Yasmine Awwad, Lonely Planet Pathfinder and the face behind Peeking Duck, recently took a trip to Cuba to experience the sights and sounds of Havana. Here are some of her favourite sights she snapped during her trip.
‘Life in Havana is lived on the street. Habana Vieja is the historic centre and the city’s most vibrant and colourful neighbourhood with a mixture of pristine colonial buildings and crumbling facades. Children play baseball on the street, men smoke cigars on their front steps and chat to their neighbours, and locals spill out of the small open-fronted shops with their ration books in hand. Walking around this area gives you a glimpse of Cuban life that’s endlessly fascinating.’
Where old meets new
‘After a huge renovation project in the 1990s, Plaza Vieja, in the heart of Old Havana, has now been perfectly restored. As well as being architecturally interesting, it’s also a good place for people watching. For a birds-eye view, visit the Camera Obscura on the northeastern corner of the square.’
The simple things
‘We started each morning in Havana with a strong cup of Cuban coffee at one of Plaza Vieja’s outdoor cafés (Café El Escoril was our favourite) and did some route planning with our guidebook – all while watching the comings and goings of the square.’
A window into Cuban life
‘People leave their windows and doors open in Havana, offering a glimpse into the lives of the city’s residents. My favourite spot was this classroom on Obispo, one of the busiest streets in Habana Vieja, filled with children quietly studying.’
It all happens in the street
‘Auto shops are essential to keep the city moving, and as with many things in Havana, they’re right on the street. The majority of Havana’s cars are vintage models from the 1950s – Chevrolets, Buicks, Plymouths – which add to the city’s charm.’
shopping with the locals
‘Although the situation has improved in recent years, it’s not always easy to buy things in Cuba. While supermarkets often have long queues spilling out their doors, food stalls can be found around the city with piles of fresh fruit and vegetables for sale.’
‘With relatively little traffic, aside from the odd rickshaw and roaming avocado seller, Habana Vieja’s quiet backstreets are a great place for children to play and practice Cuba’s hugely popular national sport – baseball.’
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