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===Splurge===
 
===Splurge===
  
*The '''Hotel Saratoga''' - corner of Prado and Dragones - opened in November 2005, and is regarded by many as the highest quality hotel in Cuba.  [www.hotel-saratoga.com]
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*The '''Hotel Saratoga''' - corner of Prado and Dragones - opened in November 2005, and is regarded by many as the highest quality hotel in Cuba.  [http://www.hotel-saratoga.com]
  
 
==Contact==
 
==Contact==

Revision as of 23:14, 5 May 2006

The Catedral de San Cristobal, Havana Vieja (Old Havana).

Havana City (Spanish Ciudad de la Habana) is the capital city of Cuba, and one of the fourteen provinces of the Republic of Cuba.

Contents

Understand

Havana is a popular vacation destination. Many tourists will be their year round so expect huge crowds and long lines in places.

Get in

By plane

The international airport for Havana, and in fact the main airport for Cuba is Jose Marti Internacional. It has several separate terminals. Terminal 1 is for internal (domestic) flights. Terminal 2 is mainly for charter flights from the US. Terminal 3 is the main terminal for international flights.

By train

By car

By bus

Viazul [1] bus from other destinations such as Matanzas or Varadero.

By boat

Due to political circumstances, it is difficult to enter Cuba by sea. Visiting mariners need to make arrangements in advance of entering port to avoid difficulties. Also, most ports are closed to unauthorised visitors.

Get around

By taxi

As a tourist the most convenient way of getting around Havana is by taxi. Some of the taxis are old American Chevys and the like from the 1950's, others are (somewhat) newer Russian Ladas, whilst most tourist taxis are modern Peugeots, Skodas and even Mercedes.

It is illegal for tourists to ride in anything other than the official government taxis. However, its is often easier to wave down one of the old Chevs or Ladas. When riding in an illegal taxi, negotiate the fare ahead of time. The fare in illegal taxis will be no cheaper than the offical taxi fare. Around the city, taking illegal taxis should be no problem. However, taking an illegal taxi to or from the airport may attract the attention of the police.

By bus

El Camello, an unusual local bus in Hanava city.

For the real Havana experience try El Camello. For just a few pesos you can take part in the experiment, how many Cubans fit in a Camello. The answer is somewhere around 300l. A common joke is that the camellos are like the Saturday night movie - full of violence, sex and bad language. Remember to bring Peso change as the conductor probably wont be prepared to break a note and hold on to your wallet.

Other local busses can also get crowded, but in the suburbs are a practical means of transport for visitors.

See

  • Museum of the Revolution and the Capital building
  • Visit a cigar factory - there is one just behind the Capital Building (cost CUC 10 for a half hour guided tour, no photography allowed, no free walking in the factory).
  • Havana Club rum factory
  • Enjoy the faded glory of Havana Vieja
  • Plaza de la Revolucion, the huge square dominated by a statue and monument to Jose Marti and the iconic image of Che Guevara adorning the Ministry of the Interior. Arrive either early or late as it is often swamped by tourists and gets very hot during the day.
  • John Lennon Park in Vedado, featuring the only statue to a western musician in Havana. Notable for having his glasses regularily stolen and replaced.
  • The US Special Interests building in Vedado, just off the Malecon. In the absence of a United States embassy in Cuba this heavily fortified and guarded building is where Cuban citizens go to apply for US Visas. It is also the focus for regularily staged protests and is famous for the anti-American billboards displayed opposite.
  • Hotel Habana Libra in Vedado housed Castro's soldiers for several days after they took Havana, it has an excellent selection of photos in the lobby along with one of the only 24 hour fast food resturants in the City.

Do

  • Walks along the Malecón, the sea wall that runs along the Havana coastline. On weekends this is where the locals come to party, so bring a bottle and join in.
  • Copellia Ice Cream parlour, opposite the Habana Libra is practically a Cuban institution with people waiting up to an hour to get a seat. Prices are in Peso's and CUC (obviously the queues being for the peso area!).

Learn

Work

Buy

Havana is a surprisingly expensive city to stay in; if you stay in hotels and eat in restaurants it can work out every bit as expensive as London or Paris. The problem is that Cuba has a dual economy; if you could live on pesos it would be incredibly cheap. Sadly, as a tourist this is virtually impossible. Most peso hotels wont take foreigners or, if they do you have to pay in dollars. If you are on any kind of a budget it is advised to stay in casas particulares; it is much cheaper often more comfortable and the food (a recurring theme in Cuba) is almost invariably better.

Eat

Whilst Convertible Peso restaurants can be quite expensive at the top end for rather mediocre food some such as the Café de Oriente have splendid ambiance. The average government run restaurants are about $20 for two and hence cannot be compared in any way to London or Paris.

Budget

Peso stalls are all over the city, particulary on Prado Marti.

With Cuban national pesos, you can get ice cream for only 1 peso ($0.04 USD). You can also get a filling bocadito (small ham sandwiches) for only 20 pesos ($0.80 USD).

Particularly, the Terminal de Omnibus, by the Plaza de la Revolucion, has a very good peso cafe with offerings as fried chicken for only 25 pesos ($1.00 USD).

Mid-range

Keeping your eyes open you can find complete menus (starter or salad, soup, main dish, dessert and a national beverage) for 6-10 CUC. In the Vieja there are such restaurants in the smaller, not very crowded streets.

Splurge

Drink

  • La Bodeguita Del Medio is the bar in which to sample a Mojito. The former hang-out of Ernest Hemingway, it is best sampled in the evening once the tourist crowds from Varadero have headed back out of the city.
  • You can have a great time just outside of the Hotel Inglaterra near the Capitólio Building, drinking good daiquiri's and mojito's at an affordable price (2 CUC in September 2005).

Sleep

Some recommend that accommodation in Havana be sought in Vedado rather than Central Havana or Havana Viejo (Old Havana) which are significantly more run down and less pleasant places to stay. Others however, prefer the livliness of the older parts.

Budget

  • Casa de Jesus y Saida Valdez Calle 24 #262, apt #5, (between 17 y 19) Vedado, 53-7-830-7279
  • Casa Cary Virtudes #511 (Top Floor, Between Lealtad y Preseverancia) 53-7-863-1802 [2]
  • Casa Particular Havana, accommodation in Havana Cuba 28 Street #270, Apt F, between 23 and 21, Vedado, 53-7-830-8007 [3]

Mid-range

  • Casa Ines, [4]. A Casa Particular.

Splurge

  • The Hotel Saratoga - corner of Prado and Dragones - opened in November 2005, and is regarded by many as the highest quality hotel in Cuba. [5]

Contact

The city code for Havana is 7. Prefix with 0 or 01 when calling within Cuba. Internet cafes can be found at ETESCA (the state telephone company) offices and at the Capitolio.

Stay safe

Popular tourist places (Habana Vieja, El Malecón etc.) are watched by policemen, so you don't have to be afraid of being attacked. Be wary of hustlers (jinteros/as) offering to show you a place to eat, or offering a tour of the city. The price will be jacked up to pay a commission to the hustler.

Cope

Get out




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