Online travel website The Travel has recently published an article detailing how there's more to Cuba than Salsa music and cigars. Read on and find out more!
Clearing away the cliches
It's too easy to think of Cuba as an island simply selling itself to the world as the home of Salsa music, Rumba music, enormous cigars and Che Guevara. It does the island an injustice. There's much more to the "Pearl of the Caribbean", as the article recently published by The Travel takes pains to highlight.
Firstly, stereotypes aside, something that makes Cuba genuinely interesting for all the tourists that visit, is the lack of commercialisation and evident political isolation.
This has prevented the island from getting ultra-modern, and visitors strolling around Havana won't see the huge global chains that adorn almost every other capital city on earth. What's more, this unique political scenario that the 20th-century thrust on Cuba has helped to preserve the personality of Cuban society, which is truly fascinating.
The first thing that the article mentions is the wonderful Cuban architecture - and don't think that we're solely talking about Havana here!
Cities like Cienfuegos in the south are famous for their French baroque architecture and the smaller colonial town of Trinidad is so beautiful, that it's a UNESCO world heritage site. It's like stepping back in time to the 17th or 18th century and is a genuine feast for the senses.
However, Havana and Havana Vieja (Old Havana) are magnificent to behold too, and with five centuries of societies constructing some of the most beautiful buildings in the Caribbean, it's easy to get lost in the architecture.
"Travelling to Cuba is like travelling back in time, especially the beautiful 'La Habana Vieja.' It gives a feel of Spain in the Caribbean. Visitors can find baroque townhouses and Andalusian-style arcades depicting the beauty of historic times. It is easy to find tequila cantinas and soukous rumba bars within the hatches worth a visit. From the splendour of historic churches to the opulence of non-classical palaces, everything about Cuba gives a sneak peek into the architectural intelligence and artistic beliefs of people." - The Travel
The article lists places to visit such as Plaza de la Catedral (Cathedral Square), Plaza de Armas, and Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabana: a large fort built to repel invaders, but now perfect sightseeing for travellers where you can find souvenir shops, plush restaurants, bars, and a cigar shop where the world's largest cigar is on display for visitors, La Casa de la Obra Pia, and Palacio de los Capitanes Generales.
It's interesting that the article mentions the cuisine. Rewind 20 years and you may have laughed. Visitors to Cuba at the turn of the millennium were given the option of - well, rice, beans, or pork. And there aren't too many variations you can conjure up with them.
Nowadays, however, things have changed. Happily, the island underwent a "foodie" revolution and people started waking up to ingredients you could import from the rest of the world.
Couple this with an influx of foreign chefs and the coming of age of many national ones, creating fusions of Caribbean and Latin American food, with European, African and Asian ideas, and the result is one of the most interesting places on the planet to eat.
The wonderful "paladares" are dotted all over the big cities, and Havana has so many, that even the Spanish and British Royal families have dropped in to visit.
"Cuba is a paradise for foodies as Cuban food is an amalgamation of Caribbean, African, Spanish, and Chinese cuisines. The influx of people from different communities has made a significant difference in Cuban food. Some delicacies worth trying include Ropa Vieja, Masitas, Arroz Con Pollo, Bunuelous, Maduros, Picadillo, Yuca, and many more." - The Travel
And with what do you wash it all down? Let's not be flippant! Cuban cocktails and Cuban coffee are recognised on a world scale as maybe being the best available anywhere. This is the birthplace of the Daiquiri and the Mojito after all!
Havana - one of the world's most iconic cities
It's likely that The Travel gives a special paragraph solely to Havana, Cuba's capital, simply because it has become one of the world's great capital cities.
Cuba has shot to be the top tourist destination in the Caribbean and it's not just the beaches of Varadero that draw in the numbers.
"Havana is listed as World Heritage Historic District UNESCO. Being the Cuban capital, it offers travellers a lot more than expected. The long history, colonialism, art culture, baroque remnants - everything makes it unique. Apart from its historical significance, the city is also home to some gorgeous beaches. Enjoying the architecture and city life and later relaxing on the white-sand beaches can make any voyage fulfilling." - The Travel
Still, need a reason to visit? Havana is genuinely one of the world's safest cities and the locals are only too happy to offer any assistance if you need any directions.
Are you ready for Cuba?
As the article states, visiting Cuba gives a myriad of glimpses into its colourful history, which can be seen everywhere, all over the island.
While the museums showcase the occurrence of revolutions and stand-offs, you can find live cabaret and jazz playing in the streets just yards away.
Visitors to the island experience the intense vibes of Cuba like no other destination, and the memories will last forever.
Produced in collaboration
with the Cuba Tourist Board.