Hugh and Cindy Deery have traveled to most of the islands in the Caribbean — probably because their sunshine provides a welcome break from the harsh weather that the couple often experiences in Michigan. Not long ago, they ventured to Cuba for the first time, spending time in cities like Havana, Trinidad, and Viñales. Visiting Cuba was an adventure unlike anything else that Hugh and Cindy have experienced in the Caribbean, so we asked Hugh a few questions about the trip. Here’s what he told us.
The whole trip was a highlight, from our trip mates to our guide, our drivers, our lodging masters, the fascinating array of vehicles, the look at a country that is very different from our way of life, and the locals we met. The food was also incredible, and so were the cigars and rum!
The whole trip was a highlight.
I have many recommendations for the people who are going to Cuba with Acanela. I think Cindy would agree with me on these points.
For one, don’t miss the Bay of Pigs Museum, where you’ll learn a little more about Cuban-American relations and history, and the tobacco farm, where you’ll see how cigars are made.
In Havana, make sure that you see the Malecón (the walk along the ocean where all the locals meet in the evenings), the Hotel Nacional (a 1930s hotel that catered to all the celebrities), the Plaza de la Revolución, the José Marti Memorial, and Morro Castle (a 16th-century structure built to protect the harbor, which Castro later used to imprison political opponents). We also visited the Cuban Art Factory (FAC), which is an old factory converted into a late-night venue. The FAC is part nightclub and part interdisciplinary art gallery, and seeing it was definitely my favorite cultural experience of the trip.
In Viñales, you’ll want to explore the Cuevo del Indio, a cave that we visited by foot and by boat. Viñales is a beautiful place, located in a lush valley that’s home to limestone mogotes (natural outcrops).
In Trinidad, the nightlife was vibrant and lively, so you shouldn’t miss that. We saw a salsa demonstration there and also had a regional drink called La Canchánchara. But I should say that the nightlife gets started pretty late across Cuba, especially in Havana, so if you want to salsa, you should probably get some rest earlier that day.
For food recommendations, my favorite local dish was ropa vieja, spicy shredded beef, but i really enjoyed everything we ate (and drank and smoked!).
As far as logistics are concerned, American money doesn’t spend very well. There’s a high tax and exchange rate to convert U.S. dollars to CUCs (pronounced “kooks”), so I recommend taking euros or Canadian dollars with you. It’s much easier to convert those to CUCs.
If you’re planning on visiting Cuba, I wish you a great trip and many wonderful memories!
Rest assured: although the U.S. government recently imposed stricter Cuba travel restrictions, Acanela Expeditions will continue operating trips in this incredible, welcoming, dynamic country. So, if you’d like to see Cuba for yourself, take a look at our itinerary, and make a deposit today — we’d love to show you around!