Over the course of my travel experiences, I've learned that you'll discover the most when you're aimlessly wandering around the streets, lost and without a care. Throw a road beer in one hand and a mojito-to-go in the other though, and BOOM. You've got yourself the perfect recipe for exploring the narrow cobblestone streets of Havana.
If it also happens to be super late at night, your stomach is happy after a nice dins, and you've just watched a local Cuban band play some wicked music while you drink a few pineapple mojitos and smoke a cigar on a patio, well EVEN BETTER. Now you've pre-gamed for the real deal.
Get your road cervezas handy and ask for your mojitos to go. Pull up that Google Maps app on your phone and get ready. We're going on an adventure.
We thought we had seen it all after our 3rd day in Havana, but after wandering around lost, we casually walked into La Plaza Vieja (translated to Old Square) and thought to ourselves "where did this come from"? It's hidden around the corner and tucked away behind tall brick buildings, but all the streets look identical so after having seen La Plaza de la Catedral days before, we mistakenly assumed this was the same one but NOPE. There's five of them. So on our last night there, we decided to hunt them all down.
Havana decided it wanted to be stuck in time and its people are committed to making that happen. Back when the Spanish colonized Cuba, these plazas were built for a specific purpose, and those functions still stand today.
Plaza de la Catedral: Religion
Plaza Vieja: Urban
Just a heads up: I don't actually have much photo documentation of the next 3 plazas, because, well, mojitos. So that's your motivation to go see 'em yourself! In the meantime, take a look at our drinks and our faces.
Plaza de San Francisco: Commercial
Cervezas and mojitos-to-go en route to La Plaza de San Francisco.
Plaza Del Santo Cristo: Social
Picking up more cervezas and mojitos-to-go at a bar near La Plaza del Santo Cristo.
Plaza de Armas: Military
Plaza de Armas was our last stop. Don't mind the glazed eyes, these are the faces of 2 champions who hunted down all 5 plazas. Please also note: combined, we have a negative amount of directional skills.
Ps. Along the way, you'll come across a bunch of sketchy entrances into the old buildings in the narrow streets, often with some big dudes asking you to follow them inside. Our lack of better judgement caused us to make a call we wouldn't normally have made, but it lead us to a cute little salsa bar, which we never would have found on our own (bonus: we got free salsa lessons from the pro dancers we met there)! I'm not sure if I'm encouraging you or discouraging you to go into the sketchy ass buildings, but I'm just sharing info. Do what you will with it.