Travel goals: Cuba
Updated: Nov 18, 2019
This spring I was able to fulfil another travel goal - Cuba! I’m so happy I did that! Many people say that it is the last moment to visit Cuba before the spirit of capitalism will change this country. On the other hand, there is a big group that claims that this has happened already and Cuba nowadays doesn’t seem to be the same place as 10 years ago. Which, in my opinion, is totally normal. The touch of change is visible everywhere, even in countries isolated from the rest of the world.
On Havana’s streets there are as many new cars as old cars. However, the traffic itself is much less than in any other city of the same size. So yes, slower technological development is definitely visible here. Whoever expects to be thrown back to deep 80s, might be disappointed. Computers, smartphones and WiFi, all of these are already there. They are just expensive and hard to get for Cubans.
In some random bars we can find American Coca-Cola , Dutch Heineken or even Polish vodka. So still, something to enjoy if anyone needs international beverages. For me, personally, Cuban rum was the best choice. Cheap and easily available everywhere. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about toilet paper. So better be prepared and take your own :) Apparently there is something “magical” about toilet paper in communist countries. I still remember that in Poland, back in late 80s, toilet paper was called “roll of happiness’’. As it was so hard to get, I guess I don’t need to explain where this name came from :)
Although the average Cuban income is very low and rarely exceeds $100 monthly, Cuba isn’t a very cheap country for tourists. Mostly because of the different currency that tourists are obliged to use - CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) which value is almost the same as USD. Locals use Cuban Peso (CUP), which is much cheaper than CUC. Hence, if you are a tourist in Havana, you might pay for a dinner almost similar prices as in Berlin or Amsterdam. Fortunately, cocktails are cheaper here! Especially those made with rum.
The most affordable option to travel from Amsterdam to Cuba was… all inclusive stay in a beach resort. That’s how my boyfriend and I ended up in a huge concrete hotel from 70s in Varadero city (around 100 km to East from Havana). Nice beach and swimming pool, a lot of free drinks and plenty of old Europeans and Canadians walking around with huge mugs to keep them refilled with alcohol. After 3 days we got bored of it and we ran away to Havana to explore real Cuban life :)
In love with Old Havana spirit
I’ve tried to find one single word I could use to describe Havana. And that wasn’t easy. Calling it ‘’beautiful’’ would be over-exaggerating, as most of the buildings in Havana look like squats waiting to being demolished. Of course, I wouldn’t dare to call it ugly either. This will be very unfair, as between all these collapsing buildings, there are beautiful pearls of colonial architecture in colours of strawberries and pistachio ice-cream. Whenever you turn your head, there are amazing, old American cars on the streets. This view is just amazing! I just couldn't stop taking pictures of these unbelievably intense and shining cars.
Besides the visual beauty, Havana can spoil your ears as well. It’s a city full of music, which shouldn’t be a surprise as Cuban are known to be very musical.
However, next to the atmospheric music, there is a lot of incessant noise. Cars’ horns and loud conversations are constantly mixing with Latin songs.
All of these make Havana just an unforgettable place! In my opinion, this is the best word that describes Havana – unforgettable.
In next post will share more details about accommodation, restaurants and the best spots to see in Havana. Stay tuned <3
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