La Habana, Cuba (Part 1)

 

Callejon de Hamel

 We left our casa in search of breakfast. I asked an Afrocuban named Miguel,” where we could find breakfast”?. He stated that “we could find breakfast at Callon de Hamel”. He offered to walks us there because he was heading that way. Although I wanted to politely decline, my friend Maria wanted to take him up on his offer. We did not find breakfast and settled on lunch instead. The food was 20 CUC included fish, mashed potatoes, rice, beans, soda, ice cream, and coffee. Be prepared for lots of tourist coming to the restaurant as it is a popular landmark due to the Fast and Furious 8 was filmed nearby.

 

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Fish, potatoes, lettuce, & cucumber

 

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Ice cream (it was super sweet)

 

The best time to go to Callejon de Hamel is on Sunday from 12pm-3pm. At 12 pm, they start singing, drumming and dancing to the sounds of Rumba music. The alley is decorated with various art pieces made by Salvador Gonzalez. You can walk and see everything in a short amount of time but it’s nice to stay at least an hour or two listening to music.

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Mural by Salvador Gonzalez

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Posing in front of the entrance of Callejon de Hamel
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Renee in front of the taxi

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After leaving Callejon de Hamel, Miguel took us to cigar festival. It is not an actual festival but cigar workers are allowed to take cigar home and sell them at cheaper prices. My friend Maria bought a box of cigars for $60 CUC.

After buying cigars, Miguel brought us to a WiFi park he demanded money for showing him around. Maria bought him a drink at the restaurant and gave him 5 CUC to which he was not happy about. I’m not mad at the hustle but I don’t like him not being honest. We constantly asked him if he was going to Callejon de Hamel he stated yes and we basically told him at the restaurant that he didn’t have to stay. So beware of those who may ask for money to take you around.

 

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Miguel

 

Urban Adventures

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We took an old car tour with Urban Adventures. We booked this excursion with Yanet Maria who was very responsive to inquiries and request. Price per person was 30 CUC. They arrived with a red and purple old car. We were super excited to be driving down the Malecon, rooftop down, with the wind blowing in our face.

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Our first stop was the Almendares River/Havana Forest. Almendares river is a water supply for Havana and flows all the way into Florida. The view inside the forest is very picturesque as it has lots of trees and vegetation.

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Love the old cars

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Cousin Shawanna doing a yoga pose
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Tiffany, Renee, Michelle, Maria & Shawanna

 

The forest is known for its practice of voodoo or famously known as Santeria. Santeria is Spanish word which means worship of saints. Santeria is derived from the Yoruba people in Nigeria. This ritual includes animal sacrifice, drumming and dancing and communicating with ancestors. Although we did not see any ceremonies we did notice chicken feathers, bones, and clothing with blood inside the forest. (Yes I was praying while in the forest.  LOL)

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Bloody Clothes
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Bird Bones

 

Plaza de Revolucion

Our next stop was Plaza de Revolucion or Revolution Square. It is the largest city square in Cuba. Political Rallies take place in this square. Fidel is known to have the Guinness world records for the longest speech in history. He spoke for 7 hours without taking a break. In Revolution Square, you will see images of 2 Cuban heroes Che Guevara “Hasta la Victoria Siempre” (Until the Everlasting Victory, Always)  and Camilo Cienfuegos “Vas bien, Fidel” (You’re doing fine, Fidel). As well as the Jose Marti Memorial.

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Camilo Cienfuegos “Vas bien, Fidel”
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Che Guevara “Hasta la Victoria Siempre”
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Jose Marti Memorial in the background

 

Hotel Nacional

Hotel Nacional is a luxury hotel near the Malecon that was built in 1930. We visited the Hall of Fame, a room that has a miniature version of the entire hotel as well as several walls with pictures of famous people who have stayed at Hotel Nacional. Famous people such as Winston Church Hill, Micky Mantle, Ernest Hemingway, and Barack Obama have stayed at this hotel.

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In the evening, we enjoyed the Parisien Cabaret a Cuban dance show. The music is a mixture of Hispanic, African and Indoamerican and Cuban. The show starts nightly at 10 pm and doors open at 9 pm. Entrance fee is $40 and includes a mojito.

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Our Airbnb Piti host dropped us off at Cabaret Parisien

Our first Airbnb was located in La Habana, Cuba near the Malecon. We loved our host Piti because he was very helpful and droves us around our first day in Havana.

Dinner 

Don’t forget to check out Paladar Vistamar for dinner. Dinner is great and the views were surreal. Views consisted of the sun setting,  and a  infinity pool with the waves crashing in the background from the ocean.

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Seafood Platter- Lobster, fish, octopus

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25 Comments

  1. I’ve seen so many people go to Cuba recently. The country looks beautiful. I’ve heard there aren’t many tourist-y type places and I love that. Sometimes countries and cities over do it with tourist attractions

    • Yes its a beautiful country and Im so glad people going. Its a lot of history and a lot to be learned from traveling there. Its touristy places but the best part of Cuba its immersing yourself in the culture.

  2. Great recap. You guys went to a lot of key places. Wish I knew about the rain forest. That looks like it would’ve been a nice trip.

    • Thanks Jo, yes I love finding things along the way but that is why I enjoy guided tours because they know about certain places to go to.

    • It was a blast. I’m not sure what type of bird it was. I believe they sacrifice other things but that is the only evidence we actually saw. Yes thank god for seafood, I loved it.

  3. You guys saw and did a lot of stuff. I loved your pics and was praying for you when I read about you visiting Santeria. Girl!!!! LOL!!!

    • LOL, girl thank you for the prayers, where 2 or more are gathered.. If I go back I want to take an Afro Religion tour as I’m interested to hear how they held onto the African traditions throughout the years..

  4. I loved the authenticity of seeing Cuba. Some of the photos need to be rotated, but it looks like you had a fantastic time. Beautiful!

    • Thank you so much, I used a plugin to rotate the computers but I see that its not actively working.

  5. You gals had a great time, the taxi looks funny. You took some great pictures, the sunset is beautiful. The bloody clothes and animal bones would have totally freaked me out.

    • Yes Ms. Mimi I was a little afraid in the forest and made sure I said some prayers. The taxi was funny looking and I never rode in it, but I should have for the experience. Yes when I seen other people pictures I knew I had to make it there for the photo op. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much, appreciate it. Yes lots of history, I want to return later to hear more about the culture and history.

    • Thank you, Im so glad I went as well. Hopefully the president has other things to worry about then us traveling to Cuba but with him you never know.

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