- Havana sunsets don’t need filters. #playitadel16El relojero. The watch repairman at work. In other parts of the world it’s easier to buy something brand new than to have it fixed. In Cuba it’s the opposite. Things break again and again and you fix them because “new” usually isn’t an option.A baby dressed in Santería clothing travels on a bici-taxi in Old Havana. Dec. 17 is “el día de San Lazaro,” an important holiday for both Catholics and worshippers of Santería in Cuba. As well four years ago today was when President Barack Obama announced the US would change its policy towards Cuba. Being here to witness firsthand the excitement that Cubans felt that their lives and island might finally change was one of the greatest privileges I have ever had as a journalist. I hope to see that optimism return to Cuba again soon.The doggie in the window.British under the hood... another one from the old car rally this weekend.Great @cimafunk show last night at La Tropical, he’s huge in Cuba and is coming for the rest of the world.Checking out the old cars on the malecón today with my little guy.Love traveling, love coming home.Trotsky’s office. This desk is where Leon Trotsky was fatally struck by an ice axe wielding assassin. Stalin had for years tried to kill Trotsky and his agents finally caught up with his former comrade in Mexico City. The book “The Man Who Loved Dogs” by Cuban writer Leonardo Padura tells the story of Ramón Mercader, the man Stalin sent to kill Trotsky.Relics of the Cold War: Apparently it used to be a thing in Cuba to give out little bags of sand from Playa Girón. Known in the US as the Bay of Pigs invasion, the battle there was a crucial turning point for the Cuban revolution.Stage made of old Coca-Cola signs at the Swedish-Cuban restaurant Casa Miglis.At the park around the corner from my house my kids and I came across these Cuban girls practicing for a performance they are going to do at their church.Ernesto “Che” Guevara keeps watch at the hospital Cira Garcia in Havana. Fifty one years after his death, Che is still everywhere in Cuba.The Queen of Quinta...A young Cuban girl dances at a performance in Havana. I am always amazed by the incredible sense of rhythm little kids have here (much more than I had at their age or now).Good morning Havana.The twins are two! Happy birthday kiddos w/@cubajournal.Some final pictures of mine from the caravan before I head back to Havana. Despite all the political noise, you couldn’t help but be affected by people going through an incredible ordeal that will continue for days and weeks to come.Faces of the caravan: As a caravan of thousands of migrants from Central America heads towards the US border with Mexico, the Trump administration is sending the military to the border. Here are some of the people Trump says present a danger to the United States.After a grueling few days the caravan has arrived in Huixtla, Mexico. People are exhausted and there are still hundreds of miles and weeks to go.
Cuba is not an easy place to visit. Information is often outdated. Many government-owned, supposedly five-star hotels suffer from glacially slow service and inedible food. Used to constant long waits themselves, Cubans sometimes don’t understand visitors’ impatience. But for the traveler eager to experience a unique and changing country, it is a one of kind destination. I recommend renting an apartment or house from Cubans and eating in privately-run restaurants. Not only will your money go to help the island’s growing class of small entrepreneurs, you will experience true Cuban hospitality.
El Paseo del Prado this boulevard is a wonderful place to go for a walk from the Capitolio building to the Malecón seawall. On Saturdays, the Prado is packed with people selling and buying houses, which is now legal to do under recent economic reforms.
El Cementario Colón one of the largest cementaries in the world, El Colón is the place to come to really learn the history of Cuba. There are several centuries of scandal, intrigue and myth buried here. Make sure to visit “la milagrosa,” the woman whose tomb has become a shrine for many Cubans.
Plaza Vieja in Old Havana has been restored recently to its former glory and become a popular area at night with a row of bars and restaurants.
La Rumba del Sábado A great neighborhood block party that takes place every Saturday afternoon (I usually go around 4p). Live music, cold beer and lots of dancing. Calle 4 e/ Calzada y 5ta. Vedado. PALADARS Cuban slang for “privately owned restaurant,” paladars are the place to eat in Cuba. Often you are eating in people’s homes although slowly paladars are becoming quite sophisticated. The food at paladars is more inventive and uses fresher ingredients that what you get at a government restaurant.
Café Laurent one of my favorites, this upscale paladar in a Vedado penthouse offers some of Havana’s best seafood. Its great for dinner but I recommend going before sunset to take in the stunning view of the ocean and city. Ask to sit outside. Tel. 8326890
O’Reilly 304 in Old Havana breaks out from the usual routine of Cuban food, offering excellent ceviche, seared tuna and tacos. Tel. 53 5 2644745 Also not to be missed is
La Guarida. On the top floor of a crumbling former mansion in Centro Habana, la Guarida recently expanded, adding a cigar bar, and is one of the great success stories of Cuba’s private restaurant scene . The classic movie “Fresa y Chocolate” was filmed here. You’ll need reservations. Tel. 2644940
El Corte del Principe in Miramar offers up Cuba’s best Italian food. Fresh pasta served by a professional staff. Tel. 72559091
Doctor Café Simple, fresh food and one my favorite places to eat lunch. Everything they cook on the grill– deer, snapper, octopus— is outstanding. Tel. 2034718.
El Cocinero is one of the new stars of a resurgent Havana nightlife. Cuban artists and musicians are among those who frequent –and can afford– this restaurant, known for its small bites and inventive cocktails. El Cocinero is set atop a former cooking oil factory and you walk up stairs in the old smoke stack to get to the roof-top bar. Check out the Fabrica del Arte next door as well. Tel. 8322355 WHERE TO STAY
Casa Vitrales feels more like a boutique hotel than a casa particular. It is well located in the loma del angel part of Old Havana and offers a fantastic roof-top terrace to take in the city. The casa’s nine rooms have all been recently restored. http://www.cvitrales.com
Habana Vista Enjoy beautiful views and the roof top pool at this well-located Vedado high rise apartment. Tel: 53636181 firstname.lastname@example.org
Villasol has been redone to resemble a Miami Beach boutique hotel. This casa particular is a testimony of the inventiveness of Cubans and their desire to treat visitors well. Tel. 53600456 MarbelyZG@hotmail.com
Café Teatro Jazz Miramar is the best music venue in Havana. Many of Cuba’s top musicians play here and its frequented mainly by Cubans.
The Bertolt Brecht is a very cool club with contemporary music. Like many venues here it starts late.
Sangri-La where Cubans with money to burn come to party. “El Sangri” is loud, dark and always packed.
Espacios is perhaps best known for being the first bar in Havana to have valet parking. The staff have attitude but the back terrace is a great place to enjoy a cool drink at night.
Don Cangrejo Cuban rock played at a seaside mansion.
Alma is a new store co-founded by my wife Alexandra that sells the best Cuban handicrafts, jewelry and artisanal items. Working directly with the artisans, the store aims to refine and take Cuba’s amazing hand-crafted treasures to a wider audience. Calle 18 y 5ta, Miramar.
Mercado de Artesanía Avenida de Puerto Havana’s largest craft markets allows you to buy directly from artisans.
La Plaza de Armas The booksellers in one of Havana’s oldest squares hawk vintage posters, classics of Cuban literature and relics of pre-revolution society.
OUTSIDE HAVANA Not to be missed: The beautiful countryside and tobacco fields near Viñales; the colonial homes in Trinidad and sleepy seaside town of Baracoa.