A trip that changed my life : Cuba
Have you ever wished to dance salsa on a public place with a group of musicians surrounding you, and hearing the children’s euphoria?
Have you ever wanted to discover a city by night, by walking into the streets and discover a new atmosphere, a festive atmosphere which makes you happy?
All these things define the amazing country of Cuba: the country of music, dance and mojitos of course 🙂
So, I had the chance to go on a trip to Cuba for 10 days during Easter holidays last April. I went there with my mother, my step father and his parents and my sister.
First of all, I am going to explain to you in detail all the steps of this incredible trip and the good addresses you must go to (small tips 🙂 ).
We took the plane on April 18th at the Roissy Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris for a 10-hour flight (so looong), and then we arrived in La Havana, Cuba’s capital, where our driver from the tourist agency waited for us. Something you must know, you can’t change your money before your trip but only on site, and there is only one exchange counter so you have to wait; 30 minutes if you are lucky or 1h30.
So then, we directly went to the hotel, the Seville Hotel in the center of la Havana. This hotel was really pleasant as it had an open patio in the center of the building where you could drink or eat something. Just before having dinner, we took a mojito in the patio and a group of musicians sang and played local instruments in front of us, if you are curious, the song was this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaVnA88oNTg , a good one for salsa;) The atmosphere was very festive and nice!
Then, as Cuba is celebrated for its fish and lobsters, we directly went to a specialized restaurant on the seaside. And indeed, we can say that Cuba has very good lobsters (you must taste them 😉 ). The tiredness came very quickly so we came back to the hotel to have a big rest (thank you jetlag!)
The next day, we started our day by visiting the historical district of the city; it is composed of a big square where small merchants sell old books, vintage posters of Cuba (I bought one with a guitar drawing) and small things you can find in secondhand stores; a castle in rocks with the whole history of Cuba detailed on boards; you can also find in the district a lot of narrow streets, bars and shops but of course no American or international firms. Cuba keeps its charm and attractivity thanks to local stores and vintage cars (dating back to the 60s). Indeed, the atmosphere is still present and we really feel like having a flashback into the 60s! It is amazing and really unfamiliar and exotic.
Then we had lunch in a small local restaurant and kept visiting in the afternoon.
For our 3 days in La Havana, we rented a car for 1 day to go to Cienfuegos (a small village 2 hours away from the capital). There, we visited the theatre, which is very famous and incredible, and the cathedral. Don’t forget to walk along the seaside! It’s beautiful, you have a view on the translucid sea and the colonial colored houses. Have lunch in one of the house-restaurant (local inhabitants have a restaurant in their house) along the big avenue that crosses the village. Finally, after visiting Cienfuegos, we came back to La Havana to our hotel.
The 2 following days, we just visited the city and lost ourselves in the maze of narrow streets and took (a lot of) pictures.
After these 3 days in La Havana, we took the car and drove to Trinidad, but as it’s a 5-hour ride, we stopped on the way in the Valley of Vinales. There, we did a short hike in the mountains and visited a traditional factory of tabacco and especially of cigar. We had the chance to attend the whole process of fabrication and it’s incredible!
the house of an inhabitant of the Valley of Vinales
At the end of the hike, we had lunch in an elevated restaurant in the trees, this was very funny and a real change of scenery. Then we continued our drive to Trinidad where we slept in a guest house.
A street in Trinidad
Trinidad is a small village where cars are not used as the roads are paved with cobbles; indeed people move in the city on horseback or on motocycles. The streets are very colorful and nice and the local persons too. Cubans are in general very friendly with tourists but may be a little bit too intrusive. So during our first day, we visited all the musuems of the city (4 exactly) and we had dinner at La Casa de la Musica where you can listen to groups of musicians while eating. The atmosphere is very nice and you can see the joy on people’s faces 🙂 And then we came back to our house.
The next day, we went to the beach 30 minutes away, so we took a taxi because the road indications are terrible there! We had a beautiful view on the Caraibean sea and its translucid color! We felt like being in a postcard.
After these 2 days in Trinidad, we went to Varadero, the seaside resort of Cuba.
So of course, it means that all the tourists spend some time in this beautiful place. For us, we stayed in the Paradisus Varadero hotel for 3 days and then took our flight back to Paris in la Havana.
The hotel was absolutely amazing as it was on the beach and had 3 pools, a bar in the pool so you could have a drink while sitting on a “chair” in the water (a very good concept); we could also do many activities such as salsa lessons and go to an indoor bar for the night. Everything is organized so as to have a good time and just take a break from stress and the pollution of the city. However, I won’t recommend you to stay 2 weeks in this place as you don’t visit the country and don’t discover the real culture of Cuba; I think 4 or 5 days is enough 🙂
Finally, on April 28th we said our farwells to this incredible country and came back to Paris. This trip was indeed very enriching and nice but it also allowed me to be more open-minded on the way people live in latin countries. I will for sure recommend you to go to Cuba and to enjoy the simple lifestyle of local inhabitants, which I miss so much.