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Trip To Cuba Essay

Cuba is an intriguing country shrouded in mystery. While holding on to its authenticity, hints of change pop up around every corner. Cuba is definitely changing, and one thing is for certain: Expect the unexpected. If you’re thinking of travelling to Cuba, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re like us and love to be on the move, mixing culture with activities and some much-needed relaxation, you’ll find this Cuba itinerary perfect for planning your upcoming trip. Havana 2 full days Our trip started in Havana, locally called La Habana, the capital of Cuba.

We arrived late at Jose Marti International Airport, and fter collecting our luggage, exchanging our Canadian dollars for convertible pesos, and finding a taxi, we made our way to our casa particular in Habana Vieja, the oldest district in the city. Taxi from the airport to the centre Upon arrival, there will be plenty of taxi drivers waiting to take people to their hotels/casas particulares. The official government taxis are yellow, and the drivers wear light yellow shirts. A trip should cost you no more than 25 CUC. Exchanging money Cuba has two currencies: the Cuban Convertible Peso or CUC, and the Cuban Peso or CUP.

Tourists will use the CUC and is nly available upon arrival in Cuba. There is a currency exchange office right outside the airport as well as an ATM. Don’t take USD with you, as you will be charged an extra 10% penalty when exchanging your cash into CUC. We spent 2 full days in the city, which some might say is not sufficient to experience everything the capital has to offer. Our limited time, however, was enough for us to sample the essence of Havana. We walked around Havana Vieja, with its magnificent squares and intimate cobbled streets.

The architecture is grandiose, and with the help from UNESCO, most buildings have been beautifully restored. Walk a little outside of the centre, you’ll find yourself in the grittier part of the city, with a mix of colonial buildings in disrepair next to restored houses. Don’t be fooled though. Behind some of these dilapidated facades, you can find secret gems hidden away. One of such gems is La Guarida. A restaurant situated on the top floors of a shabby looking building which I highly recommend if you’re willing to splurge on an excellent dinner.

Our taxi to the centre: Government taxi | Price: 25 CUC | Worth it? Yes Where we stayed: Casa Particular: Hostal San Juan. Price: $65/night | $5 for breakfast per person | Worth it? No Classic car tour for 2 hours: Price:$100 | Worth it? No El Morro Castle: Price: 6 CUC | Worth it? Yes Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana Fortress: Price: 6 CUC during the day 8 CUC at night | Worth it? Yes Vinales 2 Full days Our next stop was Vinales, a tranquil village in the countryside. Upon arriving at the national park, a stunning valley reveals itself in front of you.

Tobacco plantations make up the landscape with dramatic limestone formations, called Mojotes, dotted around the valley. Traditional farming techniques are still used here, and it’s common to pass horses and bulls on the oad as a means of transport. Vinales turned out to be one of our favourite places in Cuba. After the hustle and bustle of Havana, we loved the slower pace and the serenity of the valley. We set off on a private cycle tour around the valley, visiting a tobacco and coffee farm, enjoying the landscape around us while slowly meandering through the Mojotes.

We also embarked on a sunset horse riding trip through the valley to El Valle de Palmarito. Vinales was also the place where I practised my limited and very broken Spanish. I had some fun conversations with our guides with the help of dictionaries. None of our guides spoke English, but they were very patient and spoke very clearly, so I was able to understand most. Our taxi to Vinales: Government taxi |3h | Price: 120 CUC | Worth it? I think we could have found one cheaper Where we stayed: Hotel La Ermita. Price: From 97 CAD/night | Worth it?

It was too expensive for the quality of the room Private cycling tour: 22 CUC/person | 4 hours – booked through our hotel | Worth it? Yes Private horse riding tour: 15 CUC/person | 3-4 hours – booked directly with our guide Orlando | Worth it? Yes Cienfuegos 1 afternoon + night Founded by French immigrants in 1819, Cienfuegos boasts an clectic mix of different architectural styles, which contribute to its unique and diverse cityscape. In the early 1900’s, the sugar cane industry in the area was booming, and as a result, rich sugar barons built elaborate mansions in the city.

We started our afternoon in Parque Marti, surrounded by neo- classical facades. The park is situated only 2 blocks from Paseo el Prado, the longest street in Cuba. We had no plans and plenty of time, so we casually strolled the avenue, with its pastel coloured columns on both sides, enjoying the afternoon sun and locals going about their daily lives. The Malecon and Punta Gorda were the highlights of our trip, with views of Cienfuegos’ stunning natural bay and extravagant mansions. Watch the sunset from here while sipping a mojito and listening to the tunes of a salsa band playing nearby.

Our transport to Cienfuegos: A private tour bus | 6. h | Price: 32 CUC/person | Worth it? Yes Where we stayed: Casa Buena Vista | Price: 80 CUC/night breakfast included | Worth it? Yes Trinidad 1 afternoon and 1 full day When thinking of Trinidad, bright coloured houses and old classic cars come to mind. It’s a remarkably well-preserved colonial town and walking its cobbled streets makes you feel like ou’re stuck in a time warp. Trinidad is popular with tourists, however, walk a little outside the main centre, and you’ll find quiet streets, locals sitting on the sidewalk, playing dominoes and the occasional horse-drawn carriage passing by.

