My little trip around the world continues...
Havana’s celebrating its 500th anniversary. It is an amazing one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the city during a period that it is especially meaningful for locals. There was a unique atmosphere of Cuban life there ! Very chill.
Once I landed although I had no checked-in luggage, it took me 90mins to pass customs and actually get out of the airport..
What's the plan ? Well I had no plans.. not even a schedule! Moreover, I did not even have internet, hopefully I had booked the first two nights as I arrived around 10pm, so I got myself secured a bit and look around. My first objective was to get lost in the streets which is enough to blow your mind.
Cubans sympathy, the charm of the ancient cities and cars, the beauty of the landscapes, beauty of colonial architecture and the beaches, are outstanding! If sometimes the lack of maintenance and comfort can be challenging, WiFi can not be found, and harassment of some taxis, to be honest it's nothing, I love Cuba anyway!
I discovered “experiences” on Airbnb and this was the best thing ever. I booked most my trips via AirBnB. So thankful to have met great locals and also other solo traveler! I have a lot of memories back in my head.
The cost of living is very low compared to France for instance, which allows to enjoy even more !
Cuba faces profound social and economic challenges. Tourism, clearly, is the engine that drives the restoration effort,
Spending hours walking on El Malecon... the promenade that runs along the sea in Havana, on it's wide sidewalk that starts from the tip of Old Havana, to Vedado through the Centro admiring the view. I guess I really want to go back..
See below some videos !
- Fancy green landscapes, generous and endearing Cubans, splendid colonial architecture... this island has really everything to please. Although, one of the last communist society in the west -
A marvelous natural setting... So relaxing beach and the town as well is cute to visit and walk around. Varadero beach : swim in the warm and crystal-clear waters : this is life!
Later on, I went to Santa Maria beach.
On the way you can make a stop at the viewpoint at Mirador de Bacunayagua, to enjoy a magnificent view of the Yumuri Valley while tasting a delicious Piña Colada even in the morning but you can ask alcohol-free.
I enjoyed a dive in the Saturno Cave, fresh water, bit too fresh for me but beautiful while admiring amazing stalagmites and stalactites all over the place.
Food Love in Cuba
Tasty local food in paladares, i felt the more it was basic the more it was yummy. In restaurant it mostly looked awesome but tasted so-so.
Cruise around the West Havana
A nice way to visit Old Havana and traveled through the western neighborhoods of the city in a vintage 1950's american convertible car. It was super-hot and sunny, it was an area far from the most touristic places.
Along the neighborhoods of Centro Habana, Vedado, heading towards a beautiful neighborhood of "Miramar" and unique place: "Jaimanitas", in the Gaudiesque city of Fusterland.
I saw parts of the city I would not have ventured to on my own and I felt immersed in the rich and vibrant culture of Havana!
On another day, I went to some other key areas like:
1) Revolution Square: learn about the politics of our country
2) Forest of Havana: learn about the Cuban religion, Santeria
3) National Hotel: learn how this architectural beauty played a significant role during the Cuban Missile Crisis
4) Jesus Christ Statue: Across the bay gives an amazing panoramic view of the city.
The Valley of Viñales is full of tranquility, typical of the Cuban countryside. A little discovery tour of the valley on horseback is the top!
Vinales offers beautiful scenery while learning about the rich history walking through the tobacco plantations. I visited a farm and we were shown and explains Cuban tobacco making process,the main culture of the region. I got to learn about Cuban rum the Guayabita del Pinar, honey, and coffee.
Got to see the beautiful artistic Mural de la Prehistoria (Prehistorical Mural). On the way, I visited La Cueva del Indio (Indian Cave) and navigate by boat through its subterranean waters.
Places I Visited
Beaches along the coast...
Places to Visit
See the cannon shot at 9 pm (“Cañonazo de las 9”)
Watch a cabaret show at Tropicana or Parisienne.
Cuban Art Factory (FAC)
On the track of earnest Hemmingway tour
More museums !
Immersion in Afro Cuban Culture: mix of religions
Learning about the importance of the African heritage for people in Cuba was unexpected on my trip but very eye opening. Discovering how important has been the religion through different moments of Cuban history and how singular is the mix between Catholicism and Afro-Cuban religions that happened in Cuba. Hear about the differences between the main Afro-Cuban religions : the Regla del Palo Monte and the Santería/ Rule of Osha.
I got to examine the melting pot of Afro-Cuban spirituality and went to Guanabacoa, the cradle of Afro-Cuban culture. There is a museum there that helps understand the story of Afro-Cuban religions. Also, met with a Babalawo—meaning “father of mysteries” or priest—of Santería. This tour was absolutely great, I booked it here.
From the Old Havana looking for the traces of Catholicism, Judaism, Islam and Afro-Cuban religions, and their evolution throughout history; I was explained the current development of each of these religions and their impact on contemporary Havana society.
In Cuba, education and health are open access as they are considered fundamental human rights. Note that they have one of the best health care management system.
The US has declared a commercial blockade against Cuba, with the intention of bringing this small country to its knees. It was a failure, because the Cubans were firmly determined not to bow to the US dictate, which has now lasted for nearly 50 years. This, it is important to remember, was implemented as soon as the revolutionaries seized power and launched the process of re-appropriation and nationalization of the country's natural resources. The objective being for the US, the only way to overcome Cuba is to subject the island to sanctions that plunge the population into misery, so that hunger and anger will push the population to revolt against Fidel Castro.
Looks like Deja-Vu right?