By Megan Chacon-DiazMaybe it’s something they put in the mojitos, but a trip to Havana is unlike any other. I recently took a trip to the beautiful Cuban capital, where I was immersed in their local culture and discovered the historic city. Read on for the highlights of my time spent in Havana.
What did you love most about Havana?
It feels like traveling back in time. From the hundreds of 1950’s Chevys (imported before the U.S. embargo in 1962) to the Colonial architecture, Havana can feel like a beautiful, outdoor museum.
Where would you take a first-timer in this city?
Old Havana. You can walk around for hours and get lost in the beauty of the city. Join the non-stop party with one of the city’s most famous exports, the mojito, at storied bars like La Bodeguita Del Medio or El Floridita Bar. American writer Ernest Hemingway loved El Floridita so much, they commissioned a statue of him sitting at the bar.
What is one thing that a first-timer must do in this city?
Take a tour in a vintage car. It’s popular with tourists, but it’s a must. It’s also a great way to explore the many districts of Havana not easily reached by public transportation.
What is your favorite dish from here, and where might we find it?
The croquetas. Now that I think about it, my trip to Havana was basically a croqueta crawl. While you can find them in almost any restaurant, my personal favorites are from El Parque Central Hotel.
Tell us about the locals.
In spite of wars, revolutions, and the U.S. trade embargo, the locals are optimistic and upbeat. At any given moment, you can catch Havana locals dancing, laughing, and gathering around Wi-Fi hotspots.
What is something they have in this city that you wish you had at home?
Perhaps because the internet is not permitted in private homes (Wi-Fi access is restricted to hotspots, usually at hotels), Cubans have the ability to disconnect and live in the moment. For me, finding Wi-Fi was difficult; so difficult that I just decided to go two days without texts, calls, or Instagram. Yes, it’s actually possible, and not only did I survive to tell this story, but I also enjoyed it.
What are five words that describe this city?
Beautiful, good food, great people.
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