Havana, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba

» Posted by on Apr 3, 2018 in Featured, havana, long trip

For the 3rd time in 5 years, I went to Cuba. This time our itinerary included Havana for two days, then Trinidad and we drove to Santiago to meet with our Cuban Salsa group: the All Stars.
I knew that Cubans love music, or most exactly music is life for the Cubans. This trip did reinforce the notion to a new level. We witnessed a music video being filmed on the Malecon, people dancing in the streets and we could hear music all the time on the streets, coming from cars, apartments, phones.

Havana is changing fast, we were able to get cash from an ATM using an European credit card (an impossible thing before), a new 5 stars hotel has opened (after 5 years of construction), luxury brands like MontBlanc, Leica, Nikon are opening shops in Havana. The old Havana was not affected too much by Hurricane Maria, despite major flooding. It’s now clearly a major tourist destination.

Next we drove to Trinidad, which is a much much smaller town. The old Trinidad is also an Unesco World Heritage Site and is beautiful. We also had the opportunity to taste the local cocktail: La Canchanchara.
The historic downtown is pretty small but it’s worth exploring the area, there are waterfalls, beaches and a true window into the country-side view of Cuba. Trinidad is quite popular in the all inclusive tours offered to American or European tourists, so you will find at time large group of people in the historic town. However, those tours are only day tours coming from Havana, therefore after 5pm, they leave and suddenly you have Trinidad just for yourself. There is not many accommodations in Trinidad yet (we found an Airbnb) which is why it’s worth staying 2 or 3 nights there.

Our next stop was Santiago de Cuba, where we reconnected with our favorite salsa dancers: the All Stars. It was a long day driving from Trinidad to Santiago without many stops. In retrospect and with more time, it’s a great drive and we should have stoped in many cities along the way. However we did not have enough time, so we sped through it.

The last week of our trip was a pure blast, learning salsa with the All-Stars, visiting, partying with them. We got a glimpse of the Cuban life outside Havana and how important music, dancing and the arts are to the Cuban people. There is difficulties associated with traveling to Cuba but the people-to-people exchange is fantastic forcing function to interact with Cubans and not being just a tourist.

For once, I have decided to put a larger selection of images, so you can appreciate Cuba from different perspectives.