A trip to Cuba is possibly one of the most fascinating travel experiences ever. Landing in Havana is like taking a step back in time to the 1950s where everything remains frozen in time yet in various states of decay. I instantly fell in love with Cuba the moment I got off the chartered plane and saw my first 1950s retro-fitted American car. The history, culture, and people of Cuba are utterly invigorating and Havana has an energy that swept through my veins and left me craving for more.
Over the past eight days in Cuba, I took well over 1,200 photos and 50 pages of notes on all the various historical, cultural and social facts about this unique country. I learned a great deal and am so excited to share my insight into Cuba over the next several months on my blog.
As an American being required to enter Cuba on a special visa for a “people-to-people” trip (one of the only ways Americans can enter legally as a tourist) allowed me to gain firsthand knowledge and insight into the ins and outs of Cuban life, history and culture. Although I’d rather travel there freely, being on such a tour felt like taking a university class. I learned so incredibly much in so little time.
It will take me a few days to unwind and digest my trip to Cuba. In the meantime, I wanted to give you a quick taste of some of the highlights of this wonderful, captivating place, a country that stole my heart. Below are some selected unedited photos to give you a delightful taste of Cuba.
Vintage American cars from the 1950s dot the landscape of Cuba sweeping you back into a different era.
Cubans love their music and street musicians are everywhere.
Given the age of the cars, many break down and have to be refurbished with new parts.
Most Cubans live in small, cramped apartments thus hanging out on the front steps of a building is quite common in Cuba.
Old Havana is gorgeous and full of beautiful old buildings and Spanish colonial decor.
Having a mojito in a gorgeous Cuban bar is a daily necessity.
Havana Club is the rum of Cuba and mojitos are the favorite drinks.
The perfect example of an authentic Cuban man. Straw hat and cigar.
Cuban cigars are everywhere and everyone smokes them.
Old American cars from the 50s are the pride and joy of Cubans and a way of life. Many are in various stages of decay and others have been refurbished with new parts.
These Cuban men enjoyed serenading me.
The Spanish Colonial Charm of Old Havana surrounds you.
The Malecon, also known as the Cuban’s living room, goes for miles and these once grand mansions and buildings show the effect of time and lack of funds to repair them.
Morning fishing boats and fisherman grab their daily catch in Havana.
The five mile Malecon is a beautiful long boardwalk to stretch the legs or ride in an old car
Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world thanks to Fidel Castro.
In the early morning hours, you have Old Havana to yourself save the locals.
Cuba has a strong Afro-Cuban heritage who take pride in their unique culture.
Havana is deteriorating rapidly yet some old mansions and buildings are starting to be restored to their previous grandeur of the 50s and 60s.
The oldest American cars that aren’t in great shape are used as “collectivos” or collective taxis for the locals.
The abeulas of Cuba
The buildings of Havana are layered in color and history. Sadly many are in poor, deteriorating condition yet some are being rejuvenated.
Cuban life is difficult given their living conditions yet Cubans take it all in stride and with lots of laughter.
The Cubans love their fiery Revolutionary past. Che and Fidel are on everything ranging from key chains,to posters and old books.
Old magazines for sale