When Winnie and I met each other after 6 months, we decided the success of our holiday will be dependant on a highlight a day- some of these highlights are very personal and may not reflect the touristy thing but they mean the most to us so my sum of my holiday in highlights:
Day 0: Seeing Winnie after 6 months, drinking the most famous daiquiri in Floridita in Havana, enjoying the fabulous breeze in Havana
Day 1: Walking through Cienfuegos, soaking in the hostory and the amazing sunset from Palacio de Valle
Day 2: Observing a colony of flamingoes in their quarters at a lagoon near Cienfuegos, enjoying the sunbathing & swimming in the carribean though we are not fans of the reef at Rancho Luna
Day 3: Playa Ancon- may not be the most beautiful beach in Cuba but to us, it epitimosed the Carribean- white sands, solitude, palm trees, clear blue water- it WAS stunning!! One of our favourite moments of the holiday. Casa de la Trova in the open followed by a rave in the cave is the way to wrap up a day this perfect!
Day 4: Swimming to the cave in El Cubano before driving to Camaguey and seeing the sights of the city at night. and how can we forget the fabulous breeze in our own private balcony!
Day 5: I fell sick so sleeping loads, resting tonnes and shopping at the local farmers market in the local currency (Cuba has 2 currencies- 24 of the local Cubano pesos = 1 CUC or convertible peso) and buying stuff at local prices!
Day 6: Just the simplicity of the day and realising the best way to deal with a Cuban day is to wake up early & do some stuff, chill through the afternoon and party through the night! Many chats with local people, overcoming language barriers with our Casa owner and the basicness of the day was pretty wonderful!
Day 7: Going to the top of a lighthouse and seeing the cannon ceremony at El Morro
Day 8: Could mention Gran Peidra but I think the sunset at Casa Granda wins
Day 9: Realising that Cuban time is really something one cannot control and letting the day unfold for us- we were meant to fly to Havana in the morning but only got there at 2 am!
Day 10: Making the most of our one day in Havana and realising how beautiful it is, dinner at Plaza de la Cathedral was a let down but seriously, one of the most beautiful settings! The sunset walk at the Malecon is something I am unlikely to forget easily!
Day 11: Vinales – the mogotes, the caves, the amazing lobster lunch, the very filling pina colada- all in all, a great excursion followed by a night in Old Havana
Day 12: Arriving in Varadero and immersing myself into the ocean fully clothed because, well, I just couldn’t resist it!
Day 13: Not waking to an alarm, enjoying the beach, relaxing on a hammock and basically, taking it all that Varadero has to offer
Day 14: Realising the humidity was tougher than not and escaping into the hammock and air conditioned room before swimming in the ocean, seeing the water turn pink at sunset and partying in the local discos/ nightclubs before an hour in the jacuzzi
Day 15: Sunrise at the beach, being able to somewhat replay the Ancon morning, the hugs from the newly made friends…
All in all- if you are ever in two minds about Cuba, don’t be- just go! It’s a fab country, has loads to offer, reminds you to relax and just deal with it, shows you what it is like to be in a Big Brother environment, reminds you of the good and the bad of socialism, messes your liver up and makes you fall in love. We were lucky to have some amazing people talk to us, deal with us and look after us.
Our favourite people and places that may be able to help you if you ever go:
Trinidad: Stay at Luis 19 Casa- run by Carlos & Yalienis- fab couple, huge rooms, fantastic food.
Jesus Menendez (Alameda) 65 esquina Smith, Trinidad: 005341992292
Camaguey: Stay with Sonia at her Hostal Sonia- lovely motherlike lady, massive rooms with amazng private balcony.
Felipe Torres No 25 E/ Maximiliano Ramos (Horca) v San Ramon, Camaguey: 005332290224
Taxi drivers in Havana:
Modern air conditioned car with a very friendly driver: Xavier (took us to Vinales and back for a very decent price!): 005352954438
Classic Pontiac in mint condition: George: 005352762132
In Havana, for a comfortable stay in Inglaterra, ask Edson to look after you. You know he likes you if he sends you a flying kiss everytime he sees you! (Room 307 is the room to have- nice size, good views, amazing breeze, massive bathroom)
In Varadero, at the adults only resort called Breezes, eat the pizzas made by Carlos and the drinks by Teresa both at the Beach bar (and avoid dinner at the Italian restaurant). The bell boys Alex and Luis are very helpful too- especially for tips of where to go!
Have a blast, enjoy Cuba- a country of extremes, a country of warm smiles, fabulous people and a place that leaves you with some powerful memories and strong emotions!