I love when the stars align! This past December the feature documentary Salero (which I DP'ed) was invited to screen at the Havana Film Festival. At the same time the US eased up the travel restriction to Cuba AND Delta and other major airlines have started flying direct flights from JFK to Havana! On pretty short notice I snagged an extremely cheap ticket, cleared my scheduled, and headed to Havana for the 34th Annual Havana Film Festival!
In short, the festival was amazing! Havana provided plenty of excitement and adventures! Outside of Old Havana, the city didn't disappoint (Old Havana was pretty, but clearly geared towards tourism). A few quick and random tips (current as of Jan 2017):
- If your adventure and don't like to be with the crowds, its worth looking into air BnBs in neighborhoods outside of Old Havana. I stayed in Malecon, near Hotel Presidente, which was also convenient for festival events, but also provided a dose of what middle class daily life is like in Havana.
- Taxis will charge you an arm and leg, so rent a bike or bring a skateboard! Havana is pretty small and quick to get around once you're on wheels. I found a guy on Ave G, and got a bike for a 24 hour period. I also spent a morning skating around Havana, and it was a total blast.
- Delta makes it really really easy to go! Yes, you have to have a legit reason, but you can buy a visa at check in. I had zero hassle going, arriving, leaving and returning. If you work in the creative world, you could easily go to research projects, shoot projects, or keep the film festival in mind, its worth a visit! Independent travel to Cuba is easy.
- The food in Cuba isn't all that bad, but it will be expensive if you eat at the fancier places (but still cheaper then NYC). If you are staying in an Air BnB and are looking to keep cost down, I'd suggest bringing breakfest foods, as I had a hard time finding milk and eggs.
- The last few photos are from an art space called Fabrica. Its not exactly under-the-radar, but it is far form Old Havana. If you're into the arts, its 100% worth the visit. The restaurant and bar connected with the art space are also great, and probably one of the best meals I had while there. http://www.fac.cu/
And now some photos from my 5 days, 3 nights in Havana!