Today we started the day by riding in style in one of those classic cars that Havana is famous for. Our first stop was the Plaza de la Revolución, followed by a popular brewery, and then off to Calle Obispo and finally to the chic and ritzy Parque Central district.

 

Plaza de la Revolución…

is the base of the Cuban government and a place where large-scale political rallies are held. The idea for this iconic landmark was conceived by Frenchman and urban planner Jean Claude Forestier in the 1920s (during the Batista era) and was first called Plaza Civica. After Castro seized power in 1959, Cubans gathered in huge numbers on the Plaza Civica to show their support. Two years later, Castro renamed the plaza in honor of his revolution. At its center is the 300+ foot tall star-shaped memorial to José Martí, a 19th century Cuban intellectual who advocated for independence from Spain and was killed in a battle with Spanish forces in 1895, becoming a national hero. The square is also known for murals of Ché Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, two of Cuba’s historical national figures.

  

Zoé acts like a professional model!
Next, we head to a popular Havana brewery. Along the way, our driver Guillermo takes us down the boulevard Paseo de Martí and continues down the Malecon. Here we see more of Havana’s beautiful architecture, a Russian orthodox cathedral, the US embassy and a historic seaside fort.

Our Lady of Kazan Russian Orthodox Cathedral
After 54 years, in an effort to reconnect Cuba and the United States, the American flag once again flies over the US Embassy in Havana.
Castillo de la Real Fuerza is a historic seaside fort built in the 1500ś. Today it houses a maritime museum.

Cerveceria Antiguo Almacen de la Madera y El Tabaco

This brewery was one of my favorite spots in Havana. It is located on the waterfront in what used to be a tobacco factory. It holds the largest bar in all of Cuba and can serve up to 400 people. While the taste isn’t quite the same as craft beer from the US or Europe, the brewery is  a nice place to enjoy live music and drinks in a great atmosphere.

 

Calle Obispo

is a pedestrian friendly street known for shopping, restaurants and oh yeah…plenty of tourists!
 
El Floridita is one of Havana’s Hemingway haunts and is one of the most famous bars worldwide.


Hotel Ambos Mundos is a hotel in the old town where Hemingway used to stay and work on his novels.

  

 

Café Santo Domingo is one of Havana’s famous cafés and bakeries. Nice spot for people watching while having a café con leche!

 

Cocotaxis are a fun and inexpensive way to cruise around Havana. The name comes from their round shape which resembles a half coconut.

 

The chic side of Havana…

If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought these photos were taken in a European city. The Grand Theatre, the Swiss-operated luxury hotel, high end shopping, and even the streets lined with beautiful lampposts, all give this area near the Parque Centrale (central park) a ritzy, Euro-style ambience.

 

Cuba’s first luxury mall, Manzana de Gomez. It’s beautiful and many locals think it is nice to have this in their city. But with stores such as L’Occitane en Provence and Lacoste selling high-end items at prices equal to nearly a year or two’s salary, the average Cuban is not able to shop here. Then again, maybe the target market is the tourists staying at the 5-star hotel that sits above the shopping center.

 

In front of the Gran Teatro (Grand Theatre)
El Gran Teatro de la Habana is the principal venue for the Cuban national ballet. It also includes a concert hall, an art gallery, conference rooms and restaurant. This is also the venue where Barack Obama gave his speech during his visit to Cuba in 2016.

  

 

El Capitolio (Capitol building)