Live like a local with the locals.
Ditch the hotels and ‘bnb’ it at a casa particular. Mi casa es su casa. It’s a welcoming gesture ingrained in Latin culture and is very much the way of life for Cubans running Casas Particulares. Perched in Havana’s famed district of Vedado, neighboring the historic intersection of 23 and 12, Judy hosts guests in her palatial home as if they were family. A kind of hospitality that wholeheartedly anchors foreigners to the local culture of Cuba. Like so many of the people we met, Judy welcomes us with a kind of grace and modesty that reflects the warm nature of Cubans. With freshly made breakfast in the morning, Spanish lessons in the evening and a pristinely kept casa for us to stay in, we were treated with a warm welcome that is rare in most places, but typical of Cuban culture.
Casas particulares, the best way to experience the true grit and heart of Havana, are essentially bed-and-breakfast accommodations. Vedado epitomizes the Havana, Cuba we came to see; a by-gone era of dilapidated buildings, 1950s Cadillacs and Cuban cement tiles that adorn the interiors of casas particulares. Cubans in Vedado enjoy a relaxed approach to life with family and friends being at the heart of everything they do. A kindhearted woman embodying that signature Cuban charm, we were grateful to have Judy as our host throughout the trip. Like many of the Cuban friends we made, Judy is confident that Cuba is open and ready to build relationships with many foreigners. Looking back at the time we spent scattered throughout the city, we hope our shared experiences showcase just that – the great people and relationships we made along the way. Here’s to Judy who helped us uncover the romantic touches of Cuba, experiences that would have been impossible to re-create staying at a hotel.