I recently had the opportunity to travel to Cuba on a “People to People” trip.
With the recent relaxation of regulations to obtain required licenses for travel to Cuba, the island nation has become more available to eager travelers from the United States. On our trip, we visited several different regions of the country, starting in Trinidad, then on to Cienfuegos (both in central Cuba). We also visited Havana and Old Havana (both in western Cuba).
It was an unforgettable experience and I can’t wait to share my blogs with you, including travel tips and highlights of each region.
First off, my overall impressions and favorite experiences in Cuba.
1 – Music: This really stood out to me more than anything I experienced in Cuba. On night number one of the trip, I had an amazing evening in Trinidad. I walked out of the hotel to explore and found the Plaza Carillo buzzing with excitement. People from all over town had gathered in this square. There was Music, dancing and people of all ages having a wonderful time. I was caught up in the excitement. I asked what was going on, and they said they were getting ready for Carnival. The authentic lively music set the tone for the rest of the week. Almost every dinner or lunch we had, fantastic musicians played for us. Even the live band at the hotel each night was first-class. Most of the bands sell their CD’s for $10.00, so you can take the music home with you.
2 – The Arts: Throughout the trip we often saw artisans on the street with handmade jewelry, painting, sketches and crafts. We also visited several art studios, where I bought some amazing pieces. On our last day, we visited the handicraft market in Havana. This is not to be missed! Beautiful artwork, paintings and crafts – all original – adorn the walls and stalls of a huge old warehouse. I wish I had a full day to explore the market. The artwork in Cuba was authentic and simply beautiful.
My only regret of the trip – I should have bought more!
3 – The People: The people of Cuba were so hospitable, from the hotels we visited to the children on the street. We were very lucky to interact with so many Cubans. They welcomed us to their homes, schools, art studios and businesses. It was a pleasure to meet so many people and learn about their culture.
4 – The Cars: Yes, the Cars! Cuba is such an amazing example of upcycling and recycling. Nothing goes to waste. One of the best examples of this is their old-fashioned cars and motorcycles, that are in use. You may see them in parades and movies here in the United States, but in Cuba, they still run and are used on a daily basis. It was a fun night when we had a tour pick us up in the cars and drive us around Havana at sunset. What a memory.
5 – The History: The architecture, the food, the culture, the drinks, the salsa dancing, the cigars… it was all so wonderful as well. I will write about each of them in the future, but can tell you now that I had delicious lobster for dinner four nights in a row. And the mojito is my new favorite drink!
I felt honored to see Cuba as it is. As restrictions are lifted and more people travel, I am sure more tourists will visit, and the country will continue to evolve. I felt like I took a step back into history for a few days, and almost felt like I was in a movie. Every picture I took felt like a live postcard. It was also a privilege to meet the Minister of Tourism, Manuel Marrero Cruz, at one of our lunch events.
Thank you to both Hotel La Ronda in Trinidad and Memories Mirimar Havana for the delightful stay. Enjoy some of my favorite photos and I’ll share more Cuba experiences and hotel reviews with you throughout the summer!
For more information on Cuba tours, ask your travel agent or click here — http://applev.ac/1LrKYfH