And my husband definitely recommends the pizza!

    • I really can’t say enough good things about Havana. My Dad has been to Cuba every year for the last ten years (at least) and he still hasn’t been to the capital. Can you believe that? He obviously doesn’t listen to his daughter’s travel advice.

  2. Travel with littles is not as bad as you’t think I swear! I have done more of it that is recommended I am sure but it really isn’t that bad although a 23 hour flight with a 6 month old can be a bit on the educational side LOL but seriously it is totally survivable! Havana looks like fun though, that is one place I have not ventured.

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