A few weeks ago, Acanela Expeditions flew me out to Cuba and I got to experience such a unique pocket in the world that felt like I rewound the clock and was teleported to a previous era with government restriction on WiFi and the American Embargo.
Cuba is a photographer’s dream.
From the colorful streets of Havana to the 1920s timeless hotels, to the living museum of antique cars, Cuba is a place with so much vibrant character. The grand dilapidated European architecture, charming locals engaging in daily life at all hours of the day, vintage cars from the 1950s that look brand spanking new– every moment was just waiting to be captured on camera.
Havana is a place with sultry tropical weather, perfectly preserved vintage cars, fabulous musicians, and mojitos for miles. Lined with shabby, colorful facades, its colonial streets are overflowing with history and infectious salsa rhythms, whereas quirky independent shops and artful cafés are signs that the forbidden island’s time warp capital is slowly finding its way back to the future.
Upon arrival at the Jose Marti Airport, I was picked up by my guide and driver. We visited the Escuela de Arte in San Antonio de los Baños and enjoyed a thorough immersion in popular culture, son and salsa tosanteria- the island’s syncretic religion fusing African and Catholic faiths. Exploring the city surrounded by music and dance, I discovered the undercurrent of life in Cuba. By the afternoon, I checked into my lovely accommodations and took the time to freshen up before dinner.
We started the day with a tour of Old Havana. We made a stop at Plaza de Armas, the oldest square in Havana and the site of the city’s foundation and marveled at the sights and sounds that have captivated travelers for years. We continued on to El Templete, the oldest neo-classical building in Havana for a look at the place where the first city town council was held. We also made a stop at La Catedral San Cristobal de la Habana and the Museo de la Revolución and enjoyed a deeper look at Cuba’s rich history.
In the morning, I visited the most beautiful places in Vinales with the endless expanse of curious shapes of the mogotes. I learned about the fascinating world of tobacco and the local flora and fauna. We explored the Cave of the Indian by foot and boat and visited the despalillo. Taking a walk on the long stretch of clean sand lines on Cuba’s southern shore, the coral rocks were perfect for scavenging for conch shells. About 7 miles to the north, there was a small Spanish colonial town of Trinidad, where the cobblestone streets and buildings have been preserved from the 1800s.
Starting the day with a tour to the east of Havana, we visited Ernest Hemingway’s Cuba home-Finca Vigia. Finca Vigia is located in the small, working-class town of San Francisco de Paula. A museum expert joined us to share a Cuban perspective on Hemingway’s strong connection to the Cuban people. Afterward, we continued with a visit to Miramar área and around Fábrica de Arte Cubano.
On my last day in Cuba, I visited East Beach and Cojimar área to enjoy an authentic Cuban village and beautiful scenery. During this afternoon, we visited Casa del Habano at Miramar to learn about Cuban cigars and rum. After a day full of adventure, we headed back to Havana and unwound with a delicious, traditional dinner.