Havana Journals

Hola la Habana!

An October 2000 trip to Havana by Joel

Quote: Despite its turbulent history, Havana suffered little damage in the country's wars and revolutions, and stands today much as it was built 100 years ago or more. Bursting with centuries-old buildings and buzzing with a strong sense of the past, there's an air of faded glory about the city as big 50s and 60s American automobiles still dominate the streets and paint and plaster peel off everywhere. The city is peppered with glorious Spanish colonial architecture, much of which is under restoration. Old Havana - La Habana Vieja - was declared an Unesco World Heritage Site in 1982. Since then, the government has been overseeing restoration work. In the last ten years, the arrival of both Canadian and European investment has meant new hotel construction as well as the refurbishment of old properties. After years of undeniable decline, this impressive metropolis is rising like a phoenix from its ashes.

Hola la Habana!

Overview

Quote:
1) Capitolio Nacional
2) Gran Teatro
3) Museo de la Revolución
4) Habana Veija

Quick Tips:

Best Way To Get Around:

Ambos Mundos

Hotel

Quote:
It's the same hotel where Ernest Hemingway used to stay and write for ten years from 1932, before he moved to his house in Cojimar. This stylishly artistic 1920's hotel features an original metal cage elevator and a nice rooftop terrace. You'll find monuments, museums, cobblestone plazas, restaurants and cocktail bars all within easy walking distance. There's a lot of sightseeing to do...

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 13, 2000

Ambos Mundos
Obispo No.153 esq. Mercaderes
Havana, Cuba

Bodeguita del Medio

Restaurant

Quote:
Downtown Havana is also the place to be if you are keen on cocktails. No one should miss the great writer's favorite bars in the old quarters. Hemingway always went to the Bodeguita del Medio (Empedrado e/ San Ignacio y Mercaderes) to drink his usual tripple, a mojito, and then he usually went straight to El Floridita (Monserrate esq. Obispo) to taste the excellent daiquiris served there, shaken not stirred. The Bodeguita del Medio is made famous by Hemingway. This immensely popular classic was the hangout for Havana's bohemian crowd in the 1940s. The walls of this usually overcrowded bar are covered in autographs and scribbled messages and therefore some of the old spirit has retained.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 13, 2000

Bodeguita del Medio
Empedrado 207 entre San Ignacio y Cuba
La Habana, Cuba 10100
+53 7 571375

El Floridita

Restaurant

Quote:
Downtown Havana is also the place to be if you are keen on cocktails. No one should miss the great writer's favorite bars in the old quarters. Hemingway always went to the Bodeguita del Medio (Empedrado e/ San Ignacio y Mercaderes) to drink his usual tripple, a mojito, and then he usually went straight to El Floridita (Monserrate esq. Obispo) to taste the excellent daiquiris served there, shaken not stirred. The Bodeguita del Medio is made famous by Hemingway. This immensely popular classic was the hangout for Havana's bohemian crowd in the 1940s. The walls of this usually overcrowded bar are covered in autographs and scribbled messages and therefore some of the old spirit has retained.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 13, 2000

El Floridita
Monserrate esq. Obispo
Havana, Cuba

Café de Paris

Restaurant

Quote:
If you don't want to follow in Hemingway's footsteps, there is another cozy open-front bar near the Ambos Mundos hotel in the tighly packed shopping street of Obispo. If you follow the luring tunes that cascade from the corner of Obispo and San Ignacio you will find a predominantly local crowd and an extremely relaxing port at Café Paris. I stopped here for an inexpensive mojito, while I watched street vendors sell cigars to other tourists or beautiful mulata women passing by. This little bar, with a worn simplicity that belies the party atmosphere stirred up by a live band, is always packed with a mix of tourists and locals. As you see, I like to hang out in a cheerful café. It always a nice pla...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 13, 2000

Café de Paris
Obispo esq. San Ignacio
Havana, Cuba

Capitolio Nacional

Attraction

Quote:
After strolling through narrow atmospheric streets bristling with life , some of them with refined colonial mansions, we ended up in Central Havana. Without knowing it, we stood in front of Havana's most memorable landmarks- the awesome Capitolio Nacional. Its solid, columned front gloriously dominates this part of the skyline. Modelled after the U.S. Capitol, though smaller, it was home to the Cuban Congress before the Revolution. It now houses the Cuban Academy of Sciences and the National Library of Science and Technology. I was silenced once inside the magnificent polished entrance hall. A plushly decorated interior full of striking and extravagant Rococo-style details. The seat of the House ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 13, 2000

Capitolio Nacional
Calle Paseo del Prado
La Habana, Cuba 10600
+53 7 620353

Gran Teatro de La Habana, García Lorca

Attraction | "Gran Teatro"

Quote:
Another attention-grabber is undoubtedly the Gran Teatro, next to the Capitolio Nacional. As it looks good on the outside with its balustrated balconies, colonnaded cornices and sculpted stone figures it's even more impressive on the inside. Nowadays, the Gran Teatro itself is still used for theatrical and opera performances. Other parts of the buidling are used as ballet or theatre classrooms. You don't need to attend a performance to get a proper look inside. For only 2 USD, you are able to get a guided tour by a beautiful young Latino lady. An enormous marble staircase led us to the second floor where there used to be a casino in the good old times. Because it was Saturday, there weren't many stude...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 13, 2000

Gran Teatro de La Habana, García Lorca
Paseo de Martí 458, esquina a San Rafael
La Habana, Cuba 10600
+53 7 613078

Museum of the Revolution (Museo de la Revolucion)

Attraction | "Museo de la Revolución"

Quote:
The Museo de la Revolución is only a few blocks away from the Gran Teatro. Because I didn't make time to visit the Museo 26 de Julio at the Cuartel Moncada in Santiago, I decided to visit this one and it was soon entirely clear that the Museo de la Revolución must be the country's most comprehensive celebration of the revolution. And would it be a coincidence that the museum is housed in the sumptuous presidential palace of dictator Bastista? The revolutionary war was surprisingly well-documented photographically and there are some fantastic dramatic pictures and interesting quotes. At first, I read most of the annotations with enthusiasm but after an hour, it became monotonous. There is just too much...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 13, 2000

Museum of the Revolution (Museo de la Revolucion)
Calle Refugio 1
La Habana, Cuba 10600
+53 7 624091

Open-air museum

Story/Tip

Quote:
Unfortunately, time flies and there is still so much to see in Havana- the oldest cigar factory in the country, Fábrica de Tobacos Partagás, the famous seawall Malecón, Casa Natal de José Martí and the cultural heart of the city known as Vedado, to mention only a few. These are all good reasons to come back again...

Inasmuch as I'm already able to summarize my stay here, Havana seems to be a melting pot of cultures and races, an open-air museum under the strict direction of the bearded Fidel Castro. And I guess many Habaneros are proud of their capital city. Meanwhile, I'm glad I have seen it. Havana is a virus, resistant to any medicine.