A wonderful trip - truly a Taste of Cuba, well paced and informative, fun and inspiring. Friendly people and great weather! A great group of travelling companions made it so much more - we all connected well. Can't wait to go back again and see more of this fast changing country, especially the glorious capitol, Havana.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Difficult to pick one thing as we saw and experienced so much. Trinidad is amazing - explored independently on our 2nd day there rather than take the catamaran trip - even took a classic car taxi from the hotel to the city.
Visiting Casa de la Trova in the evening to hear the salsa bands in the open air and watch the dancing was great.
A classic open car tour of Havana followed by lunch at the National Hotel in Havana was memorable.
Staying in the nature reserve in Guajimico and visiting the organic farm followed by a superlative lunch which included whole suckling pig!
Eating in the privately owned paladares either when on tour or in the tiny backstreets of Havana was a very different experience.
Going to the Tropicana (much better than expected - a really slick & classy show) and also to the Buena Vista Social Club where the old timers really know how to party will be part of my lasting memories.
Music everywhere - being serenaded in every restaurant and on many street corners too.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Tony was the ideal tour leader. His knowledge of the history of his country was excellent. He was well organised, putual and went the extra mile to help us all in what we wanted to do. He had a great sense of humour and although at first he thought some of our group were a bit 'eccentric' he took our behaviour in good part and I will always remember singing 'Highway To Hell' on the drive back from Trinidad' after our visit to Casa del Trovas :-)
One of our party had her 40th birthday on Easter Sunday and the meal that Tony organised was amazing right down to the band of musicians that played throughout the meal & the HUGE birthday cake which we all shared at the end. If you go on this tour and have Tony as your group leader you are sure to have a great trip.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Take hand gel, wet wipes and your own toilet paper - be warned many toilets outside of hotels have NO seat! There are usually attendants who will hand out a few sheets of toilet paper but will expect you to pay for this or tip them. Change money at the airport and remember to keep 25CUC for departure tax.
Be careful when changing CUC back in the airport before departure home as I was short changed by £50 and didn't realise it until I got home and worked out what the rate for buying back was! I also bought a CD of Cuban music from the group who were playing in La Bodiguita del Medio where the group had lunch. It cost 10CUC and was shrink wrapped. When I listened to it at home, the first track was ok, then it deteriorated into hissing & crackles and finally silence. So I was ripped off - beware!
Sorry about the negative comments but I'm just forewarning you and these are only minor annoyances.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
Cuba is changing - everyone says GO before it changes too much - I would endorse that.
I didn't realise that in the rural areas farmers STILL plough with old fashioned ploughs and bullocks. Crops are harvested by hand and even the farmer we met grows his own tobacco, dries it and makes his own cigars. He also grows, dries and roasts his own coffee beans. Self sufficiency is a way of life - recycling is very prevalent.
But ultimately Cubans especially the younger generation want the Western accoutrements of smart phones, wi fi, designer clothes etc. Cubans can now buy their own houses instead of living in state subsidised homes, they can also buy cars made in other countries (if they can afford them).
So if you have any hesitations, put them aside and go now before Western culture changes (& possibly spoils) this beautiful, vibrant & colourful country.