Our next installment of the Mondays Sessions is to Cuba. This Caribbean Island nation has had a storied past. Many travelers from Europe and especially Canada have been visiting for years at the numerous resorts found around the island and particularly in Varadero. There have been some changes in recent years in regards to travel within Cuba. Other areas have become a bit more popular with visitors, which offers a chance to see the more authentic side of this country. My friend Aurora (a French expat in Canada), whom I met last year, visited the tropical locale earlier in 2017. Let’s hear about her time in Cuba.
WTW: What may you decide to go to Cuba?
Aurora: I have been dancing Cuban Salsa for about 10 years now and I always wanted to go! I figured it was best to go as soon as possible to experience the “authentic Cuba” before it changes with the tourism boom.
WTW: Wonderful! Regarding logistics, how did you get around? What type of accommodations did you stay in?
Aurora: We wanted to rent a car but there was no availability, so we ended up using buses and private shared taxis to get around the island, the latest ended up being the easiest for only a little bit more than the bus. For accommodation we stayed in Casa Particulares, which are the local B&Bs – it’s the best option if you want to see how locals live and meet them!
WTW: How was the food? And the rum? (I find the rum quite tasty)
Aurora: The selection of dishes was limited. Surprisingly, we found that the quality of the food varies a lot even for similar price ranges. The cocktails were also amazing in some places or genuinely bad in others!
WTW: Good to know that is varies. Which place or area was your favourite and why?
Aurora: Havana was my favorite place because of its authenticity and eclecticism. The older part of the city is run-down, but I personally found it charming, you get to imagine the colonial times more vividly.
WTW: I myself like Havana too. What surprised you the most about Cuba?
Aurora: It felt like going back in time, nothing has changed much in 50 years, and you feel the socialism spirit everywhere, it was like experiencing history! Also the double currency system is quite surprising, creating a segregation between tourists and locals.
WTW: That is quite different. What type of activities and sights did you do and see?
- Havana (visiting the old city, dancing salsa, listening to live bands)
- Viñales (scenic walks and drives, horse back-riding, cigar plantations)
- Playa Girón (snorkelling, history)
- Cienfuegos (touring the city)
- Trinidad (sightseeing)
- Santa Clara (Che Memorial )
- Varadero (white sand beaches)
WTW: You covered a fair bit of ground! Wonderful. Any tips or suggestions for travelers considering Cuba?
Aurora: Try to visit beyond the typical tourist destinations for the true Cuban experience. Go visit Centro Havana, get yourself some Cuban pesos, dance salsa with Cubans, and be careful of scams (tourism brings so much money that a lot of people seize any opportunities).
Photos are taken and owned by Aurora and used with permission.