Continued from last week's article...
Music and Dance
Every café or restaurant you enter in Havana in Cuba has music, and I don’t mean some canned pop on the radio or the waiter's spotify playlist. I mean real, live Latin music coming from a band without so much as an electric speaker. The raw energy and talent that comes from these incredible musicians is palpable and its hard not to get carried away in the songs and their effortlessly in-sync salsa steps. If you want to learn a few steps yourself, you might be lucky enough to pass by Parque Centrale where they sometimes give free salsa lessons to anyone passing by. In fact, music is such a part of their DNA that Havana locals stop outside the open air cafes on their way home from a hard day's work and drop their bags to have a little dance and get lost in the live music for a few minutes before moving on. It’s a beautiful thing to see what a therapeutic effect it has on everyone’s lives.
Click on video below to hear the music!
Rum and Mojitos
Obviously, you can’t take a trip to Cuba without tasting the rum, which is some of the best in the world. Just a couple of blocks down the road from Plaza San Francisco along the waterfront, I took the Havana Club Rum tour, which was quite fascinating (and naturally ended in taking shots of rum to commemorate the history lesson). Of course, to really appreciate Cuban rum, you need to try one of the country's most famous inventions, the Mojito.
Where to go to get the best Mojito in Havana? Simple, just take a leaf out of Ernest Hemingway’s book and go to his favorite bar La Bodeguita del Medio, which is rumored to be the birthplace of the mojito. This place is an awesome spot for a taste of Havana. The bands are good, the food is great, the atmosphere is always cool, and on a hot summer's day, the Mojitos refreshing blend of rum, mint, sugar, soda water and lime hits the spot just right. No wonder this drink became one of the most popular cocktails of all time. An added bonus is that you can leave a bit of yourself in Havana by writing your name on the walls, a tradition that has been going on since the 1950’s (although, it can be tricky finding a vacant piece of wall). The other bonus to enjoying a few mojito’s at the bar? Havana has virtually no crime, so a tipsy stagger back to your hotel or apartment is completely safe.
There’s so much more to Havana than old cars, music and mojito’s though.
So please read on next week, when I’ll tell you all about the art, architecture, beach and street scenes of this fascinating city.
Until then, Salud!
(All photos and video taken by Marc Nelson on an iPhone6 from @PowermacCenter
with a mojito-proof case courtesy of @Lifeproof.
Thanks also to @piquadroph for my indestructible travel luggage)