When our regular clients Tony and Angela Lambert, who already travelled to Cape Verde and Sao Tome with us, showed an interest in visiting Cuba, we thought why not add this fascinating island to our selection of Archipelagos. Tony kindly contributed this blog with photos and called it – Cuba Libre!
After arriving early evening on a flight from Madrid a large Chevrolet Bel Air transported us from Havana airport to our Casa Particular or Guest House in old Havana for three nights. What a wonderful city with so much to see and so much history to learn about.
Our guide Antonio was marvellous, a retired Cuban university professor who had also worked as a diplomat at the United Nations in New York and in other cities around the world. He showed us round old Havana with its many splendid Colonial buildings some in good condition and some urgently needing repairs.
The streets were narrow with many small art galleries and on ‘Obispo’ the main tourist street, restaurants, galleries, book shops, hostels and Salsa music everywhere and in places couples dancing on the street outside the many cafes.
On our second evening, we much enjoyed an unexpected performance by the Cuban National Ballet and earlier on Antonio arranged a tour in a huge American convertible of 1950s vintage around other interesting parts of the city including the John Lennon Park and an area with bizarre buildings in the style of Spanish Architect Antoni Gaudi.
Out of Havana, we visited the well-preserved home of the American writer Ernest Hemingway then the following day we headed for Vinales. On route, we enjoyed lunch at a large tobacco farm where we also learnt about the growing, curing and processing of tobacco leaves. The hotel was good and the following morning we walked, with a guide, through fields of tobacco with a mountain backdrop with many large caves and through one of them we took a short boat ride.
The next day after a visit to an interesting eco-village in the biosphere reserve of Las Terrazas we continued on the long drive to Cienfuegos a town full of incredibly brave historical facts about Cuba’s past and which offers both a beautifully restored theatre and a dominant castle overlooking the entrance to the large Cienfuegos bay.
The motorway we travelled on for part of the way was noticeably lacking in traffic in both directions except for numerous old well used public transport buses and more pony and traps than I have ever seen.
Good accommodation again then the next day off to Trinidad with its many cobbled streets. On route a real highlight, a stop for a swim in the beautiful pools under the spectacular waterfalls of el Nicho park. Once again excellent accommodation and an evening watching and enjoying the beat and sound of salsa music and dancing.
Our amazing journey now took us via a former sugar plantation to Santa Clara a town with a most impressive mausoleum and museum paying homage to those who fought for the Cuban partisan militia led by Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.
We were now on route for three nights at an exclusive resort hotel situated on Cayo Santa Maria. To get there we had to travel on a road constructed in sections for about thirty miles linking all these small ‘cays’. What a way to almost finish our journey. The hotel beautifully situated had three beaches to choose from two pools, total relaxation with as many free Caribbean cocktails as you could manage and an aquatic ballet in one of the pools on our last night.
Finally the long drive back to Havana along an almost empty motorway with a stop for lunch then our final night in the same Casa Particular as when we started. Before our evening flight the next day we explored the city some more, then visited the excellent Museum of Contemporary Art.
We both felt that our journey through parts of Cuba had been so worthwhile, so well organised and so full of interest with every day so different to the day before. Viva Cuba!
Do you want to follow in Tony and Angela’s footsteps (or are interested in visiting other places in Cuba), then do give me a ring on 01768 721040 or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.