Cuba is a hidden gem for American tourists. I say "hidden" because most people aren't aware of the ease of travel there from the states today. Traveling from NYC to Havana was almost no harder than traveling anywhere else in the world. I'm glad I took the opportunity to make this trip with some amazing people and I was able to capture so many incredible images that I have to split this up into 2 posts.
For anyone who has questions about this trip, I will try to address as many common concerns as I can throughout this article but it's mostly about the experience and photos. Our trip was split up into 3 parts, Havana > Trinidad > Havana again (we had to obviously go back to Havana to fly back home).
We made all our housing reservations through Airbnb. In Havana, we were luckily enough to score some amazing locations. Our first spot was a 2-floor penthouse in a 15 story building. The views were amazing and accommodations were impeccable even by American standards. All of our reservations were categorized under "Private Home" which means you have the whole place to yourself but that wasn't the case for most of our stay. 2 out of the 3 places we stayed had either people living there too or a housekeeper of sorts which is good and bad, depending on how you look at it. If you really like your privacy and plan on using Airbnb, I recommend sending a message asking specifically if anyone else will be on the premises.
You can catch a taxi pretty much anywhere in Havana with ease. Even if there are no taxis by you, you can pretty much just flag down any car and as long as they're not in a rush and want to make a few extra bucks, they'll drive you. This seriously happened to us.
We spent our first day in Habana Vieja (Old Havana) which was just as I had pictured. Classic Cuban architecture all around and vintage American cars on every block. As a photographer, I could spend days walking up and down the narrow streets just shooting photos. Everything you see in Habana Vieja has its own story to tell.
For anyone planning a visit and end up in Habana Vieja, I highly recommend spending more time in the narrow side streets rather than the main touristy areas. When you venture off, you'll find a much more scenic environment that a local Cuban would experience. I don't drink coffee but when the rest of the group went into a hole in the wall (almost literally a hole in the wall) that had "Cafe" written in chalk on outside, they experienced the best espresso they ever had in their lives.
In the middle of everything, you'll find a line of vintage American cars as taxis. The convertibles are a couple of bucks more but well worth it. You can always bargain a price with them anyway. Trust me though, riding through Havana in a 1950s Chevy convertible was one of the best experiences of my life. While doing all the research on Cuba before this trip, I read nothing about doing so and I don't know how it can be overlooked.
The first night we went out to La Casa De Musica and it was our first experience in the convertible taxis. That 5 minute drive is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Blasting down the Malecon on a 70˚ summer night was probably THE most memorable moment in the entire week. I didn't care where we were heading or if we would even make it back in one piece. I wish I took my camera out that night to document it.
After Havana, we took the 4 hour drive to Trinidad and wanted to stop by Cienfuegos on the way. The taxi driver wasn't too keen on the pit stop but turns out we saw most of the city within the 20 minutes we were there anyway ha. Absolutely beautiful little town in the middle of Cuba. The name of the city tells no lies, this was one of the hottest moments in our 7 days trip!
We finish our trip to Trinidad in Part 2 where we experienced a more "traditional" Cuban way of living in a smaller town and our encounter with an incoming hurricane.
If anyone has any questions about my trip or experiences down in Cuba, feel free to leave a comment or send me a message.
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