So, it happened…I ventured to Cuba, a place I have dreamed of visiting for as long as I can remember. I think my desire to go stems from my love of all things vintage (thanks to parents who restore old cars, collect vintage memorabilia and love antiques), my passion for all things tropical and my desire to see the glamour in all things old and new. Cuba is a place that really symbolizes and stands for all of that. I am still pinching myself that I was actually there this past week.
I will admit, this was the very first vacation, or shall I say trip, which a friend described to me as an “active” vacation, where I was looking forward to being home at the end. While it was a fantastic experience and I could not be more thrilled that I spent a week in Havana, Cuba, you have to remember that it really is a completely different world. The creature comforts of home, well, they pretty much don’t exist. Craving a Coke or a chocolate bar, forget running to the corner store to pick it up. There is no such thing! Don’t get me wrong, they have food stands all over, but they are not Americanized, or even Europeanized (is that a word?). While I knew going into the trip that Cuba is a poorer country, I did not realize how much it would resemble a third world country. Nothing could have prepared me for the trash in the streets, the crumbling buildings or the foul odor I would stumble upon while walking. I will say, that did not deter from the experience, and I could see the charm and glamour of Cuba behind it all.
I kept closing my eyes throughout the trip, envisioning what Cuba was like back in its heyday. What would it have been like when the stars and the wealthy flocked there for glamorous vacations? From the facades that still stand, the rich culture, amazing music, authentic Cuban cuisine, and wonderful people, I can only imagine it was quite the place. What stands today, while not quite as “pretty” (so to speak), I am sure still compares in many ways. The music still floods the streets at all hours, vintage cars zoom past everywhere you go, the cuisine is authentic (except pizza is apparently now quite popular) and the people are just as warm and friendly as I had heard about. Communism may now be in full swing, the buildings may be a bit more dull than they were in the past, and the area may not be quite so glamorous, but it is still a treat for the senses (all of them-remember that odor I was talking about), and something I am so glad I got to see.
In my next few posts, I will share tips and recommendations for planning a trip to Cuba. Where to stay, what to do, how to get around, where to eat, etc. (If you are thinking of going, you won’t want to miss these. Knowing as much as you can before going can help you be prepared for what to expect and to really get the most out of your time there.) You can also guarantee there will many, many more photos, and some style posts too!
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