Cuba is an isolated island nation full of life, music, and people that give so much!
It is such an exciting but tenuous time as Americans are starting to travel legally under the 12 officially allowed categories enforced by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The one by which most American travelers enter the country is on a educational trip or a People-to-People. I can legally arrange a completely customized itinerary on a private basis for just you, a couple, or a small group of friends. We arrange our visits with our hand-selected private guides and ensure you are staying the best possible hotels and dining in the most exciting restaurants in Cuba. If budget is a concern or you like the idea of traveling on scheduled and escorted small group itineraries run by outstanding and trusted tour operators, Resort to Laura Madrid can suggest and reserve the best options.
Check out my photos below for a taste of Cuba Libre – this happy and impressive island nation! (Tip: Hover your mouse over photos in order to see the captions)
For our first stop, we traveled to the gorgeous and historic city in the rural area of Trinidad and we luckily arrived on the last day of a week long festival. The Cubans know how to party and the streets were lively until the wee hours!
We walked the streets and came across a mobile brewery, lots of art, and many historical buildings. When walking past the bank, there was a line out the door! Americans cannot get cash anywhere in the country – bring all the money you will need. There were chalkboards in stores we went to outlining what you can get per capita of different items. In Cuba, everything is rationed and each person is entitled to a certain amount.
Music and art are everywhere on the streets of Cuba!
Below you can see a cathedral, the bell tower, a wealthy colonial home, the courtyard of that home and an image from inside a Santeria Church.
We had a beer break, saw a whole roasted pig on a spit, and listened to some incredible singers! Lobster was served at almost every meal–it was never more than $15 and was always delicious!
Our fun and motley crew was led by the unflappable Marcel, our expert guide for the week.
If you are lucky, you will dine in several Paladares, or private homes. It is a very exciting time to eat in Cuba, and this was the best meal of the trip at La Guarida. La Guarida is a massive mansion in the process of being restored – it will take years and years and a lot of money!
A stroll through Havana:
We visited and had a private performance at the Habana Compas Dance School and Professional Troupe. These talented musicians played with sticks on the back and on the seats of beautifully decorated chairs.
We had a fabulous lunch at El Carbon where everything is cooked on an open fire. Here we had lunch with Carlos, a Cuban international relations expert and former Ambassador to the UN for Cuba
Visiting the oldest boxing school in Cuba. All Cuban school kids are offered after school sports for free.
Art is other worldly and so prevalent in Cuba. Bring money to buy something special.
Without question our best and most fun night out was at Paladar San Cristobal dining in the very same seats and being served by the same team that just took care of President and First Lady Obama. They were so proud, as were we!
What a grand time in this cigar lounge having a private demonstration
Castro banned American auto imports since 1959 – these beautiful cars are everywhere in Cuba and painstakingly and meticulously kept.
Another incredible night included dinner and drinks in the tower at El Cocinero, a former oil refinery. Incredible night!
An entire little town created in tiles by the artist Fuster – below are images of the town and Casa Fuster
All of this glamor and history, relived by visiting a by-gone era, seemingly frozen in time but simultaneously full of life. This is Cuba today. It is an exciting time for our Cuban friends full of hope and opportunity. The hands on the clock will undoubtedly start spinning a whole lot quicker on this island. RUN, don’t Walk