Having been lucky enough to spend a few days in the fascinating Havana, here are the sentences I would recommend to any traveller. With them, you will be sorted from morning until late.
9am: Jamon y queso por favor! (“Ham & Cheese please!”)
To me, these are the best ingredients to add to your scrambled eggs to kick start the day. Most of the hotels actually offer great breakfasts to their guests and with this typical grill, you will easily have enough energy to wonder around Havana until lunchtime.
11am: No fumo, gracias (“I don’t smoke, thanks”)
Even after that, the (never aggressive) person who’s trying to sell you Cohibas, Romeo y Juliettas or any other famous Cuban cigars might insist for you to buy some as a gift, but this will help you smoothly getting rid of at least half of them! Unless you really know about cigars (and fake ones) the safest purchase is at a official retail store (hotel, airport…).
1pm: Donde esta el Malecon? (Where’s the Malecon?)
Don’t miss a stop to see the typical image of Havana with its interesting buildings and monuments, all along the sea, an essential part of your Cuba city break. Get some street food (bocadillos – sandwiches – or pizzas) in the nearby vibrant streets for a quick lunch under the sun and relax later on the terrace of the massive Nacional Hotel, for an after lunch coffee, or cocktail of course.
5pm: Donde esta la terraza? (“Where’s the terrace?”)
To a hotel receptionist. To get the best views in Havana, roof terraces are the best spots by far. A few hotels in Old Havana offer a bar on top of them (such as Parque Central and Saratoga) from where you can admire the Capital, the Cathedral and all the wonders of the Cuban unique architecture, plus the sea, all of this while enjoying a drink and/or a meal!
8pm. La Guarida por favor (“La Guarida please”)
To a taxi driver, to be taken to one of the top paladares (family – no state – owned restaurant) in Havana. Dishes are fine, wine is good, and the pictures of celebrities decorating the patio walls let you know the place has to be taken seriously! Dining isn’t that cheap here, but still affordable (at least for tourists). A great dining experience, which is rare in Cuba, in a great atmosphere: not to be missed!
11pm. La misma! (“The same!”)
Head to the Floridita bar, one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourites , and indulge yourself with a few (or more) expert made cocktails, from the classic Daiquiri, frappÃ© or not, toThe old man and the sea writer ‘s own creation, the well-named Papa Hemingway. Cigars are also available to complete the experience!
What phrases do you recommend?