Havana, A Vintage Photo Essay

Few cities hold a charming retro flair like La Habana, Cuba’s capital city, turning out to be perfect for a vintage photo essay

Cuba, Vintage Car in Havana

I visited Cuba a few years ago, when I still had a regular corporate job, short holidays and the need to get the most of what little time I could take off from work to cultivate my passion for travel. The highlight of the trip was scuba diving at the Jardines de la Reìna, said to be one of the best spots in the Caribbean, and there was only time to spend a couple of days in Havana before flying back to Europe. Definitely not enough, but at least I got a taste of this rather special city.

 Cuba, The Streets of Havana

Since I was carrying my scuba diving equipment, I brought only a compact camera. I had already enough weight, and at that time I had no clue that I might one day write about my time in Cuba. Pictures were merely intended as a souvenir. Going through them, a few years later, I thought at playing a little with filters, coming eventually up with a vintage photo album.

La Habana Cathedral

Besides a few general impressions, there’s not much I can tell about La Habana for the time I spent in the city was way too short. Still,  I clearly remember the overwhelming heat, the overall joyful atmosphere and… the music. Almost ubiquitous.

La Habana, Old Courtyard

I was disappointed that tourists were not allowed to ride the beautiful local taxis, usually colourful old Cadillacs. I was charmed by the pretty courtyards, the crumbling houses showing traces of past splendour, the lovingly restored old colonial buildings.

Ancient Door in La Habana

I was moved by the dignity of the Cuban people, despite they have so little, feeling won over by their smiles and warmth. From the little I could experience, I felt that Havana is one of those cities where one needs to spend some time, soaking into the local atmosphere, finding out what lays behind the surface.

Books in La Habana

Wandering in the streets, I kept thinking of the time I spend in Prague in 1980 (if you’re interested, I wrote a story in three episodes about this very special trip), when what once was Czechoslovakia was under the tight control of the Communist regime.

La Habana, Colonial Buildings

In La Habana, there was nothing like the darkness wrapping Prague in the 1980s, foreigners are apparently free to travel across the island still, it doesn’t take much to understand that the Government does everything to discourage visitors to mingle too much with locals.

Havana, Pretty Patio

Fact is that I am that kind of person who’s all the most intrigued when things are hidden. My curiosity gets piqued and I strive to find out more, as much as possible, indeed, of what lays beyond the surface. So La Habana and Cuba are definitely one of the places I’d like to go back, taking the time to travel slowly, doing my best to unveil at least part of the local spirit.

Vintage sign in La Habana

Which are your favorite cities for vintage photography?



About Me

Travel addict and passionate about photography, Simon Falvo started Wild About Travel back in 2009. Leveraging her strong PR background, she developed an extensive knowledge of Digital Communications and Content Creation. Besides travel writing Simon holds workshops and trainings, she collaborated with tourism boards for digital marketing campaigns and participated as a speaker at several events.

6 thoughts on “Havana, A Vintage Photo Essay”

  1. God, what a gorgeous place! I know that it is crumbling a bit due to lack of money, but it is still stunning nonetheless…

  2. These vintage shots turned out very well! We’re impressed with what you’ve achieved with a compact camera :-). Beautiful Cuba snaps… (It’s tough lugging laptops, cameras, iPads – all as hand luggage, let alone trying to lug scuba gear.)

    • I’m glad you liked the photos. Indeed, I was the first to be surprised at how all of a sudden I thought I could make something out of these old pics. And that’s also why I sometimes dig into photos I took years ago, not only to relive beautiful moments of the past, but to see if they can lead me to some unexpected inspiration.

  3. You’ve captured what I remember of Havana. Crumbling grandeur. Beautiful old mansions in disrepair. Clothing lines strung across balconies with brightly coloured clothes flapping in the wind. I spent the better part of a week in the city about ten years ago. We stayed at a place that I think was called the Verdado Hotel. I saw Bolero performed at the Havana Opera House. My best meal was a Havana sandwich in a bistro type place nearby. I took a hair raising pedicab ride in morning rush hour. I remember the exhaust spewing from the old cars and the city buses which looked like converted transport trucks packed with people. It was fascinating. I loved it. Your photos are wonderful.

  4. Thanks for the kind words, Corinne. I hope you’ll make it to Cuba soon, as it might change quite a bit (it already has, I’ve been told) in the coming years.
    As for the pictures, it was fun figuring out what I could made of photos which were really nothing special. In the end, the result was not too bad 🙂

  5. Oh Simon. I want to go to Cuba; I will someday. Love your photos and I’ve done the same thing many times over, looked back at a trip’s photos to figure out how to use them. You did great!


Leave a Comment

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.