Every major tourist destination has a dose of this, a small concentrated area taken over by tourists and locals doing what they think tourists might like, want to photograph or experience. The locals over egg the whole thing and in return our pre-conceived ideas of a place are reinforced. Who can blame them, in Cuba they’ve been waiting a long time to cook the golden goose.
In Havana, Habana Vieja – the old town – is this area. Stick close to the four main squares : Plaza de Armas, Plaza Vieja, Plaza de San Francisco de Ass and Plaza de la Cathedral.
Here you will have to shoulder your way down streets fighting off old women with very large cigars hanging out of their mouths. Queues of desperate travellers outside the local Telstra. It is far worse when Cruise ships arrive.
I’m not saying don’t go here, the truth is, it is studded with architectural jewels from every era. You’ll just have to share it with a lot of other tourists. A lot of this area is undergoing major renovations so the wonderful patina of the place is being replaced with bright primary colours.
If you do photograph anyone in this area – pay – this is their job.
But honestly all you have to do is step out of this area by one street and you will find yourself in TRUE Havana. It is wonderful and intact. Don’t put off that holiday because Cuba has been ruined. I write this only so you are fore warned.
More true Havana to come……….
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