A hike through a tropical forest, passing by wasp nest formations, crossing streams on hanging bridges and little rocks, and walking through a blossoming field. And then, there it was! Cool, playful, and surrounded by hanging vegetation and rocks that had been shaped and polished by 1000s of years of water pouring over them! Beautiful and soothing!
Unfortunately, it was difficult to capture the beauty of the Salto de Javira waterfall.
Our rest stop of the day: Restaurante El Bolo Vista Gourmet. Despite guide book recommendations, I’m not sure if this is one of the best restaurants in town (most likely not…), but the view and the cool breeze are probably one of a kind in Trinidad!
Incredibly hot, incredibly beautiful, and well worth visiting! Here are a few pics from the 500 years old UNESCO World Heritage Site, the small town Trinidad:
As visible from the pics, although there are Cubans living in the old quarters, Trinidad is a bit of and open air museum. We almost enjoyed the drive from La Boca to Plaza Mayor equally, as it gave us a chance to see more of Cuban every ay life. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to capture that side with my camera.
On our first day in La Boca, we rented bikes through our host and set off towards Playa Ancon, allegedly Southern Cuba’s most beautiful beach. The 10 km (6.2 miles) bike ride was an experience in itself. The road, lined with Caribbean palm trees and bushes, and tons of flowers, followed the shore and had almost no traffic at all. Instead, we road through clouds of white butterflies and had to make way for small baby crabs who seemed to have a crossing over the road for a few kilometers. I’ve been to many places, but this was without doubt one of my most beautiful experiences!
We spent the rest of the day at the beach, and found a good spot at the second beach on Playa Ancon, after the main hotel/beach club, where there were fewer people and some domestic tourists as oppose to some of the other beaches that we saw. One our way back, we had dinner at a grill, where I had fresh grilled lobster. The simplest places often have the best food!
Fábrica de Arte Cubano, or FAC, in Vedado is well worth a visit! A club in an old cooking oil factory that hosts arts, photography, installations, and other. The crowd made me feel as cool (read uncool) as I do in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but the entire complex triggers the senses.
In the way that traveling is done these days, FAC was recommended by my neighbors who were here a few months ago visiting some acquaintances. We combined with dinner at the adjoining restaurant on the roof, also recommended by my neighbors.
A taxi ride away from central Havana is Fusterlandia. Still under creation and covering an entire block, this outdoor mosaic art by Cuba’s José Fuster is truly worth a visit!
After walking around the Fusterlandia neighborhood for a while, we walked over to Club Habana and spent the rest of the day at the beach in this charming institution with a somewhat murky past.
Since Andreas and I both are in constant search of the authentic side of our travel destinations (i,e. our trips are less spa environments, smoothies and infinity pools, and more cold showers and Soviet-style “luxury” breakfasts…), we decided to stay at airbnbs for most part of the trip. For the first part of the trip, we intentionally avoided Havana Vieja since we would be staying there our last says in Cuba. Instead, we opted for an airbnb in Vedado, in a more residential area and only a few blocks from the waterfront and with a few communist architectural masterpieces (or monstrosities?) nearby. Best of all was roof terrace that came with and our host Arin’s lovely breakfasts! (Here on airbnb) Our first day, Arin also arranged with an old-school car to take us around for a few ours. Very touristy but also a very convenient way to get an overview of the city and to see areas beyond Havana Vieja. The number one surprise was the beautiful Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba with a lush green sea of hanging trees – like stepping into a fairy tale forest!
After our drive and Swedish Midsummer lunch on the roof terrace – my first in years and solely thanks to Andreas (although the selection of snaps on the table ended up being more for decoration that actual intake) – we spent the rest of the afternoon in Havana Vieja and had dinner at a Le Bodegita Del Medio (allegedly a favorite of Hemingway’s) upon the recommendations from my manager! And yes, we did write our names on the wall!
It always starts with a dream. Then maybe a text. My dream of visiting Cuba likely developed sometime in my teens, with Hemingway and other books and movies from the first part of the 20th century, only to eventually end up on my bucket list of travel destination within reach as Cuba increasingly opened up to tourism over the past decades. The only thing holding me back was that I really wanted to see it with someone, for no other reason than that I wanted to share my impressions and this experience, and Cuba was not on the top of the bucket list of my regular travel companions. Or so I thought until I sent off a text to Andreas back in April to let him know that I was on my way to Stockholm and as a side note dropped a question about Cuba.
Me: “Also wondering if you’d be up for seeing Cuba, before it gets invaded by Starbucks and Mac Donald’s?”
Andreas: YES! Let’s plan when we meet!
Easy as that!
Reminders of Cuba’s history all over Havana
I am home after nine days in Cuba! It’s been wonderful. Surprisingly, I was able to roam with my cell phone in most places so I’ve up dated my IG @asagiertz along the way, but unfortunately, my blog app wouldn’t upload photos instead so I couldn’t post from there. But I’ve been writing along the way, so here we go!
I’m on my way to Cuba! It’s another trip on my bucket list and it has been a dream of mine for many years to see Havana and the rest of the island before it changes too much. And even though I like to travel alone, I really wanted to share the Cuba experience together with someone! Luckily, I found someone who is as eager as I am to go there in my friend Andreas! We got to know each other when we both lived in Chisinau, Moldova, many years ago, and have since traveled together to places like Odessa and Jura. So a perfect travel companion for this trip!
We have booked Airbnbs in Havana and on the southern side of Cuba, and will be away for over a week. I expect that I will have little access to internet in this period but I will update with lots and lots of pictures when I get back. See you then!!