There’s a place on earth where Atlantic waves are crashing against a gigantic sea wall; music is coming from colorful colonial-style buildings; sunlight is slanting across rotten peeling facades; a pink Chevy from the ‘50s is crossing the grand avenues and Che Guevara is on a billboard.
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine… Cuba. Despite 50 years of neglect, the island is mysteriously photogenic.
I first decided to travel to Cuba when I saw a picture of Malecón, Havana's 8km-long sea drive; huge waves were crashing over the sea-wall, when an antique car -crossing the boulevard- got completely covered by them. “I want to see it”, I told myself.
Maybe it was because of me, being incurably romantic...
Or maybe it was because of Cuba, being incurably seductive… The island’s history is still apparent in its atmospheric colonial streets and the survivalist spirit of Cuban people who suffered two independence wars, a revolution and a US trade embargo.
First thing to do, switch off your mobile phone -in any case there is no WiFi- and let yourself experience:
Walk the streets of Habana Vieja and you'll quickly feel the strange connection with the past in its imposing fortifications, plazas and colonial buildings.
Have your encounter with history at the “Revolution Museum”, behind the stunning facade find explanations of events including the overthrow of the dictator Batista, the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban missile crisis.
See the sunset on the Malecón, when massive atlantic waves crash over the sea wall, which is surrounding Havana. Right after, drink your “Pina Colada” at the famous gardens of “Hotel Nacional”.
Ride in an old American car.
Follow Hemingway’s steps and have a daiquiri at his favorite “El Floridita” or a genuine mojito at “La Bodeguita del Medio”.
See the city from a rooftop or “Mirador”.Smoke a cigar while scrolling around old Havana’s picturesque squares, Plaza Vieja and Plaza de la Catedral.
Meet the locals.
Dance the night away to “El son cubano”, the Cuban music.
To avoid the massive tourist waves head to Trinidad
Declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1988, Trinidad is an outdoor museum. A perfectly preserved Spanish colonial settlement where time stopped in 1850.
Walk at the cobblestone streets, where donkeys and melodic troubadours retain its quiet air.
Twelve kilometers south lies Playa Ancón, the best beach of Cuba’s south coast.
Life in Cuba is very different than what you’re most likely used to, and the best way to understand it is to live it. Its beauty lives in the people, the culture, the history, and the unknown adventures you're bound to have there. That’s what makes this place so special. Keep in mind that you have to be flexible and go with the flow.