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The Island of rum, cigars, old cars and music, Cuba is an irresistible mix of laid-back Caribbean days and balmy passion-filled Salsa nights. With its fascinating history, Cuba is rich in colour, in every sense. With its endless sunshine and rustic charm-not to mention incredibly warm people-it’s a country you will simply fall in love with at first sight.
From the combination of Colonial and Art Deco architecture splashed in shades of lemon, strawberry, mint and vanilla to the rainbow parade of Classic American cars no younger than 50 years old, Havana is a city truly bursting with vibrancy and life.
Havana’s OldTown is full to the brim with charm and every street is an opportunity for a quintessential Havana photo, complete with classic car, cobbled alley, candy-coloured building and a Cuban flag fluttering in the breeze. Music seems to be forever present and the city itself seems to sing! It is the vitality and character of the people that is the most striking when you find yourself in Cuba. Their socialising is not done online but instead people converse in the park, from their balconies and on the corner of the street resulting in a spiritedness that has being lost in many other countries.
While in Havana, make sure to visit El Floridita and La Bodeguita, the favourite haunts of American novelist Ernest Hemingway's. You can also visit his home which is now a museum so revered that visitors can only peer in through the windows. The idolism that the author continues to inspire among locals can be explained by Hemingway's great love affair with the island, which he first frequented in the Twenties, finally moving there permanently in 1940. The country provided the backdrop for much of his writing and he even donated his Nobel Prize for Literature to the Cuban people. The Tropicana cabaret show is another must see when you find yourself in Havana- a lavish spectacle of dancers and colourful costumes which wonderfully showcases the extreme passion and free-spirited nature of the Cuban people.
Known as the land that produces the world’s best tobacco, Pinar del Rio offers beautiful landscapes of valleys, mountains, rivers, cliffs and green, fertile land. The region, which is a biosphere reserve and a safe haven for several animal species, was named after the aboriginal tribes that lived there before the Spanish invaded. Pinar del Rio is also home to Cuba’s largest caves of which Santo Tomás (45 kilometres long and the third largest cave in Latin America) is the largest. Closer to the capital is Soroa (also known as Cuba's rainbow) which is home to a glittering 22-meter waterfall, lush hills and a beautiful orchid garden, where orchids from all regions of the world are cultivated. The GuanahacabibesNational Park is Cuba's largest forestry reserve and is separated from the rest of the island by an isthmus of white-sand plains.
The Hershey train is an electric marvel of its time and the only one of its type in Cuba. Aboard this charming little train, you will pass through fields worked by solitary farmers and occasional Brahman cows, each one with an ever-present white Egret (Heron) standing elegantly beside it. The line was built when sugar was king, trade with the US was brisk and Cuba was on a high. The Hershey Train is still the best way to see the Island’s enchanting countryside!
With shallow sandy waters that turn the ocean 50 different shades of turquoise and blue, the resort town of Varadero truly is a sight to behold. A tropical paradise lapped by the iridescent waters of the ebbing Atlantic, the natural beauty of this part of Cuba will stop you in your tracks! Whether swimming with dolphins, snorkelling amongst the thriving coral reef or simply enjoy a cocktail and a good book- a visit to Valardero is the epitome of a tropical island paradise.