A True Cuban Experience

Linda Jacky Cuba

A True Cuban Experience

Are you wondering how it is to visit Cuba? Let me give you some insights. Visiting Cuba is an extremely different experience than visiting any other country in the world. It is one of the few areas left in the world that has not been changed due to modernization. I had the opportunity to visit the island this past March and the experience was amazing. The city of Havana remains untouched and one is immediately transported back to the 1950’s. The streets are full of classic, colorful, Chevrolet cars that fill the air with black smoke when driven. The buildings are preserved in their original architecture, which adds to the classic appeal of the city. The Cuban people are the friendliest, always genuinely interested in telling tourists their story or helping them out with directions. There was no McDonalds or Starbucks on every corner, but rather mom and pop shops selling souvenirs, there were art galleries full of beautiful art pieces, and restaurants selling authentic Cuban food.

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I was the ATI Representative accompanying the group participating on our Cuban Discovery tour. During this trip we spent 8 days and 7 nights in 3 different cities and towns around Cuba. We flew into Havana where we learned so much about the city and the country’s history. After a few days, we went to the town of Viñales in the province of Pinar del Rio. The valley was full of luscious greenery, the air smelled so fresh, and the views were spectacular. We had lunch at a restaurant where they grew their own organic vegetables and overlooked the valley of Viñales. During the last two nights, we had the opportunity to spend two nights in the beach town of Varadero. The beaches weren’t overcrowded, the resort where we stayed was clean, and the service was spectacular. The ocean water was the cleanest I had ever seen, with crystal clear blue water that allowed you to see the bottom of ocean floor around you. With the thawing restrictions between the US and Cuba, I am afraid that all of these beautiful and unique things about Cuba, will cease to exist.

Travel to Cuba has become much easier now that the relations between the US and Cuba has been improving. With this also comes the huge wave of American interest in the country. Recently more and more tourists have begun arriving to Cuba and unfortunately the infrastructure is not there to meet demand. Working closely with travel to Cuba, I have seen first-hand how overwhelmed the tourism sector has become. It takes months of planning in order to be able to book accommodations as hotels are sold out up to 6 months in advance. Starwood has been allowed to build hotels on the island and other companies will soon begin bringing their businesses to Cuba. This will definitely change the appeal of the country. It will no longer be mom and pop shops on every corner or clean beaches, but possibly chain/franchised restaurants, hotels, and coffee shops or overcrowded beaches like the ones we have in California.

I highly suggest visiting Cuba now that it still has its preserved and unique 1950’s appeal. As more tourists visit the country, the infrastructure will be developing in order to meet demand.