I’m off to a German function in Las Vegas on Thursday and since that is technically a trip I thought I would finally share with you the new sites I saw on my last visit back to Havana, Cuba, to keep with a “travel” theme for today’s post.

Havana Cuba Postcard

The Barcadi Building-Art Deco Gem

I have missed this building every-time I visit Havana, but this time I made sure I saw it. Unfortunately we could only get into the lobby but what a lobby it was.

Bacardi Building (Havana)

History:

The building was designed by architects Rafael Fernández Ruenes, Esteban Rodríguez Castell and José Menéndez, for the Bacardi rum company. The art deco landmark was completed in 1930 and was at the time the largest building in the city.

After the Cuban revolution and the departure of Bacardi from Cuba, the building continued to be used for offices. At the end of the 1990s it was renovated by the city historian’s office (source).

Bacardi Building (Havana)

Bacardi Building (Havana)

Bacardi Building (Havana)

Bacardi Building (Havana)

Look at those Elevators! Oh Wow!

Bacardi Building (Havana)

Bacardi Building (Havana)

I have shown this image before but I still love this sign.

Havana, Cuba 1950s Floridita Sign

La Moderna Poesia: Owned by the López Serrano family–who evidently had a preference for Art Deco–this bookstore has been the “insignia” bookstore of the city (Source).

Havana, Cuba Art Deco building

We took time to check out the Havana Club Museum. It was a fun little tour and perfect for when the weather is crummy (which it was that day).

Havana Club Museum-Havana, Cuba

I managed to capture this beautiful sunset over Havana after the rain went away.

Sunset-in-Havana-Cuba

On one of the days we decided to take a walk along the Malecon towards Vedado an area of Havana we have never seen and holds such famous structures like the Hotel Nacional De Cuba.

The walk ended up taking us 40 minutes in 30 degree heat and was really dumb to do because we were dying of thirst and realized later on our way home that a cab was 8 minutes for like $4Cdn (oops!), BUT worth it once we arrived!

The Malecón Havana, Cuba
The Malecón, Havana’s evocative 8km-long sea drive

Then the Hotel appeared before us….on a hill (Just fantastic).

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

But we made it up the hill and boy were we in for a real treat.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Brief History of the Hotel:

  • Opened December 30th, 1930.
  • Famous Guests:  Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner, Mickey Mantle, Buster Keaton, Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando and Ernest Hemingway. Plus: Winston Churchill and the Duke & Duchess of Windsor.
  • December 1946 the hotel hosted the Havana Conference, an infamous mob summit run by Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky. Francis Ford Coppola memorably dramatized the conference in his film The Godfather Part II.
  • In 1956, singer Nat King Cole was contracted to perform in Cuba and wanted to stay at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba but was not allowed to because he was black. Cole honored his contract, and the concert at the Tropicana was a huge success. The following year, he returned to Cuba for another concert, singing many songs in Spanish. There is now a tribute to him in the form of a bust and a jukebox in the Hotel Nacional.
  • In the 1950s a casino and club were added onto the Hotel and were a huge success.
  • After the Revolution, the hotel manly housed visiting diplomats and foreign government officials. In the 90s when Cuba opened it’s doors to tourism the hotel was restored and even though has not returned to its former glory is still is a fantastic piece of history (Source).
Lobby of the Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Lobby of the Hotel

More cool elevators. I love that in many old hotels the elevators have some of the best details.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

We then ventured outside for a drink, cigar and some people watching.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Back of the hotel facing the sea.

 

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Did you know that the hotel style of the Famous Breakers in Palm Beach was influenced by the Hotel Nacional?

The Nacional and then below is the Breakers. See the resemblance?

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Breakers Hotel Palm Beach

Look a Canada Car!

Havana, Cuba

After we had our drink and our break we started to wander the area called Vedado.

Vedado is very different from Old Havana, as it’s a central business district and an urban neighborhood and a great way to see Havana outside of the traditional tourist area. There are tons of things to do including great restaurants, bars and sites. We really liked this area and will go back to finish exploring in the near future.

Vedado, Havana, Cuba

One of the buildings I wanted to see was FOCSA Building– The Tallest Building in Cuba.

It is considered one of the seven wonders of Cuban civil engineering. Its construction took about 2 years and 4 months. At completion in 1956 it was considered a national sensation due to its modern technology and it signalled the start of a wave of construction of tall buildings in Havana.

In an era when concrete construction of buildings more than 18 storeys tall was considered unaffordable, the FOCSA was only the second project of its kind in the world (Source).

FOCSA Building Cuba

Next up the famous Coppelia in Havana. The Coppelia is an ice cream chain with the one in Havana being the largest Ice Cream Parlor in the world, holding 1000 guests.

Coppelia Ice Cream Parlor Cuba

The Lineups are long for the ice cream here and when we got there, they were lined up for miles. Then I remembered a tip for from a travel book I read that there was a “tourist section” where you pay more than the Cubans but the lineups are short. We chose to go that route.

Coppelia Ice Cream Parlor Cuba

And here is the ice cream…yummy.

Coppelia Ice Cream Parlor Cuba

After we got our chill on we decided to walk the neighbourhood because I read there was some large mansions and wonderful architecture in the area, and we were not disappointed.

Vedado, Havana, Cuba Mansion

Vedado, Havana, Cuba Mansion

This movie theatre sign is fantastic!

Vedado, Havana, Cuba Mansion

Vedado, Havana, Cuba Mansion

 Hotel Roc Presidente Havana
Hotel Presidente

Jose Marti Parque Stadium

Jose Marti Parque Stadium-Havana

Havana, Cuba Building

After that long day, we just headed back to the hotel in Old Havana and had a chill night checking out a new restaurant and listening to some music.

On the last day we wandered the streets and took our time taking in what a beautiful city Havana truly is and discussed when we would come back (hopefully sooner then later)

Havana, Cuba

Havana, Cuba vintage cars

I hope you enjoyed my new round of never seen photos of Havana and maybe this go around I convinced you to now visit or check out never seen before sites in the city.

Happy Travels! And if you want to see some of my other Cuba posts check them out HERE.

Liz 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 comments on “Vintage Inn Travels Back to Havana, Cuba-New Sites”

  1. Fantastic travel highlight post, sweet Liz. Cuba has been on my dream travel destination list for as long as I can recall. My folks have been, and my sister is planning her first trip there this fall, but I’ve never had the chance to go. Hopefully one day I can follow in your footsteps and visit this storied, fascinating nation, too.

    Have a terrific time in Vegas!
    ♥ Jessica

    • Thank you very much Jessica. Vegas was fun as usual and I’m looking forward to heading back there for VIVA..woot woot!

      You would love Cuba so much and I just know that one day you will get to visit (and I look forward to that blog post).

      Have a great week!

      Liz 🙂

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