In September 2013, Hanna Holmes, tailor-made’s Americas Regional Specialist, arrived in Havana, where she checked out the latest accommodations and excursions on an exciting road trip around Cuba.
'On arrival into Cuba I was greeted by chaos at the airport! However, I soon got my luggage and drove with my guide, to Havana’s old town - on the way I saw my first glimpse of very old and brand new cars. Once we arrived into the city it became slightly busier, but not as crowded and hectic as most capital cities are. The hotel I’m staying in, the Telegrafo, is very centrally located and my room is massive with a street view.
Once I was upacked, I spent the rest of the day wandering around the old town with my guide Sonia, a lovely lady with mountains of knowledge of the city, we got on very well!!
We wandered past the cathedral and towards the pretty street of Calle Obispo, visiting lots of hotels along the way. Later on, we ended up at the famous Hotel Nacional; it has loads of history and photos of famous guests that have stayed there and events that have happened there - Fidel Castro and Che Guevara used it as their headquarters during the famous Cuban missile crisis in 1962. I had lunch at the hotel before heading back to the centre for my drive in an American car. It was pink, and so I was very excited! We drove around visiting paladares (local restaurants) and casa particulars (homestays), which are a fantastic way to get an idea of Cuban life. Tomorrow I am off to Vinales, and I am looking forward to seeing what the real Cuban countryside is like, but before that… a well-earned beer before dinner!'
'On my last full day in Cuba, I am staying in the Parque Central hotel with a Pina Colada and a better understanding of Cuba. After my last update, I headed to Vinales, which is a stunning place full of tropical vistas and coffee farms. When asked if I would like a cup of coffee I requested tea instead and got crest-fallen looks! I was in coffee country after all! I visited a farm to see how coffee is grown and ground, plus how tobacco is grown, dried and rolled into the famous Cuban cigar. All the hotels I’ve seen have been good but the casas particulares have been amazing, with some great food on offer and friendly people. I loved Vinales and was sad to say goodbye.
Next stop, Cienfuegos - a hidden gem in my opinion - with stunning colonial buildings. I had some great food here in a casa before heading on to Trinidad. I have wanted to visit Trinidad for a long time and it really lived up to my expectations of cobbled streets and sea views. I wandered around the quiet town with my guide and saw many casas and paladares; there are so many to see in one small place.
The next day we went to Cayo Santa Maria, via Santa Clara and Remedios - another lovely little place. I finally arrived on the cayo in the evening and spent the night in a lovely oceanview room. The next day was spent exploring - what a stunning and amazingly pristine place to visit, with white sandy beaches as far as the eye can see. I also went to a show at one of the hotels; typically Cuban it was full dancers wearing feathers, sequins and little more - I felt like a very prudish English person! This trip has been amazing and I am determined to come back with a better grasp of Spanish.
Cuba is definitely changing; you can see it everywhere, right from a grass-roots level including the guy who puts a laminator in his door to sell to the people who make ‘for sale’ signs. You can feel it in the air. Free enterprise is on the rise and they say in the next year or so, ration cards will be discontinued. This is definitely a country to watch…!'
Take a look at our Tailormade Cuba tours