I arrived in Havana July 31, 2017. I eagerly headed to my hotel in a yellow cab. I did not research before going to Cuba so to my surprise there were no cars allowed in Old Town, If you're lucky like me, you may have to walk in the pouring rain with your suitcase that lost two wheels on your flight to Cuba. Let's just say my first day was not my best.
My luck quickly turned around when I finally reached my hotel. For my first three nights, I stayed in Ambos Mundos Hotel in the heart of Old Town Havana. The Havana Harbor, restaurants, bars, cigar shops, and museums are what surrounds this hotel. As I walked in, I was pleasantly surprised by the pianist playing 50's tunes near the bar. This hotel had an open restaurant on the roof with a beautiful view of Havana, and when the wind blows, you can smell the delicious empanadas, plantains, and stewed beef that they serve.
I spent the following two days walking around the neighborhood. The city was so energetic; The streets echoed with sounds from the live bands that perform in them all morning and night, Causing the locals and visitors to dance in the streets to the songs that play on every corner. It was all that I expected from such a vibrant and colorful place.
On my last day in Old Town, I walked to the capital building where you can find all the antique car that will take you on an hour-long tour of the city. I chose a pink convertible for my trip. During the visit, my guide explained the history and took me to all of the must-sees which quickly became my favorite part of the trip.
After saying goodbye to Old Town, I spent my last few days in the Habana Libre Hotel in Vedado, Havana. This room is breathtaking. It is two rooms put together with a panoramic terrace which has a view of the sea and city. The staff was incredible, and they had a great glass restaurant on the 25th floor with panoramic views as well.
While staying in Vedado, Havana I was surrounded by locals. They were more than welcoming to tourist. They wanted to practice there English and teach me their culture. While exploring around, one of the locals pulled out a guitar and played a song for me on his doorstep. I loved spending the day with such friendly people. It's very humbling to see that despite the challenges they face and the conditions they are forced to live in the locals are full of life and appreciative.
Going to Cuba is like jumping in a time machine to a time where you live simple and enjoy life with the things that matter most. It is filled with history, culture, and struggles but I would recommend everyone to experience Cuba at least once in their lives.
TIP: Wifi is scarce in Havana and costs $5 per device per hour. So unless you plan on paying, I recommend to book everything beforehand and don't expect to have service!