Before I begin to write about each destination individually, let me warn you – not everyone can endure and withstand such a pace of activity in holidays. Usually people have a different perception of vacation. I recommend that, if you are already in Cuba, see the most sites possible, because no one knows when you will come back, and the world can not wait for you to discover new destinations.
I have already written about Havana and this post can be found at this link. I hope I have inspired you to visit Havana one day and you will use it to discover all the hidden corners of Havana.
What I heartily recommend is that you get to know the magic of this Caribbean island through the charms and other gems of it. So let’s start ..
After Havana, Trinidad is the most visited city. Annually it is visited by millions of tourists. Therefore, almost every house is renting rooms for vacation. In Diego Velazquez’s time, it became very rich because of smuggling and trafficking in sugar and slaves. Before we move on, listen to the song that every time I listen to it, reminds me on Trinidad. One of the most beautiful towns of the island, with beautiful buildings from the period of Spanish colonial architecture. Cobble in the central part of the city makes it difficult to walk and drive, but in combination with colorful houses it is beautiful environment to enjoy in. On the square Plaza Mayor is Parroquial Iglesia de la Santisima Trinidad, the largest church in Cuba, with a very modest appearance. Below the church is a park with statues of greyhounds, painted pots and fence on pillars.
Wide staircase is used for gathering tourists who try to hook to the Internet, many of them drinking cocktails, and in the evening the stairs are transformed into dance floor in front of the Casa de la Musica. Grandmas and grandpas with a lot of energy conquer the podium. Accept the call for dance, if you receive it, or select a partner and enjoy the rhythm.
Aimlessly wandering the city is the best recommendation. Do not be confused by the fact that each street has two names. Pop in for a cocktail specific for this place – La Canchanchara, which is served in small clay cups. It is smooth and strong. We drank it at a cafe Rintintin where you can enjoy a fantastic sunset.
Visit the Palacio de Cantero, whose dome has a fantastic view of the city. To get to dome, you would have to climb very narrow, wooden staircase.
You should not neglect the Plaza Carillo. In Trinidad, you can visit many galleries of local artists. On Sunday, you will see the Plaza Major drop counters with souvenirs everywhere. Stalls dominate crocheted items.
At only 15km from Trinidad, is the pearl of the Caribbean, Playa Ancon, with fine, white sand, which makes the foot rejoice, and crystal blue water. We grabbed our fantastic-practical Okapi towels and headed to the beach. Transfer to the beach reminded us of the Thailand Tuk tuk ride.
We were delighted that a benevolence man grabbed a hat that we almost lost on the ride. Treat yourself to a coconut on the beach and enjoy.
We organized transport from Trinidad to Santa Clara and back for 80 CUC for all three of us. The man took us to the mausoleum and monument of Che Guevara and to the city center and he was waiting for us while we visited these sites.
The mausoleum is not allowed to enter with the camera. Photography is strictly prohibited. All the materials are in Spanish, which is, in general, my objection to all the museums in Cuba. First you enter the area with about two dozen urns revolutionaries, among whom were two women. At the central place on the premises, located is a plate behind which hides urn of an Argentine doctor, who died for the sake of ideas, which is the most popular figure in Cuba. In another room there are pictures and personal belongings of Che, presented chronologically from his childhood, through study, guerrilla command time, the revolution to the end of his life. You can not stay immune to the story of Che, his life and what he did for this nation. How much they are proud of him you can see in graffiti, billboards wherever you go, in any part of Cuba. “Hasta la victoria siempre!”
Whenever I think of his character and work in my head is the song that we often sang during our stay in Cuba. Today, his character can be found on t-shirts, mugs, wallets, hats, everything that can be sold, I even read that there is a washing powder with the slogan “Che washes better.” He became a brand of capitalism.
Apart from this, in Santa Clara you can visit the charmingly decorated city center
and go to the place where the revolutionaries ambushed an armored train in which was Batista.
Note that the mausoleum does not work on Mondays, so plan your tour accordingly.
After Trinidad, Playa Ancon, Santa Clara, the road lead us to Varadero. We decided while we were still in Belgrade, we will spend a day there and find accommodation in Santa Marta because it is far better accommodation and food. From Trinidad we found a taxi to Santa Marta for 25 CUC per person, which, if compared with bus tickets, which price is up to 21 Cuc, very convenient. The trip takes 4 hours, because the road is damaged. We came in a very decent accommodation and immediately went to the beach. Color of the water, soft sand will charm you as soon as you step into the beach. Since the day before we had small sunburns, we did not want to be too exposed to sunlight, which ruthlessly heats. Site is phenomenal and I recommend that you charge your batteries by looking at the magical colors of the sky and the departing sun.
