Ask avid travelers what their “bucket list' cities are, and I guarantee you that Havana in Cuba is on most of them; for those who didn’t list it, it’s because they forgot and are now hurriedly trying to delete one of their previous entries so they can add it in.
I know this was certainly the case for me, and I count myself very fortunate to have visited this amazing place more than once. For those of you who have always wanted to go to Cuba, then allow my most recent experience last August be the little nudge you need.
Since there’s so much to tell you about Havana, I’m going to just stick to some of the highlights that, to me, will always be so representative of a visit to this amazing town.
Vroom vroom! These old cars from the 50’s and 60’s will always be the first things that come to my mind when I think of Cuba. Since the trade embargo initiated by the United States started in the early 1960’s, Cuba had been unable to import new vehicles, parts, or virtually anything else “Western” until very recently. This meant the Cubans had to be very resourceful in repairing and maintaining these beautiful machines. They really take the “reduce, reuse, recycle” ethos seriously here, mainly because they’ve been forced to make do with what they have, which is a refreshing sight after living in a “disposable” culture such as Asia. While most of these vehicles are used as common taxis, the more well-restored convertibles, like the ones shown here, are also used to give tours around the city to tourists (about $30 for an hour).
Another option for a fun way to get around the city is taking a motorbike with a sidecar:
We found this old guy hoping to pick up passengers near the La Floridita bar on Obispo street. His name was Ramon, he was about 70 years old and rode this amazing Russian bike from the 1950’s. He spoke next to no English, but agreed to give us a tour around Havana for an hour for about $11. My one semester of middle school Spanish tried to follow what he was saying as he took us around Vedado, Monumento and a few of the other districts, pointing out interesting spots and stopping a couple of times to explain what we were seeing. All in all, it was a fantastic way to see the city and the fun we had trying to understand each other was all part of the adventure.
Check back next Wednesday to see more of my highlights from Cuba!
(All photos and video taken by me on an iPhone6 from @PowermacCenter with a mojito-proof case courtesy of @Lifeproof. Thanks also to @piquadroph for my indestructible travel luggage)