Travelling to Cuba, history and beaches

Classic cars at cuban streets Foto Luciana PalaciosLet's start our trip in La Havana, the capital city of Cuba, a city in which time has stood still since the sixties. Wherever you go you can see grafitti like "Cuba Libre", which alludes to the revolution. One of the main atractions is La Havana Vieja, declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO; the old side of the city, full of both cubans and tourists, can be toured in one morning or a whole day if you have time.

 

 

 

The principal places to visit are The Cathedral Square, the Arms Square, San Francisco de Asis square, the Rum Museum, Old Square, Mercaderes street.

 

Bar El Floridita, the one that Ernest Hemingway choosed for his daikiris

 

"La Bodeguita del Medio" (situated in the street Empedrado No. 307) is the famous Cuban restaurant where the writer Hemingway used to drink his mojitos - on one occasion he wrote on a wall "My mojito in La Bodeguita, my daikiri in El Floridita" the other typical restaurant that he frequented. Lot of famopus visitors, such as writers and politicians, left their mark on the walls of La Bodeguita. The menu is typical "criollo", white rice with beans and pork.

 

 

 

 

 

Revolutión Square

 

 

On the other side of the city, in the modern neighborhood "El Vedado", you can visit the Revolution Square where you can see a big picture of "El Che Guevara" with his famous phrase "Hasta la Victoria Siempre" (until victory always) and Fidel Castro, two of the most important representatives of the Cuban Revolution.

One recommended way to go around the town is to take the bus tour that goes through the city, the whole journey last two hours and it cost 5 cuc (convertible cuban pesos), you can also get off the bus at any bus stop and get on again later without paying anything further.

A real treat is to visit the beaches situated on the east side of the island, where the Cuban people usually go. The best way of ending a day in La Havana after a long walk is to take a moment to watch the sunset in the Malecon next to the deep blue sea of Cuba, with its huge majestic waves.

The whole of Cuba seems frozen in time, but the city of Trinidad take us back even further to the distant past of 1850 - the Spanish colonial era. The city was built on the sugar fortunes of the early nineteenth century in the valley of the mills, situated in the central region of Cuba in the south of the province of Sancti Spiritus. It was the third city founded by the Spanish crown in Cuba at the beginning of 1514. Is one of the best preserved colonial cities of Latin America and was declared a World Heritage site in 1988.

The best way is to explore the city on foot, to walk along the quaint cobblestoned streets lined with low-rise houses, Cuban music floating through the evening air. Every night you can enjoy Trova, Salsa, Timba, Mambo or Chachachá shows on the steps of the House of Music on one side of the Mayor square.
From the tower of the old palace Cantero, on the street Simon Bolivar, can be seen the best view of the city, the ruins of the chapel of the Candelaria and the coffee and banana plantations. Climb the tower at a cost of 2 cuc.

The valley of the mills is about ten kilometers from Trinidad, and held up to 52 sugar factories that profited from slave labor. The mill Manaca Iznaga preserves the only sugar cane press that is left and the tower from which slaves were guarded.

The best option at bedtime is to rent a room in the local houses of cuban families authorized to accommodate tourists. This is an ideal way of getting to experience the cuban culture, to see how the average cuban lives and to taste delicious typical food such as "Ropa Vieja" a beef stew, or cocktails like Mojito, Piña Colada and Cuba Libre, alcoholic beverage made with rum (the main alcohol of Cuba). All the houses are old with precious courtyards filled with a dazzling array of flowers where you can have a home-made breakfast or dinner. The legalized houses are marked with a blue arrow, and cost around 25 or 30 cuc/night. The best location is near "Plaza Mayor".

Also for lunch or dinner it is recommended to go to the "Paladares" restaurants, "Sol y Son" is one of the most famous in the city, a colonial house from 1830, located in Simon Bolivar street, 283.

But Trinidad is not only about history. For lovers of the sea you can dive in one of thirty exciting spots. "Cayo Blanco de la Casilda" is particularly worth exploring, in which you can appreciate tropical fish of all colors, black coral and sea turtles. Maria de Aguilar and Ancon beaches are also well worth visiting.

Cuba history and beaches Text & Photos: Luciana Palacios

Trinidad and Santa Clara can be also visited from La Havana, Varadero or Los Cayos; a full day tour cost 100 cuc (a little less than eur 100), and you leave early in the morning from the hotel, spend the entire day visiting the cities and return late at night.

Is impossible to talk about Cuba without mentioning the famous revolutionary "Che Guevara", one of the main figures, along with Fidel Castro, of the Cuban Revolution. Santa Clara is one of the most important cities in Cuba's history, in which occurred one of the main battles of the Cuban Revolution in which "El Che" had an important role.  In tribute to his contributions during this period, a memorial to Ernesto Guevara was erected here.

One of the places most visited by tourists is the Train Museum, where the railroad cars that were loaded with ammunition and Batista's troops is on display. El Che with other revolutionaries derailed the train, days after the war was over.
In Santa Clara we found Che's monument which is a statue of him carrying a rifle. The museum describes the revolutionary life, family pictures, Argentina school certificates and other memorabilia that he used during his life. Also shown is the historically-signifcant letter that Che wrote to Fidel informing him of his decision to quit his political and military positions in order to continue with the struggle for the liberation of the Latin American people.
Leaving aside the history, in the central park of the city is one of the most popular bars, "La Marquesina". At night you can visit places such as "Cari Show" where you can enjoy cuban live music.

Cuba is famous for its beaches, characteristics of which are its fine white sand, warm sea temperatures and transparent turquoise and blue waters. The best months to travel are between March and May, with an average temperature of 30 - 31 degrees and a sea temperature of 25 degrees.
Varadero is one of the principal beaches, 140 km from La Havana; you can get there by bus and the trip lasts about three hours with amazing view for most of the journey. Varadero has 20km's of pristine beach of the very best quality, surrounded by severals hotels of a very high standard, four and five stars, which are all-inclusive. You can enjoy the beach, swimming, diving, snorkeling, sailing, or just lying in the sand resting and sunbathing.
The Cayos are the other famous must-see beaches, which form part of a chain of islands called Jardines del Rey. Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Blanco are some of the most popular. Near Cayo Coco is Pilar beach and Las Coloradas, both isolated and possessed with an inimaginable beauty.
Cuba provides the perfect combination of history, nature and amazing beaches; the best way to see the Carribean is by visiting Cuba.


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