Six must “C’s” of Cubaby Jessie Beyer - Monday, March 13, 2017
Six must “C’s” of Cuba
This might not come as a surprise but there is no shortage of things to see and do in Cuba. In an effort to wrangle in our excitement we picked a letter (C) and a number (6) to help us express the ways we love this country. Without further ado, six of our must “C’s” on your next trip to Cuba. (Believe it or not we did not even get to cigars, the city of Cienfuegos, or Castro!)
Sure ‘culture’ could be considered a “catch all phrase” but Cuba’s fascinating culture really does set it apart. US travelers may visit Cuba with 1 of 12 types of tourist visa’s, ExperincePlus! bicycle tours fulfill the people-to-people tourist visa requirements as we incorporate many experiences with locals in order for our travelers to better understand Cuba and its rich culture. From meeting local bicycle taxi (bicitaxi) owners and learning about their businesses, to talking with the Director of Zapata National Park to learn the history of conservation and land protection in Cuba, we explore many facets of the Cuban culture.
Cuba’s tangled political history is deeply woven into almost all of the country’s culture and economics, including the Casa Particulares (“private homes”). Made legal by the Cuban government in 1997, Casas Particulares were a large step towards economic freedom as prior to this all accommodations in the country were state-owned and operated.
Casas Particulares are an essential Cuban experience as they are fantastic way to get to know Cuba’s people, history, and to be immersed in the local lifestyle. Similar to experiences you may have had with Air BnB’s, Casa Particulares offer the pleasant combination of a local host that is often there to chat with you about your experience in Cuba (sometimes with a common language, and sometimes not!) and the comfort of having your own private accommodations. Our stay in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Trinidad (Central Cuba tour and the first part of the Grand tour) affords us the opportunity to spend 2 nights at Casas Particulares.
Crystal Clear Caribbean Water.
(Do we get three points for that one?)
Even Cuba’s stunning coastlines are soaked in history. Playa Girón, one of the largest wetlands in the world, is also the location of the historical Bay of Pigs Invasion. Just a short pedal down the road you can snorkel one of the largest offshore reefs in the Caribbean at Playa Larga. Top off a refreshing swim with fresh lobster tail and you have got yourself an excellent taste of all that these crystal clear waters have to offer.
With an eclectic influence ranging from Spanish, to Baroque, to Art Deco, Cuba’s striking collection of architecture tells a story of a rich and diverse history while boasting stunning buildings throughout its cities and towns. “Havana is an archive of every interesting style of Western architecture, especially those between 1860 and 1960,” says Cuban-American architect Hermes Mallea. Havana is well known for its diverse collection of architecture. However the entire country is filled with towns boasting stunning architecture. Sancti Spíritus (where we stay on Day 2 of our Central Cuba trip), for example, is often overshadowed by neighboring Trinidad’s colonial charm. Sancti Spíritus has incredible structures such as the Puente Yayabo, a quadruple-arched bridge that almost seems as if it were dropped in from the English countryside, and is home to Cuba’s oldest theater, the Teatro Principal. Moreover, the contrast between preserved architectural gems and the remains of buildings that were once undoubtedly a sight to behold really drives home the long and storied history of Cuba.
With Cuba often comes the iconic image of 1950’s era cars (in mint condition) cruising through the streets of Havana. For better or worse, Castro’s ban on car imports in 1959 created a modern day classic car museum in Cuba. These colorful cars not only brighten up streets but are another reminder of Cuba’s fascinating history and economy.
We are a bike touring company, you didn’t think we would could leave cycling off this list, did you? In our book, there simply is no other way to fully experience a country. Pedaling through this colorful country you feel the sea breeze on your face, smell the many flowers growing along the roads, move slow enough to take in architectural intricacies in small towns, and sway to salsa beats as they spill out of doorways.
Now that you know your C’s, find out more about the A’s (Available Cuban cycling tours) and B’s (Booking options) here: