I like luxurious accommodations but I also love it when my money can get me a great deal and a lovely place to stay. The apartment I was able to stay in while visiting Havana was the ideal place for someone who wants to be safe, have lots of space and not pay tons of money.
My mother and her nephew stayed in Zoe and Victor’s home (I will tell you about them later. They are wonderful) and I stayed at an apartment down the street. My apartment was on the second floor (no elevator) of a security building. The apartment was on a busy street which gave me a glimpse of everyday life in Havana. I would sit on the balcony and watch daily life go by, it was lovely.
The balcony wrapped around the apartment but it was narrow. It was big enough to walk around but not big enough to bring a table outside, but I did bring a chair outside and read on the balcony. From the left side of the apartment the balcony overlooked at bus station. There wasn’t tons of noise considering I was next to a busy depot.
The other side of the balcony faced the building my mother stayed in. The blue one in the bottom pic was where I had to walk to have breakfast at Zoe and Victor’s home. It took maybe 3 minutes from door to door.
Every morning I would walk to Zoe and Victor’s place and have Cuban coffee waiting for me as well as fresh fruit to start. After the fruit Zoe made each of us an omelette which was delicious. My cousin told Zoe, “I think the coffee and hot chocolate taste so good because you put a little piece of yourself inside of everything you make.” She exudes kindness.
See how Victor has on gloves when cutting the fruit? They take pride in their food preparation and in all that they do. And the fruit was always fresh and yummy.
Zoe and Victor were the nicest hosts and went out of their way to make us all feel at home. I truly felt like I was with family. I spoke to them in Spanish but Victor speaks English and talked to my mother in English often. I think I got a much better experience than those that visit Havana on a tour and stay in a hotel.
Staying in a local apartment (they are called Casa Particular in Cuba) and interacting with locals on the daily gave me a completely different view of Cuban life. Victor and Zoe explained so many things to us about daily life in Havana, life before and after the Revolution, how education, healthcare and jobs are handled in the country and so much more.
Of course you can get that info when you’re on a tour but there is something special about being about to talk to Cubans in their own home while their friends and family stop by to participate in conversations.
Also, when we wanted to see the city or be taken for excursions outside of the city Victor and Zoe arranged for their friends to show us around. We were able to see parts of the city that tour busses don’t visit and got insight into things that most tourists aren’t privy to.
I highly recommend staying with them. The apartment I stayed in didn’t belong to them but they have an arrangement with a few of their friends that have apartments so if they are full (which they often are) their guests can stay in another apartment, but you can arrange to have breakfast with them if you rent the apartment through them.
In their home they rent 2 fully equipped rooms. Each room has two beds, a bathroom, shower, air conditioning (you DEFINITELY want air conditioning in your bedroom, it’s very hot in Havana), and a small refrigerator.
I think Zoe makes the best coffee in Havana and every afternoon when I would go to their house she would automatically start making me coffee. She didn’t charge me for it, it was a little extra touch that she would do for me just because she knew how much I loved coffee. When you stay in a Casa Particular it’s the extra touches that make it special. And the fact that my apartment was only $20 a night was even better.
In putting this post together I realized I didn’t take any pictures of my bedroom or the room my mom and her nephew stayed in. I really don’t know how I forgot to do that, sorry! But my room was air conditioned and had 2 closets, 2 beds (1 twin and 1 full) a bathroom with a shower and everything was cozy, clean, and spacious. The two pics below are my view from the balcony.
They can be contacted by email at ZoeyVictor@gmail.com. They don’t have internet in their house so give them a few days to respond to your request.
The apartment isn’t in the center of town but it only takes a few pesos or 5 CUC to get to the center of town. What’s the difference? I’ll explain how to use the taxis on tomorrow’s post.
Does this look like an apartment you would like?