After a two and half hour flight from Panama City, we arrived in Havana, Cuba. Cuba has forever been on my travel list and since it remained relatively closed off and preserved in a time warp, I always imagined it to be the ultimate looking glass into the the colonial past. We were told that immigration can take hours so we booked the VIP arrival services where they meet you before you go thru immigration, take you to the head of the queue for security and immigration. Then escort you to a lounge where you have a drink while they pick up your bags and clear customs and bring you outside to the office in the arrivals area to meet your guide or driver. Easy and painless for about US$25. Although truth be told, it didn’t seem that busy when we arrived. For our few days in Havana, we stayed at Hotel Saratoga in the central part of town. It is supposedly the best you can find in Cuba right now, but really nothing to write home about. We did see a new hotel down the road that was scheduled to open in March but nobody seemed to know when the actual opening date would be.
In terms of entertainment, we were brought to the Tropicana Cabaret which opened in 1939 in the gardens of the former residence of the U.S. ambassador. There are daily evening shows here under the stars of Havana’s night sky. Some people love and some people hate this Vegas style performance of showgirls, dancers, singers, acrobats, and contortionists etc. For me the 2-hour show was a bit long. Things seem to become repetitive after about 30 minutes and the dancers started to slowly become out of sync. This is definitely a tourist joint and I doubt anyone will come more than once. Having said that, the venue is impressive and one can only imagine what it was like back in the day when Nat King Cole and Benny More came to perform.