The Rowing Blazers Guide to Havana (Thunderbirds, Urban Art Experiments, and Daiquiris with Hemingway)
Today, the new travel restrictions on American visitors to Cuba take effect. Specifically, the new rules make it more difficult for American individuals to visit Cuba for "people-to-people" educational purposes.
We think it's important for people from vastly different places and who lead vastly different lives to meet one another. That's how our lives become richer, our minds more open, and our future a little more promising - and how, perhaps, we discover that we aren't so different after all.
The good news is that Americans can still visit the island, as long as they book with a tour company and avoid a list of government and military-owned hotels and businesses.
Rowing Blazers visited Havana before the new restrictions took effect. We'd like to share some of our favorite spots and some of our favorite snaps, and hope you'll be inspired to take your own trip, red tape be damned.
Pro tip: bring much more cash than you think you'll need. Once you're in Cuba, it's virtually impossible to get money out of an American bank account, and plastic won't save you.
- Roma Bar (Aguacate, La Habana)
- Invite/password-only rooftop bar in Old Havana, owned by Cuban DJ Alain Dark. Great music spinning til 3am.
- El Cocinero (Calle 26, La Habana)
- Havana's coolest restaurant. All organic everything. Inside a refurbished cooking oil factory. The bar is inside the towering brick smokestack, where you can drink under fairy lights that project all the up to the mouth of the chimney and a chandelier made of old snorkels.
- La Fábrica de Arte Cubano (Calle 26, La Habana)
- A so-called "urban experiment;" a labyrinthine complex of avant-garde art exhibition space punctuated by bars, dance floors, and hidden sneaker shops. Really comes alive around midnight.
- La Guarida (418 Concordia, La Habana)
- The traditional "best restaurant" in Havana. Where Jay-Z and visiting foreign royalty eat. In a huge rambling mansion where they filmed the Cuban film Fresa y Chocolate.
- La Floridita (Obispo, La Habana)
- "La cuna del daiquiri." Favorite watering hole of Ezra Pound, Graham Greene, and Ernest Hemingway (a life-size bronze of whom leans on the bar) among other artists and intellectuals.
- La Bodeguita del Medio (Empedrado, La Habana)
- Birthplace of the Mojito. Famous for the signatures of customers covering its interior and exterior walls.
- Finca Vigía (Singer, La Habana)
- Papa Hemingway's villa. Some great interior design inspo, and home to his fishing boat, Pilar.