🇨🇺 Final thoughts on Cuba: salsa, rum & tempered expectations

 

 

  • Cuba is a thoroughly unique country, which is certainly not without challenges, in fact its challenges are so vast and this perhaps is not the place to expound on them, but Cuba’s natural charm, its fascinating revolutionary history, far reaching culture, music and the warmth of its people more than make up for its shortcomings.

 

  • Go with an open mind: obviously coming from Europe/N America etc. you may be accustomed to a certain level of service, do not expect that in Cuba. For instance a 5 star hotel rating in Cuba is not the same as you would find elsewhere. This is mostly not a failing on the part of the people, but goes back to the aforementioned challenges facing the country.

 

  • There was music everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE , so expect to dance or at least sway just a little bit:)if like me you fancy yourself as a bit of a musician, you may even be able to get in on the act and join a band for a jamming session:) Trinidad for me was great for pure, unadulterated, live music. It was everywhere and absolutely fantastic.

 

  • Cuba is not cheap, I would say it is on par with going to most European destinations in terms of day to day costs for food and transport, so plan accordingly.

 

  • The internet situation was not as bad as I anticipated. I had imagined not having internet access for days on end, which wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but still odd, however, you can purchase WiFi cards (ETECSA) to access the internet and some hotels will provide a limited number of hours with login details as part of your stay, others on the other hand sell the ETECSA cards. Although WiFi access points are still few and far between, you can access from hotels, casas and parks.

 

  • There is so much culture to soak up and something for everyone, whether you’re a lover of adventure, history, music or just relaxing on the beach, you will be guaranteed a wonderful time. It does help that the cocktails are fabulous too, from refreshing Cuba Libres to sumptuous Piña coladas and zesty Mojitos. Having a steady flow of rum in different guises was not a bad thing…non alcoholic options were also available of course!

 

  • You will get a more authentic experience staying at a Casa Particular (home stay). I expand a little on casas in this post Casa Particulares

 

 

  • As a first time visitor, I found it fairly easy to navigate even when exploring on my own, so no challenges on that front. Given the limited WiFi, there are plenty of apps that have offline map options that you can download before getting to Cuba to help you find your way around. Failing that just ask, Cubans are friendly and willing to help.

 

  • Have your wits about you!: As with any other destination, you cannot be too careful. There may be one or two people trying to sell you something, but they are generally harmless, just be assertive and you should be fine.

 

  • Travelling to Cuba in mid September, thought to be the beginning of the hurricane season… I was a bit apprehensive, but in the end had nothing to worry about. It did rain twice in 12 days but they were tropical heavy downpours that lasted for less than an hour and then it was back to glorious sunshine! So you don’t always have to go during peak season, which means that you can get a cheaper deal and have far fewer tourists to deal with.

 

  • If I had to suggest an itinerary, it would be: HavanaTrinidadVaradero (or any of the other beach resorts). Spending at least 5 days in Havana, I would then take day trips to Viñales (from Havana) and Santa Clara (from Trinidad). This is based on the parts of Cuba that I personally visited on this trip.

 

    I loved Cuba despite because of its flaws, sure it wasn’t all shiny and sleek, but to me that was what was so unique about it, I haven’t been to and can’t think of many countries without global brands lining every high street and copy and paste shopping malls dotted all around, so Cuba was a refreshing exception. Cuba had lots of character and provided a different, full, well rounded and immensely life-enriching experience overall.

 

    More images from Cuba

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