By Shirin Yadegar
By Shirin YadegarHavana has such a deep history full of music, culture and art and finally as Americans we are able to visit so when my husband told me that we had the opportunity to spend four nights in Havana without the kids I said YES.

There are direct flights from Los Angeles to Havana on Alaska Airlines Make sure to lock your luggage or they may rummage through your bags.

Before leaving for Cuba, we were warned about limited internet access. We were warned but not prepared. Not being able to check in with the kids hourly gave me immediate anxiety, but after the first 24 hours I calmed down and learned to just be in the moment.

Luckily, our hotel which I highly recommend the Melia Cohiba had wifi intermittently so we were able to contact the kids while we were at the hotel.

The first night was everything I expected. We dined at Queen Bey and Jay-Z’s Cuban hot spot, La Guarida and visited the Buena Vista Social Club. They are one of the most iconic musical groups of the 1950s and a cornerstone of Cuban culture; they recently played at the White House for President Obama.

The next day started with a visit to the Father Usera Day Care Center in Old Havana to deliver suitcases full of supplies for the children. The Day Care Center provides childcare and education for neighborhood kids with working parents. Most often, it was a place for children to go while mothers were forced into prostitution to make ends meet. The day care is subsidized exclusively by donations, and they do so much with so little.

Havana streets are filled with artists and musicians who are on the brink of expressing themselves. They are ready for change. They no longer want to live in poverty.

The poverty in the streets is disheartening. There are no white sandy beaches with crystal blue waters or beach parties. The buildings are old and decrepit. The people are hungry.

But still they welcome us tourists with open arms. They share their culture and invite us into their lifestyle despite our political differences. So if you want to see the real Havana before its facelift, I suggest you visit sooner than later. It’s worth the flight.

Shirin Yadegar is the Creator of

Shirin’s Hotel Picks in Havana:

Melia Habana

Hotel El Bosque

Hotel Kohly:

Memories Miramar Havana

NH Capri La Habana