Cuba is most interesting, beautiful country to visit. It has interesting people, who speak a sing-song language, of which I only understood a couple words, as English is not widely spoken. It features beautiful, grand and some old, run-down Spanish architecture and nice, white, sandy beaches with crystal, blue water, great for snorkelling or diving. We must mention the Latin dancing, to exercise every night, with a Cuban live band and many mojitos. Ohhh… what a life they lead here…
Unfortunately, I found Cuban food very boring as they did not use many herbs or spices nor green vegetables. After one week in the country, I got bored eating rice beans with barbeque meat or sweet and sour lobster. I wished fervently that they would have something to spice up my taste buds. It seems that every restaurant (local or tourist), hotel and guesthouse, cooks similarly in taste and presentation. However, the fruit was abundant, fresh and juicy.
I loved the mango…. OMG, I really enjoyed my breakfast every morning, which consisted of a mixed plate of fruit, scrambled eggs and bread. I wished I could bring those mangoes back … ssssshhhh……. I did bring mangoes back to Europe with me.
I spent a total of four weeks exploring Cuba, from Havana city to Baracoa using mixed transport from a private taxi, tourist bus and domestic flights. Private taxi and buses were dirt cheap, however, the domestic flight were quite expensive and can only be booked from a travel agent in Cuba.
Beware when you visit Cuba, since the country uses two different currencies, “CUC” for foreigners and “local peso” for local people. A foreigner can change CUC only and are not allowed to have local pesos. However, when I purchased something from the shops or restaurants, I sometimes got local peso in return. Local people are crazy about the CUC… they want CUC, which has a higher value than local pesos.
Likewise, with restaurants, foreigners can only eat in foreigner restaurants, which are managed by local people. Sometimes, local restaurants allowed foreigners to dine there, however, most of the times I got rejected and had to dine at foreigner restaurants.
All the menus and everything were similar between the foreigner and local restaurants. The difference was in the price tag only. In foreign restaurants, I had to pay much, much more for the same dish.
The guest houses/casas and hotels are very cheap and have very good value with big private en suite rooms, a/c, and were clean, but I had to pay extra for breakfast.
Havana city has so many beautiful old buildings, which for some strange reason (I do not know why) are all painted white. There are many beautiful museum buildings with extensive collections inside; big squares with plenty of cafes and restaurants with people buzzing around and strange, speech noises which were welcome sounds to my ears.
The “El Morro fort” was a beautiful sight with a view toward the beach and the Malecon (8 km long )sea drive was great and soothing the soul with its line of palm trees. I imagined myself as a movie star, riding in one of those big American cars, with an open roof top.
I had fantastic and relaxing days doing those activities. The birds were playful and beautiful in colour. I also found strange looking crabs while birds watching. The crab eyes looked so scary and strange but were very good to photograph.
The modern and metropolitan Santiago de Cuba was fantastic, for listening to music and dancing all night. The streets were full of shops and artsy people, from singers to dancers, to painters and wood carvers. I loved the atmosphere which was very lively. I suppose the mojitos helped. The histories, the many cities I visited in Cuba and everything was a blurred image in my mind, after so many mojitos… but I do love Cuba.
Baracoa is famous for it is cacao plantations and I enjoyed the exploration of the jungle and the plantation with many cacaos along the way. The fantastic ice cream made me crazy… and I ordered 5 scoops at once, with 20 bars of Baracoa chocolate, which startled the staff, and made me smile deep inside.
Cuba…I love you…… I will visit you again one day…..