CUBA THE PARADISE
The paradise called Cuba is a sun-drenched tropical island that prides itself of its superb cultural, and both historical and artistic traditions. Its major centers host an incredible blend of spectacular historic and modern architecture; while its landscape is rich and varied in ecology, boasting such attractions as lush green mountains and mineral and medicinal springs.
Visitors to Cuba are usually mesmerized by its warm, clear, crystal blue waters, magnificent world-class beaches, superb hotels, villas, and resorts, as well as an exciting nightlife featuring great pubs and clubs. Cuba offers many activities and events catered to meet the expectations of anyone, including sports enthusiasts, travelers, partygoers, and history buffs.
The people of the island trace their ancestry to Spanish and African roots. They are sincerely friendly, warm, communicative, enthusiastic, and hospitable. Cubans are generally outgoing and fond of festivals, music, and especially; dancing. Cubans, in general, have a great sense of humor and usually joke around about almost anything. This is not to say that Cubans are shallow or cavalier, rather they usually face difficulties with a positive attitude. Cubans are extremely proud and value their national identity and social achievements. The people of Cuba are so friendly and helpful a traveler can count on being offered assistance in most places.
Cuba is one of the safest countries throughout the Americas. The concept of crime as it exists in other countries is unheard of on this island. It is well policed, with police and enforcement present in almost all of the highly frequented areas.
TOURISM IN CUBA
What draws people to the island of Cuba is a great deal more than beaches and sun, though there are plenty of both. Soothing timba beats and 1950s-era Chevrolets pervade the capital Havana, where life happens outside, in the streets. In the sleepy town of Trinidad, pastel-colored buildings line cobbled streets, where cigar-smoking locals draw you into conversations about economics, or turn up the music and invite you to dance.
In the beautifully restored, enchanting and captivating city of Havana and Habana Vieja is the Museum of the Revolution. The compelling history and rich culture are laid bare in the surprising diversity of its architecture. In the center of Havana, almost every street seems to have a fascinating story to tell, whether one of colonial magnificence, past glamor, or revolutionary change – and it is, in fact, common to see all of these in just one block.
Also, you might want to venture into the gently-sloping emerald hills of Valle de Los Ingenios to spot the rusting metal structures of closed sugar mills, rows of thriving tobacco plantations and billboards covered with Ché Guevara’s most famous quotes. The lack of signage outside of the capital is more than compensated for by roadside wanderers eager to provide directions in exchange for a ride home.
Activities and Events You Shouldn’t Miss
Vardero is considered by many to be the most beautiful beach in the world. It includes twenty-one kilometers of fine white sand that welcome sun lovers interested in swimming and water sports. Varadero has been ranked the 10th best beach in the world by the 2012 edition of Traveler’s Choice.
In addition to its stunning beaches, visitors can explore the surrounding area’s caves and cliffs. Nearby, visitors might be interested in venturing into the towns of Cardenas (and Matanzas) where you could meet the locals and enjoy a romantic seafood dinner in one of the many families-owned restaurants while watching the sunset.
It is the perfect place to enjoy Havana’s soul. The esplanade is a magnet for locals and tourists alike. This sea boulevard extends 8 km along the historical areas of the city, from the colonial center of Habana Vieja all the way to Vedado. Along the busy boulevard, visitors marvel at the beauty of the surrounding buildings, with their charm and beauty. In the evening, the setting sun reflects upon the surrounding buildings and the Havana Bay, to give it a magical touch. While in Havana Malecón, visitors enjoy music played by many of the wandering bands, enjoy a fast peanut snack or just bask in the northern breeze.
NIGHTLIFE AND ENTERTAINMENT IN HAVANA
Havana’s Vedado district is well known for nights full of jazz music and Salsa dancing. It is where most of the music and dance clubs as well as musical venues are, while Miramar and Playa are the scenes for titillating floor shows.
Old Havana is overflowing with bars, tango houses, and cultural centers. The main strip of Calle Obispo is the place to begin an old town bar tour, where a seductive musical soundtrack and spontaneous street side grooving provide some of the city’s best free entertainment. As the bars close at midnight, the clubs get into full swing, continuing until the early hours. Queues at the weekends, however, are to be expected.
Eating and Drinking
1 – AL MEDINA
(Casa de Los Arabes), Calle Oficios #112, between Obispo and Obrapia. Phone: 863-0862
Al Medina is one of the only Middle Eastern-style restaurants in Havana. They usually have a small but good band playing traditional Cuban music. They serve good seafood and beef shish kabobs as well as hummus, salads and vegetarian dishes. They also have somecomida tipica – traditional Cuban food. The main courses and side dishes are all prepared quite traditionally, and prices are relatively low.
2- EL ASTURIANITO
Paseo del Prado #563, third floor, between Teniente Rey and Dragones, across from the Capitolio.
El Asturianito has a similar menu to Los Nardos (a restaurant found on the lower level of the building) serving traditional Cuban/Creole food with a wide variety of beef, seafood and chicken dishes. The portions are huge and the prices are very low. Chances are, meals will not be finished and left overs will be taken home. It is a pleasantly surprising experience in which some absolutely fantastic food is served on a budget.
3 – MESON DE LA FLOTA
Mercaderes #257, between Amargura y Brasil (Teniente Rey). Phone: 867-3838
A great place to enjoy Spanish tapas and live Flamenco while having great seafood dinner. The prices are reasonable and the sangria and the tapas are mouth watering. At night, the place is live with performances conducted by gifted Flamenco musicians and dancers from renown Cuban Flamenco group.
4 – LA MINA
CALLE OBISPO #109, CORNER OF OFICIOS. PHONE: 862-0216
La Mina is dead in the center of all of the good things in Old Havana. Refreshing meals for $7 to $10 a plate and good, inexpensive cocktails (Mojitos are $2) can be obtained. The restaurant is known for its traditional live music and its outdoor patios, filled with plants and their signature peacocks running around. The restaurant is open every day until at least 2:00 am.
5 – (LA) TABERNA DE MURALLA
La Muralla and San Ignacio Streets, Plaza Vieja.
Excellent beer is served with burgers and kabobs, cooked on an outdoor grill with their signature side dish of fufú. They have a traditional group playing live traditional Cuban music in the courtyard and, since the restaurant opens out onto the plaza, it can be a fun place to watch the lively foot traffic in the area.