La Habana Vieja: Around the Harbor

Havana_04.jpg           Going to Cuba can feel like a trip back in time with Old Havana being one of the best parts of the country to experience. First you have the old world architecture and hospitality, then the classic 1950s cars, and nearly no Internet access to distract you from the experience. Why would you not want to visit? Light up a Cohiba, and wander the streets.

Havana_25            Old Havana starts where the Prado and the inlet to the harbor meet, both diverging from each other at about 30 degrees. One could follow either and have enough to fill a day, but today we follow the harbor.

Havana_26            The harbor offers many amazing views, starting with El Morro, the fort protecting the harbor, and the vast Gulf of Mexico.  If you start your excursion early enough you will always see a few fishermen working for their morning catch.

Havana_28          Follow the inlet for a nice sea breeze and wander towards Plaza Vieja. There in the corner, you’ll find the Café El Escorial, serving the best coffee in Havana. Have an espresso and watch the world open for business. Afterwards, since you’re so close, visit the Hotel Conde de Villanueve to pick up a Cohiba at the La Cassa del Habano!

Havana_09            By this time most of the vendors in the Plaza de Arms should be out, and what better way to enjoy a cigar then shopping outside in the square. A couple hours of this, maybe you buy something, and lunch is just around the corner with the Plaza de San Francisco offering plenty of options.

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Havana_10           Assuming the drinks and cigars have not weighed you down follow the harbor a bit more to find the San Jose Art Bazaar. Here you’ll discover an indoor shopping plaza showcasing many works from Cuban Artists, along with refreshments, food and other finds. If you buy a piece of art, make sure to get a certificate showing it was a private purchase for when you leave Cuba.Havana_13

Still too early for dinner, but certainly early enough for a drink and rest. Head back to the mouth of the inlet to find the Palacio de las Artesanías. Here you can grab another cigar, perhaps a Partagas this time, some rum, and listen to live jazz.

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Afterwards, wander the local streets and you can easily find several places in the area to finish with a nice meal. Hasta la proxima vez!

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