Boarding the plane to Havana
Hola! I just got back from the trip of a lifetime to Cuba. I was very nervous about going, because I didn’t know what to expect. I ended up having an absolute blast.
The best way to see Cuba is with a tour company that can take care of all the visa paperwork for you. We went with Insight Cuba, because they did such a great job with my mom and sister’s trip to Cuba last July. Mama Bear and I went under the “people-to-people” travel designation, since “tourism” is (still) not an option, as Cuba remains under Communist rule.
The tour we chose was the 4-day/3-night Weekend in Havana. Our tour guides, Graham and Pablo, did an amazing job explaining the history of the island and the story behind everything we saw.
Insight Cuba tour leaders Graham (l) and Pablo (r)
My favorite part of the trip wasn’t on our itinerary, though. Cuba is known for its classic cars. So one night my mom and I, and another member of our group, hired a driver and his 1959 Cadillac Eldorado convertible to show us the city at night.
We drove around around for almost two hours! I loved the smell of gas and motor oil, and the wind in my hair, believe it or not. It gave the experience authenticity. We saw statues and monuments that were lit up for the evening while our driver told us about them.
We also saw people hanging out on the sea wall along the oceanfront highway called the Malecon. Every evening, the locals like to spend time outdoors, weather permitting. This sea wall is a popular spot to sit around and chat.
The highlight was when we climbed to the top of an old Spanish fort, Fortelaza de San Carlos de la Cabana, (aka La Cabana). The fort overlooks the Havana harbor. Every night at 9 p.m., they fire an old cannon as part of a ceremony called canonazo, and we got to see it.
At one time, the firing of the cannon signaled the closing of Havana’s city walls, to protect citizens against attack by the British. Canonazo has since become an island tradition, complete with young men dressed in colonial uniforms and carrying torches to light the cannon.
Seeing the canonazo and watching the locals enjoying the balmy weather gave me a real taste of local flavor. The Cuban people are very warm and welcoming, and I was touched by their pride in their island and its rich history. The extent of their knowledge is impressive!
Cuba was the most ‘mysterious’ place I’ve been to, for lack of a better word. When you go to places like Europe or Canada, you pretty much know what you’re getting into. But Cuba is still unknown to most Americans, including me.
Now, I am dying to go back! Next time, I want to take the Vintage Cuba tour, which is a few days longer than Weekend in Havana. Our tour leader Graham said Vintage Cuba is his particular favorite.
I’ll be posting pics on Instagram and Instagram Stories over the next few days, so be sure to check those out. (I’ve already put up a few of my faves.) I am also going to create photo albums on Facebook, and share them on the Fabulous Forever page.
So what was your biggest travel adventure? Tell me all about it in the comments!
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