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I am sed of this city, with bad smell of canalization, trash on streets and not renovated vilas/houses. The people at the center are looking for tourists and offer their Europe priced meals, drinks, tours. If you are think going there for the cocktails, you are in the best place. If you want culture (architecture), go to another city. This is not about culture, this is 60year of socialism and Cuban lifestyle.
I loved how safe you felt regardless of whether you were walking down the main streets of old Havana in the middle of the day or through a back alley at 4am. The people are so friendly and will accomodate anything you need. The history of the city is amazing, for anyone that is a history buff I seriously recommend checking out all the old forts, the revolutionary museum, the colonial era buildings, the soviet era giants and the post soviet construction projects. Tobacco and alcohol is so cheap and exactly what you want on your holiday. There are so many tiny streets and alleys you could spend days finding new tiny stores tucked away. The music scene is amazing, with live music so common you simply stumble across street performers. Also, there are many jazz bars and clubs open late if you wish.
Busy and dirty. The locals were rude and hassled you constantly for some reason or if you wanted a taxi. Do not trust the locals... Be very cautious. Lots of people seem friendly but they just want your business or to take advantage of you. We regret going to Havana... Wish we had done Cienfuegos or Trinidad instead.
The chance to sit close to the stage and see and enjoy the Buenavista Social Club live was just fabulous. And the second marvelous experience was a night a the Ballet. A piece of very fresh coriagraphy preformed by a large troupe talented and energetic dancers that had the audience on the feet.
Everything that Hemingway loved about this wonderful place shows. Massively oppressed by socialism but the people find a way to just get on with it. The vibe and culture should definitely be experienced here at lease once in your lifetime!
One of these places in the world lots of people are curious about and keen to visit. It doesn't disappoint. I had a guidebook which I felt allowed too much time though, I had around 3 days or so in Havana which I felt was plenty.