Havana Journals

Xploring Havana, Cuba

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A November 1999 trip to Havana by the Xplorer

El Che Photo, Havana, Cuba More Photos
Quote: A trip to Havana Cuba is a trip back in time. It is a unique and exciting place where history and culture meet and where one of the modern worlds’ social and political controversies can still be witnessed first hand.

Xploring Havana, Cuba

Overview

Mass Transit Photo, Havana, Cuba
Quote:
The city sits against the coast and boasts miles of walking along the shoreline on what they call El Malecon. The locals come by the hundreds at mid-day to take in a siesta and chat with their friends along the long wall. The walk from El Malecon down one of the main avenues, El Prado is flanked by Spanish colonial buildings and lined with large, looming shaddy trees. Your walk up El Prado will lead you to the Theater and Capitol building and one of the main plazas of the City. The ancient Catherdral faces one of the hippest plazas in the city, where restaurants, cafes, hotels and musicians bask you in their culture. Overlooking the city is one of its national icons, El Mo...Read More

Havana Restaurants

Restaurant | "Where are all the Restaurants?"

Havana Restaurants Photo, Havana, Cuba
Quote:
Don't get me wrong. There are restaurants in the city of Havana, but in looking at the city as a whole, there are almost no restaurants. It is mysterious when you first arrive and you drive through miles of the outer city without seeing a single restaurant. Restaurants exist but are primarily for tourists only and you will find them all at the center. Private restaurants are illegal as is capitalism in general. You are not allowed to own anything. Everything is owned by the government, that’s communism. Outside the center, what you might find are vendors selling food illegally, made with ingredients purchased from the black market. We hired someone to take us around the city lo...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 8, 2000

Havana Restaurants
Havana
Havana, Cuba

Nine O'clock Canon

Attraction | "The Nine O'clock Canon"

Nine O'clock Canon Photo, Havana, Cuba
Quote:
There is an ancient fortress that overlooks the city, El Morro. Every night at precisely 9pm there is a wonderful cultural celebration worth seeing. After gaining entry to the Fortress, you will proceed through many old buildings now housing museum artifacts dating way back. You will also find souvenir shops and a unique historical environment. A little before 9pm a single soldier emerges dressed in turn-of-the-century costume bearing a flaming torch. He proceeds through the cobble stone streets lighting torches along the route that leads to the canon, a high spot that overlooks the entire city. Once completed, an entire troop of soldiers begin their march toward the canon. It i...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 8, 2000

Nine O'clock Canon
El Morro
Havana, Cuba

Varadero

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Attraction | "Side trip to Varadero"

Quote:
A couple hours east of Havana is a town called Varadero. If you want to see the nicest beach in Cuba, this is your best bet. There are buses that go between Havana and Varadero that cater to tourists and are reasonably priced. The beaches seem abandoned compared to the United States or other Caribbean locations. The beaches aren't manicured or look like the best kept in the world, but one thing for sure, they are beautiful. Clear water and white sand for miles. Over the last decade hotels have been slowly popping up along the beach which until recently were still populated by individual bungalows. The beach is long and offers plenty of room to roam. I observed that the hotels a...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 8, 2000

Varadero
Playa Azul
Matanzas, Cuba 11300

The Cuban Authorities

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Story/Tip

El Che Photo, Havana, Cuba
Quote:
One of the main avenues that branch out from the center of Havana leads to the Plaza de Independencia. This plaza holds the main governmental buildings where Fidel and Raul Castro are said to spend large amounts of time even though no one is exactly certain where. One of the buildings has a large surface sculpture of "Che" Guevara, which is beautifully lit at night. One of the nights, we stopped in the plaza and I got out in front of this building and began to set up my tripod to take a photo of the "Che". My light meter called for a thirty second open exposure shot and as I released the shutter, a National Security Military car screeched up to our car that was pulled over in the plaza...Read More

Cuban Highways

Story/Tip

Waiting for a Ride Photo, Havana, Cuba
Quote:
There is a road that leaves Havana toward the east that is proudly called the Ocho Via (Eight Lanes). When I first heard of it, it sounded like something you'd find entering Atlanta or some large sprawling city. If you decide to travel by car, be warned. It's not the smoothest road in the world. There are plenty of potholes to show for the decades of neglect. Top speed is not posted but no one dares go more than 30-35 miles per hour to give you ample time to dodge the holes that seem large enough to swallow a car. The road seemed deserted, cars pass a handful of times a day. Overpasses that offer shade are crowded with locals hoping to catch a ride with a passing truck going in their...Read More