#9 - "Half of My Heart is in Havana .... Ohh Na Na"

This time I will not write about my walks on the beautiful nature trails, but about a very special three-day walk, with a backpack on my back, in one of the cities I love the most and that in 2018 I decided to visit for the second time ..... Havana!

More than 15 years had passed since my first visit to this city, at the time a fleeting visit that did not allow me to know in detail the history and culture of the Cuban capital but this time we would make the most of the time spent in Havana to "drink" your entire culture.

Still in Portugal, we have outlined the plan in detail. We decided, first of all, to avoid traveling around the city in buses, taxis or even in the mythical classic cars of Havana as this would make some details of the city go unnoticed. We also decided that we would focus on the old and historic part of Havana and some areas in the center. With a map in hand we trace in detail what each day would be like, where we would walk and what we would visit in order to optimize our time.

There were three days in which we walked, walked and walked, in an intense, humid and unique heat that did not stop us. There are those who say that walking in Havana is dangerous due to the poverty of its people, I say exactly the opposite. It is true that the Cuban people have difficulties, enjoy a shameful salary and live in terrible housing conditions, but it is also true that they always present themselves with a huge smile on their faces and unparalleled sympathy. They don't leave us on the street because they know that tourism is what makes the capital move and they look for us with all the warmth and friendliness, trying to present us the beauty of Havana and thus receive some weights that will help them to live a little better.

Open-minded and unafraid, we walked through the streets and alleys of the city where part of the dwellings, especially in old Havana, seemed to be the result of a recent bombing, deteriorated, old, dirty but that mark the history and charisma of this city and that make it unique .

We strolled through the mythical Malecon, an avenue that follows the entire coast of Havana in about 8 km.

Next to the National Capitol that currently houses the Cuban Academy of Sciences, we can travel until the 1960s as the entire surrounding area is filled with the classic cars that the owners treat with all kindness to take tourists on a journey through time on the roads. of Havana. On this side the houses are more arranged and we can appreciate its beautiful architecture.

We continue on the wonderful Calle Obispo in Old Havana, surrounded by craft shops, restaurants, traditional bars and lots of people everywhere. Nearby, we visit the La Bodeguita del Medio bar / restaurant, a notorious tourist spot in the city that in the past had the famous writer Ernest Hemingway as a regular customer who wrote his art on these walls. There we had to taste the famous mojitos from La Bodeguita, we couldn't miss it!

Lunch this day was at a restaurant exactly on Calle Obispo (Café Paris) where a beautiful Pollo dish with special Cuban rice made us delight, accompanied by the traditional Cuban music played right next to us by its excellent and cheerful musicians.

Speaking of meals, in Havana the dishes are mainly fish (fish) or pollo (chicken) but made in different ways depending on the restaurant, so we can say that we never repeated the same meal while we were here.

On one of the perpendiculars to Calle Obispo on Rua dos Mercaderes, we passed the cafe that was frequented by our Eça de Queiroz, at the time Consul of Portugal in Havana. The cafe was closed but we managed to peek into its interior, whose space takes us back to Lisbon.

On a thunderstorm day, we still visit Havana's famous squares, where the architecture of the restaurants and bars that surround them always invite you to visit.

Finally, a visit to the historic Hotel Nacional de Cuba, considered a national monument, located in the city center, a few meters from the sea, could not be missed. Its imposing entrance takes us through a corridor of stories in pictures of famous personalities who have stayed here in the past (Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, Marlon Brando, etc). Its huge garden offers places of relaxation where we can enjoy a glorious national drink while listening and dancing to the rhythm of the beautiful Cuban salsa.

Many other unique places we had the pleasure of visiting and getting to know these three days in Havana and we returned with a certainty .... we will return to Havana for a third time ......

 "Havana oohh na na,
Half of my heart is in Havana oohh na na" 


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