Cuba Series #3: Exploring Central Havana
Central Havana definitely has its own special charm as well. There is much artwork to see on the streets and in the 2 major hotels. My favorite sculpture was on the Malecon Street and is called “Primavera” by Rafeal Miranda San Juan.
The major hotels in Central Havana are: the TRYP Habana Libre & the National Hotel.
The TRYP is a modern feel hotel with amazing artwork decorating the 6 restaurants/5 bars. This used to be the Hilton Havana hotel until the Revolution. During the Revolution, Fidel used this hotel as his basis of operation for 3 months. The hotel has preserved this room and can arrange for group tours of this piece of history. The restaurants were good, I enjoyed the Polynesian and the Sierra Meastra, the dessert at Sierra Meastra was amazing. The TRYP also offers a cigar bar, with top Cuban cigars available for purchase and a full bar including the top Cuban rums. The TRYP is located close to many of Central Havana’s activities and it is a safe area to walk around in. The only downfall at the TRYP was that WiFi was not available in all the restaurants.
The National Hotel is an old world, classic hotel, built in 1930. Many significant and famous people have stayed here, and you can even request to stay in the room Sinatra stayed in. Twice a day the National gives free historical tours in English and Spanish. This tour also includes a tour of the bunker located on site where the military was stationed during the Cuban Missile Crisis. This was my favorite place to sit and enjoy a mojito and the breeze off the Caribbean overlooking the Malecon Street. The hotel also offers shows throughout the week, including a Parisian Cabaret and the Buena Vista Social Club.
I also did a tour of the Morro Castle. This is the fortress guarding the entrance to Havana. Every night there is a cannon fire ceremony and reenactment. The actors are all 16 year olds, chosen from acting schools to serve for 1 year. If there are not enough actors in school to choose from then they are chosen from the military. The fort was originally built in 1539 and it can be seen from many points in Central and Old Havana.
Central Havana has a large part of Cuban history and is definitely worth a few days of your time to explore.