Cuba, and Havana in particular was always a place that I wanted to go and visit, and last year I was finally able to realize that dream. For Americans this is still a slightly challenging visa to get but it is nowhere near as impossible as it once was. For the rest of you who are interested in getting to Havana then my recommendation would be that you do so sooner rather than later, because there are changes taking place which means that it is not as traditional as it once was.
Thankfully this trip showed me that Havana was the gorgeous place that I always thought it was, and here is what to expect when you visit.
I didn’t really have any fears about safety when I went to Havana, just the normal thoughts that you have when you travel somewhere new. What I did not expect however was just how safe this place was going to be. To give an example, we went out one night and to finish the evening off we went down to the water’s edge with some unknown locals, to enjoy the last moments of the evening. When we decided that we would walk home, the locals followed us and made us quite uneasy. What we quickly realized however, was that nothing happens to tourists here, because of the severe penalties which the locals would face if that happened. In reality the people were lovely and we chatted to them before retiring, a lovely experience.
Just Like The Movies
I have absolutely no doubt that Havana was very different some years ago but there is still the same vibe in the city which you would have seen in the movies. The classic American cars for example, the quiet streets and the traditional architecture, all of that is here to be found and it looks every bit as impressive as you can imagine.
Music critic Rose Burillo write about the amazing music in the city and that was something which I was really looking forward to. Rose was right because the amount of jazz and funky music which we heard and saw throughout Havana was really special and there is absolutely no doubt that this is a city which really wants to have a great time. This may be more for the tourists than for anyone else, but it is something which is palpable when you get to the center of the city.
Tough to See
Growing up I really idolized the likes of Che Guevara and the revolution which the Cubans put into play, and communism always mad so much sense to me. The reality however is that judging by the people we spoke to, communism wasn’t exactly working. When you have doctors getting paid the same as the trash collector, or someone having to decide between food or clothes with their income, then you know very quickly that things aren’t exactly what they seem. The best that I can say about this is that it was an eye opening experience. We met people who were not asking for our money, but who would ask if we could donate clothes, and that was pretty telling.
Is Havana on your list?