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Author Topic: A week in Havana in late Feb - looking for advice.  (Read 1309 times)
Tim Gray
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« on: January 06, 2013, 11:19:26 AM »
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My wife and I (Canadians) have booked a week in Havana at a bed and breakfast for a week in late February - I'm looking for advice on any don't miss locations in the area, as well as any advice for getting along with the locals since I expect street photography will play a big role in my week.  Thanks.
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Philmar
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2013, 02:43:44 PM »
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Best advice is to improve your current Spanish skills. The more Spanish you speak the better it will be for you. Cubans are incredibly friendly. They don't live in our world of mass culture media - they don't have endless choices of newspapers, glossy magazines, billboard ads, internet connections ect. - so they are adept at interpersonal communication. Complete strangers are able to generate conversations in Cuba - they don;'t have that social distance between strangers. People on buses will talk to each other. Whereas here in Toronto I assume anyone that talks to me on the subway to be 'different' or worse (crazy). Talking with Cubans on the street is easy if you have any Spanish skills. They are more than happy to pose for you. Spanish language skills is the most critical issue in making your trip better. You miss out on what is Cuba's biggest asset - people that are social and friendly because they don't have a mass media to cocoon to everyday like we do. More of their lives is spent in the public realm, unlike me or you who may sit in solitude in front of a TV, magazine, newspaper or computer for hours a day. Social interaction is what they do to pass the time away. they are friendly, funny, interesting and engaging.

That said, if you speak nothing beyond 'gracias' and 'por favor' you will still have a great trip.
Can't miss locations? The town of Vinales in Pinar del Rio is a few hours bus trip and has amazing scenery with it's tobacco fields and karst mogote hills. But it is a bit far for a day trip.
In Havana there are great photo ops in the cemetery - a traditional Spanish cemetery similar to the one in Buenos Aires but not as grand or maintained. Havana's harbor is accessible and photo worthy if you like industrial hell and bleak photos. Havana has the well maintained harbour fort called Morro castle that is beautiful, historic and gives great views of the city (morning light is best). The sea wall (Malecon) in the afternoon/evening is a great place for candids of fishermen as well as sunset shots. Bring a cheap bottle of Havana Club rum and a impromptu party of new friends will appear. The Capitolio is interesting inside. Drop by the Hotel Nacional for a drink poolside. Both are photogenic.
Personally I enjoy just walking the streets of Old Havana amongst the crumbling buildings in need of paint.
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An office drone pension administrator by day and a photo-enthusiast by night, week-end and on vacation who carries his camera when traveling the world:
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Philmar
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« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2013, 09:50:38 AM »
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Also World Heritage site colonial town of Trinidad is a short flight away. If you are in to photographing this then it might be a day trip. In the 90's there was air service between Trinidad and Havana in a Soviet prop plane. Not sure if it still exists. Something to consider on an overcast day - a sunny day would be too harsh to do the place photographic justice.
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An office drone pension administrator by day and a photo-enthusiast by night, week-end and on vacation who carries his camera when traveling the world:
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2013, 12:28:30 PM »
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Thanks - I love cemeteries and have photographed the Recoleta in Buenos Aries.  I was checking out the location of our accommodation and noticed that it's a 5 minute walk from the main cemetery - got lucky!
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Msphoto
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« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2013, 12:28:49 AM »
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Hi Tim
I'm a fellow Canadian. A couple of years ago we were down to Varadero for a week in the sun and we headed in to spend a couple nights on our own in old Havana. Wish I'd had more time there. Felt quite safe, the people were friendly and lots of great subject matter for photos down every street. If you haven't spent much time in the third world you might be in for some culture shock. Cuba is poor. The old quarter of Havana is full of amazing and crumbling old architecture, much of which is now being beautifully restored with some of the foreign currency that the resorts bring in.
As I said I didn't have enough time there but have a few of my shots in a short slideshow on my website. http://www.msphoto.ca/Havana_slideshow.html
Hope you have a great trip.
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Alan Klein
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« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2013, 11:06:56 PM »
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Quote
A week in Havana in late Feb - looking for advice.


Smoke a cigar!  Heck, you're in Cuba!
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Alan Klein
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« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2013, 11:09:55 PM »
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MSPHOTO:  Nice slide show.  Cuba's a very colorful place.  Alan.
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Scott O.
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« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2013, 12:12:47 PM »
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Can you say "street photography"Huh Just wander around and shoot what you see. Many people make a few $$$ by posing, so don't hesitate to give them .25-$1.00. You will want to exchange your Canadian $ to CUCs. We found Havana to be a very safe city, even in the middle of the night. The suggestions already given are excellent. I would only add...I took a 28-300 and 14-24 on a D700, basically used only the 28-300. Changing lenses is a pain and you really don't want to be bogged down carrying a bunch of equipment. 2nd the motion to go to Trinidad as it is a fabulous town. We drove, so I can't comment on air travel. Our group of 12 had a Canadian travel agent, who put a bus and guide at our disposal, which was very helpful. The public transportation system is made up of a wide variety of wheeled vehicles...you can go anyplace in the city for 5 CUCs or so. Have a great time and enjoy it while it is still there...opening Cuba to American $$$ can only wreck it. And wear a Canadian flag lapel pin...they like Canadians more that Americans!
« Last Edit: January 20, 2013, 02:16:20 PM by soberle » Logged

Tim Gray
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« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2013, 01:08:40 PM »
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Thanks.  I switched from Canon to Panasonic a couple of year ago and the 14-140 is quite versatile.
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Msphoto
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« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2013, 10:04:01 PM »
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MSPHOTO:  Nice slide show.  Cuba's a very colorful place.  Alan.

Thanks Alan.
Cheers.
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Michael Sherman Photography
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