We wandered through Trinidad, tried local food and sampled the Canchanchara cocktail, a refreshing rum & honey cocktail born in Trinidad. (However, my favourite Canchanchara was in Matanzas). The sweltering afternoon sun forced us to stay in and only venture out in the early evening when we climbed the er to enjoy the views of the city and the sunset. bell-to There’s plenty to see around Trinidad, so we used our second day to explore Valle de los Ingenios and Playa Ancon. If we had stayed one extra day in Trinidad, we would have visited Topes de Collantes, the second largest mountain range in Cuba.

Our taxi to Trinidad: Old car | Price: 70 CUC | Worth it? Yes. We took a detour to El Nicho Waterfalls, which I highly recommend. Where we stayed: Casa Colonial El Patio | Price: 50 CUC/night breakfast included | Worth it? Yes Cayo Santa Maria full days Cayo Santa Maria is a small island off Cuba’s Northern Coast linked to the mainland by a 48 km causeway. With its turquoise aters and white sandy beaches, it has quickly become a popular beach destination. We were happy to relax by the beach for a few days after absorbing Cuba’s culture. All inclusive resorts are the only accommodation option here.

If you are just looking for a beach holiday, Cayo Santa Maria is definitely a good option. Unfortunately, you won’t find much of Cuban culture here. You’ll experience a more international vibe instead of Cuban, and being quite far away from the mainland, you probably won’t catch a glimpse of anything authentic Cuban. Our taxi to Cayo Santa Maria: Old car | Price: 140 CUC | Worth it? Debatable. We stopped in Sancti Spiritus, however, the whole trip took longer than it should have because we were in an old car. Where we stayed: Playa Cayo Santa Maria | 256 USD/night all inclusive | Worth it?

No Royalton Cayo Santa Maria | 291 USD/night all inclusive adult only | Worth it? Yes Varadero 1 full day Varadero is a resort town located on a 20 km stretch of the Hicacos peninsula. We wanted to break up our return to Havana, so we decided to stay 2 nights in Varadero. Just like Cayo Santa Maria, you won’t find much of an authentic Cuban experience here, however, Havana is only 2h15 away, so perfect for a day trip. Apart from enjoying the beach and pool, we visited Rio Canimar and rented a boat for one hour. After our tranquil trip along the river, we visited Matanzas, the birthplace of the Rumba.

The city might not be as beautiful as Trinidad or Havana Vieja, it is still worth a visit if you’re looking for a Cuban experience while in Varadero. On a separate note, Hotel Encanto Velasco on the main square has the best Canchanchara I have tried in Cuba! Our taxi to Varadero: Government taxi | 100 CUC | Worth it? Yes, Air conditioning was a bliss. We also stopped in Matanzas, a quaint village. Where we stayed: Ocean Varadero El Patriarca | € 164. /night all inclusive Worth it? Yes, especially if you paid for privilege Havana Half day We wandered around Havana Vieja for the remainder of our time.

We first visited Hotel Nacional, a historic hotel from the 1930’s, strolled the oldest promenade in Havana: Alameda de Paula, and went to our favourite ice cream shop. In the evening, we headed to La Guarida for dinner (we reserved our table 2 weeks before coming to Cuba). The next day, it was time for our flight back to Canada. Our taxi to Havana: Government taxi | 80 CUC | Worth it? Yes Where we stayed: H10 Habana Panorama | Price: €161. /night breakfast included Worth it? No, very outdated hotel and too far from the centre Questions answered How did you plan your trip?

We booked everything independently and made no use of tour companies to visit places. How did you move between cities? We used taxis for every trip except for Vinales to Cienfuegos. We used a Transtur transfer bus which was cheaper and more comfortable than a taxi. There is also a Transtur transfer bus from Havana to Vinales, which we would have used if we had known about it. Did you book taxis in advance? We usually just flagged them down when we wanted to go somewhere. We did book a taxi in Trinidad, where we paid 10 CUC commission to the person booking for us.

Where did you stay? We stayed in 3 casas particulares and 5 hotels. How did you book accommodation? All casas particulares were booked by emailing the owners. We didn’t always find contact details of certain casas, and some casas never replied. One hotel was booked through the Cuba Travel Network. All resorts were booked directly through their respective websites. Is it possible to not book anything in advance? I’m not sure about high season, but in shoulder season (when we were there in April), there were plenty of casas with rooms available.

Did you pay for any of the accommodation in advance? Only our hotel in Vinales was paid for in advance. All other hotels and casas were paid after our stay. We paid in cash at all the casas, and credit card at the resorts. Was it difficult to find ATM’s to draw money? No. We found plenty of ATM’s in Havana, and every other city we visited had an ATM. Did you have any difficulties paying with your credit card? No. Our RBC (Canadian) card worked everywhere. Our HSBC card however, did not work. Did you access the internet while in Cuba?

Yes, but only a couple of times, once to check our emails and another time to check in for our flight back to Canada. Logging in was a painful process, and we didn’t want to waste time finding a WIFI spot and browsing the internet. We’re glad we were basically internet-free for two weeks. We never missed it. Do I need to know Spanish? Ash doesn’t speak Spanish, and I only know a little bit. We had 2 private guides who didn’t speak a word of English, and still we managed to make ourselves understood (with a few hilarious moments). I recommend learning some Spanish before going. This app helped me tremendously while in Cuba.

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