These have to be a highlight of Havana! In the 1950’s the city of Detroit was the home of the manufacturers producing innovative designs and models. Cuba became the testing ground for Buicks, Fords, Cadillacs & Chevrolets! Many of these have not been in use much since so are in great working order and the classic time warp are your mode of transport around the crumbling facades of Havana.
If you are not into music, then Cuba may not be the place for you. It is more deeply embedded in the Cuban culture than any other aspect we came across. It is not possible to eat any type of meal or visit any public bar without the accompaniment of a band, music, jazz and often dancing also. Of course, they are delighted if you feel like joining in!
This area lies to the west of Havana and had lots to recommend. The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful – which I had not necessarily been expecting. The limestone mounds known as mogotes are scattered around the area and are found nowhere else in the Americas giving way to lush farmland, pretty villages, eroded caves and subterranean rivers and we visited them all!
CUBAN CIGAR & RUM FACTORIES
No trip to Cuba would be complete without a visit watch the skill of the workers in the cigar factories. We even put a timer on the duration of pulling the leaves together to resemblance of a typical cigar! Three minutes! We were then amused to see each cigar weighed to make sure they are exactly within the requirements of each make and type. Of course, there is then a compulsory purchase! Then on to the Rum factory – ridiculously cheap!
ABOVE THE CANOPY
Another unexpected highlight in this area! Something that you would plan on doing in Costa Rica or Belize or somewhere! First, kitted out in tackle and helmets – you are taken in an ancient Russian bus to the top of the canopy in the rainforest. After an extremely short demonstration you are off and in five stages cross the canopy above the valley on a zip wire. I am sure, had my eyes been open, I would have been able to see all sorts of plants and birds but just giving it a try was challenging enough for me! By zip wire four and five, I was able to appreciate crossing lakes, villages, road and rainforest! Wonderful but not necessary for me to do that again!
SANDA CLARA & TRINIDAD
Trinidad lies on the South Coast of Cuba – so a long drive from Havana – or Vinales. We were able to visit Santa Clara en route and the site of Che Guevara’s most important military success. The Momument and Museum are very impressive and offer some insight into the light and times of this iconic revolutionary hero and his tomb.
Trinidad is one of the country’s most charming and beautiful cities and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was founded in 1514 by the Spanish and the early 19th Century sugar boom generated opulent mansions, churches and beautiful civic buildings on cobbled street. The nightlife is full of vibrant bars and restaurants. A great trip out of Trinidad is to the Topes de Collantes in the Sierra de Escambray mountains for a trek to the El Rocio Waterfall for a lunchtime swim!! Great for birdwatchers and anyone interested in flora & fauna. The Iberostar here is a small colonial gem in the heart of this city with so much charm. When planning itineraries, we usually start with securing space here – it is that good!
Finally, we did not get to the north coast but topping of the trip with a beach stay on the Cayo Ensenachos on Cayo Santa Maria in the Iberostar may just do the trick! The beaches are fantastic, some wonderful marine life, fishing and diving and this great little property is all inclusive and even has a choice of restaurants – not something which is usual in Cuba!!
So WIFI has now hit Cuba and is available in most of the hotels that we use (lobby only). I had mobile phone coverage in Havana – but not anywhere else and the food – not a highlight but some surprises!