Robert Antonisse and Laura Lee Clinton are global travelers. Robert has been a manual wheelchair user for 35 years. The pair documents their travels for Wheelchairtraveling.com. Laura Lee recently traveled to Havana, Cuba. She shares about her adventure and the wheelchair accessibility in Havana.
In preparation for the trip, Laura Lee watched a video about what to expect during the process. She took away one particular message from the video - Havana is not an easy city to get around in a wheelchair.
Laura Lee observed that there was virtually no curb cuts in the streets of Havana. She states about ninety-five percent of the shops, restaurants, etc. in Havana have a step to get into the entrance of the building. She writes, “I even thought about not writing up this trip because it was so daunting, but if you’re up for a challenge, read on. Robert did not go with me on this trip, but I tried to experience it as if he had. I thought something informational was better than nothing.”
The first destination on Laura Lee’s tour was La Floridita. La Floridita is known as a famous hangout of Ernest Hemmingway. It is also known for its famous daiquiris. While Laura Lee says the daiquiris did not disappoint, the establishment would be almost impossible to navigate in a wheelchair because of the two steps in the entrance and the tables were close together.
El Hotel Nacional
Laura Lee visited El Hotel Nacional which is a hotel that is primarily famous because of all the famous people it has hosted throughout the years. Laura Lee says this is one of the only places she visited that appeared to be completely wheelchair accessible.
Casa Camilo is a wheelchair accessible bed and breakfast in Cuba. Laura Lee learned about the establishment when reading an article in New Mobility magazine. She contacted the owner and was able to visit for dinner and was able to see all the accommodations. It has a ramp from the street and a lift for the upstairs bar/restaurant.
“It is a little paradise in the midst of a bustling city.”
On the second day of her trip, Laura explored Old Havana. She states Old Havana is an “eclectic mix of crumbling and restored.” The streets are full of art galleries, churches, tourist shops, and museums. However, accessibility is not easy as the streets are mainly cobblestone, the sidewalks are narrow, curb cuts are almost non-existent, and businesses have steps to enter their buildings.
Laura Lee concludes by writing, “In summary, it will be a lot of work to go to Havana if you are a wheelchair user, and that will likely not change any time soon. If you’re up for the challenge do your homework and be prepared.”
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