Most seriously this post is WAY overdue. June and July were crazy, crazy months that involved a lot of travel and not enough down time. August didn't let up and then Harvey rattled us all, so now I am finally sharing the last leg of my Cuba trip.
My girls and I returned to Havana from Trinidad, but this time further west into the neighborhood of Vedado. Each neighborhood in the city is vastly different and each grants its visitors unique experiences. I loved this neighborhood!
Vedado actually means prohibited or forbidden in Spanish, giving Vedado the nickname of "the forbidden city." Surprisingly residential for a forbidden city, Vedado is a transparently more affluent area. Here you'll find large, luxurious homes and some of the best fine dining in Havana. We knew we were in a wealthy area when our Air BnB host informed us she had her own personal wifi hotspot. The first we'd seen in Cuba! This meant no more standing in line for internet cards and hunting down internet parks to let our friends and family know we were doing well. Or to update our Instagram accounts!
Hotel Nacional is probably the most notable landmark of the area. We ended up there briefly in an unsuccessful search of cold meds when poor Leslie came down with something and aloe vera when I wasn't diligent enough with the sunscreen. While I recommend browsing the hotel and possibly grabbing a drink at their glamorous bar, I am glad we did not stay there. A number of celebrities are known to have roamed the halls, but I 100% recommend the casa particular route to guarantee the most authentic Cuban experience.
So, the food. Hands down the best in Havana can be found here. Not only were our breakfasts at our casa particular out of this world - I mean, look at these homemade donuts! - but all three of us fell in love with the gorgeous Italian restaurant, Eclectico. After skimping on a few meals in Trinidad we were ready to treat ourselves to a decadent meal inside the Paseo 206 boutique hotel.
Vedado has a tranquil ease about it. The tree-lined streets contrast Old Havana's cobblestone pavement. But it's not a sleepy town by any means. Vedado has a raging art scene. Particularly at another notable landmark, the Fabrica de Arte. An industrial warehouse has been converted into a multi-level art extravaganza. Strolling room-to-room, mojitos in hand, you'll find something original with each step. From the multi-cultural proverbs that line the walls and lead you into acts of song, dance and visual exploration.
We couldn't leave Cuba without visiting Hemingway's famous Cuban residence, Finca de Vigia. Hemingway lived in this luxurious manor, where he wrote a number of his most celebrated works. Among them: For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea and A Movable Feast. For $5CUC you can tour his beautiful property and invite your inner novelist to come alive.
Equally essential to the Cuban adventure is a ride in a classic 50's convertible. You'll find rows of them aligned neatly along central park, near the Capitol. We browsed the lot and chose this red hot roadster to navigate us through Havana.
Saying goodbye was hard to do. As with each of our stays, we left our sweet hosts with some American products and fun gifts for kids. The true gift was being able to visit this beautiful country.