You have heard about it, your friends may have been (probably to the fly and flop beach resorts) and you know the culture is very different to home, so what other reasons are there to visit this country brimming with old world charm where, in parts, horses and carriages are more common than cars, you have to stop to let a crab cross the road and a stay in a beach bungalow is a must! I embarked on my own Cuban travel adventure last month and I just had to share why I loved it so much! So, here are my top 5 reasons to visit Cuba:
A local family will welcome you into their home
In the smaller towns and cities of Cuba, homestays are waiting for you in towns such as Viñales, Trinidad and Santa Clara, to make your stay even more authentic and memorable. Why would you choose to stay in a large hotel when you can meet a local family, practice your Spanish and enjoy the traditional Cuban comforts!
It’s a history lesson
The entrepreneurial spirit is slowly being introduced into Cuba, best seen in the homestays mentioned above but it is not without limitations, as seen in the BBC recently. With Raul at the helm, changes are ahead. Your stay can be a history lesson, just one trip to Santa Clara and the Che museum will give an insight into the mystery of this man and what drove him and those that helped in his quest. For me, the site where the train was hijacked taking the former President Batista’s armoury and soldiers is a must-see during any Cuba trip- you can even step inside a real carriage.
Rum is cheaper than coffee
Does this need more of an explanation?! For 3 CUC (£1.85) you can treat yourself to a Mojito– but what type of rum should you have? There are so many to choose from! Rum remains one of Cuba’s largest exports along with sugarcane. As for the coffee, this is traditionally taken by the locals with 3 lumps of sugar… might leave you wondering: “Can I have a dash of coffee with that sugar please?”
You’ll get a new lesson in highway code
Where else are you told by your car hire company to be careful of the crabs crossing the road on the way to Santa Clara? Even the horse and cart on the road sign threw me. Oh and apparently it is the norm to balance a large freshly made birthday cake on the back of your motorbike!
There’s no Starbucks… or Facebook!
That’s it – book it, pack it and get yourself to Cuba for this reason alone! With no chains and the second lowest rate of internet access in the world behind Iran, you have no choice but to drink your coffee in a relaxed plaza, out of a china cup with no chance of tipping it down yourself as you skip along the street. And trust me Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and the BBC news will wait for you until you get home from your Cuban adventure! “Buen Viaje!”