Holidays in Cuba: The collision between the old and the new is written by Julie Andrea Andersen
Your holiday in Cuba starts in Havana - the former casino mecca
When you land in the capital Havana, you meet a city full of art, music and dance. On the walk in the streets of Havana, it is not difficult to imagine what the city looked like as it was the casino mecca for rich tourists and one of Latin America's richest cities.
Today, Havana is dilapidated in most places, and only in Old Havana does it flow with colorful facades and beautiful plazaer. Here you can take a walk past the El Floridita bar and have a drink Daddy doble; Hemingway's favorite drink when he lived in Cuba.
An intoxication of art, music and food
If you want to experience Havana's art and music scene while on holiday in Cuba, head to the Fábrica de Arte bar. It is one of the few places where you experience the local Cubans and tourists gathered in an intoxication of art, good music and tasty food.
Just ten years ago, it was not allowed to have private companies, but today you can find private restaurants and bars everywhere with various delicious dishes that contain neither rice nor beans - which is otherwise the standard in every Cuban dish.
If you are looking for a typical Cuban meal, the Doña Eutimia restaurant is worth a visit. Here you get a homely atmosphere and sumptuous meals at an affordable price.
Trinidad, another pocket of time
From Havana you can reach the well-kept city of Trinidad in five hours by bus.
Here you really get into a time warp, where the beautiful facades are extremely well maintained, and where the horse-drawn carriages still drive around the cobbled streets.
In Cuba, the most widely used method of accommodation is the so-called Casas Particulares, and at the bus station you will be attacked on arrival by hosts for miscellaneous housing, who wants you as a guest.
A commendable casa is a little down the street from the bus station. Here you will find in one of the large houses in burnt yellow House of Noel and Nury, where the family 'grandfather', most often standing in the doorway with a lit cigar and dressed in a t-shirt with the motif of the world-famous icon Che Guevara.
A holiday in Cuba with Salsa classes, sugar plantations and great patience
Noel can arrange various tours around Trinidad; including a ride on horseback up in the nearby mountain area or to the nature park El Cubano Park. You can also book private salsa lessons on their sumptuous roof terrace with one of the family's salsa dancing acquaintances.
Trinidad also offers a ride with the ancient locomotive, which takes the ride up to the giant sugar plantations. As with everything else in Cuba, you have to arm yourself with patience, because most of the time the train does not work and you have to wait until the next day and try your luck again.
In the evening, the city's grand staircase is a gathering place for both locals and tourists, with couples to roaring salsa rhythms dancing in the middle of the old staircase.
There are not many discos in Trinidad, but if you want to meet both backpackers and local young Cubans, Disco Ayala is a good bet. Here you can dance to 'reggaeton' music all night in the underground cave, which has been turned into a nightclub.
Your vacation in Cuba: Go to the beach and eat lobster
Playa Ancon is located just outside Trinidad and is one of the favorite beaches among Cubans.
At Playa Ancon you can eat lobster at a reasonable price and see how the Sunday excursions take place among the locals. Here, the cold Tuborg bottles have been replaced with a bottle of Havana Club, which is drunk in shot glasses.
Viñales, experience the authentic Cuban cigar production
When on holiday in Cuba, Viñales is a paradise if you are into beautiful scenery, cigar production and beautiful surrounding islands.
You can easily take a day trip from Havana with one of the countless companies that offer guided tours.
Take a bike ride out into the blue
If you have time, it's great to spend a few days in one casa and Viñales; then you have time to experience cigar production, cycle around the breathtaking nature, visit a coffee roastery and experience some of the many islands off the coast, such as Cayo Levisa.
You drive for an hour in uneven terrain and then take a ferry that runs a few times a day. Here you really experience bounty beaches with clear azure blue water like few other places. There is also ample opportunity to snorkel at some of the many coral reefs.
Cuba is in rapid development after an improved relationship with the United States, and therefore you have to take your legs off your neck if you are to experience just a fragment of the communist country as it looked for more than 50 years with Fidel Castro at the helm.
Good holiday in Cuba or Bon voyage!
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