Valle de Viñales is all about the scenic landscapes, powerful mountains, dramatic rocky outcrops and luscious green fields. Its landscape is one of the most recognisable in the world. Viñales is also about getting real insights into one of Cuba’s most important tobacco growing area, the farmers’ lives and production methods; the area is known for its traditional-used tobacco production methods.
Colourful Trinidad of markets, fresh food vendors and bubbly locals in the morning, sleepy town during midday, tropical and musical in the evenings. This town has so many sides, as diverse as its colourful architecture and buildings. Definitely one of my highlights on this journey, I felt for the town’s atmosphere and I paid a second visit while in Cuba. Trinidad is one of those places where it doesn’t take you long to become part of the local community, even from just your first evening out. Give it a few more days and you see friendly faces everywhere. Read more.
On my second trip to Trinidad I found myself in town on Mother’s Day. Like everywhere else, it is also a very special day for Cubans and it celebrated in a big family way. The day before Mothering Sunday, streets and shops are busy with fathers and children making the shopping for the big family feast that is to follow and bakeries are producing in frenzy oversized, sugary cakes to be offered to celebrated mothers.
Cuba’s people and history have left me incredibly inspired and with a positive life outlook. I have never met people so generous, grateful, well mannered and kind despite their limited means. Cubanos love life and appreciate every minute of it and they will surely make you join in! People went beyond their ‘way’, literally, to help me out throughout my time in the country, they have given me thoughtful gifts and many stories to cherish.
So many stories to write and tell. Martha, who has the same second hand book stand at Plaza de Armas in Havana since she was a teenager, talked to me about Che – how he used to stroll in the evenings at the Plaza, he was ‘elegante’ she said and always kind and caring with the kids playing around and the people he would meet. I heard about Fidel from Amadeo, an Italian who felt in love with Cuba in his youth and after 15 years back and forth decided to take citizenship, about his 8 hours speeches on the 1st of May.
I learnt how proud they are for their past, their revolutionary fathers and the deep respect they have for them. I learnt about their struggles, their dreams, how ready they are to move forward. If I ever was to give one advice on travelling would be ‘talk to people’. They are the history, the vibe and culture of the country.
And another thing… I found Cuba a very safe place for a female traveller. I combined both solo travelling and adventure group travelling. For the latter I joined Cuban Adventures. It was a special experience, this is a company specialising in Cuban tours and offers a truly authentic experience. Additionally this is an ideal introduction to Western Cuba (Havana, Viñales, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santa Clara), allowing you to return to those you loved most (as I later did with a repeat visit to Trinidad). If you are travelling solo and want to experience Cuba off the beaten track, meet like minded travellers and hear first hand on Cuba’s history and culture from a local this is undoubtedly a great choice.
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For a lover of latin music, London’s Latin Jazz Festival is always great news. On its second year, at Pizza Express Soho Jazz Club, the festival runs from 23 Sept – 27 Sept. I went to see Eliane Correa & En El Project.