I just returned from my third trip to Cuba, which has become one of my favorite destinations. Havana, which changes dynamically every time I go, bursts with zest and has become one of my soul cities, right up there with Tel Aviv. It also has fabulous weather and a long oceanfront walking drive, which is one of my favorite walks on the planet.
My experience on my third trip was different. Having run through all the typical touristic recommendations, I had an opportunity to delve a bit deeper and explore some things I wouldn't have done on a first trip.
I thought, as I did with my first trip, that I would run through some of the highlights, for any of you dear readers who are thinking of heading to Havana.
But, before that, a few reminder trips for any travel to Cuba:
1) Bring enough cash because you really can't get money there without tremendous difficulty. Whatever you think you need, just double it.
2) You can buy wifi cards on the street, and exchange money on the street as well for a better rate. If you're in a pinch and really need it, go to the lobby of the Havana Libre and buy their in-hotel wifi.
Best New Restaurant I Visited: Grados
This new place is about 8 blocks due south of the Havana Libre Hotel off Avenue 23, is from a young, exciting chef who convinced his mother to open her home and redesign it to fulfill his gastronomic creations. I had my best and most creative meal in Cuba there.
Best New Dessert Spot: Museum of Chocolate
Right in Old Havana, there are two doors - takeout and sit down - and its one of those rare places that appeals to tourists but is also priced to include ordinary Cubans. The chocolates are made by hand right there and you can see the man at work, and they are locally famous for their hot chocolate varietals.
Best New Cultural Experience: The AfroCuban Festival
Near the University of Habana, I dropped into a alley-street, which the Cuban government specifically devoted to the celebration of AfroCuban dance and art. Cuba has little areas and mini-festivals like this all the time, and they are always worth stopping in to see and experience.