My trip to Cuba was in November of 2016, right before Castro’s death and Obama’s new policies took effect. Even though there are questions surrounding Trump’s new policies, one thing is confirmed, cruise ships and sanctioned group people-to-people travel to Cuba is still possible.
I decided to book the Cuban people-to-people educational program with Atlas Obscura. I’ve always loved the offbeat events they’ve offered so I thought their Cuban experience would be a good one. The trip cost $2795 (with a $250 non-refundable deposit) for a 5-day all-inclusive package.
It was only Obscura’s second trip to the Island, so there were hiccups. Our group consisted of forty people, two of whom were Atlas staff, and one bilingual guide. The trip certainly would have been smoother if the staff was able to communicate in the native language. They also didn’t allow for time to stop at a bank upon arrival so that we could access cash and the itinerary was constantly changed. Coordination with forty people is a challenging task, so I'll probably stick to smaller groups in the future.
Even though there were rough patches, I enjoyed my time in Havana. Here are some of the places I enjoyed during my Cuban adventure.
Journey to San Francisco de Paula to see Ernest Hemingway’s Finca Vigía, the house where he lived for 20 years is now a museum displaying his library, manuscripts, and personal effects.
A definite must is the Fábrica de Arte Cubano, a brilliant concept which combines my two favorite things - the joy of art and dance. The converted warehouse once a power plant is an explosion of art and live music. It’s one of the most eclectic and in demand nightlife spots in Havana and my favorite of the activities on our itinerary.
Art and culture lovers like myself will appreciate Fusterlandia, a private studio of Cuban muralist and ceramist Jose Fuster. Described as the Picasso of the Caribbean, Fuster took the vision in his head and created a beautiful community for his neighbors. It was like a toy land of art. Make sure to take in the view from the top of the studio where you can look out into the town you and see his work of mosaics on various homes, walls, and streets.
Yes, I have a thing for cemeteries, our visit to the Necropolis Cristobal Colon Cemetery is one of the reasons I chose Obscura. I wasn’t disappointed, the craftsmanship of the elaborate monuments and mausoleums was incredible.
Take a sunset cruise down Malecón, the longest promenade on the island, in old classic convertible. Enjoy the beautiful colors and peacefulness of this island.
'Til next time, travel light Travelbugs!