Colors of Cuba tour

October 05, 2015  •  2 Comments

We were thrilled when the opportunity to visit Cuba opened up earlier this year, and decided it would be the perfect place to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. After quite a bit of research, we chose Friendly Planet as our tour company and their Colors of Cuba tour. Friendly Planet provided the required licensure that enabled our travel, as well as assistance with a Cuban visa and all the people-to-people connections that made this trip so enjoyable.

The flight to Havana was delayed due to mechanical difficulties and a storm over Havana. We had to forego our planned stops at Plaza de la Revolución and the Colon cemetery and went straight to the Parque Central hotel for a welcome drink and check-in. That night we had dinner at the hotel and settled in early.

Our first full day in Havana was very busy. Our first stop was Las Terrazas, a planned eco-community and nature reserve in Candelaria, in northwestern Cuba. The site is a reforested former coffee plantation and is part of UNESCO's Biosphere Reserve. At Las Terrazas we visited a medical clinic, pharmacy, coffee shop, artist studio, and ration store. Ration stores are where local Cubans shop for everyday products like grain, beans, fruit, and other items that might be available on any given day. After an authentic, country-style lunch at a local farmhouse, we visited the Vocal Clave de Sol music project for a concert by young student musicians. After dinner, we attended a lecture by an economics professor who discussed the effects of the US embargo (referred to as "the blockade" in Cuba) on the people of Cuba.

The next day included a visit to a primary school and a tour of Old Havana, followed by a visit to a local store to stock up on Cuban rum and cigars. After lunch, we visited the convent and studio of an a cappella group called the Vocal Leo who serenaded us with beautiful voices and song. We had the remainder of the afternoon free and chose to spend some time at the Museo de la Revolución and the Hotel Nacional before heading to Miramar for an oceanfront dinner at the Vistamar paladar. Paladars are family-owned restaurants, rather than the traditional government-run restaurants, and are usually housed in someone's home.

Our fourth day in Havana started with a classic car tour, which concluded in an auto workshop for an explanation and demonstration of how the classic cars are maintained. Next up was a dance studio rehearsal, followed by a visit to Fusterlandia, the home and surrounding neighborhood of the Picasso of the Caribbean, Jose Fuster. 

Our final day in Havana included a tour of a cigar factory, with a "marriage of Cuban cigars, rum and coffee" at the end of the tour. From there we traveled to Finca Vigia, Hemingway's Cuban retreat. We also visited Cojimar, the fishing village made famous by Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. Another stop at an organic community garden, known as Organoponicos, to learn how residents grow fruit, vegetables and herbs for their personal use and local sale.

Our journey from Havana to Trinidad included stops at the Che Guevera Mausoleum and in beautiful Santa Clara and Sancti Spiritus, before arriving at the Iberostar Trinidad, our home for the next two nights. In Trinidad we visited Casa del Alfarero, a pottery house that had been managed by the same family for generations, and a bed and breakfast known as casas particulares in Cuba. The view from the top of the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco tower was particularly memorable. Trinidad is a beautiful, Spanish colonial town and UNESCO World Heritage site.

Our departure from Cienfuegos to Miami was on time and uneventful. Skies were clear and we watched the Florida Keys and Miami come into view as we returned to the US. This trip was the first opportunity we had to use our newly-acquired Global Entry pass, and it worked perfectly in enabling us to bypass US Immigration by using the Global Entry kiosks located at the airport.


Comments

Waqas Mukhtar(non-registered)
Cuba Travel guide with tips on What to do, Best time to visit, where to stay, map
best essay writing service(non-registered)
Yes, you look like whisperer as I have read our story meticulously and enjoyed it a lot. I think, it is very important for parents to make their newborns whisperers like this cute baby boy. I am so happy to know about this different kind of baby whose parents are also very lucky for having this baby.
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