Represent, represent… Cuba
When: January 2016
Where: Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Varadero
Why: Τoo contradictory for one line answer
Traveled first time with group and it was a great experience as we met beautiful people who made our trip more fun & special -even in the hard times that they can be summed up in the following sentence: don’t visit solymar hotel in Varadero. Despite the hotel which is a big disappointment (talking about dirt not about services) the weather didn’t help us much.
In general, be ready for heavy doses of humidity which can make you feel more tired & heavy if you are not used to, but your cigars will be in great shape!
Don’t worry too much about food as it’s not the best part in Cuba, though you can find some tasty foods around in local restaurants. I just found them in total less tasty – even in the hotel- at least in the flavours that I’m used to, which can be subjective. But you are there for the total experience of the history & culture that accompanies Cuba.
Trinidad was built in 1514 and declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1988. Walking around the cobbled streets and being part of the country folk atmosphere you have the sense that time stopped or that you are in a movie scenery.
On 1958 Che Guevara with 300 men managed to capture the city and this was the last battle which marked the end of Batista dictatorship. You can visit there the museum that is dedicated to Che Guevara and view rare photos & personal items (diary, beret, camera, pen…) Cubans visit the memorial often to constitute tribute to the deceased.
Zapata Swamp – Laguna del tesoro
Criadero de cocodrilos
The crocodile farm was established to protect crocodiles as the two species raising there were about to extinct. There were so many there and standing like statues until someone gave them food. I only chose the photo below because the others were a bit scary. We also tasted and then touched a crocodile – I don’t know why I did both..
Cayo Blanco – Varadero
A trip with catamaran to Cayo Blanco gives you also the opportunity to swim with dolphins. The weather was not the best but dolphins are amazing creatures. The beach is beautiful there but did I tell you? the weather was not the best. But there was a nice buffet waiting for us…
And this is Varadero. Well, the basics at least. Beautiful beach (hey, the weather was not the best) but 3 days there the 2 was raining. At least there was a piano bar in the (second) hotel and we gathered there to sing along with some happy Canadians. But if you decide to go there and the sun is shining it will be a nice break from your trip.
Tip: don’t stay at Solymar hotel, unless you are under 20 and the kind of person who doesn’t care pretty much about anything. I would have chosen to sleep on the sunbed but I would annoy the cockroaches. Let’s only say we had to sleep after placing a towel over the sheets. Next day we left with a convoy of cabrio chevrolet and this ride by the sea was the best part.
I loved that city though we stayed only for one afternoon and left next morning. Unfortunately after breaking the screen then I lost my phone..so only one photo from here.
Nat King Kole, Frank Sinatra, Ernest Hemingway, Walt Disney, Yuri Gagarin some among the visitors. After the Cuban Revolution on 1 January 1959 the representatives of the American company that operated the hotel departed, and the hotel staff took over the management. No wοnder why It is declared as a national monument. Part of the hotel is also the cabaret Parisien where you can see beautiful dancers & costumes, & of course in plain.. Spanish.
Buena Vista Social Club live
We were lucky to see Buena Vista Social Club in their country, in a simple ‘cafe taverna’ restaurant.
Where Cubans hang out, drinking, talking, dancing, loving & doing whatever most of people do in their free time. Without many internet spots & without money, you get back to basics. Internet is expensive as you pay for almost 3 euros an hour and you should stand somewhere that you can find wifi. Black market is not something rare and as you walk you can be offered cigars & internet cards.
The basic salary is around 20-25 euros. There is a different currency for tourists which is CUC and 1CUC corresponds in 1 euro. So if you have an idea that it will be a much more economy trip, it won’t.
In the old Havana, as you walk through the narrow streets you can see some very old buildings dilapidated where people live, and stores, like they nothing is touched from the 50s, with a few cans and a line of people waiting with their ticket to take some flour.
Things are about to change there, who knows? …maybe this fortune teller:
& closing with a tribute to beautiful cars: