At a time when Cuba saw a turning point, we went for a walk in this city that seems, at first, frozen in time. Moving away from its beautiful old town, this first impression vanishes: glowing Havana life, but also steeped in contradictions, is revealed.
Far from the postcard over great walks in the streets of Havana …
Comeback in Havana
Just in 2016, Havana hosted three events that its people have perceived the changes ahead of omen. In March, the Rolling Stones gave there a concert in front of 500 000 people . In May, the fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld was organizing a Chanel show . A few days earlier, it was the American actor Vin Diesel who turned scenes for the eighth episode of the saga Fast & Furious .
With the gradual lifting of the embargo established by the US, these names were added to the long list of personalities who loved Havana: Johnny Weissmuller, Buster Keaton, Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire … And of course the writer Ernest Hemingway.
Havana remains a poor town , where thousands of families live in a precarious situation, but the Cuban capital is far from won by tropical stupor. A handful of days off the tourist circuits show avibrant downtown , where the system D carbide at full speed.
Of course, you have to lose in its old town , registered since 1982 as World Heritage by Unesco . But also sink into the central areas and the Vedado , stroll along the Malecón . Enjoy the welcome shade of a palm tree.
You can walk in Havana taxi coconut , this open vehicle to the wind, ovoid and yellow, provided that we extend the currency. Or indulge his fantasy of old convertible car (Buick, Chevrolet, Pontiac … there is ample choice) and it strutting sunglasses. Although, to discover Havana, the best accessory is still walking shoe.
Old Havana, an architectural kaleidoscope
The most amazing buildings are in Habana Vieja , the old city. Often decrepit, with their colors faded by heat and precipitation, buildings with baroque and neoclassical styles meet. Arcades, balconies, courtyards form an architectural kaleidoscope generous to the eye. Caution still the rockfall .
Old Havana, which extends around the original Plaza de Armas , however, is not an open-air museum. The streets are full of activity and good porous border between habitats and the outside.Soldiers discuss them, children play hide and seek, for teens football …
The Calle Obispo is a great landmark, it crosses the district and bordering areas of interest. But it is better to deviate from this street mostly frequented by tourists, which gives on El Floridita , a historic property once frequented by Hemingway. The American writer is a sure bet to attract overseas. It is sometimes believe he scoured all the bars in Cuba to taste all the mojitos.
But in the old Havana , less chic bars are also worth to linger. Less chic bar, what is it? Two or three tables in a room with minimalist décor, an old wooden bar to which are like magnets tired stools, a cash drawer couple and fan her diamond wedding party, a sexagenarian tank top that controls a rum, swallow a trait the whole glass and leaves.
After traveling through the streets, you can head north, towards the castle of San Salvador de la Punta , Spanish fortress of the 16 th century, now lying peacefully facing the Havana Bay.
On the way, we will be past the Museum of the Revolution . This magnificent neoclassical building built in 1920 was the presidential palace until 1959. On one hand, it houses the yacht Granma , the other a Soviet tank SU-100. Both have in common that hosting … Fidel Castro.
The Malecon, facing the open sea
In 2016, singer Jacob Forever dedicated her song Hasta que el Malecon is seque, a tube that is hard to escape. A visit to Havana necessarily leads to the Malecon , the seafront which stretches over 8 km long. The dam was built from 1902 by the Americans to protect the city from the Atlantic Ocean assaults.
No beach in Havana, the Malecón is becoming the place to hang out, but not only. Appointment gives it to, there fishing, sleeping, partying, loves, this is a place of intense life.
Attention to be careful when crossing the road because the drivers tumble at full speed. Moreover, the dam, which lovingly belt neighborhoods of Vedado, the center and the old Havana, is not necessarily the most peaceful place in the capital.
Because of the heavy traffic, the discussions are often interrupted by the horns. But this walk you will take the air, watching the wide and sunsets, between groups of fishermen and lovers for a night or a lifetime.