Cuba Travel GuideThere is no other place on earth like Cuba. This Caribbean island has a special atmosphere which is apart from beaches, sand and sun and drinks (though there are plenty of them all)… it is much more than that. The main enchantment, what draws so many people here mostly, is the Cuban-feeling, due to the rich culture, political history, and the amazing attitude Cubans have towards the hardships. People try to get by day-by-day, either in developing cities, or villages where time- a vivid time- seems to have been frozen; while the blood-boiling music invigorates all souls… it is all Cuba, a unique mind-broadened country.
The diversity is impressing, what concerns the possibilities for tourists as well. You can relax on beaches, enjoy land and sea adventures, go sightseeing and exploit the wide range of artistic and cultural possibilities.
It is good to know that as Cuban currency is not internationally traded, you have to exchange money upon arrival, either at the airport or at your resort. From the two currencies: CUP (Cuban Peso) and CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso), you will use the latter one, which is the currency for tourists. American Dollars are no more exchangeable. Furthermore, if you want to make a phone call, it is recommended to use card phones, they are much cheaper than hotel phones.
The capital, Havana, is one of the oldest cities in the Americas, founded in 1514. 250 years later, it became the most beehive towns in the Western hemisphere and now Havana is one of the largest and most exciting cities of the Caribbean, part of UNESCO’s World Heritage. The surrounding district of the 19th century, the modern city center Vedado, Miramar, reminding you of Miami, the seaside Malecon are worthwhile areas to discover.
The 18th century majestic cathedral, from where you can easily find La Bodeguita del Medio, Hemingway’s favorite place; Museo de la Ciudad; Museo de Arte Colonial; other museums and forts, and of course Capitolio, modeled after the Capitol in Washington DC are just some of the highlights of Havana. You can take tours to the tobacco factory, or just relax on one of the beaches.
Havana is an amazing combination of Old and New world, of socialism and capitalism, of European, American and African tradition, of wealth and decadence. The diversity is eye-catching: you can observe it on buildings of different style, on the variety of cars, on everything. And you can’t pass untouched by the typical invigorating salsa music waving out from cafes… no wonder that Hemingway and many more couldn’t resist the temptations of the vibrant Cuban atmosphere.
One of the most beautiful provinces in Cuba is Pinar del Río, with its mogotes (a type of rounded mountain), caves, the town Pinar del Rio and the cigar factories, tobacco plantations. And you cannot leave out the Isle of Youth, which was once a hideout for pirates, and of course Veradero, Cuba’s most popular beach resort. Guama, a reconstruction of an Amero-Indian village, also merits a visit. You can have boat trips along the Treasure Lake from here; the province is a great for bird-watching, and alluring beaches wait visitors.
Visit Cienfuegos, a vivid modern harbor city, at the foot of the Escambray Mountains, and its main sights including: Parque José Martí, the cathedral, Teatro Tomás Terry, Castillo de Jagua and the Palacio de Valle, you will surely not regret.
Furthermore, another UNESCO’s World Heritage town, Trinidad is also worth a visit. Parque Martí, Museo Romántico, the ceramics workshop Taller Alfarero, Torre de Manaca Iznaga, and Playa Ancón are the major attractions of Trinidad, which preserves its colonial atmosphere. And last but definitely not the least, you must see the bustling Santa Clara and the Monument of the revered revolutionary hero Che Guevara.
Cuba is a unique country, where you will have unique experiences; you must come and get the real Cuban feeling!
When you are in a foreign country knowing where the nearest consulate is may prove to be very useful. So here is a list of the US consulates which can be found in the major cities of this country:
- Havana (address: Calzada between L & M Streets, phone: 011-537-833-3551/9)
- La Havana (Interests Section, link: http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/cu1/wwwhmain.html)
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