Text and photography by Leopoldo Olivares
Seated in an archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, this beautiful island receives the traveler with open arms.
Old Havana was declared a Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 1982. Its flavors, colors and the rhythm of its music amaze us.
Whoever comes to Cuban territory understands that he or she needs to be open-minded to appreciate how different elements coexist in the same place. Cars from the fifties circulate almost miraculously next to luxurious Chinese vehicles with a familiarity that It collapses our conception of time.
In Old Havana, we find the first buildings to be built in America from the Spanish Colony, located not that far from the whiteness of the National Capitol, so similar to the one at the United States that manages to confuse you. But when you get to the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, an exotic six-domed architectonical jewel, you think you went mad. To make matters better, entering some of the hotels drops you into some sort of space-time of the past until the images out of the modern TV screen at the bars return you to 2018.
The joy of its people is a mixture of skin and hair colors, combined with the hot and humid weather. Always with friendly smiles on their faces, they never surrender to adversity. Cuban people give tourists beautiful smiles and kindness. You can see Cubans dancing, singing or talking on the streets of Havana, leaning on their balconies, walking on the boardwalk. Some offer you tours through town; others tell anecdotes about life on the Island. Here the people are educated since almost all of them have College education.
The Plaza de Armas is a historic site that can be the start point for touring Havana. There is where the ‘cochaleros’ wait for tourists to give them a great tour through Cuban history. Other interesting landmarks are the Capitolio and the Cristóbal Colón Cemetery.
The carriage rides through the streets of Old Havana are very nice. I recommend the “Dos Hermanos” bar, where you can drink mojitos. “La Bodeguita del Medio” is one of the most famous restaurants in the world. You cannot leave La Havana without eating at “El Guajirito”, whose façade looks gloomy, but its interior is incredibly beautiful and modern, plus it offers delicious dishes and great shows.
Definitely, Varadero is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. A very popular town for its calm turquoise waters. Located one hour from Havana, Varadero is a must stop to relax. It has luxurious hotels and golf courses.
Its nightlife is also very rich. Whether in the city or on the beach, it’s worth going out to dance and have fun any day of the week.
The old Spanish colony, the island that was directed by the United States and then dependant of the former Soviet Union, the survivor of the economic blockage and tough living conditions, subjugates the visitor and conquers his heart forever.