What It's Like To Visit The City Where The Mojito & Daiquiri Were Born
The Places Today's Guest Blogger Says Are An Absolute Must See In This City...
My checklist for Havana, Cuba...If I ever win the lottery (Bummed I didn’t have the recent $700M ticket.), I'll travel the world and visit all the luxury hotels. So, of course, first on my list was the Hotel Nacional De Cuba.
Opened in December 1930, Hotel Nacional is high on a hill, towering over Havana's scenic malecon seawall. Styled in Art Deco, it is one of the most elegant hotels in Cuba.
Walk through the lobby to see the original elevators and brass mailboxes for guests wanting to mail their post cards. Walk through the hotel and you will notice the photos of all the famous people who have stayed or visited. If you go to their website, under historical rooms, you will find out which room was Frank Sinatra 214 or Walt Disney 445 or even 211, the one the hotel labeled Mafia.
My favorite part was the outside terrace, with several bars and restaurants. The beautiful landscaping that overlooks the sea also offers comfy sofas for relaxing or eating and drinking. You will even see the live peacocks that roam the property. I decided on the casual Bay View Bar where there was live music. We ordered a Cuban sandwich and a Cristal beer (Cristal is an authentic Cuban beer that you must try when in Cuba.), and (ok) a Mojito. The food and drink were delicious and the view spectacular. Relax, take lots of photos, and check it off the list.
La Bodeguita Del Medio is a famous tourist place and yes, I usually would stay away from places like this, but (I feel) if you get to visit Cuba, you must get a mojito there. Legend has it that this bar is the birthplace of the mojito drink, and also known to be the only place were Ernest Hemingway drank his mojitos. The walls are covered with graffiti from famous and non-famous people, who have signed their names and the date. It is your typical dive bar, but in Havana, wink…Sign your name on the wall, if space is left, order a mojito, take a selfie, and move on to to the next stop. Check it off the list.
I was only in Havana for 2 nights and really wanted somewhere special for dinner since I am a foodie. I was very lucky to have an amazing tour guide and asked him what he would recommend. He quickly showed me a couple of his local spots and really recommended VIP Havana, a new seafood restaurant in the city. He did mention that it was off the beaten path, but a cab got us there just fine. We hailed a convertible vintage car and on our way we went. (You must take a ride in a classic car when you are in Cuba, but that’s a whole other story…)
They offer a Mediterranean menu, featuring fabulous Paella to share, meat dishes, pizza and pasta. A huge bar and drink selection. They even play vintage movies on a large screen in the dinning room. I went with the seafood Paella for 2 and it was incredible, lots of shrimp, lobster and clams. Highly recommend eating there. This restaurant represents all the creativity and newness going on in the revitalizing of Havana. Take photos and check it off your list.
The legendary bar that is the birthplace of the Daiquiri and the only place Hemingway would order his. It’s a total tourist spot and sometimes very loud and crowded, but you need to go. The restaurant offers a large drink and seafood menu. I ordered the Daiquiri. (Not sure why you would order anything else?) Make sure to take a selfie with the life-size bronze statue of Hemingway at the end of the bar.
There is so much to do and enjoy…Do some research of your own and ask locals to tell you about their favorite spots. The people of Cube are beyond nice and so welcoming.