If I had to sum up Cuba in one word it would be ‘Vibrant’.
From the colourful buildings and bold classic cars to the incredibly powerful music scene, Cuba rocks to its own rhythm.
I began my journey in Havana and stayed in the Iberostar Parque Central which is situated perfectly in the heart of Old Havana. Within a 5 minute walk is the world famous Floridita, Bar Monserrate and plenty of private and state owned restaurants.
Most of the time when people tell you to visit somewhere before it changes they really mean that it may change over the next 10-20 years. However, now really is an interesting time to visit Cuba as so much is changing so quickly there. Now that they are beginning to allow private enterprises, the restaurants are starting to improve however they do have a long way to go.
I had read that Bar Monserrate was a good place to sip on cocktails and listen to live bands during the day, so we dropped in one afternoon to quench our thirst. The bar is fairly understated and when a group of Cubans, casually dressed in jeans and t-shirts, began to play I was not ready for the amazingly powerful music.
I absolutely fell in love with the Cuban music scene and haven’t stopped listening to Cuban music since I’ve been back.
In addition to Bar Monserrate for cocktails and music I would also recommend visiting Floridita, the home of the daiquiris and a frequent hangout for famous writer Ernest Hemingway, and the Hemingway Hotel.
On the whole as mentioned the food wasn’t great however some of the restaurants with great character that I would suggest visiting are; La Guarida (where Beyonce and Jay Z dined), Casa Miglis is an amazing Cuban/Swedish restaurant and Paladar Los Mercaderes.
One day we were driven around the city in an open top classic car, which was really cool but not necessary as most of the cabs you get into are classic cars. So if you want a ride in a classic car just hail a taxi. I was sad to say bye to this one…
We stayed in the Paradisus Princesa del Mar which is an idyllic all-inclusive hotel with its own sandy white beach, large pool with a pool bar and six different themed restaurants.
The best thing you can do if you visit Varadero is to take the catamaran day trip, which includes sunbathing on the back of the boat, snorkeling, interaction with dolphins and a few hours on the paradise beach, Cayo Blanco (the below is a real photo – no filter!).