Cuba is, without a doubt, one of the craziest countries I’ve ever visited and I found Havana to be beautiful and overwhelming in equal measure.
First of all, you can’t go to Cuba with the expectation of an easy, luxurious beach holiday. Getting things organised and done is hard. Accommodation standards are questionable. Tourist prices are high. The quality of food and transport is very different to what you’re probably used to.
That’s kind of what makes travelling to Havana so rewarding though, and the one thing that can’t be matched is the atmosphere.
Cubans are such beautiful and kind people and it shows through everyone that you meet. Everyone and everything is loud. Music is playing on full blast and it feels like every street is hosting its own street party, 24/7. Cuba is a country where life is simple and family comes first. Families sit around a table on the sidewalk playing boardgames in the evenings. Groups of friends stand around fixing old cars together. Grandma’s sit outside chatting to their neighbours. Kids run around playing football against the crumbling walls. A man wheels his cart down the road all day and night, selling home-made bread biscuits and blowing his whistle for attention. It’s such a beautiful thing to see and experience first hand.
I went to Cuba with an expectation of seeing a fairly backwards and destroyed city, untouched by the Western world and with some beautiful scenery. To be honest, it was all of those things. But what I saw and experienced was so much more than that. I never expected to find so much raw beauty in a city as underdeveloped and run-down as Havana.
Every single person you’ll speak to will tell you that ‘you have to go to Cuba now before it’s too late and it all changes’. Who knows if that’s still the case now, but I’m happy that I got to see it the way that it is right now. Whilst of course I wish nothing but a happier and easier life for the people of Cuba, I also selfishly loved experiencing the authentic, simpler life of Havana.
I thought I’d pull together some of my favourite photos that I think perfectly captured my time in the unexpectedly stunning Havana. Hopefully it’ll give you a taste of what it’s like and what you can expect if you get a chance to visit soon.
Plus a few more snaps from walking around and exploring the streets…
Seeing Havana was such a good travel experience and whilst I don’t think I’ll be going back any time in the near future, I’d love to visit again in 5 or 10 years time to see how it evolves and changes.
Have you ever been to Cuba? I’d love to hear about your experiences and first impressions.