We wanted to take a tour of the center of Varadero, but there is not much going on. We noticed that the content is far more diverse than the rest of Cuba. But this can not be compared with the rest of Cuba, after all.
On the street we came across a seller of pork cutlets you get in Kajzerica, which is topped with lemon juice and very crisp and tasty. And no, we did not have to drink probiotics after this meal 🙂
The trip from Varadero to Havana is really amazing. All that green sites, cute towns, do not let you sleep even though you got up very early. The journey takes 2 hours, but costs as a route from Havana to Trinidad which runs twice.
Going back to Havana came to me as a return to something familiar, close. After three days spent in it, I got the impression that the more we do, we are becoming friends. We looked for TAXI sufficiently willing to take us to Viñales when we have already been rejected four times, I thought – “Well, I’m not supposed to miss Viñales too. Santiago I could stand, but this would be too much. And then, like a light at the end of the tunnel, appears black, very old taxi and the young man who wants to make money. We agree about price and head to Viñales.
After so much driving from one place to another, third, fourth place, we are over our heads with driving and it becomes hard, especially with uncomfortable seat that is jumping pretty hard when the car passes over a hole, and there is a hole at each step.
Javier, without a word of English, and the English knowledge it isn’t even needed at this point, because in this moment we have an advanced level of Spanish: D explained that he will take us to the lookout point, where we can see the whole valley, then up to the famous house that manufactures cigars and Prehistory mural, whose creation was commissioned by Fidel Castro himself. We accept the proposals because we had a similar idea ourselves.
We arrive to the viewpoint, where there are more luxurious hotels and offers a beautiful view of the Viñales valley.
After a short break we continue to the house where for centuries a real cigar is created. A nice man, the owner, showed us the process of making cigars in Spanish and a link to the video can be found here.
Plantations planted with tobacco are everywhere. The valley is famous for being all engaged in the production of cigarettes and cigars.
Drying the leaves is performed in stages. First, it dries out, and then it is transferred to the barn at the lowest position, and after some time the situation changes- it is risen up to the top of the barn. We bought cigars here and with Javier move on to the Prehistory mural.
Admission is charged and is 5 CUC per person. The whole environment is adapted to tourists and you can eat here, relax, buy souvenirs, ride horses.
Mural represents the prehistory of Cuba and has been ordered by Fidel Castro. Local artists worked on the mural hanging from the walls. Drawn figures represent a snail, a dinosaur, a sea monster and a man.
Most people have the opinion that the mural is not worth sighting, that it look disappointingly and that this wall was more beautiful before the drawings. My opinion is that the mural looks like it was drawn by children of age 9. But if we remember that people were hanging on the ropes and lines, perhaps we can forgive them.
Tourists here prefer to rent horses and ride through the valley. We did not, but I would certainly recommend it, if you have enough time.
After a break, we set off on the road to Havana, three-hour drive, to say goodbye to the taxi and driving on Cuba. Cancun and Mexico waited for us, with all its beauty, but about this I will write separately.
Alongside the road, at the exit of Viñales, there was a lot of vendors that sell something that reminds us of potatoes looking from afar. It turns out that it was the fruit named Mammea. Javier stopped and bought some for us to try. The taste resembles the taste of pumpkin, but with hundreds of pounds of sugar.
After two hours, we noticed that our guide was sleepy and quite struggling to not fall asleep at the wheel, so we agreed in Serbian to propose him to stop to buy water because we are thirsty. As soon as we stopped, we noticed that we pumped off one tire. Another half hour we spent for replacement.
In Havana, when we finally got hold of the city, we give ourselves a break and went for dinner. We ordered lobster and this is what you definitely have to try while you’re there. The whole area around Chacon Street, Compostela and Cuartelas is nice and friendly.
This is our 8 days in Cuba. For us sufficient for entire visit, to see, enjoy and move on. Perhaps you will agree, maybe not, but it is on you to decide what pace you move and what you want or don’t want to see. Cuba will definitely be something new and unique for you.
If you have additional questions, I’m here for you.
All photos by: Danica, Vlada, Milica
Camera used: Nikon D3000, HTC 10