June 2018 | Lynae Fearing
My trip to Cuba was one of my favorites of all time and I feel like I barely scratched the surface. I want to go back as soon as possible.
The first thing that stuck me were all the colors, the buildings were very brightly painted. When you see the buildings along with all the old cars from the 50's which were also so shiny and colorful it's a feast for the eyes. The architecture was beautiful with most of the influence coming from the French and the Spanish. It was really strange to see those beautiful buildings with the very prison like buildings that Russia built nestled in between.
Music was every where, around unexpected corners in old and beautiful squares. The people were friendly and seemed unexpectedly happy given their surroundings and their economics. We did some great sightseeing in an old 50's pink convertible and also in a make shift pedi cab. We saw a lot of poverty but also a lot of happiness. Cuba places a lot of importance on the arts, visual and performance. We went for their Biennale and we saw some really cool and thought provoking art work. Everyone dances, they must come out of the womb knowing how to Salsa, I swear it seemed like everyone was a professional dancer.
We had a blast going to clubs and hearing amazing music and dancing the night away. The restaurants we went to were in very odd and interesting places, the first was in an old neighborhood and it looked like just another of the old houses. Turns out we stumbled upon one of the most popular restaurants in the city, the name of it was Rte. Dona Carmela, it had a quaint and lovely courtyard and very tasty lobster. That night we went to a cozy restaurant in an abandoned cooking oil factory, El Cocinero. The next day our group split up for the first part of the day and planned to meet at a restaurant for lunch, unfortunately it was closed for renovation.
Because we were not together at that point we had no way to connect with the other half of our group since our phones did not work and were only used to take pictures. This is when we made another fun discovery by taking the advice of our pedi cab driver. He took us to a place called La Famillia, it was through a tiny door way, up some very steep stairs of what looked like an abandoned building. We ended up four floors up on the rooftop restaurant with a two piece band playing music and our waiter ended up teaching us how to Salsa.
That night we went to a highly recommended restaurant named La Guarida, also on what looked like a dark and deserted street in what looked like a very big old abandoned building. We walked up crumbling marble stairs past a room that used to be a ballet studio and up another floor to a dark entrance and then into a beautiful restaurant.The food was good, not great but we really enjoyed it.
The next day we spent a few hours going to some artists' studios and ended up having a very late lunch. Rio Mar was another highly recommended restaurant and it was really nice, they had a beautiful balcony overlooking the river and the ocean. A huge storm came through while we were there which made it even more fun.
At pretty much all of the restaurants we ate the same kinds of food: Lobster, Calamari, Ceviche, and Paella. We had some delicious eggplant dip at Dona Carmela and I would say that the food in general was very well seasoned and they love garlic!