Sunday, 1 June 2014

Visiting Havana, Cuba - Day 3.

Our 10 day Cuba trip was coming to a close. For our last night in Cuba we went all fancy-pants and stayed in the 5* Melia Habana in Miramar. We loved staying in the Casa Particular (B&B) on our first 3 nights in Havana (see Havana Day 1 and Havana Day 2), but wanted to try out the Melia as it looked like the Barbican in London, and it was in a different district to Old Havana. 

The hotel is a typical 'revolution' style building, also known as Brutalist Architecture here in the UK, that was opened by Fidel Castro himself in the early 1990's.

We landed in the evening from Cayo Largo and got ourselves settled, before getting dressed to hit Fabrica de Arte Cubano. Ciara and I finally flopped into our super comfy beds at 4am Sunday morning, while Jasiminne had been sensible and gone back to the hotel earlier. Our last day in Havana was spent relaxing and wandering around Old Vieja (Old Havana) at a leisurely pace, grabbing any last minute shopping, having a last 3CUP Helado (ice-cream), and visiting the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales. Oh, and a lobster lunch, obvs.

The hotel was awesome, it was the same hotel chain as the one we stayed at on Cayo Largo, so the breakfast wasn't exactly exceptional, but the rooms were comfy and the hotel had everything we needed. We even had a room with a balcony that looked out over the pool and ocean! The concierge was also super helpful! Anyway, I hope you like photo-heavy posts, because this is going to have a lot of photos from our last day!

I wore my white Gap dress again, it's literally the perfect summer dress; light, cotton, and really soft to touch! 

Our first stop was the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, which was the former official residence of the governors of Havana. It's now a museum, that has not only preserved all of the rooms with their original colonial decoration, but also displays some incredible art and historical artifacts, including a sword made by Tiffany & Co. 

The building itself is stunning, and the 3CUC entry fee is a complete bargain for the huge wealth of historical pieces you can view in the rooms and museum.

An original copy of Jose Marti's Versos Sencillos (Simple Verses) poetry book from 1891.

This is the room where the end of Spanish rule was declared in 1899!

After visiting the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales we then wandered around the Plaza de Armas which it's situated on, browsing through the market stalls. I stumbled across a Harmonica and couldn't resist picking it up and having a play, the stallholder was pretty impressed and asked 'You musician?' 'Si!'. I then anti-bac'd my looked pretty old, you never know who could have had their mouth on it.

Old notes from when the USA controlled Cuba's currency

Next up was a last trip to our favourite Helado shop - a small hole in the window which sold Helado for just 3CUP, which is about 6p. We got Mango flavour, it was delicious! Apparently you have to be very careful when eating ice-cream and milk in Cuba, as they use unpasterized milk, but we didn't have any issues or stomach upsets. 

We then walked back up Obispo, and got a taxi to take us to lunch at the famous San Cristobal Paladar. Sadly we got there and it was closed, so the taxi driver drove us around Havana for a bit, before dropping us off at our favourite restaurant from Day 2; Paladar Los Mercaderes.

Fieles a nuestra Historia - True to our History.

Havana train station

Ciara in her amazing hat!

Paladar Los Mercaderes

Photo from Jasiminne
We arrived at our favourite restaurant very hungry, and very hot. Thankfully the band was playing and the waiters swiftly brought us mojitos to help cool us down. As it was our last day we decided to treat ourselves to the Lobster, which was a bargain at just 19.50CUC (around £12). Seeing as I didn't show you the photos from our visit here on Day 2, I'll include them in this post as well. On Day 2 I had the Vegetarian Lasagne, which was so filling, but oh so good.

I was so hot I had two drinks, a mojito and Paladar Los Mercaderes' amazing Lemonade Frappe!

Jasiminne took out her cigar and a waiter gave her a cigar cutter and lighter. We took it in turns to try it out while we waited for our food, and I actually quite liked it! I much preferred it to cigarettes, which I can't stand. 

Our food arrived and we were blown away! The Lobster in their 'special pineapple sauce' was just amazing! Delicious and full of flavour; huge chunks of lobster all buttery and creamy with the tang of the pineapple. 

All of the food we had here tasted incredible, it was definitely our favourite restaurant, we even preferred it to Dona Eutimio which is supposed to be the best in Havana. The staff were all also super friendly and all of the waiters were really good looking! Bonus.

After lunch we got a taxi back to our hotel, had a 2CUC ice-cream sundae at the cafe across the road, and then got all of our luggage sorted ready to leave. We posted our postcards, and then met the taxi driver that we'd booked the previous night. He'd driven us from Playa Baracoa airport to the hotel, and he played awesome music off of his USB stick (Disney songs, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston), so we decided to ask him to drive us from the hotel to the airport the following night just for the music. 

On our way to the airport I got some last snapshots of Havana, and then it was time to say goodbye. Our Air France flight (Air France do the best plane food ever btw!) was waiting to take us back to reality and modern day life. For the past 10 days we had stepped back in time to a world where there's no internet, no mobile phone signal, little to no luxuries, and a simpler life where people sat on the streets with their neighbours and drove around in rusty old cars with tail fins. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience, especially as Cuba is changing and probably won't be the same for much longer. And while this is a good thing, it's also a shame that it will slowly lose it's charm and vintage nostalgia. 

Cuba as a Holiday Destination

If you've never thought of Cuba as a holiday destination before, think again. It has everything you could want from a holiday; friendly locals, culture, history, music, beautiful beaches, colour everywhere, and it's surprisingly affordable. It's also very safe, and as three young women in a foreign country, we never once felt unsafe or threatened. 

The flights are pricey as they start at £600 return from London, but when you get there everything is super cheap; you can stay in a Casa Particular (B&B) like we did, and pay only 45CUC (£30) for 3 people per night...that's just £10 each per night! Cocktails are on average 3CUC (£2), you can get a huge meal for just 5CUC and taxis are also insanely cheap. If you want to head to a beach resort, don't go to Varadero, we've heard it's very touristy and not that nice. It's like the Benidorm of Cuba. We loved Cayo Largo, and I can't recommend it enough, and apparently Trinidad and Cayo Santa Maria are also stunning. 

Chao Cuba, you certainly didn't disappoint! Also I'm pretty chuffed that I organized this whole entire trip all by myself. I think I did good. Pretty sure I should be a travel planner ;)


  1. Fancy pants indeed! Looks amazing. Never considered going to South America before - clearly I should! Good to hear that Air France do decent in-flight meals, going to Singapore & Sydney with them 10 weeks today (won the flights). At present, KLM do the best airline meals in my opinion, so let's see if AF turn out to be even better!

  2. 6p ice cream? Get me to Cuba now! I knew it would be an affordable destination, but I had no idea it would be that cheap. After my 'one night in Cuba', including a ride in a vintage car (courtesy of Havana Club and The Cuban in Camden) I definitely want to see this country for myself. Looks like a great trip. X

  3. This really makes me want to visit Cuba! I love your photos, especially the two ladies and the Palacio looks magnificent. I've never managed to inhale a cigar, have tried though!

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

  4. My gosh, Havana looks just divine! I love those coloured old houses, you've taken some truly beautiful images here!


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