No other island in the Caribbean offers such variety and beauty like Cuba. Abounding coconut palm trees, snow white beaches and the turquoise hue of the Caribbean ocean offer an enchanting experience for every traveller. For many people Cuba is one of the most beautiful places on earth, an island with lots of culture, history, and a distinct charm. In addition Cuba boasts a variety of nature and its people are known for their unremitting hospitality. Mountain ranges, mangrove swamps, small islands and a stunning vegetation are but a few examples of Cuban glamour. (bestimmen das Bild). Tobacco and sugar cane fields interchange with rice- and banana plantations. A visit to local tobacco and rum companies is a must of any vacation in Cuba. Lovers of dance will not miss the chance of a visit to the "casa de la musica", where you can dance long into the night accompanied by famous salsa groups. With our background knowledge we can give you useful information about the nightlife and tips for nice "paladares" (private restaurants).
Vivir a lo cubano
Cubans face many hardships of their daily lives with an unparalleled joi de vivre. The community constitutes the cornerstone of their jovial air. In front of many a house you will come across locals lounging in rocking chairs enjoying a casual chat. Leisurely activities like dominoes or baseball are a common of Cuba’s vibrant street life. They also take pride in their ingenuity and repairing skills. Many a US Old-timer is fixed in spite of a lack of proper replacement materials.
Salsa, Son and new Rhythms
Music and dance are the essence of life for Cubans. There’s always a reason for festivities where quotidian worries vanish. Cubans know an impressive array of songs which they often sing together. Music and dance styles such as Rumba, Mambo, Cha-Cha-Cha, Salsa, Latin Jazz as well as Son are all Cuban creations. Today’s young musicians are expertly trained and connect their traditional with classical music and Jazz to create their own modern sound e.g. Reggaeton a lo cubano.
The Afro-Cuban religion is becoming ever more present in Cuban society. Catholicism and the Yoruba-Religion, with its origins in Nigeria, create a blend by name of Santeria. As the former slaves weren’t allowed to worship their Orishas (gods) under Spanish rule, they disguised their gods under images of Christian faith. These days many Catholics seek advice and medical aid from Santeras, Santeros, Babalao and practice the Santeria faith actively. Due to its vast source of rhythms songs and dances it often plays an important role in music and dance as well.
The Revolution – Accomplishments and Issues
Alphabetisation, free access to education, culture and health care, a high life expectancy and low infant mortality, a good education (although without much possibility to apply it), equality among race and gender are all accomplishments of the revolution. However the unproductive economy burdens the country. Long lines in front of vendors and restaurants, the lack of quotidian objects, malfunctioning public transport, paralyzing bureaucracy and corruption reveal the flaws of the Cuban system. Even though tourism has produced a lucrative exchange of currencies at the same time it has encouraged environmental issues, an expanding wage gap, prostitution and petty crime.
The largest city on the island pulsates with life. From afar it is a spectacular sight: waves cascade over the Malecon, the famous waterfront, were lovers stroll and the people sit on the wall to relish the refreshing ocean breeze. Unfortunately the city suffers from its desolate constructional state. Colonial palaces of the aristocracy, mansions and old US high-rises decay yet retain the charm of times past. The 1950s US Old-timers, that are diligently taken care of and sometimes converted to collective taxis (collectivos), add to the nostalgic atmosphere.
Magnificent squares with colonial architecture, chic restaurants in palaces and iconic bars – a hue of older eras pervades Havana’s old town. Every building and every square have their own stories to tell. After the revolution deterioration progressed in large and rapid steps. In 1982 Havana was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the meantime many squares, streets and buildings have been renovated.
Malecon – the Lifeline of Havana
The Malecon begins at the upper end of the Prado, at the Castillo de la Punta. It then runs five kilometers along the shoreline into the district of Vedado. The promenade is a meeting place for fishermen, couples, prostitutes, street vendors, families with kids as well as the senior citizen walking his dog. At the weekend the Malecon turns into a place of fun and frolic where the Habaneros gather to enjoy music and rum.
Compared to Havana’s old town the Vedado district is spacious and a strong breeze flows through it. Many hotels are located here. The most beautiful and noble hotel is the Hotel Nacional with its twin towers built on a ledge above the Malecon. The streets that run through an array of palm trees offer a chance to loaf about and discover sublime colonial architecture as well as decayed buildings. The center are the "la Rampa" and the "Calle 23". Not far from there is the ice cream palace "La Copelia" where Cubans will cue for hours at times to buy an ice cream.
Further attractions of Havana:
- The Cathedral in Old-Havana
- El Prado and the Parque Central
- Castillo de los tres Reyes del Morro, one of the oldest forts of Latin America
- The harbor
- The Gran Teatro, a pompous building where ballet performances of the highest lever are shown
- Calle Obispo, the first restored street of Havana with a pedestrian zone an many museums
- El Mercado, an arts and crafts market where artists offer their works
- Bar Bodeguita del Medio, Bar Floridita, two famous bars where Ernest Hemingway used to frequent and enjoy a drink
And many more…
Trinidad will bring you back to centuries past. Pastel colored colonial buildings with wooden fences and splendid atria offer an enchanting experience. The old town has been declared as a UNESCO heritage site and is a protected historic monument. Trinidad’s rich grandeur can be attributed to 18th and 19th century sugar barons who cultivated their plantations in the neighboring valley "Los Ingenios". In the evenings you can enjoy open air Salsa live music or listen to the beautiful sounds of Son from the local musicians with a glass of Mojito. Or go for a dip in the water at the pristine Playa Ancon, only ten minutes by car from the city center.