In March / April we went to Cuba for a fascinating holiday. We started off in Havana, then travelled through Western & Central Cuba, visiting the Vinales Valley, Soroa, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus, Santa Clara and Remedios. Finally we chilled out in the beach resort of Varadero before returning to Havana.
Havana is a strange mix of a city. The state communist propaganda tries to be very worthy, but is often presented in a very incongruous manner; for instance the Museum of the Revolution (of 1959) is housed in the opulent surroundings of the last dictator's presidential palace.
The National Botanical Gardens is vast and very well maintained.
The most famous long-term resident from the USA, Ernest Hemingway, made his home in Cuba for over 20 years. It is now a museum, preserved exactly as he left it in 1960.
Cuba's most pleasing landscapes are in Vinales with their unique mogotes (limestone outcrops) rising up from the valley floor.
Soroa is a small sleepy town lost in the countryside, dwarfed by the neighbouring, massive Orquideario, one of the world's largest Orchid Gardens.
Cienfuegos is a seaside town on the Caribbean side of the island with the most eclectic mix of grand architectural styles outside Havana.
The centre of Trinidad is now designated as a World Heritage site. Here there are many charming old colonial buildings, gaily decorated, inside & out. We just loved walking round this colonial city.
Sancti Spiritus is another small old colonial town, where we enjoyed exploring the local markets.
Santa Clara's claim to fame is that the final decisive battle was fought here in 1958 led by Che Guevara. Unfortunately a vast, hideous monumental plaza was then created to commemorate the event.
In Remedios a fun steam train ride took us to a sugar factory museum. The unobtrusive looking cathedral in the centre of Remedios has some magnificent baroque altarpieces.
Varadero is a great seaside resort with 12 miles of sandy beaches, as well as a couple of interesting nature trails.
The Cuba Reflections pages have lots of photos and some of my thoughts on Cuba.
Would I recommend a holiday in cuba? - a very definite yes!
Without sounding like a commercial plug - we were very pleased with Voyages Jules Verne who organised the trip - their choice of Hotels in particular was great.